JAMMING IN THE SOVIET UNION, POLAND
specially emitted radio interference is classified into radio
communication jamming and radio broadcasting jamming. The first
occasions of jamming of military radio telegraph were recorded
back in the beginning of the 20th century. Germany and Russia
were the first to engage in jamming back then. The jamming
signal most frequently consisted of co-channel characters. It
was until the early thirties, when the first cases of jamming of
radio broadcasting were recorded.
In the late 20’s Berlin started to jam the programs of Radio
1931 the USSR jammed the Romanian radio, in 1934 Austria jammed
the German radio.
The Lithuanian language broadcasts of the Vatican radio were
jammed by the USSR in 1940.
jamming of foreign radio broadcasts was initiated by the USSR in
February of 1948. It was targeted at VOA and BBC Russian
language broadcasts. Eventually jamming developed into a true
monster, the greatest jamming network in the world. The
Soviet jamming network was administrated by the 2nd
department of the all-union ministry of communications, headed
by Natalia Krestyaninova for more than 25 years.
Soviet Union and its East European allies used six types of the
jamming audio signals:
To block out the "most anti-Soviet" stations, a
wide spectrum electronically generated noise signal was used.
RFE/RL, Voice of Israel, and Radio Tirana would experience this
type of jamming.
On August 3, 1964, one more source of interference was
invented - Radio Mayak program, transmitted in FM mode and heard
distorted on domestic receivers - to jam some "grey
propaganda" stations such as VOA, BBC, Deutsche Welle, and
In 1976, Soviets started to use the speech resembling
signal. Its advantage was that it conformed to the timbre of the
human voice. This jamming sound, which used to be played back
from open reel tapes, was composed of two voices of male and
female Russian announcers.
A unique case was the Polish service of RFE/RL: from 1971
until 1980 only light instrumental music was employed to jam it,
both in clear AM and distorted FM modes.
East Germany aired its domestic radio programs via medium
wave transmitters tuned in to several hundred Herz outside of
the RIAS frequencies.
Czechoslovakia used the swinging carrier, also known as
wobler, AM transmitters to jam RFE/RL.
report of the RFE Engineering Department (dated
for at least 4 transmitters per jammed program for each beam
necessary. 250 kW
500 kW transmitters have been proposed to replace the old
kW units in the RFE and RL relay stations. In Israel, there was
an attempt to build a high-power radio station (16
x 500 kW) for
transmission of the VOA, RFE and RL programs to the Soviet
Union. This effort was halted due to the local
In Portugal, six 500 kW transmitters were installed. Fourteen of
the 16 RFE/RL’s language services were jammed, and twelve of
the 21 languages of VOA. Deutsche Welle (DW) was jammed in five
of its 11 East European and USSR languages. BBC was jammed in
two of its 12 Eastern languages. The effectiveness of jamming
ranged from minor annoyance to total blockage.
Edwards, “Longwave duel”: “The
trading pawn in the hands of the U.
had been the megawatt long wave transmitter located in Munich.
The record shows that when the Soviets stopped jamming the VOA
Russian programs in June of 1963, the VOA megawatt transmitter
in Munich shut down very soon thereafter. In August 1968,
when the Soviets resumed jamming of the VOA.
[...] the megawatt in Munich returned to the air. Again, in
September of 1973 Soviet jamming against the VOA stopped and a
month later the megawatt transmitter on 173 kHz went off the
air. This off again-on again relation was rooted in the 1948
European Broadcasting Conference at Copenhagen where medium wave
and long wave frequencies were assigned to the participating
countries within Europe. Under the plan, 173 kHz was assigned to
the USSR. [...] The presence of the VOA megawatt transmitter in
Munich appearing on the same frequency caused an acerbic
reaction - the Soviets took the position that their 500 kW
signal on 173 kHz from Moscow was being jammed”.
in the USSR:
The local jamming transmitters ranged in power from 1 to 20 kW
with 10 to 20 units per station. The typical antennas were
multi-wire broadband dipoles, suspended vertically or at 45
degrees angle. The effective range of ground wave jamming
usually was about 30 km. In 1986, the local jamming stations
were located in 81 big city of the Soviet Union.
