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The World Was Going Our Way 

The KGS and the Battle for 
the Third World 



A IVlcmbcr of the Perseus l^tjoks Cirtjup 

New Yt>rk 

Table of Contents 

Title Page 


The Evolution of the KGB. 1917-91 

The Transliteration of Russian and Arabic Names 



Chapter 1 - Introduction: ‘The World Was Going Our 

Way’ The Soviet Union, the ... 

Latin America 

Chapter 2 - Latin America: Introduction 

Chapter 3 - ‘The Bridgehead’. 1959-1969 

Chapter 4 - ‘Progressive’ Regimes and ‘Socialism with 

Red Wine’ 

Chapter 5 - Intelligence Priorities after Allende 

Chapter 6 - Revolution in Central America 

The Middle East 

Chapter 7 - The Middle East: Introduction 
Chapter 8 - The Rise and Fall of Soviet Influence in 


Chapter 9 - Iran and Iraq 

Chapter 10 - The Making of the Syrian Alliance 

Chapter 1 1 - The People’s Democratic Republic of 


Chapter 12 - Israel and Zionism 

Chapter 13 - Middle Eastern Terrorism and the 



Chapter 14 - Asia: Introduction 

Chapter 15 - The People’s Republic of China From 

‘Eternal Friendship’ to ... 

Chapter 1 6 - Japan 

Chapter 17 - The Special Relationship with India 

Chapter 1 8 - The Special Relationship with India 

Chapter 19 - Pakistan and Bangladesh 

Chapter 20 - Islam in the Soviet Union 

Chapter 2 1 - Afghanistan 

Chapter 22 - Afghanistan 


Chapter 23 - Africa: Introduction 
Chapter 24 - The Cold War Comes to Africa 

Chapter 25 - From Optimism to Disillusion 

Chapter 26 - Conclusion: The KGB in Russia and the 


Appendix A - KGB Chairmen. 1917-91 

Appendix B - Heads of Foreign Intelligence. 1920-2005 

Appendix C - The Organization of the KGB in the later 

Cold War 

Appendix D - The Organization of the KGB First Chief 

Directorate (Foreign Intelligence) 

Appendix E - The Organization of a KGB Residency 




Copyright Page 


The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive 
and the Secret History of the KGB 

Theophile Delcasse and the Making of the Entente 


The First World War: Causes and Consequences 
(Volume 19 of the Hamlyn History of the World) 
France Overseas: The Great War and the Climax 
of French Overseas Expansion 
(with A. S. Kanya-Forstner) 

The Missing Dimension: Governments and Intelligence 
Communities in the Twentieth Century 
(with David Dilks) 

Her Majesty ’s Secret Service: The Making of 
the British Intelligence Community 
Codebreaking and Signals Intelligence 
Intelligence and International Relations 1900-1945 

(with Jeremy Noakes) 

KGB: The Inside Story of Its Foreign Operations 
from Lenin to Gorbachev 
(with Oleg Gordlevsky) 

Instructions from the Centre: Top Secret Files on 
KGB Foreign Operations 1975-1985 (published in the 

USA as 

Comrade Kryuchkov ’s Instructions) 

(with Oleg Gordlevsky) 

More Instructions from the Centre: Top Secret Files on 
KGB Global Operations 1975-1985 
(with Oleg Gordlevsky) 

For the President’s Eyes Only: Secret Intelligence and 
the American Presidency from Washington to Bush 
Eternal Vigilance? Fifty Years of the CIA 
(with Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones) 


KGB Lexicon: The Soviet Intelligence Officer’s Handbook 



The World Was Going Our Way 

The KGB and the Battle for 
the Third World 



A Member of the Perseus Books Group 
New York 

In Memory of 

Vasili Nikitich Mitrokhin 
( 1922 - 2004 ) 

Nina Mikhailovna Mitrokhina 
( 1924 - 1999 ) 

The Evolution of the KGB, 191 7-91 

December 1917 C’hcka 


February 1922 Incorporated isi NKVl) (as GPU) 


July 1923 

July 193^ KLinctJrptjraicd ii] NKVD (;is GUCA\) 

February 1941 NKCA^ 


July 1941 lUincorporateJ in NKVD (as GUGlS) 


April 1943 NKGll 


Marcm94e^ MGB 

4 ^ 

October 1947- . . j i/i 

November 1951 transferred to K| 

4 ^ 

March 1953 Coinbicicd witli MVD to form cn6arj;ed MVl) 

March 1954 - 
December 1991 


The functions, unlike the nomenclature, of the Soviet 
security and intelligence apparatus remained relatively 
constant throughout the period 1917-91. In recognition of 
that continuity, KGB officers frequently described 
themselves, like the original members of the Cheka, as 
Chekisty. The term KGB is sometimes used to denote the 
security and intelligence apparatus of the whole Soviet 
era, as well as, more correctly, for the period after 1954. 


Founded in 1920, the foreign intelligence department of 
the Cheka and its inter- war successors was known as the 
Inostranni Otdel (INO). From 1941 to 1947 it was 
succeeded by the Inostrannoye Upravlenie (INU), also 
known as the First Directorate. From 1947 to 1951, the 
main foreign intelligence functions were taken over by the 
Komitet Informatsii (KI). From 1952 to 1991 foreign 
intelligence was run by the First Chief Directorate (save 
for the period from March 1953 to March 1954, when it 
was known, confusingly, as the Second Chief 


Foreign intelligence officers and directives to residencies 
referred to KGB headquarters as the ‘Centre’. In practice 
the ‘Centre’ usually referred to the HQ of foreign 
intelligence rather than of the KGB as a whole. The 
organization of the KGB First Chief (Foreign 
Intelligence) Directorate is given in Appendix D. 


For detailed definitions, see Mitrokhin (ed.), KGB 

Abbreviations and Acronyms 
















Armed Forces Security [SIGINT] Agency 

African National Congress 

American Relief Association 

Army Security [SIGINT] Agency (USA) 

Hungarian security and intelligence agency 

predecessor of AVH 

airborne warning and control system 

security service (FRG) 

foreign intelligence agency (FRG) 

Bureau of National Security (Syria) 

Chinese Communist Party 

Committee for the Defence of the Revolution 

Christian Democratic Union (FRG) 

HQ of the KGB (or FCD) and their 

Vserossiiskaya Chrezvychainaya Komissiya 
po Borbe s Kontrrevolyutsiei i Sabotazhem: 
All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for 
Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage 
(predecessor of KGB (1917-22)) 





















Central Intelligence Agency (USA) 

Committee in Solidarity with the People of El 
Salvador (USA) 

Coordinating Committee for East- West Trade 
(NATO and Japan) 

Council for Mutual Economic Assistance 
(Soviet bloc) 

Communist (Third) International 
Christian Peace Conference 
Communist Party of Canada 
Communist Party of Czechoslovakia 
Communist Party of Great Britain 
Communist Party of India 
Communist Party of Japan 
Communist Party of India, Marxist 

Communist Party of South Africa (later 

Communist Party of the Soviet Union 

Communist Party of the United States of 

Christian Social Union (ERG; ally of CDU) 
Director of Central Intelligence (USA) 

Co-ordinating Committee of the Armed 
Forces, Police and National Guard (Ethiopia) 












F Line 






Direccion General de Inteligencia (Cuba) 
Portuguese security service 
French foreign intelligence service 
Defense Intelligence Agency (USA) 

Dire^ao de Informa^ao e Seguranca de 

dead letter-box 

diversionnye razvedyvatelnye gruppy: Soviet 
sabotage and intelligence groups 

Direccion Revolucionaria Unida (El 

Bulgarian security and intelligence service 

French security service 

Ejercito Popular Sandinista (Nicaragua) 

‘Special Actions’ department in KGB 

Federalnoye Agentsvo Pravitelstvennoi 
Sviazi i Informatsii: Russian (post-Soviet) 
SIGINT agency 

Federal Bureau of Investigation (USA) 

First Chief [Foreign Intelligence] Directorate, 

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK) 
Front de Liberation Nationale (Algeria) 
Farabundo Marti de Liberacion Nacional (El 



FNLA Frente Nacional de Liberta^ao de Angola 

FRAP Frente de Accion Popular (Chile) 

FRELIMO Frente de Liberta^ao de Mozambique 

FRG Federal Republic of Germany 

FSB Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti: Russian 

security and intelligence service 









Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional 

Government Communications Head-Quarters 
(British SIGINT Agency) 

German Democratic Republic 

Gosudarstvennyi Komitet po Nauke i 
Tekhnologii: State Committee for Science 
and Technology 

Gosudarstvennoe Politicheskoe Upravlenie: 
Soviet security and intelligence service 
(within NKVD, 1922-23) 

Glavnoe Razvedyvatelnoe Upravlenie: Soviet 
Military Intelligence 

Glavnoe Upravlenie Gosudarstvennoi 
Bezopasnosti: Soviet security and intelligence 
service (within NKVD, 1934-43) 

Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerei: Labour Camps 



















intelligence from human sources (espionage) 
GDR foreign intelligence service 
intercontinental ballistic missile 
Iraqi Communist Party 
Israeli Defence Force 
imagery intelligence 

Inostrannyi Otdel: foreign intelligence 
department of Cheka/GPU/OGPU/GUGB, 
1920-41; predecessor of INU 

Inostrannoe Upravlenie: foreign intelligence 
directorate of NKGB/GUGB/MGB, 1941-47 

Irish Republican Army 

Intelligence and Security Committee (UK) 

Pakistani Inter- Services Intelligence 

Japanese Communist Party 

Joint Intelligence Committee (UK) 

Japanese Socialist Party 
Kurdistan Democratic Party 

Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti: 
Soviet security and intelligence service 

Afghan security service 

Komitet Informatsii: Soviet foreign 
intelligence agency (1947-51), initially 
combining foreign intelligence directorates of 

MGB and GRU 

KMT Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalists) 
Komsomol Communist Youth League 


Counter-intelligence department in KGB 

Kommunisticheskii Universitet 
KUTV Trudiashchikhsia Vostoka: Communist 

University of the Toilers of the East 

LDP Liberal Democratic Party (Japan) 

LLB live letter-box 




All-Ethiopian Socialist Movement 

Ministerstvo Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti: 
Soviet Ministry of State Security (1946-54) 

Moscow State Institute for International 






UK security service 

alternative designation for SIS (UK) 

