Spymaster: My Thirty-two Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West

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We also had a hand, unfortunately, in the assassination of the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov. Location 116

I found one, an American journalist who had worked for the KGB and then been expelled from the USSR in June 1941 for reporting (correctly) about Hitler’s imminent attack on the Soviet Union. Location 504

the best agents the KGB ever had—and I saw this firsthand as deputy chief of station in Washington—were the volunteers who walked into our embassy and literally dumped material in our laps. Location 684

when Moscow wanted to hammer home its official line—as it did when accusations arose of Soviet involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy—we in political intelligence were called on to propagate the Soviet point of view. Location 691

I struck up a friendship with Jay Rockefeller, scion of the Rockefeller family and future governor and senator from West Virginia. Location 789

There was another reason why the KGB reacted so vehemently to the Nosenko defection. He was the son of a high-ranking minister in the Stalin government, and an investigation showed that this privileged officer—like so many other KGB officers—was a hard-drinking, philandering, and generally unreliable representative of our vaunted security service. Nosenko was having an affair with an attractive young woman who worked in the KGB archives. It turned out that she had been carrying on affairs with a small army of KGB men, and more than a dozen officers were subsequently fired for their association with her and Nosenko. Location 1141

I took his advice, waiting until after I retired in 1990 to begin my public campaign against the KGB—a campaign that saw Kryuchkov and Gorbachev strip me of my rank and pension. Location 1365

I asked Solomatin, then retired in Moscow, if he would be willing to help me. He said he would. So I sent reporters from several major Moscow newspapers to his apartment to speak with him. But when they got there, Solomatin (his hands shaking) told them he wouldn’t talk. Location 1367

This portrait of potential spies and defectors not only matched people from the Soviet side, but American traitors as well. Location 1595

Walker said later that his meeting at the department store was the last face-to-face rendezvous with Linkov. I believe there was one more. Location 1695

Department Sixteen did such a good job keeping Walker a secret that even high-ranking KGB defectors didn’t know about the American spy. Vitaly Yurchenko was one such defector who, though a security officer at the Washington station from 1975 to 1980, never heard of Walker. Location 1745

A substantial part of the KGB effort in the United States went into discrediting the federal government and its agencies. Location 1820

In the late 1960s and 1970s, one of our station’s more innovative dirty tricks campaigns involved doctoring purloined American documents. We would take CIA, Pentagon, or State Department documents—obtained from a variety of sources—insert sinister phrases in them, stamp them TOP SECRET, and pass them on to leftist journalists in America or around the world. Location 1827

Soviet propaganda kept citing instances of U.S. and Western involvement in the Czech events, alleging that CIA and NATO agents had infiltrated the country to foment revolution. Pravda and other Soviet media reported that Warsaw Pact troops had found CIA arms caches and that thousands of NATO troops, disguised as tourists, had flooded into Prague. I knew it was all nonsense, and that any signs of CIA involvement were sure to have been fabricated by the KGB’s “active measures” experts—as turned out to be the case. Location 2096

This gigantism had another result (which should not be overlooked, for it was one of the main reasons why the Soviet Union ultimately self-destructed): the KGB—like the army, the Communist Party, and the gargantuan military-industrial complex—was siphoning off an enormous percentage of the Soviet Union’s financial resources. Location 2151

As 1968 progressed, our station—and particularly my political intelligence line—got deeply involved in analyzing the presidential race between Republican nominee Richard Nixon and Democrat Hubert Humphrey. We forged a close back-channel tie with Henry Kissinger that not only changed our view of the race but also opened up a direct line between Brezhnev and Nixon that was to significantly improve U.S.-Soviet relations. Location 2157

We never had any illusions about trying to recruit Kissinger; he was simply a source of political intelligence. When Kissinger became a close political adviser to Nixon during the campaign, however, we knew that we had a very important relationship on our hands, one that could go well beyond what Sedov and Kissinger had enjoyed before. Location 2173

CIA director William Colby put it well when he said in the 1970s, “The Russians sometimes succeed in recruiting Americans on a material basis, making one-time payments for information passed on. They will only be able to recruit people on an ideological basis when they can present convincing proof that their country is the model society of the future, both politically and socially.” Location 2391

Corruption was so widespread in India that one top minister offered to pass us information for a fee of $50,000. (Years later he would become the prime minister of India.) Location 2455