Dwarf jammers were numbered with "60" and
"600" series (“Object Nr. 600”, etc.), while
giants were assigned "800" series.
of the broadcasters liked to be deceptive: Radio Beijing used to
change its frequencies slightly during the broadcast (frequency
agility method), leaving the hoarse choir of Soviet jammers
aside. There were several occasions recorded when R. Beijing
played its Russian programs backwards, and these particular
frequencies were not jammed. Moscow monitors would tape
programs, play them backwards to make transcripts, and submit
the scripts to the KGB and Communist party bosses.
jamming monitoring sites (“Control and Correction Posts”)
used to be installed several kilometers away from the
transmitting facilities. The operators - mostly women - scanned
the HF broadcasting bands. It was their decision to start
jamming, depending on the actual audibility of the target
station. Monitors issued orders by a dedicated phone line to the
transmitter personnel to tune a particular transmitter to a
particular frequency. All frequencies, times, station names,
program languages and audibility evaluations were entered in
logbooks. The transmitters sometimes were switched on remotely
the receiving site.
Liatukas, a supervisor of Kaunas city jammer in Lithuania,
complained in a company paper back in 1975 about their station
"being in continuous shortage of filaments for radio tubes,
transmitter measuring devices, cabling, as well as about the
poor condition of the roof of the building and antennas."
Some transmitters were said to be in operation for as much as 20
years with no major overhaul.
to an old Soviet standard, masts of the jammers were painted in
yellow and black until 1975, to prevent enemy aircraft from
identifying them in the natural background. From about 1975
onward, all the radio and TV towers, including jammers, were
painted in white and red. They have been illuminated at night
with red non-blinking lights. Every jammer used the same
identification code, or call sign, for all its transmitters,
made up of two letters. The call letters of the jammer were
transmitted twice per minute for identification of each station.
Čepas, a veteran of the State Radio Frequency Service of
Lithuania, gave the following exclusive account: “We witnessed
many problems affecting TV and radio broadcasting caused by the
shortwave transmitters used to jam foreign radio stations.
Various combinations of the signals interfered with television
and radio programs broadcast on long, medium, and short waves,
with radio communication and other radioelectronic equipment.
The signals emitted by powerful transmitters made their way even
to the electric circuits of tape recorders and record players.
Being aware of the many heavy-duty transmitters operating near
their residential areas, people were worried about health
hazards related to effect of the electromagnetic field.
Measurement data proved that the worries were substantiated”.
long distance jamming radio centers with
over 100 high power (50-500 kW) short wave transmitters were
used for blocking out large territories by transmitting
interference into specific region. The operational distances of such
wave jammers were 500-3,000 km. The
vertical curtain array
and rhombic antennas were used
for long range jamming. Additionally,
the USSR jammed from its territory the
Polish, Czech, Slovak and Bulgarian language
programs of RFE/RL, VOA, BBC and DW.
Several secret cross-border jamming agreements were signed
between Moscow, Prague, Sofia
and East Berlin. Romania and Hungary
participated in the cross-border
jamming network until 1963-64. There were
10 to 12
sky wave jamming centers in East Europe with over 90
who used to span the dial could often find "holes" in
the jamming wall. Twilight immunity was one of several technical
methods used for many years by the Western broadcasters to
reduce jamming. The twilight immunity makes use of broadcasting
to the target area on certain frequency on which the skywave
jammer, placed a few thousand kilometres to the East, cannot be
effective for a given area because of its lower maximum usable
frequency at that time.
of jammers smothered RFE/RL, VOA, BBC, DW, Voice of Israel, R.
Beijing, R. Tirana, R. Korea and R. Free Russia. Before 1963,
broadcasts from Vatican, Rome, Belgrade and Paris were jammed as
well. Several times, when the political climate became warmer,
the USSR would stop jamming government stations from London,
Washington and Cologne:
Six months in 1956,
Britain and the Hungarian crise
In September of 1959, during Khrushchev’s visit to the
· In early 1960 until the “U2” incident
· June 19, 1963 - August, 1968 (Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia)
· September, 1973 - August 20, 1980 (Martial law declared in Poland)
over 30 years Washington and Moscow held an ongoing debate about
radio jamming and I list below a comparison of their main
“The participating States make it their aim to facilitate the
free and wider dissemination of information of all kinds”
(Helsinki Agreement, 1975); “Any frequency assignment shall
have the right to international protection from harmful
interference.” (Article 9, ITU Geneva Regulation); “Everyone
has the right to seek, receive, and impart information through
any media and regardless of frontiers” (Article 19, Universal
Declaration of Human Rights); “All stations whatever their
purpose must be established and operated in such a manner as not
to result in harmful interference to radio services or
communications of other members” (Article 28, Montreaux
“The sovereignty of the USSR in the field of radio
broadcasting secures for the USSR the possibility and rights to
sever a radio aggression directed against her in ether.”