Ministry of International Trade and Industry 

Mezhdunarodnaya Leninskaya Shkola: 
International Lenin School 

Movimento Popular de Liberta^ao de Angola 


Ministerstvo Vnutrennikh Del: Soviet 
Ministry of Internal Affairs 
















illegal support department in KGB 

Non-Aligned Movement 

North Atlantic Treaty Organization 

Narodnyi Kommissariat Gosudarstvennoi 
Bezopasnosti: Soviet security and intelligence 
service (1941-46; within NKVD, 1941-43) 

Narodnyi Kommissariat Vnutrennikh Del: 
People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs 
(incorporated state security, 1922-23, 1934- 

National Progressive Unionist Party (Egypt) 
National Security [SIGINT] Agency (USA) 
National Security Council (USA) 

National Security Service (Somalia) 

People’s [anti-Bolshevik] Union for Defence 
of Country and Freedom 

National Labour Alliance (Soviet emigre 
social-democratic movement) 

Organization of African Unity 
Obedinennoe Gosudarstvennoe Politicheskoe 

Upravlenie: Soviet security and intelligence 
service, 1923-34) 

Tsarist security service, 1881-1917 
Comintern international liaison department 
















PR Line 




Office of Strategic Services (USA) 
Operational Technical Support (FCD) 
Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists 

Yugoslav security and intelligence service; 
predecessor of UDBA 

Partido Africano da Independencia da Guine 
e Cabo Verde 

Algerian Communist Party 
French Communist Party 
Italian Communist Party 
Portuguese Communist Party 
Partido del Pueblo (Panama) 

Afghan Communist Party 

People’s Democratic Republic of [South] 

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine 
Palestine Liberation Organization 
Pakistan People’s Party 

political intelligence department in KGB 

Partido Revolucionario Institucional 

Spanish Socialist Party 
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan 

PUWP Polish United Workers [Communist] Party 

RCMP Royal Canadian Mounted Police 

RENAMO Resistencia Nacional Mocambicana 













raketno-yadernoe napadenie (nuclear missile 

South African Communist Party (previously 

Central Asian Spiritual Directorate of 

Strategic Arms Limitation Talks 
Soviet surface-to-air missile 
Polish security and intelligence service 

Second Chief [Internal Security and Counter- 
Intelligence] Directorate (KGB) 

French foreign intelligence service; 
predecessor of DGSE 

US Strategic Defense Initiative (‘Star Wars’) 

Somali Democratic Republic 

Socialist Unity [Communist] Party (GDR) 

intelligence derived from interception and 
analysis of signals 

SIN Servicio de Inteligencia Nacional (Peru) 

SIS Secret Intelligence Service (UK) 

SK Line Soviet colony department in KGB residencies 





















Communist Party of Finland 

Servi^o Nacional de Seguran^a Popular 

Servi^o Nacional de Informa^oes (Brazil) 
Special Operations Executive (UK) 

Sindh Provincial Committee 
Social Democratic Party (ERG) 

Soviet special forces 
Socialist Revolutionary 
Supreme Revolutionary Council (Somalia) 
Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party 
scientific and technological intelligence 
Austrian police security service 
GDR Ministry of State Security 
Wartime Soviet GHQ/high command 

Czechoslovak security and intelligence 

Sluzhba Vneshnei Razvedki: Russian (post- 
Soviet) foreign intelligence service 

South-West Africa People’s Association 

Trades Union Congress (UK) 

United Arab Republic 

Polish security and intelligence service; 
predecessor of SB 
















Yugoslav security and intelligence service 

Uniao Nacional para a Independencia Total 
de Angola 

Voenno-promyshlennaya Komissiya: Soviet 
Military Industrial Commission 

Voenno-Trudovaya Narodnaya 
Revolyutsionnaya Partiya: Military-Labour 
People’s Revolutionary Party; Russian name 
for anti-Chinese underground in XUAR 

Supreme Military Council (anti-Bolshevik 
Ukrainian underground) 

World Council of Churches 

World Peace Council 

S&T department in KGB residencies 

Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of 

[North] Yemen Arab Republic 
[South] Yemeni Socialist Party 
Zimbabwe African Liberation Army 
Zimbabwe African National Union 

Zimbabwe African People’s Union 
Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army 

The Transliteration of Russian and Arabie 


For ease of reference to published sources, when referring 
to authors and titles of Russian publications in the notes 
and bibliography we have followed the Library of 
Congress system usually used in library catalogues. 

In the text we have followed a simplified version of the 
more readable system used by the US Board on 
Geographic Names and BBC Monitoring Service. There 
are thus occasional discrepancies between the 
transliteration of names in the text and those of authors 
and titles in the notes and bibliography. Simplifications 
include the substitution in surnames of ‘y’ for Ti’ 
(Trotsky rather than Trotskii, as in the Library of 
Congress system) and ‘yi’ (Semichastny rather than 
Semichastnyi). For first names we have substituted T’ for 
Ti’ (Yuri rather than Yurii). Instead of initial Ta’, Te’ and 
‘iu’ we use ‘ya’, ‘ye’ and ‘yu’. Soft and hard signs have 
been omitted. In cases where a mildly deviant English 
version of a well-known Russian name has become firmly 
established, we have retained that version, for example: 
Beria, Izvestia, Joseph (Stalin) and the anglicized names 
of Tsars. 

Since there is no generally accepted system of 
transliterating Arabic names into English, we have tried to 

follow what we believe is best current practice (for 
example, Ahmad and Muhammad rather than Ahmed and 
Mohammed). Where there is a well-established English 
version of an Arabic name, we use this rather than a more 
technically correct transliteration: for example, Gamal 
Abdel Nasser (rather than Abd al-Nasir) and Saddam 
Hussein (rather than Husain). The same applies to 
Anglophone and Francophone names of Arabic origin: for 
example, Ahmed (rather than Ahmad) Sekou Toure. Once 
again, occasional discrepancies will be found between the 
text and the notes/bibliography. 

Foreword: Vasili Mitrokhin and His Archive 

On 9 April 1992 a scruffy, shabbily dressed seventy-year- 
old Russian arrived in the capital of a newly independent 
Baltic state by the overnight train from Moscow for a pre- 
arranged meeting with officers of the British Secret 
Intelligence Service (SIS, also known as MI6) at the 
offices of the new British embassy. He began by 
producing his passport and other documents which 
identified him as Vasili Nikitich Mitrokhin, a former 
senior archivist in the First Chief (Foreign Intelligence) 
Directorate of the KGB. SIS then took the 
unprepossessing (and hitherto unpublished) photograph of 
him which appears in the illustrations. 

Mitrokhin ’s first visit to the embassy had taken place a 
month earlier when he arrived pulling a battered case on 
wheels and wearing the same shabby clothes, which he 
had put on before leaving Moscow in order to attract as 
little attention as possible from the border guards at the 
Russian frontier. Since he had an image of the British as 
rather stuffy and ‘a bit of a mystery’, he made his first 
approach to the Americans. Apparently overwhelmed by 
asylum seekers, however, US embassy staff failed to 
grasp Mitrokhin ’s importance and told him to return at a 
later date. Mitrokhin moved on instead to the British 
embassy and asked to speak to someone in authority. The 
junior diplomat who came to the reception area struck him 
as unexpectedly ‘young, attractive and sympathetic’, as 

well as a fluent Russian speaker. Used to the male- 
dominated world of Soviet diplomacy, Mitrokhin was also 
surprised that the diplomat was a woman. He told her he 
had brought with him samples of top-secret material from 
the KGB archives. Had the diplomat (who prefers not to 
be identified) dismissed him as a down-at-heel asylum 
seeker trying to sell bogus secrets, this book and its 
predecessor would probably never have been written. 
Happily, however, she asked to see some of the material 
which Mitrokhin had brought with him, concealed in his 
suitcase beneath the bread, sausages, drink and change of 
clothing which he had packed for his journey, and asked 
if he would like tea. While Mitrokhin drank his first ever 
cup of English tea, the diplomat read some of his notes, 
quickly grasped their potential importance, then 
questioned him about them. Since the embassy contained 
no intelligence station, he agreed to return a month later to 
meet representatives from SIS’s London headquarters. 

At his meeting with SIS officers on 9 April, Mitrokhin 
produced another 2,000 pages from his private archive 
and told the extraordinary story of how, while supervising 
the transfer of the entire foreign intelligence archive from 
the overcrowded offices of the Lubyanka in central 
Moscow to the new FCD headquarters at Yasenevo, near 
the outer ring road, between 1972 and 1982, he had 
almost every day smuggled handwritten notes and 
extracts from the files out of the archives in his pockets 

and hidden them beneath his family dacha. When the 
move was complete, he continued removing top-secret 
material for another two years until his retirement in 
1984. The notes which Mitrokhin showed SIS officers 
revealed that he had had access even to the holy of holies 
in the foreign intelligence archives: the files which 
revealed the real identities and ‘legends’ of the elite corps 
of KGB ‘illegals’ living abroad under deep cover posing 
as foreign nationals. After a further meeting with SIS in 
the Baltic, Mitrokhin paid a secret visit to Britain in the 
autumn to discuss plans for his defection. On 7 November 
1992, the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Bolshevik 
Revolution,- SIS exfiltrated Mitrokhin, his family and his 
entire archive, packed in six large containers, out of 
Russia in a remarkable operation the details of which still 
remain secret. 

Those who have had access to the Mitrokhin archive 
since its arrival in Britain have been amazed by its 
contents. In the view of the FBI, it is ‘the most complete 
and extensive intelligence ever received from any 
source’.- The CIA calls it ‘the biggest Cl [counter- 
intelligence] bonanza of the post-war period’. A report by 
the all-party British Intelligence and Security Committee 
(ISC) reveals that a series of other Western intelligence 
agencies have also proved ‘extremely grateful’ for the 
numerous Cl leads provided by Mitrokhin’ s material.- 
The Sluzhba Vneshnei Razvedki (SVR), the post-Soviet 

successor of the FCD, at first refused to believe that such 
a massive haemorrhage of top-secret intelligence records 
could possibly have occurred. When a German magazine 
reported in December 1996 that a former KGB officer had 
defected to Britain with ‘the names of hundreds of 
Russian spies’, the SVR spokeswoman, Tatyana Samolis, 
instantly ridiculed the story as ‘absolute nonsense’. ‘ 
“Hundreds of people”! That just doesn’t happen!’ she 
declared. ‘Any defector could get the name of one, two, 
perhaps three agents - but not hundreds!’- In reality, as 
both the SVR and the internal security and intelligence 
service, the Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti (FSB), 
now realize, the Mitrokhin Archive includes details not 
just of hundreds but of thousands of Soviet agents and 
intelligence officers around the globe. 