“How many defectors do we have?” Andropov asked Boyarov. “Are they living well? Are they treated all right? Make a life for them so that everyone will envy them. Everyone should know about it.” Location 2575

cast aside. He had lost any reason to live. So Boyarov and I devised a two-pronged strategy to save Philby. The first, and less important, was to improve his material lot. The second, and crucial, was to make him feel useful again, and I quickly came to see that Philby could still be of service to the KGB and the Soviet Union. Location 2638

Department Two was assigned to penetrate NATO and Western intelligence services. We enjoyed respectable success primarily because of an aging but loyal group of spies who had burrowed into French and English ranks around the time of World War II. Our East German brothers made sure we had thoroughly infiltrated West Germany’s secret services. Location 2875

We also produced a highly classified book entitled Who’s Who in the CIA. It was about as thick as a Manhattan phone directory and contained biographical information on ten thousand current and former CIA agents. Location 2903

I do not believe the KGB had anything to do with Buckley’s abduction or torture, though it is a virtual certainty that the transcript of Buckley’s interrogation (the Hezbollah butchers recorded it) was eventually passed or sold to the KGB for a handsome sum. Location 3203

The East German foreign intelligence agency, headed by the brilliant Markus Wolf, had so deeply penetrated the West German government, military, and secret services that about all we had to do was lie back and stay out of Wolf’s way. Location 3337

Stalin’s words that the creation of an East German state “was a turning point in the history of Europe, and the existence of a peace-loving, democratic Germany beside the peace-loving Soviet Union rules out a new war on the European Continent.” Location 3349

The one East German activity that made my superiors at KGB headquarters squirm was its support of international terrorists, such as the infamous Carlos. We knew full well that a wide variety of terrorists—including those from the PLO, the Italian Red Brigades, and the West German Baader-Meinhof gang—were receiving refuge and support in East Germany. Location 3403

In 1976, knowing that we could not remain forever immune from the growing terrorist threat, on Andropov’s instruction, I formed a small unit to do research on the world’s leading terrorists and terrorist organizations. Location 3417

Andropov even once suggested that we attempt to penetrate the Mafia. He must have seen The Godfather. “Why don’t we try to use Mafia to recruit Americans of Italian origin?” he asked. It wasn’t a bad idea, but we pointed out that an international scandal would arise if it ever became known that we had anything to do with Italian organized crime. Location 3425

as Soviet and KGB involvement deepened, Kryuchkov compounded the initial error by insisting that all intelligence information—from the GRU, the KGB, and the Foreign Ministry—be funneled through KGB intelligence before being presented to the Politburo. It was a serious mistake, for Kryuchkov began filtering out bad news, exaggerating our achievements, Location 4593

the three years Kryuchkov served Gorbachev, the Soviet leader came to rely on the KGB chairman more and more, receiving a steady stream of doctored and biased information that tended to isolate Gorbachev and alter his view of the historic forces swirling around him. Location 4735

when Gorbachev at last began distancing himself from the orthodox Communist views to which Kryuchkov still clung, the KGB boss betrayed his leader and hatched the plot that would lead to the ill-fated coup of August 1991. Location 4737

he appeared at the Kremlin inauguration of President Putin in the year 2000, and later advised the former KGB lieutenant colonel on matters of state security and intelligence. No wonder the new Russian leader stalled the reforms, reversed the process of democratization, and introduced discredited Soviet practices. Location 4956

“We must be ready to employ trickery, deceit, law-breaking, withholding and concealing the truth. There are no morals in politics. There is only expedience.” Location 5041

Cultivating and recruiting agents of influence, especially among political figures, businessmen, and the media. • Transferring money to political parties, movements, and front organizations. • Manipulating and controlling the media. In 1981 alone, the KGB, according to its report to the CP Central Committee, funded or sponsored 70 books and brochures, 4,865 articles in foreign and Soviet newspapers and magazines, 66 feature and documentary films, 1,500 radio and TV programs, 3,000 conferences and exhibitions, 170,000 reports to the public. • Written and oral disinformation, planting Location 5053

• Faked defections and wide use of double agents.
• Manipulation of mass organizations, pickets, protest groups, creation and financing of “committees of solidarity,” public tribunals, and so on.
• Radio propaganda, including clandestine broadcasting, leaflets, public scandals, strikes, underground cells, governments in exile, economic subversion, sabotage, artificial oil, and power supply difficulties.
• Training people for guerrilla warfare, assassinations, arson, paramilitary operations, forcible overthrow of governments, civil war. Location 5059

Don’t forget about the Onassis billions and the fact that if she bears him a child, all those billions will belong to a Soviet citizen. Location 5256