(International Legal Regulation of Radio Communication and
Broadcasting, S. Krylov, 1950); “The participating States will
respect each other’s sovereign equality and individuality as
well as the rights inherent in and encompassed by its
sovereignty... they will respect each other’s right to define
and conduct as it wishes its relations with other States in
accordance with international law...” (Helsinki Agreement,
the Soviets failed to mention the fact that they jammed foreign
radio stations for a long time. Later they admitted it and
declared they had rights to “defend the national sovereignty
of countries in the fields of information and culture”. The
United Nations adopted a resolution in 1972 that declared
jamming to be a violation of human rights. At several summits -
e.g. Reykjavik, 1986 - the Soviets proposed to cease jamming of
VOA (not RFE/RL) in exchange of the rights to acquire or to rent
AM and FM transmitters in or near the U.S.
the evening of November 29, 1988 the Soviet Union ceased to jam
all foreign radio stations. The jamming session that lasted for
40 years was over. In December of 1988, Czechoslovakia and
Bulgaria stopped the jamming of RFE/RL`s broadcasts. In the end
of 1988, not less than 1600 transmitters were switched off in
about 120 jamming radio centers of the USSR, Czevhoslovakia and
the Soviet Union collapsed, some jammers were converted into
broadcasting stations or were put in month balls; others were
dismantled. One such low power jammer, installed shortly after
the WWII in the Jewish cemetery of the Lithuanian Baltic seaport
Klaipeda, was also dismantled, and the chapel was returned to
believers. In another city the closed jammer building was
converted into a café. Some former Soviet jammers were modified
into a commercial radio stations, as Radio 7 in Moscow.
dated August 17, 1956: “During the period of unrest [...] it
has been decided to end the jamming of Western broadcasts in
Poland”; “newspapers reported the local jamming station is
being dismantled.” The
date acknowledged by the Polish government is November 24, 1956.
After a short period of confusion, jammers in Czechoslovakia and
Russia carried on against the RFE Polish broadcasts. However,
the cessation of local jamming within Poland itself greatly
increased the intelligibility and reliability of reception of
RFE/RL manager, wrote in his article “Jamming
Present, and Future” (“World
“Coincident with a series of riots in the city of Poznan [...]
jamming of RFE Polish language programs was ended. The official
date was November 24, 1956. There had been mounting outcries
from the press about the jamming of foreign broadcasts, and it
has been reported that at the onset of the Poznan rioting the
local jamming station was destroyed”.
Walter, Perry Esten, “Jamming against RFE programs” (July 6,
1965): “In the summer of 1964 the USSR switched to a new type
of jamming against RFE Polish programs. Instead of noise
modulation formerly used, the new interference consisted of very
distorted program material from the “Mayak” program, which
is a 24-hour service from Moscow for listeners in the USSR and
abroad. It is believed that this new type jamming was adopted to
minimize complaints from the free world about jamming
retired RFE/RL engineer, wrote to me in
have a lot of material on jamming. These are files that were
moved to Washington after the Munich office of RFE/RL closed.
But when the Engineering Department closed, I rescued these
materials from the trash because of their historic nature. It is
certain that Polish jammers were located in Russia.
There are triangulation studies which prove it”.
Triangulation data was collected by Deutsche Bundespost and ITU.
RFE/RL archive document dated July 14, 1971: “From 11 to 27 of December, 1970, RFE Polish channels were jammed by music programs without announcements, whereby Poland used several of its short-wave channels. This was caused by the unrest in Gdansk and other Polish cities. On 18 March 1971 jamming activity was resumed. After two days modulation became distorted. Added was an increased jamming activity from the USSR: partly Mayak jamming (distorted) and partly pop music (distorted).
archive document dated January 27, 1982: “Soon
after the commencement of martial law in Poland, heavy jamming
from transmitters located inside the Soviet Union was affecting
all of our [RFE] Polish frequencies. At the same time we noticed
a dramatic decrease in jamming on the Czechoslovakian service.
This indicates that the jamming transmitters covering our
Czechoslovakian programs were shifted to cover Poland”.
of the Institute for Telecommunications Services: “In many
instances, a specific marker could be associated with a
particular broadcast language. For example, the jammer with the
marker “1G”, located near Leningrad, primarily jammed Polish
language broadcasts. An interesting feature of most of the
Polish language jammers was that they were not located within
the borders of Poland. For
example, jammers that were associated with Polish language
broadcasts were found in Leningrad (“1G”), Tashkent
(“4F”), and Kiev (“1D”)”.