The Mitrokhin Archive contains extraordinary detail on 
KGB operations in Europe and North America, which 
formed the subject of our first volume. But there is also 
much on the even less well-known Cold War activities of 
the KGB in the Third World,- which pass almost 
unmentioned in most histories both of Soviet foreign 
relations and of developing countries. The lucid synthesis 
of scholarly research on Soviet foreign policy by Caroline 
Kennedy-Pipe, Russia and the World, 1917-1991, for 
example, contains barely a mention of the KGB, save for 
a brief reference to its role in the invasion of 
Afghanistan.- By contrast, no account of American Cold 

War policy in the Third World omits the role of the 
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The result has been a 
curiously lopsided history of the secret Cold War in the 
developing world - the intelligence equivalent of the 
sound of one hand clapping. The generally admirable 
Oxford Companion to Politics of the World, for instance, 
contains an article on the CIA but none on the KGB or its 
post-Soviet successors.- As this volume of the Mitrokhin 
Archive seeks to show, however, the role of the KGB in 
Soviet policy towards the Third World was even more 
important than that of the CIA in US policy. For a quarter 
of a century, the KGB, unlike the CIA, believed that the 
Third World was the arena in which it could win the Cold 

Much of the story of Mitrokhin’ s career was told in 
The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the 
Secret History of the KGB (hereafter referred to as volume 
I).- Some parts of it, however, can now be revealed for 
the first time. For fear that the FSB would make life 
uncomfortable for some of his surviving relatives, 
Mitrokhin was unwilling while we were working on 
volume I to include any details of his early life - even his 
exact date of birth. He was bom, the second of five 
children, on 3 March 1922 in central Russia at the village 
of Yurasovo in Ryazan oblast (province). Ryazan is 
probably best known in the West as the birthplace of the 
Nobel laureate Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, discoverer of the 

‘conditioned reflex’ through his work with what became 
known as ‘Pavlov’s dogs’. Unlike Mitrokhin, who 
became a secret dissident, Pavlov was often openly at 
odds with the Soviet authorities but, protected by his 
international renown, was allowed to carry on working in 
his laboratory until he died in 1936 at the age of eighty- 
seven. Most of Mitrokhin ’s childhood was spent in 
Moscow, where his father was able to find work as a 
decorator, but the family kept its links with Yurasovo, 
where, despite the bitter cold, he acquired a deep and 
abiding love of the Ryazan countryside and the forests of 
central Russia. English forests, by contrast, were a 
disappointment to him - too small, too few and 
insufficiently remote. In retirement near London there 
were few things he missed more on his long winter walks 
than the sight of a fresh snowfall in the forest .- 

Mitrokhin ’s interest in archives started as a teenage 
fascination with historical documents. After leaving 
school, he completed his compulsory military service in 
the artillery, then began studying at the Historical 
Archives Institute in Moscow. Such was the extraordinary 
importance which the Stalinist regime attached to its files 
that, even after Hitler’s invasion in the summer of 1941, 
Mitrokhin was allowed to continue training as an archivist 
instead of being conscripted to defend the Soviet Union in 
its hour of supreme peril. He thus took no part in the great 
battles at Moscow, Leningrad and Stalingrad which 

helped to make the Eastern Front both the longest and the 
bloodiest front in the history of warfare. Instead, he was 
sent with a group of trainee archivists to Kazakhstan, far 
beyond the furthest limit of the German advance, 
probably to work on some of the files of suspect national 
minorities and prisoners in the Gulag who were deported 
in wartime, usually in horrendous conditions, to central 
Asia. Losing his early ambition to become an archivist, 
Mitrokhin managed to enrol at the Kharkov Higher 
Juridical Institute, which was evacuated to Kazakhstan 
after the German conquest of Ukraine. After the liberation 
of Ukraine, he returned with the Institute to Kharkov. His 
memories of the brutal punishment of many thousands of 
‘anti-Sovief Ukrainians sometimes gave him nightmares 
in later life. ‘I was deep in horrors,’ was all he would tell 
me about his experiences. After graduating in Kharkov in 
1944, he became a lawyer first with the civil police 
(militia), then with the military procurator’s office. He did 
well enough to attract the attention of the MGB 
(predecessor of the KGB), which in 1946 sent him for a 
two-year course at the Higher Diplomatic School in 
Moscow to prepare him for a career in foreign intelligence 
which he began in 1948.- 

Mitrokhin’s first five years as an intelligence officer 
coincided with the paranoid, final phase of the Stalin era, 
when he and his colleagues were ordered to track down 
Titoist and Zionist conspirators, whose mostly non- 

existent plots preyed on the disturbed mind of the ageing 
dictator. His first and longest foreign posting before 
Stalin’s death in 1953 was to the Middle East, of which he 
was later reluctant to talk because it involved the 
penetration and exploitation of the Russian Orthodox 
Church - an aspect of KGB operations for which, like the 
persecution of the dissidents, he later developed an 
especial loathing.- Mitrokhin had happier memories of 
subsequent short tours of duty which took him to such 
diverse destinations as Iceland, the Netherlands, Pakistan 
and Australia. 

The most memorable of these tours of duty was as a 
member of the KGB escort which accompanied the Soviet 
team to the Melbourne Olympics which opened in 
October 1956. For the KGB the Games threatened to be a 
security nightmare. Two years earlier the KGB resident in 
Canberra, Vladimir Petrov, had become the most senior 
Soviet defector since the Second World War. Photographs 
of his tearful wife, Evdokia, also a KGB officer, losing 
her shoe in a melee at Sydney airport as Soviet security 
guards hustled her on to a plane to take her back to 
Russia, then escaping from their clutches when the 
aircraft stopped to refuel at Darwin, had made front-page 
news around the world. As Mitrokhin was aware, both the 
Petrovs had been sentenced to death after a secret trial in 
absentia and plans had been made by KGB assassins to 
hunt them down (though the plans were never 

successfully implemented).— The Centre was determined 
that this recent embarrassment should not be compounded 
by defections from the Soviet competitors at Melbourne. 
Further anxieties arose from the fact that, as the Duke of 
Edinburgh formally opened the games on the Melbourne 
cricket ground, Soviet tanks had entered Budapest to 
crush the Hungarian rising. The Olympic water-polo 
match between Hungary and the Soviet Union had to be 
abandoned after a fracas in the pool. At the end of the 
games the KGB was alarmed by the sudden decision of 
the organizers that all the athletes should mingle together 
during the closing ceremonies (thus making it easier to 
defect) instead of parading, as at previous games, in their 
national teams. In the end, however, the KGB considered 
its Melbourne mission a qualified success. There were no 
defections and the Soviet team emerged as clear winners 
with ninety-eight medals (including thirty-seven golds) to 
the Americans’ seventy-four and a series of individual 
triumphs which included easy victories by Vladimir Kuts 
in both the 5,000 and 10,000 metres. 

The 1956 Olympics were to be Mitrokhin’s last tour of 
duty in the West. In the aftermath of Khrushchev’s 
‘Secret Speech’ earlier in the year denouncing Stalin’s 
‘cult of personality’ and his ‘exceedingly serious and 
grave perversions of Party principles, of Party democracy 
[and] of revolutionary legality’, Mitrokhin had become 
too outspoken for his own good. Though his criticisms of 

the way the KGB had been run were mild by Western 
standards, he acquired a reputation as a malcontent and 
was denounced by one of his superiors as ‘a member of 
the awkward squad’. Soon after returning from 
Melbourne, Mitrokhin was moved from operations to the 
FCD archives, where for some years his main job was 
answering queries from other departments and provincial 
KGBs. His only other foreign posting, in the late 1960s, 
was to the archives department of the large KGB mission 
at Karlshorst in the suburbs of East Berlin. While at 
Karlshorst in 1968, he followed with secret excitement 
the attempt just across the German border by the 
reformers of the Prague Spring to create what the Kremlin 
saw as an unacceptably unorthodox ‘Socialism with a 
human face’. Like Khrushchev’s ‘Secret Speech’ twelve 
years before, the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the forces 
of the Warsaw Pact in August 1968 was an important 
staging post in what Mitrokhin called his ‘intellectual 
odyssey’. He was able to listen in secret to reports from 
Czechoslovakia on the Russian-language services of the 
BBC World Service, Radio Liberty, Deutsche Welle and 
the Canadian Broadcasting Company, but had no one with 
whom he felt able to share his outrage at the invasion. The 
crushing of the Prague Spring proved, he believed, that 
the Soviet system was unreformable. 

After his return to Moscow from East Germany, 
Mitrokhin continued to listen to Western broadcasts. 

though, because of Soviet jamming, he had frequently to 
switch wavelengths in order to find an audible station. 
Among the news which made the greatest impression on 
him were items about the Chronicle of Current Events, a 
samizdat ]0\xYn2i\ first produced by dissidents in 1968 to 
circulate news on the struggle against Soviet abuses of 
human rights. By the beginning of the 1970s Mitrokhin’s 
political views were deeply influenced by the dissident 
struggle, which he was able to follow in KGB files as well 
as Western broadcasts. ‘I was a loner’, he later told me, 
‘but I now knew that I was not alone.’ Though Mitrokhin 
never had any thought of aligning himself openly with the 
human rights movement, the example of the Chronicle oj 
Current Events and other samizdat productions helped to 
inspire him with the idea of producing a classified variant 
of the dissidents’ attempts to document the iniquities of 
the Soviet system. He had earlier been attracted by the 
idea of writing an in-house official history of the FCD. 
Now a rather different project began to form in his mind - 
that of compiling his own private unofficial record of the 
foreign operations of the KGB. His opportunity came in 
June 1972 when he was put in charge of moving the FCD 
archives to Yasenevo. Had the hoard of top-secret 
material which he smuggled out of Yasenevo been 
discovered, the odds are that, after a secret trial, he would 
have ended up in a KGB execution cellar with a bullet in 
the back of his head. 

