Did terrorist attacks ever occur within the borders of the USSR?

By this, I do not mean:

  • terrorist acts committed by the USSR against its own people
  • terrorists abroad sponsored by the USSR
  • acts of terror committed within Bolshevik/Soviet territory during the Russian Civil War or World War 2

Edit: for the purpose of this question, a terrorist attack is an attempt to kill people for a political reason, by somebody other than the government.

  • 1
    Hijackings and alleged subway bombings by Armenian nationalists, I recall reading on that somewhere Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 18:01
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    For all purposes, WWII was not over until the Russkies quashed resistance in Ukraine and the Baltics. Some of that was homebred, some was funded by the CIA just like in Tibet. Ugly stuff on both sides - entire villages razed. Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 18:11
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    @NeMo, you define terrorism as killing for political reasons, except when government does. Hence, if two Russians drink vodka, have argument about whether to bomb Jerusalem first or Washington, and then one of them kills another with a knife — this would match your criteria, but this is obviously not terrorism. Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 22:14
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    I think you should apply common sense to my definition, rather than expecting me to construct a watertight definition which deals totally with every hypothetical situation you can dream up. If you have something which really happened, tell us about it and if it reveals a problem in my defintion, I'll amend it.
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 22:26
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    @Deer Hunter Four Soviet diplomats were kidnapped in1985. One was killed by his captors; the other three were released a month later. According to a 1986 report by the Jerusalem Post, the release of the hostages occurred following the kidnapping and murder of a key Hezbollah leader by the KGB.
    – Him
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 21:20

4 Answers 4


Russian wiki has decently good article on terrorist attacks in Russia, including ones which took place in USSR.

  • 1927 The bomb in Leningrad Communist University; 1 killed, 26 wounded; done by white emigrants terroristic organization Russian Common-Military Union
  • 1934 Kirov's murder
  • 1942 Stalin assasination attempt (actually killer shoot at Mikoyan's car by mistake)
  • 1947 Bombing house in Lvov; 10 killed; done by Ukrainian nationalist, member of Ukrainian Socialist-Radical Party
  • 1967 Bombing attempt in the Red Square (no reliable info on victims)
  • 1968 Shooting in Kursk; 13 killed, 11 wounded
  • 1969 Brezhnev assasination attempt
  • 1971 Bombing bus in Krasnodar; 10 killed; done by psycho due to "misanthropy"
  • 1973 bomb explosion near Lenin mausoleum; 3 killed (including suicide bomber), 4 wounded; terrorist was not identified
  • 1977 the series of three bombings in Moscow (incl. Moscow subway); 29 killed; done by armenian nationalists
  • 1990 Gorbachev assasination attempt

Also numerous (more than 15) taking hostages and plane hijackings, mostly non-politically motivated, including 1973 Tu-104 plane crash due to terrorist's bomb detonation (all 81 died).

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    BTW on Kirov's murder. Although the results of investigation were doubtful (it's hard to believe that just a single person could perform that action inside a well-secured area), yet we must classify that murder as terroristic act anyway, just like we treat 9/11/11 - bad investigation and existence of some conspiracy theory is not a reason enough to change this.
    – Matt
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 8:16
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    If you're referring to the notion that Stalin did it as conspiracy theory, then it's no more so than saying the Reichstag fire was started by Hitler
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 15:11
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    This looks like it could also integrate the Forest Brothers, who were of cause 'resistance and freedom fighters', throwing the occasional bomb. But that the last Laithuanian one seized operating in 1978 is impressive… Commented Jan 25, 2020 at 16:29
  • 1977 bombing: "29 killed"--The Wikipedia page you link to says 7 killed?
    – user103496
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 3:14

I found the article about the bombings by Armenian nationalists: 1977 Moscow bombings (Wikipedia).

  • It was a series of three explosions in Moscow subway and at two grocery stores in downtown Moscow (7 dead, abt. 40 injured).

I also found this page: Террористические акты в СССР: проблема с давней историей (Beggin' pardon for any possible mistranslations) with more details:

  • 1970 (other sources cite 1955): Arkhangelsk - a lone gunman with an automatic rifle killed several local party officials
  • 1970: Brazinska's father and son hijacked a plane, killed a flight attendant, wounded two of the crew, landed in Turkey, ended up in the United States
  • 1975: Georgia (a USSR republic): three explosions close to official buildings, perpetrator executed.
  • 1979: somewhere near Moscow: three politically motivated explosions

Assassination attempts:

  • 1942: Saveliy Dmitriev: attempted assassination of Joseph Stalin (turned out he mistook another party official for JS)
  • 1969: Viktor Ilyin: Brezhnev assassination attempt
  • 1990: Alexandr Schmonov: Gorbatchev assassination attempt

Other translated pages also cite:

  • 1970: an attempt by 16 Soviet Jews to hijack a plane from Leningrad.
  • Post-WWII (into the 1950's): insurgencies in Ukraine and the Baltics, with numerous nasty killings and reprisals
  • 1950-1980s: various small-scale killings of party officials by groups of Chechens.

Unfortunately I can't recall specific details but while visiting a museum of Ukrainian Nationalism in the city of Lviv in the 1990s I remember seeing a huge map covering an entire wall showing acts of terrorism allegedly committed by Ukrainian nationalists all across the Soviet Union -- there were a LOT of them and of course mostly within the territory of Ukraine, but by no means all, some even in the far reaches of Siberia, and occurring over the full lifetime of the USSR, although mostly prior to the 1970s.


Yes, there was some terrorism in the USSR.

  • As you know, Kirov has been assassinated.

  • Many people were accused during Stalin's era in conspiring in making terrorist acts or assassinations, it is difficult to say how much of it was true.

  • After the war there were some rebels in Western Ukraine, they uses terrorist tactics (such as killing the school teachers etc).

  • There were some people who allegedly attempted to shoot on Soviet leaders during public speeches (including Brezhnev). This was apparently inspired by the assassination of Kennedy.

  • In the 1970s a problem emerged with plane hijackers. They usually threatened to blow up the plane and demanded a landing abroad. It was usually a way to emigrate to other countries and the hijackers rarely had real bombs and weapons.

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    -1: This answer badly needs prooflinks and credible references. „Many people“, „some people“, and „apparently inspired“ are just bareword statements that have nothing to do with history (and History.SE). Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 20:16
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    @Ne Mo Wikipedia has it, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brezhnev_assassination_attempt but it was not a sole attempt.
    – Anixx
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 22:41
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    @jwenting You can't just "disqualify" Kirov's case, as it is really unclear who stood behind that. On the matter of "false accusations", at least in 1920s there were quite a few well-known terrorist groups (most famous person was Savinkov).
    – Matt
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 8:54
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    @Anixx nonsense. That would disqualify a large number of Stalin's victims as being ordered by the regime. You're as usual just trying to come up with excuses for Stalinism.
    – jwenting
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 11:33
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    @jwenting if you disagree with the Kirov assassination 'counting', why don't you also talk about it in Matt's answer, as it is, you're obviously picking on Anixx here.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 19:37

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