Christina Onassis apparently suspected him of continuing to work for the KGB, and eventually the couple divorced. Location 5267

The idiots suspected that I was a CIA agent! Location 5367

Our KGB office in Leningrad (some 3,000 strong, half of them involved in reading other people’s mail and eavesdropping) continued to harass dissidents and ordinary citizens, as well as hunt futilely for spies. I can truly say that nearly all of what we did was useless. Location 5706

We had an expression in Russia for this meaningless scurrying about: “mice games” (mysheniye voznya). And Location 5807

“Some people may think that I have jumped on the democratic bandwagon with evil intentions. I understand that there may be suspicions in your minds, but let me tell you that you’re wrong. I am from the KGB. I worked in that organization for more than thirty years, and I want to tell all of you how the KGB works against the best interests of democratic forces in this country.” There was utter silence in the hall as I talked about myself and explained why the KGB must be radically reformed and the number of agents drastically reduced: “We cannot begin a serious restructuring of society until we rid ourselves of the restraints imposed by an organization which has penetrated every sphere of our lives, which interferes with all aspects of state life, political life, the economy, science, arts, religion, even sports. Today, just as ten or twenty years ago, the hand of the KGB is everywhere. And any talk of perestroika without reforming the KGB is nothing but a lie. All the much-ballyhooed changes in the KGB are cosmetic, a disguise on the ugly face of the Stalin-Brezhnev era. In fact, all the elements of the old dictatorship are still in place. The chief assistant and handmaiden of the Communist Party remains the KGB. In order to secure genuine changes in our country, this structure of violence and falsehood must be dismantled.” Location 6579

About the time Gorbachev issued his decree stripping me of my rank and pension, my friends in the KGB told me that Kryuchkov had pulled my medical records from agency files. I was trying not to be paranoid, but the only reason I could see for his move was foul play. Perhaps, as had been done with Solzhenitsyn and other troublemakers, the KGB was planning to drug or poison me. I had no idea. But in my speeches and interviews, I always mentioned the KGB’s “special operations” and efforts to physically harm dissidents, and said that if anything happened to me, it would be clear who was responsible. Location 6627

The KGB also launched a bitter attack on me in the press. The rather liberal Leningrad newspaper Smena published a full-page article which said I was still working for the KGB and was part of an elaborate plot to infiltrate the democratic movement. The story was reprinted around the country. Pravda weighed in with an article saying I was an ambitious, incompetent officer, and hinting darkly that I may have worked for the CIA. The story clearly was written by the KGB, though Pravda said one of its correspondents (a man named V. Ivanov, the Russian equivalent of John Doe) penned the piece. Location 6636

As a Soviet legislator, I was entitled to a diplomatic passport, and after my election the KGB could do nothing to stop me from going abroad. Location 6837

In the fifteen months I was a deputy—from September 1990 to December 1991—I and other reform politicians watched with dismay as Gorbachev, pushed by the top officials of his government, became increasingly conservative. In hindsight, it’s clear that KGB Chairman Kryuchkov, Defense Minister Dimitri Yazov, Interior Minister Boris Pugo, Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov, and others were exerting immense pressure on Gorbachev. These reactionary men were alternately confused and outraged as the foundations of the Soviet state rapidly crumbled. Republics such as the Baltic States were fighting for independence and political groups were chipping away at the authority of the Communist Party. Reformers were pushing hard for the introduction of a capitalist economy. So these Gray Cardinals of the old order fought a desperate rearguard action, pushing Gorbachev into increasingly hard-line positions, which he would then abandon when Soviet and international reaction to the crackdown became too intense. Location 6854

Bakatin did make progress. At my suggestion, he issued an order disbanding the KGB unit that controlled the Russian Orthodox Church. He drastically reduced electronic and physical surveillance and ended KGB persecution of dissidents. Most important, he dismembered the organization and ended its monolithic power. Whereas the KGB once controlled border troops, foreign intelligence, domestic security, the presidential bodyguard, and electronic intelligence gathering, Bakatin and Gorbachev issued decrees making each one of these departments a separate organization. It was a big step forward and mercifully ended the practice of concentrating so much power in the hands of one organization. The old KGB, in American terms, had functioned as the CIA, FBI, Secret Service, National Security Agency, and Border Patrol combined. Now its power had been splintered, making it far more difficult for a man like Vladimir Kryuchkov ever to pull off a coup again. But there was much Bakatin couldn’t do that still hasn’t been done. I urged him to reduce manpower in the old KGB, which had reached 500,000, by half. Bakatin took a step in that direction by retiring many officers over fifty years old. But his order was quickly countermanded by the new head of the Russian KGB. It was, after all, the autumn of 1991, a period when the Soviet Union was dying and Russia and the republics were rising in its place. By early December 1991, Bakatin, like Gorbachev, found that he had little power. Location 7090