For those whose ideals have been corroded by the 
widespread cynicism of the early twenty-first-century 
West, the fact that Mitrokhin was prepared to risk his life 
for twenty years for a cause in which he passionately 
believed is almost too difficult to comprehend. Almost 
equally hard to grasp is Mitrokhin’ s willingness to devote 
himself throughout that period to compiling and 
preserving a secret archive which he knew might never 
see the light of day. For any Western author it is almost 
impossible to understand how a writer could devote all his 
or her energy and creative talent for many years to secret 
writing which might never be publicly revealed. Yet some 
of the greatest Russian writers of the Soviet era did 
precisely that. No biography of any Western writer 
contains a death-bed scene comparable to the description 
by the widow of Mikhail Bulgakov of how in 1940 she 
helped him out of bed for the last time so that he could 
satisfy himself before he died that his great, unpublished 
masterpiece. The Master and Margarita, was still in its 
hiding place. Against all the odds. The Master and 
Margarita survived to be published a quarter of a century 
later. Though Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s greatest work 
was published in his own lifetime (initially mostly in the 
West rather than the Soviet Union), when he began 
writing he told himself, like Bulgakov, that he ‘must write 
simply to ensure that [the truth] was not forgotten, that 
posterity might some day come to know of it. Publication 

in my own lifetime I must shut out of my mind, out of my 

Though Mitrokhin never had any literary pretensions, 
the survival of his archive is, in its own way, as 
remarkable as that of The Master and Margarita. Once he 
reached Britain, he was determined that, despite legal and 
security difficulties, as much as possible of its contents 
should be published. After the publication in 1999 of The 
Sword and the Shield, the Intelligence and Security 
Committee held a detailed enquiry at the Cabinet Office 
to which both Vasili Mitrokhin and I gave evidence. As 
the ISC’s unanimous report makes clear, it was left in no 
doubt about Mitrokhin’ s motivation: 

The Committee believes that he is a man of remarkable 
commitment and courage, who risked imprisonment or 
death in his determination that the truth should be told 
about the real nature of the KGB and their activities, 
which he believed were betraying the interests of his own 
country and people. He succeeded in this, and we wish to 
record formally our admiration for his achievement. — 

While in Britain, scarcely a week passed without 
Mitrokhin re-reading his papers, responding to questions 
on them and checking translations. On the eve of his 
death on 23 January 2004 he was still making plans for 

the publication of parts of his archive. 

With his wife Nina, a distinguished medical 
specialist,— Mitrokhin was also able to resume the foreign 
travels which he had been forced to discontinue a 
generation earlier when he was transferred from FCD 
operations to archives. Mitrokhin’ s first visit to Paris 
made a particular impression on him. He had read the 
KGB file on the defection in Paris of the Kirov Ballet’s 
greatest dancer, Rudolf Nureyev, and had followed with 
personal outrage the planning of operations (happily 
never successfully implemented) to break one or both of 
Nureyev’ s legs with the aim - absurdly expressed in 
euphemistic KGB jargon - of ‘lessening his professional 
skills’.— In October 1992, while Mitrokhin was meeting 
SIS in Britain to make final plans for the exfiltration of 
his family and archive in the following month, Nureyev, 
by then seriously ill with Aids, was directing his last 
ballet, Bayaderka, at the Paris Opera. When, after the 
performance, Nureyev appeared on stage in a wheelchair, 
wrapped in a tartan rug, he received a standing ovation. 
Many in the audience wept, as did many of the mourners 
three months later during his burial at the Russian 
cemetery of Sainte Genevieve des Bois in Paris. On his 
visit to Paris, Mitrokhin visited Nureyev’ s tomb as well as 
the graves of other Russian exiles, among them both 
White Russian refugees from the Bolshevik Revolution 
and dissidents of the Soviet era. Though also deeply 

interested in other Western sites associated with Russian 
emigres, from Ivy House in London, home of the great 
ballerina Anna Pavlova, to the New York Russian 
community at Brighton Beach, his travels ranged far more 
widely. After the death of Nina in 1999, he flew around 
the world on his British passport. Only a year before his 
own death in 2004, he went for a walking holiday in New 

Save for his love of travel, Mitrokhin mostly remained, 
as he had always been, a man of simple tastes, preferring 
his own home-cooked Russian cabbage soup, shchi, to the 
elaborate cuisine of expensive restaurants. His favourite 
London restaurants were ‘The Stockpot’ chain, which 
specialize in good-value ‘home-cooked’ menus. Though 
Mitrokhin himself drank little, he would usually produce 
wine when entertaining friends and liked to splash out for 
family birthdays and major celebrations. On a visit to the 
Ritz the family splashed out more than it intended, having 
failed to appreciate the cost of a round of vintage cognacs. 
Mitrokhin was no more motivated by fame than by 
money. It was only after long persuasion that he agreed to 
include any of his career in volume 1, and only a few 
months before publication that he consented to the use of 
his real name rather than a pseudonym. Strenuous efforts 
by the media to track Mitrokhin down after publication 
were, happily, unsuccessful. He was too private a person 
and had arrived in Britain too late in life with too little 

experience of the West to have coped with the glare of 
publicity. Mitrokhin had, however, perfected the art of 
being inconspicuous and travelled unnoticed the length 
and breadth of the United Kingdom on his senior citizen’s 
rail-card. Until his late seventies he also remained 
remarkably fit. Intelligence officers from a number of 
countries were mildly disconcerted by his unselfconscious 
habit, when meetings dragged on, of dropping to the floor 
and doing a set of press-ups. 

Mitrokhin was both an inspiring and, at times, a 
difficult man to work with while I wrote the two volumes 
of the Mitrokhin Archive.— In his view, the material he 
had risked his life to smuggle out of KGB archives 
revealed ‘the truth’. Though he accepted the need to put it 
in context, he had little interest in the work of scholars 
however distinguished, which failed, in his view, to 
recognize the central role of the KGB in Soviet society. 
Mitrokhin tolerated, rather than welcomed, my use of 
such works and a wide range of other sources to 
complement, corroborate and fill gaps in his own unique 
archive.— My admiration for some of the books which 
neglected the intelligence dimension of twentieth-century 
international relations was beyond his comprehension. 
Though Mitrokhin did not, alas, live to see the publication 
of this volume, it was virtually complete by the time of 
his death and I am not aware of any interpretation by me 
of material in his archive with which he disagreed. The 

opportunity he gave me to work on his archive has been 
an extraordinary privilege. 

Since the original material in the Mitrokhin archive 
remains classified, the content of this second volume, like 
that of the first, was examined in great detail by an 
‘interdepartmental working group’ in Whitehall before 
clearance for publication received ministerial approval.— 
Though the complex issues involved caused extensive 
delays in publication, I am grateful to the working group 
for the time and care they have taken, and for clearing all 
but about two pages of the original text. 

As in volume 1, codenames (also known as 
‘worknames’ in the case of KGB officers) appear in the 
text in capitals. It is important to note that the KGB gave 
codenames not merely to those who worked for it but also 
to those whom it targeted and to some others (such as 
foreign officials and ministers) who had no connection 
with it. Codenames are, in themselves, no evidence that 
the individuals to whom they refer were conscious or 
witting KGB agents or sources - or even that they were 
aware of being targeted for recruitment or to influence 
operations. At the risk of stating the obvious, it should 
also be emphasized that the vast majority of those outside 
the Soviet Union who expressed pro-Soviet opinions had, 
of course, no connection with the KGB. 

Christopher Andrew 


I am very grateful to those colleagues who commented on 
parts of this book during the brief interval between the 
clearance of the text by the Whitehall interdepartmental 
working group and its delivery to the publishers: Mr 
Geoffrey Archer, Sir Nicholas Barrington, Professor Chris 
Bayly, Dr Susan Bayly, Mr Kristian Gustafson, Professor 
Jonathan Haslam, Mr Alan Judd, Professor John 
Lonsdale, Dr Gabriella Ramos, Dr David Sneath and Sir 
Roger Tomkys. I also owe a considerable debt to the 
intellectual stimulation provided by the remarkable group 
of young scholars from around the world in the 
Cambridge University Intelligence Seminar who are 
transforming the academic study of intelligence history. 
While writing this book, I have been especially fortunate 
to have the opportunity to supervise and learn from the 
doctoral research of the outstanding Australian historian 
and Gates Scholar Ms Julie Elkner, who is conducting 
path-breaking work on the image of the secret policeman 
in Soviet and post-Soviet culture. I have also benefited 
from her extensive knowledge of published sources. 

Christopher Andrew 


Introduction: ‘The World Was Going Our 
Way’ The Soviet Union, the Cold War and 

the Third World 

Communism, claimed Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 
would change not simply the history of Europe and the 
West but the history of the world. Their Communist 
Manifesto of 1848, though chiefly directed to 
industrialized Europe, ended with a clarion call to global 
revolution: ‘The proletarians have nothing to lose but 
their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of 
all countries, unite!’ (Working women, it was assumed, 
would follow in the train of male revolutionaries.) After 
the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917, Vladimir 
Ilyich Lenin hailed not only the triumph of the Russian 
Revolution but the beginning of ‘world revolution’: ‘Our 
cause is an international cause, and so long as a revolution 
does not take place in all countries . . . our victory is only 
half a victory, or perhaps less.’ Though world revolution 
had become a distant dream for most Bolsheviks by the 
time Lenin died seven years later, he never lost his 
conviction that the inevitable collapse of the colonial 
empires would one day bring global revolution in its 

Millions and hundreds of millions - actually the 
overwhelming majority of the world’s population - are 
now coming out as an independent and active 
revolutionary factor. And it should be perfectly clear that, 
in the coming decisive battles of the world revolution, this 
movement of the majority of the world’s population, 
originally aimed at national liberation, will turn against 
capitalism and imperialism and will, perhaps, play a much 
more revolutionary role than we have been led to expect.- 

The Third Communist International (Comintern), founded 
in Moscow in March 1919, set itself ‘the goal of fighting, 
by every means, even by force of arms, for the overthrow 
of the international bourgeoisie and the creation of an 
international Soviet republic’. For the next year or more, 
Comintern’s Chairman, Grigori Yevseyevich Zinoviev, 
lived in a revolutionary dream-world in which 
Bolshevism was about to conquer Europe and sweep 
across the planet. On the second anniversary of the 
Bolshevik Revolution, he declared his hope that, within a 
year, ‘the Communist International will triumph in the 
entire world’. At the Congress of the Peoples of the East, 
convened at Baku in 1920 to promote colonial revolution, 
delegates excitedly waved swords, daggers and revolvers 
in the air when Zinoviev called on them to wage a jihad 
against imperialism and capitalism. Except in Mongolia, 

however, where the Bolsheviks installed a puppet regime, 
all attempts to spread their revolution beyond Soviet 
borders foundered either because of lack of popular 
support or because of successful resistance by counter- 
revolutionary governments. - 

