The KGB’s eavesdropping and spying devices in everyday items

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The KGB Espionage Museum’s curator Agne Urbaityte explains why and how plates and ashtrays were used as eavesdropping and spying devices.

The KGB’s eavesdropping and spying devices in everyday items
The KGB Espionage Museum’s curator Agne Urbaityte explains why and how plates and ashtrays were used as eavesdropping and spying devices.

CNET and CBS News Senior Producer Dan Patterson spoke with KGB Espionage Museum’s Agne Urbaityte about why and how plates and ashtrays were used as eavesdropping and spying devices. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

Dan Patterson: There are a number of eavesdropping devices. I see microphones and cameras, ranging from the very old to modern computers. Tell me about Russian and KGB eavesdropping and spying devices.

Agne Urbaityte: So, for example, they placed bugs everywhere they can, depending on the situation, so you cannot even understand that the bug is inside—for example, in the plates, or in the ashtray. 

Why these simple things? Because in the Soviet Union there were special hotels that were just for foreigners, so these hotels were already built with the idea that every room has to be bugged. But these plates were used in restaurants. So when the foreigners come to the restaurants, they sit down by the table. At first, visitors would be given the ashtray with the bug. And if people are not smoking, then they would bring you a plate with bread under the bug.

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