MOSCOW, JUNE 16 -- The KGB under Mikhail Gorbachev continues to infiltrate every workplace, church, artistic union and political group in the Soviet Union, although the intelligence organization is now filled with many dissident officers, according to former KGB Maj. Gen. Oleg Kalugin.

Kalugin, once the press attache' in the Soviet Embassy in Washington in the 1960s and then the Foreign Ministry's chief of counter-intelligence, stunned a congress of Communist Party progressives in the group Democratic Platform today when he took the podium at the October Theater to describe his career in cloak-and-dagger deception and the "unhealthy" machinations of the KGB.

"The role of the KGB hasn't changed. It's got a new image, but it's the same old horse," Kalugin said later in an interview. "The KGB is everywhere, they are omnipresent, and this is true today. As long as they are an instrument of the {Communist} Party, they are going to do this."

Criticism of every government organ has become widespread in the Soviet Union, but no one with such high rank in the security agency has ever leveled such savage public criticism at the KGB. In recent years, the KGB has tried hard to woo the Soviet and foreign press, claiming it has shifted its attention from the surveillance of Soviet citizens to fighting genuine crime. But Kalugin said the public relations campaign under Gorbachev and KGB Director Vladimir Kryuchkov was a "farce."

Kalugin, who three months ago was "retired" at 55 from the KGB, said he wrote Gorbachev a letter in 1987 telling the Soviet leader that the KGB was "the same as it was five or 15 years ago. We do not murder anyone on political grounds, but we can murder a person with character assassination. Thousands and thousands of human lives and careers are broken because of the manipulation of the KGB."

Kalugin said he is "not alone" within the KGB hierarchy as a "dissident" officer who wants the agency to separate itself from the Communist Party and cease its role as a watchdog of every group from the Academy of Sciences to the Composers' Union. But the vast majority of the KGB, led by Kryuchkov, defies all the recent publicity about a more benevolent agency and is actually deeply suspicious of radical reforms.

"The KGB is a very conservative organization," Kalugin said. "It's been trained to fight international imperialism, Zionism, the Vatican, Radio Liberty, Amnesty International, Titoists, Maoists and spying organizations. And now they are left without a job. All these bad names have disappeared from the horizon. And so they either go left, as I did, and I am not alone. But most of them go to the right. They say the country is being betrayed, the country's falling apart. They say we have to stand and fight to the end."

But the signs of dissidence are there. When Kryuchkov and other KGB leaders were candidates in an election to represent the KGB party organization at the 28th Party Congress next month, hundreds of officers voted against them. "That couldn't have happened five or ten years ago," he said.

Kalugin said that Gorbachev showed his reliance on the KGB when he made Kryuchkov a full member of the party's Politburo. "He needs the KGB, maybe in his fights against both the right and the left," Kalugin said, adding that Gorbachev's relationship with Kryuchkov was "a bad omen."

He said Kryuchkov lacked experience as an intelligence professional and has the instincts of a "party man."

"In fact, Kryuchkov never liked the organization, though maybe he likes it now," Kalugin said.

The government's new attempts to monitor KGB activity through the Supreme Soviet were "hopeless," according to Kalugin. The legislators, he said, "are just afraid of the KGB."

After several run-ins with the leadership in the last several years, Kalugin said he was finally forced out of the KGB after writing an article without agency clearance in the journal International Life last year obliquely criticizing the KGB for its operations abroad. That "infuriated" Kryuchkov, he said. The article identified Kalugin himself as a major general "formerly occupied for a long period of time with questions of diplomatic activity."

Rather than tend to his garden and "raise the tomatoes," Kalugin said he has decided to go public and join Democratic Platform, the leading organization pushing for radical reform within the Communist Party. But, he said, if the party does not change significantly after next month's Party Congress, he would quit the party.

Kalugin has the good looks of actors with razor-cut hair and ice-blue eyes who play Russian spies in James Bond movies. He speaks perfect English and said he was also fluent in German and Arabic. When Kalugin was an exchange student at the Columbia University School of Journalism in 1958, a New York Times profile described him as a "real personality kid." At the October Theater today he seemed to revel in his newfound celebrity. After his speech, Kalugin signed dozens of autographs for the Democratic Platform delegates.

Kalugin's salary was once 1,000 rubles a week, but now he receives a pension of 350. He said he lost his "food privileges" at the special KGB store but still lives in an apartment bloc among KGB officers in the Kuntsevo region of Moscow and on weekends at a dacha in a KGB complex south of the city. He said he was so pampered as a KGB agent that when he retired he "had no car and forgot to save up to buy one."