By the mid- 1920s Moscow’s main hopes were pinned 
on China, where the Soviet Politburo had pushed the 
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) into alliance with the 
Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT). The KMT leader, Chiang 
Kai-shek, declared in public: ‘If Russia aids the Chinese 
revolution, does that mean that she wants China to apply 
Communism? No, she wants us to carry out the national 
revolution. ’ Privately, he believed the opposite, convinced 
that ‘What the Russians call “Internationalism” and 
“World Revolution” are nothing but old-fashioned 
imperialism.’ The Soviet leadership, however, believed 
that it could get the better of Chiang. He should, said 
Stalin, ‘be squeezed like a lemon and then thrown away’. 
In the event, it was the CCP which became the lemon. 
Having gained control of Shanghai in April 1927 thanks 
to a Communist-led rising, Chiang began a systematic 
massacre of the Communists who had captured it for him. 
The CCP, on Stalin’s instructions, replied with a series of 
armed risings. All were disastrous failures. Moscow’s 
humiliation was compounded by a police raid on the 
Soviet consulate in Beijing which uncovered a mass of 
documents on Soviet espionage.- 

In an attempt to generate new support for Lenin’s 
vision of a liberated post-colonial world, the League 
Against Imperialism was founded early in 1927, shortly 
before the Chinese debacles, by the great virtuoso of 
Soviet front organizations, Willi Miinzenberg, 
affectionately described by his ‘life partner’, Babette 
Gross, as ‘the patron saint of fellow travellers’ with a 
remarkable gift for uniting broad sections of the left under 
inconspicuous Communist leadership. Those present at 
the inaugural congress in Brussels included Jawaharlal 
Nehru, later the first Prime Minister of independent India, 
and Josiah Gumede, President of the African National 
Congress and head of the League’s South African section. 
One of the British delegates, Fenner Brockway of the 
British Independent Labour Party, wrote afterwards: 
‘From the platform the conference hall was a remarkable 
sight. Every race seemed to be there. As one looked on 
the sea of black, brown, yellow and white faces, one felt 
that here at last was something approaching a Parliament 
of Mankind.’ 

The League, Brockway believed, ‘may easily prove to 
be one of the most significant movements for equality and 
freedom in world history’.- But it was not to be. Within a 
few years the League had faded into oblivion, and 
Comintern, though it survived until 1943 as an obedient, 
though drastically purged, auxiliary of Soviet foreign 

policy and Soviet intelligence,- achieved nothing of 
importance in the Third World. The colonial empires 
remained intact until the Second World War, and neither 
the foreign policy nor the intelligence agencies of Joseph 
Stalin made any serious attempt to hasten their demise. 
Under his brutal dictatorship, the dream of world 
revolution quickly gave way to the reality of ‘Socialism in 
one country’, a Soviet Union surrounded by hostile 
‘imperialist’ states and deeply conscious of its own 

During the xenophobic paranoia of Stalin’s Terror, 
Comintern representatives in Moscow from around the 
world lived in constant fear of denunciation and 
execution. Many were at even greater risk than their 
Soviet colleagues. By early 1937, following investigations 
by the NKVD (predecessor of the KGB), Stalin had 
convinced himself that Comintern was a hotbed of 
subversion and foreign espionage. He told Georgi 
Dmitrov, who had become its General Secretary three 
years earlier, ‘All of you there in the Comintern are 
working in the hands of the enemy.’ Nikolai Yezhov, the 
head of the NKVD whose sadism and diminutive stature 
combined to give him the nickname ‘Poison Dwarf, 
echoed his master’s voice. ‘The biggest spies’, he told 
Dmitrov, ‘were working in the Communist International.’ 
Each night, unable to sleep, the foreign Communists and 
Comintern officials who had been given rooms at the 

Hotel Lux in the centre of Moscow waited for the sound 
of a car drawing up at the hotel entrance in the early 
hours, then heard the heavy footsteps of NKVD men echo 
along the corridors, praying that they would stop at 
someone else’s door. Those who escaped arrest listened 
with a mixture of relief and horror as the night’s victims 
were taken from their rooms and driven away, never to 
return. Some, for whom the nightly suspense became too 
much, shot themselves or jumped to their deaths in the 
inner courtyard. Only a minority of the hotel’s foreign 
guests escaped the knock on the door. Many of their death 
warrants were signed personally by Stalin.- Mao’s 
ferocious security chief, Kang Sheng, who had been sent 
to Moscow to learn his trade, enthusiastically co-operated 
with the NKVD in the hunt for mostly imaginary traitors 
among Chinese emigres. - 

The most enduring impact of Soviet intelligence on the 
Third World before the Second World War was thus the 
liquidation of potential leaders of post-war independence 
movements.- Ho Chi-Minh, Deng Xiaoping, Jomo 
Kenyatta and other future Third World leaders who 
studied in Moscow at the Comintem-run Communist 
University of the Toilers of the East between the wars- 
were fortunate to leave before the Terror began. Kenyatta, 
in particular, would have been an obvious target. His 
lecturers complained that ‘his attitude to the Soviet Union 
verges on cynicism’.— When his fellow student, the South 

African Communist Edwin Mofutsanyana, accused him of 
being ‘a petty bourgeois’, Kenyatta replied, ‘I don’t like 
this “petty” thing. Why don’t you say I’m a big 
bourgeois?’— During the Terror such outrageously 
politically incorrect humour would have been promptly 
reported (if only because those who failed to report it 
would themselves be suspect), and the career of the future 
first Prime Minister and President of an independent 
Kenya would probably have ended prematurely in an 
NKVD execution cellar. 

After victory in the Second World War, the Soviet 
Union, newly strengthened by the acquisition of an 
obedient Soviet bloc in eastern and central Europe, 
initially showed less interest in the Third World than after 
the Bolshevik Revolution. During the early years of the 
Cold War Soviet intelligence priorities were 
overwhelmingly concentrated on the struggle against what 
the KGB called ‘the Main Adversary’, the United States, 
and its principal allies. Stalin saw the world as divided 
into two irreconcilable camps - capitalist and Communist 
- with no room for compromise between the two. Non- 
Communist national liberation movements in the Third 
World were, like capitalists, class enemies. The 
decolonization of the great European overseas empires, 
which had begun in 1947 with the end of British rule in 
India, persuaded Stalin’s ebullient successor, Nikita 
Khrushchev, to revive the Leninist dream. At the 

Twentieth Party Congress in 1956, as well as secretly 
denouncing Stalin’s ‘cult of personality’, he publicly 
abandoned the two-camp theory, setting out to win 
support from former Western colonies which had won 
their independence: 

The new period in world history which Lenin predicted 
has arrived, and the peoples of the East are playing an 
active part in deciding the destinies of the whole world, 
are becoming a new mighty factor in international 

Though one of the few major world leaders of peasant 
origins, Khrushchev had no doubt that the Soviet Union’s 
break-neck industrialization in the 1930s provided a 
model for the newly independent former colonies to 
modernize their economies. ‘Today’, he declared, ‘they 
need not go begging for up-to-date equipment to their 
former oppressors. They can get it in the socialist 
countries, without assuming any political or military 
commitments.’ Many of the first generation of post- 
colonial leaders in the 1950s and 1960s, who blamed all 
their economic ills on their former colonial rulers, were 
happy to accept Khrushchev’s offer.— 

‘In retrospect’, writes the economic historian David 
Fieldhouse, ‘it is one of the most astonishing features of 

post- 1950 African history that there should have been so 
general an expectation that independence would lead to 
very rapid economic growth and affluence. Kwame 
Nkrumah, the leader of the first black African colony to 
gain its independence, claimed that Africa’s hitherto slow 
industrial development was entirely the fault of colonial 
powers which had deliberately held back ‘local economic 
initiative’ in order to ‘enrich alien investors’: ‘We have 
here, in Africa, everything necessary to become a 
powerful, modem, industrialized continent . . . Africa, far 
from having inadequate resources, is probably better 
equipped for industrialization than almost any other 
region in the world. ’— 

In the euphoria of liberation from colonial mle there 
were many who, like Nkmmah, were seduced by anti- 
imperialist fantasy economics. Convinced that heavy 
industry was the key to rapid economic development, they 
welcomed inefficient Soviet steel mills and other heavy 
plant as symbols of modernity rather than potential 
industrial white elephants. In the small African state of 
Guinea alone during the Khmshchev era, the Soviet 
Union constmcted an airport, a cannery, a sawmill, a 
refrigeration plant, a hospital, a polytechnic and a hotel as 
well as carrying out geological surveys and a series of 
research projects. The report presented to the Central 
Committee plenum which ousted Khmshchev in 1964 
stated that during his decade in power the Soviet Union 

had undertaken about 6,000 projects in the Third World.— 
Khrushchev, the report implied, had allowed his 
enthusiasm for strengthening Soviet influence in 
developing countries to run away with him - at enormous 
cost to the Soviet economy. 

