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State Security Service
Služba državne bezbednosti
Služba državne sigurnosti
Secret police overview
Formed 13 March 1946 (1946-03-13)
Superseding agency State Security Service (FR Yugoslavia)
Jurisdiction Yugoslavia
Headquarters Belgrade

The State Security Service[Note 1] (SDB or SDS), more commonly known by its original name as the State Security Administration[Note 2] (UDBA or UDSA), was the secret police of Yugoslavia. Best known at all times simply by the acronym UDBA,[Note 3] in its latter decades it was composed of six semi-independent secret police organizations - one for each of the six Yugoslav federal republics - coordinated by the central federal office.

Although it operated with more restraint than other secret police agencies in the communist dictatorships of Eastern Europe, the UDBA was nonetheless a feared tool of control. It is alleged that the UDBA was responsible for the "eliminations" of dozens of enemies of the state within Yugoslavia and internationally (estimates about 200 assassinations and kidnappings). Eliminations vary from those of World War II Ustaše (fascist) leaders Ante Pavelić and Vjekoslav Luburić (in Spain and Argentina), to Croatian emigrant Bruno Bušić.[1]

With the breakup of Yugoslavia, it continued to work as the State Security Service of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.


UDBA formed a major part of the Yugoslav intelligence services from 1946-1991, and was primarily responsible for internal state security. After 1946 the UDB underwent numerous security and intelligence changes due to topical issues at that time, including: fighting gangs; protection of the economy; Cominform/Informbiro; and bureaucratic aspirations. In 1945 and 1946, for instance, the UDB was organized into districts. In 1950, when the administrative-territorial units were abolished as authorities,[2] the UDB was reorganized again. During this period the intelligence and security activities concentrated less on intelligence and more on internal security. There was an emphasis on collectivism, brotherhood, social harmony, loyalty, and tolerance towards those with different views. Deviation from this set of values became an immediate issue for security services.

Later, the use of force was mitigated and when the process of "decentralization of people's power" began, intelligence and security services underwent further reorganization in order to decentralise power and increase effectiveness. The Act on Internal Affairs[3] and the Decree on Organization of State Internal Affairs Secretariat regulated the intelligence security authority as the prerogative of the State Security Directorate within the Ministry of the Interior. The following reorganization addressed issues relating to the competence of the federation (state security, cross-border traffic, foreign citizens, passports, introduction and dissemination of foreign press, and federal citizenship).


Intelligence and security activity was organized in the following manner:

  • After OZNA (Одељење заштите народа / Odeljenje zaštite naroda) was abolished, intelligence activity was divided among various federal ministries: the Federal Ministry of the Interior by the State Security Administration, and the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Service of Investigation and Documentation (SID) which collected foreign political information; military-defense intelligence was handled by the GS 2nd Department - KOS (Kontraobaveštajna služba / Counterintelligence Service) of Yugoslav People's Army.
  • SDB in the republics was not autonomous, but was tied to the federal service which co-ordinated the work and issued instructions.
  • State security was regulated by secret legislation (secret Official Gazette), which prescribed the use of special operations. The SDB performed house searches, covert interceptions inside the premises, telecommunications interception, covert surveillance of people, and covert interception of letters and other consignments.
  • Of primary interest to the SDB was domestic security; identifying and obstructing activities of the "domestic enemy" (i.e. the "bourgeois rightwing", clericalists, members of the Cominform, nationalists, and separatists). Intelligence work abroad was deemed less important and was under federal control.
  • The SDB was a "political police", answerable to the party organization from which it received its guidelines and to which it reported. The SDB was so deeply rooted in the political system that one of its tasks was the preparation of "Political Security Assessments"; that is, assessments on literally all spheres of life.
  • During its activity, the SDB enjoyed a wide range of power, including classical police powers (identifications, interrogations, and arrests).
  • The SDB organization was constantly changing and making improvements, but it remained tied to the central unit in republic capitals and smaller working groups in the field. All information and data flowed into the central unit in the capitals and sent on from there to the users. Field groups had working contacts with the local authorities, but did not answer to them.


From 1963 - 1974, security intelligence services dealt with a series of domestic and foreign political events. At home, there were political confrontation both before and after the Brioni Plenum (1966), liberal flareups and massive leftist Students' demonstrations in Belgrade in 1968, Hrvatsko proljeće (Croatian Spring) or "MASPOK" (mass movement) in Croatia in 1971, an incursion of a group of nationalists (Raduša, 1972), and a revival of nationalism in Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, and Slovenia. The most significant event abroad was the invasion of the Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia in 1968.

These were the circumstances at the time the first act on internal affairs of the individual republics was adopted in 1967. According to this act, internal affairs were handled directly by the municipal administrative bodies and the secretariats of internal affairs of each republic or by their provincial bodies. This was the first time since 1945 that republics gained control and greater influence over their individual security organs and intelligence security services.

The State Security Service (SDB) was defined by law as a professional service within the Republic Secretariat of Internal Affairs (RSUP). Naturally, most of its competence remained within federal institutions, as prescribed by the Act on Handling Internal Affairs Under Competence of Federal Administrative Bodies (1971), which determined that the federal secretariat of internal affairs coordinate the work of the SDB in the republics and provinces. Further steps were taken with the transformation of state administration, adoption of the Federal Act on State Administration (1978), and the Republic Act (1978). The newly adopted act on internal affairs tasked the Republic Secretariat of Internal Affairs (RSUP) with state security issues, which then became RSUP issues and were no longer given special handling "at the RSUP". This resolution remained in force until the 1991 modifications of the act on internal affairs.