He knew Kim Philby, George Blake and other Western agents who defected to Moscow, Kalugin said. And he said he also knows Boris Yurchenko, a well-known defector who went through long interrogations at the CIA headquarters in Langley only to re-defect, escaping his handlers at a restaurant in Georgetown and leaving a trail of puzzlement.

"Yurchenko was in my department. I know him personally and I think he is a 100 percent traitor," Kalugin said. "I saw him on Kalinin Prospect a few weeks ago. We nodded recognition to one another. I think he is a professor now at the KGB Institute."

Kalugin said that the leadership of the KGB habitually denies its responsibilities and failings even when they have been the victim of a colossal deception. He said he could not understand how Kryuchkov could fail to resign after "for example" one of the KGB's leading agents in London, Oleg Grinovsky, turned out to be a British agent.

He also said he was disgusted that nearly all the officers who led operations against dissidents and refuseniks in the 1960s and 1970s continue to be promoted.

Kalugin, born in Leningrad, was an active member of the Young Communist League and studied American literature at Leningrad University. He volunteered for the KGB -- a natural gesture, he said, for an ideologically committed young man skilled in languages. "Like many young people of my generation, I believed in the final victory of our society, and I was willing, I wanted to promote this victory," he said.

The 1958 New York Times article said that "Soviet educational authorities" arranged Kalugin's stint at the Columbia journalism department, but he now says it was part of his KGB training: "Learning American customs and habits and so on." As the Times describes it, one of Kalugin's favorite pastimes in New York was sneaking backstage at Lincoln Center and snapping photographs of the ballerinas "sometimes in ungraceful poses."

At Columbia, Kalugin was friendly with a young graduate student who would one day become Gorbachev's closest adviser, Alexander Yakovlev. The two men were pictured sitting together on the steps of Columbia's Low Library in a Times article on Soviet exchange students. Kalugin said that even now he is on "speaking terms" with Yakovlev, though he "doubted" if Yakovlev would approve of his call to dismantle the KGB in its current form.

There is no way to document all of Kalugin's career, much less his secret activities. And to seek to confirm such a story here at the KGB press office is an exercise in futility. {But CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield in Washington confirmed that an Oleg Kalugin was once a KGB major general in charge of counterintelligence, the Associated Press reported.}

Kalugin said he worked from 1960-1964 for Soviet radio as a correspondent at the United Nations, a classic type of KGB cover. Then as press attache' at the embassy in Washington, Kalugin used his flawless English and charm to coax information out of many well-known journalists, including Walter Lippmann, Max Frankel and Carl Rowan.

"I always knew Oleg was KGB because he was so intelligent. The smart ones are always KGB," said Stephen Rosenfeld, a columnist and the deputy editorial page editor for The Washington Post. "I remember him asking me lots of questions about how the U.S. might react if {former Kremlin leader Leonid} Brezhnev were to visit the States in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia."

Kalugin, for his part, said he remembered getting a cable from Moscow telling him to inform the Soviet ambassador at the time, Anatoliy Dobrynin, that Warsaw Pact troops would crush the "Prague Spring" the next day. "They told us we would have to face the music," Kalugin said.

He said that both he and Dobrynin were angered by the news of the imminent invasion. "I believed in the Prague Spring," Kalugin said. "When I told Dobrynin the news, he said, 'Oh, what a foolish thing to do.' "

Shortly before Kalugin left Washington for Moscow in 1970, syndicated columnist Jack Anderson wrote a column accusing Kalugin of trying to infiltrate anti-Castro groups in New York and Nicaragua and, through the seduction of a secretary, an FBI office. But the joke was on "the Russian Romeo," Anderson wrote, because the secretary was actually an FBI plant. As for his neighbors, Anderson wrote, "for those few who know the truth about Oleg Kalugin, there is a vague feeling of being watched."

Kalugin said he returned to Moscow to work as a KGB operative within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He said he ran into trouble in 1979 when he tried to defend a scientist who was falsely imprisoned.

A decade later, as deputy KGB chief in the Leningrad region, he attracted attention once more when he wrote letters to the Central Commmittee describing cases of bribery and corruption among party officials, police officers and the prosecutor's office.

Kalugin said he expected that there would be "consequences" for his speech at the Democratic Platform congress and his three-hour-long session with a small group of Western reporters. He kept his plans for "coming out" a secret until he got to the hall "so nothing funny would happen on the way to the Forum."

"I told Kryuchkov's deputy before I left {the KGB} that Kryuchkov made a mistake kicking me out at my age," he said. "If I'd have been 65 or 70, maybe I'd have kept my mouth shut."

As the interview ended, the reporters joked about the surveillance of foreign journalists over the years in Moscow, and Kalugin laughed.

"I imagine they have a file on each of you," he said. "We all have one. Let's be realistic."