Khrushchev, however, was supremely confident that 
the Soviet command economy, despite the scale of its 
investment in the Third World, was rapidly overhauling 
capitalism. Tt is true that you are richer than we are at 
present’, he told Americans during his flamboyant coast- 
to-coast tour of the United States in 1959. ‘But tomorrow 
we will be as rich as you. The next day? Even richer! But 
is there anything wrong with that?’— Khrushchev’s 
optimism seemed less absurd at the time than it does now. 
The deputy leader of the British Labour Party, Aneurin 
Bevan, told the 1959 party conference that the triumph of 
nationalization and state planning in the Soviet Union 
proved that they were vastly superior to capitalism as a 
means of economic modernization: ‘The [economic] 
challenge is going to come from Russia. The challenge is 
not going to come from the United States.’— The early 
achievements of the Soviet space programme encouraged 
wildly exaggerated expectations in the West as well as in 
the East of the ability of the Soviet economy to pioneer 
new technology. In 1957 the Soviet success in putting into 
orbit Sputnik 1 , the first man-made satellite, had created a 
global sensation. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was 

taken aback by the ‘wave of near hysteria’ which swept 
the United States. Amid claims that America had suffered 
a scientific Pearl Harbor, the Governor of Michigan, G. 
Mennen Williams, expressed his inner anguish in verse: 

Oh Little Sputnik, flying high 
With made-in Moscow beep 
You tell the world it’s a Commie sky 
And Uncle Sam ’s asleep.— 

‘How can we not rejoice, comrades,’ asked Khrushchev in 
1958, ‘at the gigantic achievements of our industry? . . . 
What other state has ever built on such a scale? There 
never has been such a country! ’— 

Khrushchev was also enthused by the fiery rhetoric of 
the new generation of Third World leaders against both 
their former colonial masters and American imperialism. 
During his visit to the United States in 1959, he gave a 
speech to the General Assembly in New York, basking in 
the applause after his ‘warm greetings from the bottom of 
my heart’ to the independent states which had freed 
themselves from colonial rule: 

Coming generations will highly appreciate the heroism of 
those who led the struggle for the independence of India 
and Indonesia, the United Arab Republic and Iraq, Ghana, 

Guinea and other states, just as the people of the United 
States today revere the memory of George Washington 
and Thomas Jefferson, who led the American people in 
their struggle for independence. 

Khrushchev went on to denounce the imperialist 
exploitation which continued after the formal end of 
colonial rule: 

The peoples of many of these countries have won political 
independence, but they are cruelly exploited by foreigners 
economically. Their oil and other natural wealth is 
plundered, it is taken out of the country for next to 
nothing, yielding huge profits to foreign exploiters. 

Khrushchev’s call for the plundered wealth to be returned 
as economic aid was music to the ears of many of his 
Third World listeners.— 

The fact that neither the United States nor the European 
colonial powers yet took seriously the problems of racism 
within their own societies increased the popularity of anti- 
imperialist rhetoric. It now almost passes belief that, 
during the decade when most African colonies gained 
their independence, it was still legal for British landlords 
to put ‘No Coloured’ notices in their windows and illegal 
for African delegates to the United Nations in New York 

to travel on seats reserved for whites on the segregated 
buses of the Deep South. Because of Russia’s lack of 
either African colonies or a black immigrant community, 
the racism of Russian society was far better concealed.— 

Following the success of his brief visit to the United 
Nations in 1959, Khrushchev took the unprecedented 
decision to spend a month in New York as leader of the 
Soviet delegation at the autumn 1960 meeting of the UN 
General Assembly, which welcomed seventeen newly 
independent members, sixteen from Africa. While 
Khrushchev was bear-hugging the new African leaders. 
President Dwight D. Eisenhower went on a golfing 
holiday. With new African embassies opening in 
Washington, the President’s chief of protocol became 
notorious for complaining about having to invite ‘these 
niggers’ to White House receptions.— Khrushchev, 
meanwhile, became joint sponsor of a draft UN 
declaration subsequently adopted in modified form as a 
‘Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial 
Countries and Peoples’, which denounced colonialism in 
all its forms and demanded immediate independence for 
all subjugated peoples. The abstention of the main 
Western powers merely served to enhance Moscow’s 
prestige.— The fact that most still ‘subjugated peoples’ 
did not receive immediate independence meant that the 
Soviet Union was regularly able henceforth to complain 
that the colonial powers were defying a UN resolution.— 

Khrushchev so enjoyed his time at the UN in the 
autumn of 1960 that he beat all previous records for 
loquacity, making a dozen speeches to the General 
Assembly totalling 300 pages of typescript. His 
performance was not, however, an unalloyed success. He 
was so outraged on 13 October by the speech of a 
delegate from the Philippines, who turned the issue of 
decolonization against him and claimed that eastern 
Europe had been ‘swallowed up by the Soviet Union’ and 
‘deprived of political and civil rights’, that he began 
angrily pounding the table with his shoe. Afterwards 
Khrushchev told a member of the Soviet delegation who 
had missed his performance, ‘Oh, you really missed 
something! It was such fun!’ Despite their 
embarrassment, no one in the delegation dared to 
remonstrate with him.— With the heady experience of 
hearing Western imperialism publicly denounced by 
Third World leaders in the heartland of American 
capitalism still fresh in his mind, Khrushchev gave a 
secret speech in Moscow to Soviet ideological and 
propaganda ‘workers’ in January 1961, in which he 
declared that, by supporting the ‘sacred’ anti-imperialist 
struggle of colonies and newly independent states, the 
Soviet Union would both advance its own progress to 
Communism and ‘bring imperialism to its knees’.— 

The belief that the Cold War could be won in the Third 

World transformed the agenda of Soviet intelligence in 
ways that most Western historians have found difficult to 
credit. Eric Hobsbawm’s brilliant history of the twentieth 
century concludes, like many others, that ‘there is no real 
evidence that [the Soviet Union] planned to push forward 
the frontiers of communism by revolution until the middle 
1970s, and even then the evidence suggests that the USSR 
made use of a favourable conjuncture it had not set out to 
create’.— KGB files show, however, that in 1961 there 
was already such a plan, though it was not of course 
publicly revealed. The Soviet Communist Party (CPSU) 
Programme of that year praised ‘the liberation struggles 
of oppressed peoples’ as one of ‘the mainstream 
tendencies of social progress’. This message was 
enthusiastically received in the Centre (KGB 
headquarters). The youthful and dynamic chairman of the 
KGB, Aleksandr Shelepin, won Khrushchev’s support for 
the use of national liberation movements and the forces of 
anti-imperialism in an aggressive new grand strategy 
against the ‘Main Adversary’ (the United States) in the 
Third World.— Though Khrushchev was soon to replace 
Shelepin with the more compliant and less ambitious 
Vladimir Semichastny, the KGB’s grand strategy 

Grasping the extent of the KGB’s ambitions in the 
Third World has been complicated by the legacy of 
McCarthyism. Just as the fraudulent inventions of Senator 

Joseph McCarthy’s self-serving anti-Communist witch- 
hunt helped to blind liberal opinion to the reality of the 
unprecedented Soviet intelligence offensive against the 
United States,— so simplistic conspiracy theories of 
Soviet plans for world conquest made most non- 
conspiracy theorists sceptical of even realistic 
assessments of Soviet designs in the Third World. 
McCarthy and America’s other anti-Communist 
conspiracy theorists were, albeit unconsciously, among 
the KGB’s most successful Cold War agents of influence. 
Reaction against their risible exaggerations helps to 
account for the remarkable degree to which the KGB has 
been left out of Cold War history. 

After Khrushchev himself was forced to step down in 
1964 and replaced by Leonid Brezhnev, the belief that the 
Cold War could be won in the Third World was held with 
greater conviction in the Centre than in the Kremlin or the 
Foreign Ministry. The future head of KGB intelligence 
assessment, Nikolai Leonov, then a young foreign 
intelligence officer in the FCD Second (Latin American) 
Department, was later to recall: ‘Basically, of course, we 
were guided by the idea that the destiny of world 
confrontation between the United States and the Soviet 
Union, between Capitalism and Socialism, would be 

resolved in the Third World. This was the basic 

‘ ’ 30 

premise. — 

That strategy was enthusiastically supported by Yuri 
Andropov from the moment he succeeded Semichastny as 
KGB chairman in 1967. He told a meeting of the Second 
Chief Directorate (Internal Security and Counter- 
Intelligence) a year later: 

One must understand that the struggle between the organs 
of state security and the special [intelligence] organs of 
the opponent in the present conditions reflect the present 
stage of a heightening of the class struggle. And this 
means that the struggle is more merciless. Today the same 
question is being decided as in the first days of Soviet 
power: who prevails over whom? Only today this 
question is being decided not within our country but 
within the framework of the whole world system, in a 
global struggle between two world systems.— 

The initiative for the ‘global struggle’ came from the 
KGB rather than the Foreign Ministry. At the most 
dramatic moments of Soviet penetration of the Third 
World, from the establishment of the first Communist 
‘bridgehead’ in the Western hemisphere (to use the KGB 
codename for Castro’s Cuba) to the final, disastrous 
defence of the Communist regime in Afghanistan, the 
Centre had greater influence than the Foreign Ministry. 

Andrei Gromyko, the long-serving Soviet Foreign 

Minister, is remembered by his almost equally long- 
serving ambassador in Washington, Anatoli Dobrynin, as 
‘a cautious man who opposed any serious confrontation 
with the United States’: 

. . . The Third World was not his prime domain. He 
believed that events there could not decisively influence 
our fundamental relations with the United States; that 
turned out to be a factor which he definitely 
underestimated. More than that, our Foreign Ministry 
traditionally was not really involved with the leaders of 
the liberation movements in the Third World, who were 
dealt with through the International Department of the 
party, headed by Secretary Boris Ponomarev. He despised 
Gromyko; the feeling was mutual. 

