MOSCOW – On September 13, Gennady Zaitsev, Soviet Spetsnaz General, Hero of the Soviet Union, one of the first commanders of the legendary Alpha Group (officially known as the Spetsgruppa A), celebrated his 85th birthday. His whole life had been a service to his Motherland. He was responsible for storming the Presidential Palace in Kabul during the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan. He personally negotiated with the Western and Saudi-backed terrorists and managed to save the hostages.
Spetsgruppa A, also known as Alpha Group, or just Alfa, whose official name is Directorate “A” of the FSB Special Purpose Center (TsSN FSB), is an elite, stand-alone sub-unit of Russia’s special forces. It is a dedicated counter-terrorism task force of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which primarily prevents and responds to violent acts in public transportation and buildings. It was created by the Soviet KGB in 1974. Although little is known about the exact nature of its primary directives, it is speculated that the unit is authorized to act under the direct control and sanction of Russia’s top political leadership, similar to its sister unit, the Directorate “V” (Vympel), which is officially tasked with protecting Russia’s strategic installations.
It is also available for extended police duties, for paramilitary operations, and for covert operations, both domestically and internationally. Two commanding officers of the Alpha Group were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union: Gen. Viktor Karpukhin and Gen. Gennady Zaitsev.