In 1991, the KGB reported to the Politburo about its efforts to launch nearly six hundred joint ventures run by “retired” KGB officers. Location 7167

Some of my lectures were open to the general public, and within weeks I met distinguished representatives of the U.S. intelligence community. Among them was former CIA director Richard Helms. He attended two of my lectures, talked to me afterward, and then invited my wife and me to dinner at his home. For nearly ten years after that, we would meet regularly. The last time I saw him was at a prestigious club in the Washington area. He looked frail and exhausted. He died a few weeks later, and I went to his funeral to pay my respects to the outstanding American intelligence officer. Before I met Helms I was lucky to become friendly with yet another remarkable man, former CIA director William Colby. During one of my first trips abroad after I became People’s Deputy of the USSR, I got acquainted with Colby at a seminar in Berlin devoted to the problems of international terrorism. Colby invited me to join him at a nearby restaurant, and the next day we were both interviewed in Treptow Park by German television. As we walked in the park and answered questions on camera, our interviewer asked me pointedly, “What do you think of Mr. Colby as a former leading figure in U.S. intelligence?” It was May 1991, and the KGB still exercised full control of the USSR. Yet my answer was unequivocal and defiant. “Had I had a choice in my earlier life, I would have gladly worked under Mr. Colby rather than under KGB Chairman Kryuchkov.” Colby traveled to Russia in late 1991 and this time I hosted him at a dinner in my home. We would become friends and collaborators in a Hollywood-produced videogame, Spycraft. Location 7260

The emergence of the old KGB guard, albeit a younger generation, in the Russian political arena was the common people’s response to lawlessness and a moral void. The old political establishment totally discredited itself, but the armed forces—underpaid, underhoused, demoralized—could not offer an alternative. The Orthodox Church, recovering from decades of dependence and servility, was still run by the hierarchs on a short leash held by the KGB. And here comes the man Vladimir Putin, young, sober, and sportsmanlike. He embodies the new breed of KGB, uninvolved in political persecution and torture. He worked for the Soviet intelligence service, romanticized and serialized in Soviet adventure books and television programs since the end of World War II. It does not matter that he spent years in East Germany and was deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, dealing with problems of privatization, after an unusually early retirement from the KGB. Nor does it matter that he served under Pavel Borodin, chief of the Kremlin business administration, as his deputy in charge of Russian property abroad. His boss, Borodin, would later be charged with financial machinations in the reconstruction of the Kremlin. But who cares? Everyone has to make a living. What matters is that Putin looks and talks like a commoner, that he wants to restore law and order and put an end to criminal privatization. He is nostalgic about the Soviet national anthem and the Soviet red flag. Yes, as the chief of the Russian security service, appointed by Yeltsin at Borodin’s suggestion, he saved Yeltsin’s family from a major corruption scandal. But that bespeaks his dependability. Neat guy! What the people of Russia did not foresee was that their choice, a former lieutenant colonel from the St. Petersburg KGB field office, would bring into the Kremlin walls the hordes of hungry, low-ranking KGB operatives whose first instinct, unrestricted by Party discipline or Christian morals, was to grab what they obtained access to or redistribute riches accumulated by others through the so-called privatization. They came late and had to act fast before their time expired. They appointed their buddies as chiefs of security (FSB) and national police (MVD). And their protégés, instead of combating crime and preventing terrorist acts, got involved in disputes between business entities. Location 7437

Unlike Communism or Nazism, Russian fascism would express itself through chauvinism rather than totalitarianism, through statism rather than collectivism. It would be fascism as a practice: the combination of dictatorial rule, state domination over a partially private economy, chauvinism and emphasis on imperial myths and missions.” Location 7475

I was molded by Communist ideology, but I learned early in my youth that “the truth is rarely pure and never simple.” That came from Oscar Wilde, one of my favorite authors. In later years I put in my diary the words of German philosopher Immanuel Kant: “Morality cuts the knot that a policy is unable to untie.” In New York in the 1960s, I was fascinated by the words of Martin Luther King, leader of the civil rights movement: “If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he is not fit to live. . . . Man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.” Location 7515