The Soviet Union’s forward policy in the Third World 
was thus led by the KGB with the support of the 
International Department of the CPSU Central 
Committee.— Khrushchev had nicknamed the 
Department’s rigidly doctrinaire head ‘Ponomar’ 
(sacristan in the Orthodox Church). Tonomar’, he said, 
‘is a valuable Party official but as orthodox as a Catholic 
priest.’ Within the Politburo, the forward policy was also 
supported by the Party’s leading ideologue, Mikhail 
Suslov, whose prestige during the 1970s was second only 
to Brezhnev’s. ‘Cloaked in the robe of doctrinal 
infallibility’, recalls one Soviet diplomat, ‘[Suslov] 

regularly issued reminders of what he saw as the correct 
Marxist-Leninist policy.’ Speaking ex cathedra, Suslov 
declared that the collapse of what remained of the 
Western colonial empires and the weakening of the 
capitalist system in the face of the onward march of 
socialism and progressive, anti-imperialist forces was 
‘historically inevitable’.— 

Gromyko’s frequent willingness for Andropov to take 
the initiative in the Third World reflected his own lack of 
interest in it. As Leonov later recalled: 

The USSR [Foreign Ministry] and its head A. A. 
Gromyko were openly scornful with regard to the ‘third 
world’. Andrei Andreyevich [Gromyko] visited and 
received his colleagues from small European states with 
greater pleasure than the disturbers of the peace from the 
countries of the ‘third world’. Even the Politburo failed to 
convince him to visit the Near East, Africa, or Latin 
America. Trips to the countries of these regions were 
isolated incidents in his seemingly endless career as 
minister for foreign affairs.— 

When taking initiatives in the Third World, Andropov 
was always careful not to appear to be treading on 
Gromyko’s toes. ‘Their personal relations’, noted 
Dobrynin, ‘were not bad, because Andropov was cautious 

enough not to interfere in Gromyko’s everyday 
management of foreign policy, and Gromyko for his part 
respected Andropov’s growing influence in the 
Politburo.’ The two men gradually became co-sponsors of 
the major foreign policy proposals put before Brezhnev’s 

Further encouragement for a forward policy in the 
Third World came from the shift in the balance of power 
at the United Nations during the 1960s. With the rapid 
increase in newly independent states, the West lost its 
previous majority in the General Assembly. The Non- 
Aligned Movement (NAM) tended increasingly to vote 
with the Soviet bloc rather than the West, some of whose 
leading states were tainted by their imperial past. At the 
NAM conference which met at Belgrade in July 1969, the 
final communique pledged ‘support for the heroic people 
of Vietnam’ who were resisting American aggression, but 
made no significant mention of the Soviet invasion of 
Czechoslovakia in the previous year.— For the remainder 
of the Cold War, the KGB saw the Non-Aligned 
Movement as ‘our natural allies’. ‘The essential trend of 
their activities’, declared the head of the First Chief 
(Foreign Intelligence) Directorate (FCD), Vladimir 
Aleksandrovich Kryuchkov, in 1984, ‘is anti- 

The United States’ defeat in Vietnam reinforced the 

Centre’s confidence in its Third World strategy. The 
unprecedented TV coverage from Vietnam brought the 
horrors of war into the living rooms of Middle America 
and much of the world. It also gave dramatic global 
publicity to the anti-war movement in the United States, 
whose daily refrain, ‘Hey, Hey, LBJ, How Many Kids 
Did You Kill Today?’, helped to persuade President 
Lyndon B. Johnson not to run for re-election in 1968. 
Both Johnson and his successor, Richard Nixon, believed 
- wrongly - that an international Communist conspiracy 
lay behind American anti-war protest, particularly on 
university campuses. Richard Helms, the Director of 
Central Intelligence (DCI), later testified that, ‘President 
Johnson was after this all the time.’ So was Nixon. 
Though sceptical about the White House’s conspiracy 
theories. Helms began operation CHAOS to discover the 
real extent of foreign influence on domestic dissent. In the 
course of the operation, the Agency began to spy illegally 
on American campus radicals. As Helms acknowledged: 
‘Should anyone learn of [CHAOS ’s] existence, it would 
prove most embarrassing for all concerned.’ Though the 
negative findings of CHAOS failed to convince either 
Johnson or Nixon, it did lasting damage to the reputation 
of the CIA when the operation was revealed in the mid- 
1970s and provided further ammunition for KGB ‘active 

Only a fortnight before the final American withdrawal 

from Saigon on 30 April 1975, Andropov still found it 
difficult to credit that the United States had really been 
defeated. He told a specially convened meeting on 
Vietnam in the FCD’s Yasenevo headquarters: Do you 
remember the Korean War and the course of its 
development? Then too the North Korean troops had 
occupied almost the whole territory of South Korea . . . 
Then the Americans organized a major landing operation 
in the rear of the North Koreans, cutting off and 
devastating the main section of the North Korean army. In 
a matter of days the course of the war had changed. Now 
an extremely similar situation is taking shape. All the 
forces of North Vietnam have been sent to the south, to 
help the patriots. To all intents and purposes North 
Vietnam is defenceless. If the Americans undertake 
something similar to the Korean manoeuvre, then things 
may take a bad turn ... To all intents and purposes the 
road to [Hanoi] is open. 

Not till Andropov saw the extraordinary TV pictures a 
fortnight later of Americans and some of their South 
Vietnamese allies being hurriedly rescued by helicopter 
from the roof of the US embassy as the Communist 
Vietcong made a triumphal entry into Saigon did he 
accept that the United States had really been defeated.— 

The unprecedented humiliation of the United States at 
the end of a war which had divided its society as no other 

conflict had done since the Civil War seemed to 
demonstrate the ability of a Third World national 
liberation movement, inspired by Marxist-Leninist 
ideology, to defeat even an imperialist superpower. As 
Nixon’s successor. President Gerald Ford, acknowledged, 
‘Our allies around the world began to question our 
resolve.’ Among the foreign media reports which made a 
particular impression on Ford - and, doubtless, also on the 
KGB - was a front-page editorial in the Frankfurter 
Allgemeine Zeitung, headed ‘America - A Helpless 

Identifying the United States with the Western colonial 
powers, despite strong American support for 
decolonization after the Second World War,— was 
assisted by creative use of Lenin’s definition of 
imperialism as ‘the highest stage of capitalism’. It was 
thus possible for Soviet commentators to argue that the 
whole of the Third World, whether politically 
independent or not, was under imperialist attack: ‘Having 
found it impossible to reshape the political map of the 
world as it did in the past, imperialism is striving to 
undermine the sovereignty of liberated states in 
roundabout ways, making particularly active use of 
economic levers . . .’— 

Such arguments found no shortage of supporters in the 
West as well as the Third World. Broadcasting on Radio 

Hanoi during the Vietnam War, the great British 
philosopher Bertrand Russell told American GIs that they 
were being used ‘to protect the riches of a few rich men in 
the United States’: ‘Every food store and every petrol 
station in America requires, under capitalism, the 
perpetuation of war production.’ Vietnam popularized 
around the world the idea of the United States as the 
leader of world imperialism, bent on crushing the 
freedoms of the Third World in the interests of Western 
capitalism of which it was the leading exemplar. Russell 

The United States today is a force for suffering, reaction 
and counter-revolution the world over. Wherever people 
are hungry and exploited, wherever they are oppressed 
and humiliated, the agency of this evil exists with the 
support and approval of the United States . . . [which went 
to war in Vietnam] to protect the continued control over 
the wealth of the region by American capitalists.— 

The ‘Ballad of Student Dissent’, made famous by Bob 
Dylan on American campuses during the Vietnam War, 
mocked Washington’s incomprehension of the growing 
hostility in the Third World to US ‘imperialism’: 

Please don 7 burn that limousine, 

Don ’t throw tomatoes at the submarine. 
Think of all we ’ve done for you. 

You ’ve just got those exploitation blues. 

Before the Vietnam War Western denunciations of 
Western imperialism were largely confined to limited 
numbers of academics and Marxist parties and sects. The 
Marxist political scientist, Bill Warren, was, however, 
right to claim that in the course of the war, the concept of 
imperialism became ‘the dominant political dogma of our 

Together with its offspring, the notion of ‘neo- 
colonialism’, it affords the great majority of humanity a 
common view of the world as a whole. Not only the 
Marxist-educated masses of the Communist world, but 
also the millions of urban dwellers of Latin America, the 
semi-politicized peasants of Asia, and the highly literate 
professional and working classes of the industrialized 
capitalist countries, are steeped in this world-view and its 
ramifications. It represents, of course, not simply a 
recognition of the existence of modem empires, formal or 
informal, and of their living heritage. More important, it 
embodies a set of quite specific (albeit often vaguely 
articulated) theses about the domination of imperialism in 
the affairs of the human race as a whole and in particular 

about the past and present economic, political, and 
cultural disaster imperialism has allegedly inflicted and 
continues to inflict on the great majority of mankind.— 

Though Soviet writers contributed little of significance by 
comparison with Western Marxists to the serious study of 
imperialism during the Cold War,— the anti-imperialist 
mood which accompanied and followed the Vietnam War 
created fertile ground for KGB active measures in the 
Third World. During the 1970s, wrote Bill Warren: 

. . . Bourgeois publishers have devoted more resources to 
the topic of anti-imperialism than to any other social, 
political or economic theme, with the possible exception 
of inflation. If to this we add the literature of the 
masochistic modern version of the White Man’s Burden, 
more or less directly inspired by the view of imperialism 
as uniformly disastrous, then Marxism can record the 
greatest publication and propaganda triumph in its history 
. . . In no other field has Marxism succeeded in so 
influencing - even dominating - the thought of mankind.— 

The final stages of the Vietnam War were, ironically, 
accompanied by an unprecedented level of detente 
between Washington and Moscow. For the Nixon 
administration, anxious to extricate itself from Vietnam 

with as little damage to US prestige as possible, there 
were obvious advantages in lessening tension with the 
Soviet Union as well as the longer-term benefit of 
stabilizing the Cold War. A majority of the Politburo saw 
the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) with the 
United States as a way of preventing further escalation in 
the already huge Soviet arms budget. In May 1972 Nixon 
became the first US president to visit Moscow, where, in 
the ornate surroundings of the Grand Kremlin Palace, he 
and Brezhnev signed agreements freezing their nuclear 
strike forces (SALT 1) and limiting their anti-ballistic 
missile defences. Brezhnev paid a return visit to 
Washington the following year. ‘Soviet- American 
relations’, wrote Dobrynin, ‘reached a level of amity in 
1973 never before achieved in the post-war era.’ Though 
no Soviet policy-maker ever accepted that the progress of 
detente should prevent the Soviet Union extending its 
influence in the Third World at the expense of the United 
States, there was disagreement about how vigorously that 
influence should be increased. Brezhnev, who adored the 
pomp and ceremony of his meetings with Nixon in both 
Russia and the United States, was among the doves. In 
private talks with the President, he criticized some of his 
own colleagues in the Politburo by name and later sent the 
President a personal note of sympathy and support ‘from 
the depths of my heart’ as the Watergate scandal began to 
threaten his survival in office.— The Centre took a much 
less sentimental view. During 1973-74 there seems to 

have been disagreement within the Soviet leadership 
between the advocates of a more vigorous ideological 
offensive against the Main Adversary in the Third World 
(including the increased use of active measures) and those 
who feared the likely damage to detente with the United 
States.— The advocates of the offensive, Andropov 
probably chief among them, won the argument.— 

Over the next decade there was a new wave of 
revolution in parts of Africa, Central America and Asia - 
most of it actively supported, though not originated, by 
the KGB.— The complex detail of events in the Third 
World was simply too much for Brezhnev to take in. As 
his eyesight deteriorated he found it increasingly difficult 
to read all but the briefest texts, and his staff first asked 
for the print size of intelligence reports sent to him to be 
as large as possible, then for them to be produced in 
capital letters. Telegrams were read out to him 
increasingly often.— From the mid-1970s he took little 
active part in the government of the country. At the rear 
of the cavalcade of black limousines in which he travelled 
around Moscow was a resuscitation vehicle.— At a 
summit in Vienna in 1979 the future DCI, Robert Gates, 
‘couldn’t get over how feeble Brezhnev was’: 

Going in and out of the embassies, two huge - and I mean 
huge - KGB officers held him upright under his arms and 

essentially carried him. [William] Odom, a Soviet expert 
[later head of the US SIGINT agency, NS A], and I were 
trapped in a narrow walkway at one point, and as the 
KGB half-carried Brezhnev by we were nearly 

Despite his shuffling gait, disjointed speech and 
dependence on sleeping pills, Brezhnev thrived on a 
constant diet of flattery and remained convinced that his 
‘great experience and wisdom’ made his continued 
leadership indispensable. He was also constantly 
reassured about the success of Soviet policy in the Third 
World and the enormous respect in which he was 
supposedly held by its leaders. Brezhnev opened the 
Twenty-sixth Party Congress in 1981 by announcing, 
without any sense of the absurd: 

At its first Central Committee plenum, which passed in an 
atmosphere of exceptional unity and solidarity, the 
leading organs of our Party have been elected 
unanimously. The plenum has unanimously appointed as 
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU 
Comrade L. I. Brezhnev. 

