664/2023 Eugenia Nazrullaeva, Mark Harrison
Who is targeted by preventive repression and why? In the Soviet Union, the KGB applied a form of low-intensity preventive policing, called profilaktika. Citizens found to be engaging in politically and socially disruptive misdemeanors were invited to discuss their behavior and to receive a warning. Using novel data from Lithuania, a former Soviet republic, in the late 1950s and the 1970s, we study the profile and behaviors of the citizens who became subjects of interest to the KGB. We use topic modeling to investigate the operational focuses of profilaktika. We find that profilaktika began as a way of managing specific threats or “known risks” that arose from the experience of postwar Sovietization. The proportion of “unknown risks” – people without risk factors in their background or personal records – increased by the 1970s. These people were targeted because of their anti-Soviet behaviour, which the KGB attributed to “contagious” foreign influences and the spread of harmful values.