Year Country Assassinated
1946  Italy Ivo Protulipac
 Italy Andrej Uršič
1948  Austria Ilija Abramović
1960  Argentina Dinka Domančinović
1962  Argentina Rudolf Kantonci
1966  Canada Mate Miličević
1967  West Germany Joze Jelić, Mile Jelić, Vlado Murat, Jusuf Gervalla, Bardhosh Gervalla, Anđelko Pernar, Marijan Šimundić, Petar Tominac
1968  Austria Josip Krtalić
 Australia Pero Čović
 France Nedjeljko Mrkonjić
 Italy Ante Znaor
 West Germany Đuro Kokić, Vid Maričić, Mile Rukavina, Krešimir Tolj, Hrvoje Ursa
1969  West Germany Mirko Ćurić, Nahid Kulenović
 Spain Vjekoslav (Maks) Luburić
1971  Argentina Ivo Bogdan
 UK Maksim Krstulović
 West Germany Mirko Šimić
 Sweden Mijo Lijić
1972  Italy Rosemarie Bahorić, Stjepan Ševo, Tatjana Ševo
 West Germany Ivan Mihalić, Josip Senić
1973  West Germany Josip Buljan-Mikulić
1974  West Germany Mate Jozak
1975  Austria Nikola Martinović
 Belgium Matko Bradarić
 Denmark Vinko Eljuga
 West Germany Ivica Miošević, Nikola Penava, Ilija Vučić
 Sweden Stipe Mikulić
1976  France Ivan Tuksor
1977 Jozo Oreč
 West Germany Ivan Vučić
1978  France Bruno Bušić
 United States Križan Brkić
1979  Canada Cvitko Cicvarić, Goran Šećer
 United States Marijan Rudela, Zvonko Šimac
1980  West Germany Mirko Desker, Nikola Miličević
1981  France Mate Kolić
 West Germany Petar Bilandžić, Ivo Furlić, Ivan Jurišić, Mladen Jurišić, Ante Kostić, Jusuf Gervalla, Bardhosh Gervalla, Kadri Zeka
  Switzerland Stanko Nižić
1983  West Germany Stjepan Đureković, Franjo Mikulić, Đuro Zagajski, Milan Župan
1984  West Germany Slavko Logarić
1984  Austria Tomislav Katalenic
1986  United States Franjo Mašić
1987  Canada Damir Đureković
 West Germany Ivan Hlevnjak
1989  West Germany Ante Đapić
1990  Belgium Enver Hadri

Post-1986 period

The role of intelligence and security changed after 1986, when a different mentality reigned within the Party and the processes of democratization were initiated. Intelligence security agencies came under attack, and many people started publicly writing about and criticizing the SDB. There were no more taboo subjects. The party organization was abolished in the SDB and the first attempts to introduce parliamentary control began.

The appointment of a commission to monitor the work was one of the most absurd decisions made by the country's intelligence security services during the era of "social democracy", since SDB activity was regulated by federal legislation and regulations published in the secret Official Gazettes. Neither the commission members nor its president had access to these Acts. It was difficult to evaluate information, since the commission had no investigative powers or capability to verify information. The head of the service was tasked simply to deliver requested information, even classified, to the commission. The SDB was also still receiving tasks from the Party, although the supervising commission lacked the powers to control those tasks. The above-mentioned events undermined the unity of the SDB, which formulated its own, unpublished regulations (sub-legal acts, ordinances, etc.). This made any protest about violation of rights impossible, as the regulations were inaccessible to the public.

The first democratic multi party elections in 1990, which enhanced the process of democratization, reverberated within the Federal Secretariat of Internal Affairs (SSUP) and Federal State Security Service (SSDB), which were fighting to maintain control over the individual SDBs in the republics. The latter became increasingly disunited; it was still legally connected to the federal bodies, but was becoming aware of the fact that it operated and worked in their particular republic. Some professional cadres, especially those in the "domestic field" (dealing with the "bourgeois right wing", clericalists, and student movements), began leaving the service. Conflict was increasing, and SDB archives were being systematically destroyed. In its search for new roles, the SDBs also began to limit information they were sending to the SSDB. It ultimately restricted its information to foreign intelligence services.

Along with the weakening positions of the SSDB position was becoming weaker and attempts by the Yugoslav People's Army Security Service or KOS to strengthen its position in the republics and in the individual SDBs were becoming more numerous. The attempts failed because they depended upon cadres of other nationalities still employed at the SDBs but who had no access to data bases and had no decision-making power due to their "Yugoslav" orientation.

Recently released files show over 1 million people of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia and other Yugoslav republics, whose files the UDBA in Slovenia kept records. In 2003 and 2010, it was to possible to see the names of the UDBA agents in Slovenia, some of whom are still active in the Slovenian Military and the Ministry of Interior, at the website The government of Slovenia promptly demanded the removal of pages from the website, so they are currently not accessible.



See also

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