“RFE/RL Research”: “Before the
invasion of Czechoslovakia this language service was jammed by
stations both inside and outside the country. The latter are in
the USSR. On May 8, 1968 Czechoslovakia had stopped all jamming
except for some transmissions of RFE. Immediately after the [Soviet]
invasion and for several days thereafter
there seemed to be some confusion among the jamming networks and
some of the lower frequencies we used for Czechoslovak were free
of jamming. What jamming there was on the higher frequencies
then seemed to be by jammers in the USSR, and for a while the
medium and lower short-wave frequencies were quite clear of
jamming. This situation changed about the beginning of September
1968 when [...] the former jammers located in Czechoslovakia
made a slow comeback: the old call sign “Z3” was first heard
again on 25 November, 1968 and “G7” reappeared on 7 January
1969. A new stronger jammer started on [medium
wave] 719 kc on 25 March 1969. In
summary, all Czechoslovak frequencies are now heavily jammed
from the USSR and Hungary, and from within Czechoslovakia.
Jamming against the RFE Czechoslovak
service has varied over the years, but can in general be
characterised as heavy noise jamming”.
There were 18 local town jammers in Czechoslovakia. Three sky
wave jamming radio stations transmitted interference to the USSR
In 1951-1988 there was a network of local jamming stations,
covering all the major cities, as well as several sky wave
jamming radio centers, beamed at the USSR, Poland and
The local and sky wave radio jamming centers were active between
1951 and 1964. By the end of February 1964,
was heard, except one low-power station in the Ukraine.
research document “A history of jamming”, dated 17 October
1965: “The classic jamming pattern still found in the case of
RFE Czech/Slovak and Bulgarian Services (and used against all
RFE languages prior to November 1956) is that of extensive
coverage of a country with low - or medium - intensity
interference from long-range jammers located in the Soviet Union
or in other satellites, plus reinforcement in highly populated
areas by large numbers of local jammers. Generally a number of
transmitters at different locations are active against each
frequency to be jammed. Operations are coordinated by a central
authority which includes a monitoring facility for identifying
jamming targets and probably for assessing effectiveness.”
the early seventies USIA announced its plan to use
communications satellites to start television broadcasting
directly into the USSR and Eastern Europe.
According to Viktor Sheimov, a KGB communications expert
who fled to the West, the Central Committee of the Communist
Party instructed the Institute of Space Research to
design a satellite television jamming system.
The scientists had concluded that jamming of satellite
television with existing surface jammers would probably be
ineffective due to the narrow beam receiving antennas.
On 27 March 1990 at 1:30 a.m. local time the American TV Marti started broadcasting into Cuba from the U.S. air balloon Fat Albert (part of the U.S. border surveillance system) floating over Cudjoe Key, South of Florida. Cubans had installed many small jamming transmitters beforehand that effectively “erased” the first TV Marti programs. However, the jamming was inadequate in the country side. To extend the jamming range, Castro’s engineers and pilots equipped several Russian made Mi-17 helicopters with jamming equipment. The Cubans got so exited that they even started jamming Radio Marti’s services from VOA transmitters in Greenville, NC, and Bethany, OH. Radio Marti previous to this had not been jammed by Cubans for 5 years.
It has been recently reported in 1997 that “Med TV, the world’s only Kurdish language satellite TV, suffered deliberate technical interference on 1st July, the launch date for its new test transmission on Eutelsat” (Med TV/World Media, BBC). Before this there was a Turkish protest aimed at Syria over Med TV’s terrestrial relays. According to World Media, the jamming was not an accident because “it completely swamped Med TV with a noisy dark screen and silenced the TV sound.” The management of Eutelsat began to investigate this affair but technically it is very difficult to determine the jammer’s location. Med TV director Hikmet Tabak’s view is that the Turkish Government has “both the political motive and the financial and technical capacity” to jam the Kurdish television station. BBC monitoring specialists confirm the existence of intentional jamming. Med TV’s representatives assert that interference in Turkey is carried out from the Sinop uplink station “by means of military equipment”. It is difficult to counter this type of jamming because the satellite’s transponder automatically relays the jamming signal sent to it.
the fall of 1997 Anatoly Batiushkin, one of the former managers
of the Soviet jamming system, gave this answer to my inquiry:
"All employees who have had at one time a direct
relationship with (jamming) work are now retired pensioners, and
my efforts to ask them to review your book (Jamming) were
not successful. All jamming sites have been either converted to
other purposes or have had their equipment written off. All
related legal, technical and operational documentation no longer
the end of 2003, the most active jamming countries are China,
Cuba, Iran and Vietnam. The jamming emissions were also traced
in North Korea, South Korea, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Mianmar.
Besides, Cuba and Iran are involved in satellite television
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