The entire audience jumped to its feet to deliver the usual 
sycophantic ‘storm of applause’.— Despite the war in 

Afghanistan, Brezhnev exuded confidence in Soviet 
policy in the Third World as he stumbled through his 
speech, hailing the increased number of states with a 
‘socialist orientation’ since the previous Congress five 
years earlier, the triumph of the Ethiopian, Nicaraguan 
and Afghan revolutions, and the conclusion of friendship 
treaties with Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, 
Afghanistan, Syria and the People’s Democratic Republic 
of Yemen. — 

The Centre had no doubt that its ‘active measures’ to 
influence operations had made a major contribution to 
turning most Third World opinion against the United 
States. In 1974, according to KGB statistics, over 250 
active measures were targeted against the CIA alone, 
leading - it claimed - to denunciations of Agency abuses, 
both real and (more frequently) imaginary, in media, 
parliamentary debates, demonstrations and speeches by 
leading politicians around the world.— Though Mitrokhin 
did not record the statistics for subsequent years, the 
volume of active measures almost certainly increased, 
assisted by startling American revelations of skulduggery 
at the White House and the Agency. The Watergate 
scandal which forced Nixon’s resignation in 1974 was 
followed in 1975, the ‘Year of Intelligence’, by 
sensational disclosures of CIA ‘dirty tricks’ - among them 
operation CHAOS and assassination plots against foreign 
statesmen. Helms’s successor as DCI, William Colby, 

complained that, ‘The CIA came under the closest and 
harshest public scrutiny that any such service has ever 
experienced not only in this country but anywhere in the 
world.’ Though sympathetic to the Agency, President 
Ford faced a difficult dilemma. The best way to defend 
the CIA would have been to emphasize that, in the words 
of a later Congressional report, ‘far from being out of 
control’, it had been ‘utterly responsive to the instructions 
of the President and the Assistant to the President for 
National Security Affairs’. Defending the CIA, however, 
would have conflicted with Ford’s primary aim of 
rehabilitating the presidency. To restore confidence in the 
White House after the trauma of Watergate, the President 
and his advisers thus took the decision to distance 
themselves from the charges levelled against the Agency, 
which continued to multiply. — 

In reality, the CIA’s assassination plots, all undertaken 
with presidential approval, had either failed or been 
abandoned - partly because, unlike the KGB, it did not 
possess a group of trained assassins. Shocked by the 
revelations of the ‘Year of Intelligence’, however, a 
majority of Americans were taken in by conspiracy 
theories, which the KGB did its best to encourage, 
purporting to show that the CIA had been involved in the 
assassination of President John F. Kennedy.— If, as most 
of the world as well as most Americans continued to 
believe,— the CIA had been involved in the killing of its 

own president, it was reasonable to conclude that there 
were no limits to which the Agency would not go to 
subvert foreign regimes and assassinate other statesmen 
who had incurred its displeasure. KGB active measures 
successfully promoted the belief that the methods which 
the CIA had used to attempt to kill Fidel Castro and 
destabilize his regime were being employed against 
‘progressive’ governments around the world. One active- 
measure operation in the Middle East in 1975 purported 
to identify forty-five statesmen from around the world 
who had been the victims of successful or unsuccessful 
Agency assassination attempts over the past decade.— 
Indira Gandhi was one of a number of prominent Third 
World leaders who were unconsciously influenced by 
disinformation fabricated by Service A (the FCD active- 
measures specialists) and who became obsessed by 
supposed CIA plots against them.— 

The KGB’s active-measures doctrine improbably 
insisted that its influence operations were ‘radically 
different in essence from the disinformation to which 
Western agencies resort in order to deceive public 

KGB disinformation operations are progressive; they are 
designed to mislead not the working people but their 
enemies - the ruling circles of capitalism - in order to 
induce them to act in a certain way, or abstain from 

actions contrary to the interests of the USSR; they 
promote peace and social progress; they serve 
international detente; they are humane, creating the 
conditions for the noble struggle for humanity’s bright 

KGB active-measures campaigns were extensively 
supported by its allies in the Soviet bloc. According to 
Ladislav Bittman of the Czechoslovak StB: 

Anti-American propaganda campaigns are the easiest to 
carry out. A single press article containing sensational 
facts of a ‘new American conspiracy’ may be sufficient. 
Other papers become interested, the public is shocked, 
and government authorities in developing countries have 
a fresh opportunity to clamour against the imperialists 
while demonstrators hasten to break American embassy 

KGB active measures were also intended to serve a 
domestic political agenda by encouraging the support of 
the Soviet leadership for a forward policy in the Third 
World. The Centre supplied the Kremlin with regular 
reports designed to demonstrate its success in influencing 
Third World politicians and public opinion. The 
‘successes’ listed in these reports seem to have changed 

little from Brezhnev to Gorbachev. Among documents 
liberated from the Central Committee archives in the 
aftermath of the abortive 1991 Moscow coup was a 1969 
report from Andropov, boasting of the KGB’s ability to 
organize large protest demonstrations outside the US 
embassy in Delhi for $5,000 a time, and a quite similar 
letter to Gorbachev twenty years later from the then KGB 
chairman, Vladimir Kryuchkov (formerly head of the 
FCD), reporting with much the same satisfaction the 
recruitment of an increased number of agents in the Sri 
Lankan parliament and the ‘sincere gratitude to Moscow’ 
allegedly expressed by the leader of the Freedom Party for 
Soviet ‘financial support’.— 

Given the tight control over the Soviet media and the 
virtual impossibility of mounting dissident 
demonstrations in Moscow, the Politburo was 
unsurprisingly impressed by the KGB’s apparent ability 
to influence Third World opinion. Some KGB active 
measures were designed less to influence the rest of the 
world than to flatter the Soviet leadership and the Party 
apparatus. Unable to report to Moscow that the only 
aspect of CPSU congresses which made much impression 
on the world outside the Soviet bloc was the mind- 
numbing tedium of their banal proceedings, foreign 
residencies felt forced to concoct evidence to support the 
official doctrine that, ‘The congresses of the CPSU are 
always events of major international importance: they are 

like beacons lighting up the path already traversed and the 
path lying ahead.’— Mitrokhin noted in 1977 that 
throughout the year residencies around the world were 
busy prompting local dignitaries to send congratulations 
to the Soviet leadership on the occasion of the sixtieth 
anniversary of the ‘Great October Revolution’ and the 
introduction of the supposedly epoch-making (but in fact 
insignificant) ‘Brezhnev’ Soviet constitution.— These 
carefully stage-managed congratulations, as well as 
featuring prominently in the Soviet media, were doubtless 
included in the daily intelligence digests prepared by FCD 
Service 1 (intelligence assessment), signed by Andropov, 
which were delivered to members of the Politburo and 
Central Committee Secretariat by junior KGB officers, 
armed with the latest Makarov pistols, travelling in black 
Volga limousines. — 

In the Third World as elsewhere, KGB officers had to 
waste time pandering to the whims and pretensions of the 
political leadership. Khrushchev, for example, had been 
outraged by photographs in the American press showing 
him drinking Coca-Cola, which he regarded as a symbol 
of US imperialism, and demanded that further 
‘provocations’ be prevented. Residencies thus kept a close 
watch for Coca-Cola bottles during the numerous foreign 
visits of Yuri Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova, 
respectively the first man and the first woman into space. 
Ah went well until a banquet in Mexico in 1963, when an 

alert KGB officer noticed a news photographer about to 
take a picture of Tereshkova with a waiter holding a bottle 
of Coca-Cola in the background. A member of the 
Mexico City residency wrote later: ‘The “provocation” 
prepared with regard to the cosmonauts did not slip past 
our vigilant eyes. The first female cosmonaut, a Soviet 
woman, featuring in an advertisement for bourgeois Coca- 
Cola! No, we could not permit this. We immediately 
turned to our Mexican colleagues for help.’ The ‘Mexican 
colleagues’ (presumably local security officials) 
successfully prevented the photograph from being 

Brezhnev’s increasingly preposterous vanity, which 
was undiminished by his physical decline, had to be fed 
not merely by more medals than were awarded to all 
previous Soviet leaders combined— but also by a regular 
diet of praise from around the world, some of it 
manufactured by the KGB. In 1973, for example, a paid 
Moroccan agent codenamed AKMET, who regularly 
wrote articles based on material provided by Service A, 
published a book extolling Soviet assistance to African 
countries. At the prompting of the local residency, he sent 
a signed copy to Brezhnev as a token of his deep personal 
gratitude and respect. Trivial though this episode was, it 
was invested with such significance by the Centre that the 
book and dedication were forwarded to Brezhnev with a 
personal covering letter from Andropov - who doubtless 

did not mention that they had originated as a KGB active 
measure Brezhnev was, of course, carefully protected 
from any sense of how absurd his personality cult 
appeared to much of the outside world - as, for example, 
to Joan Baez, who in 1979 composed and sang a satirical 
birthday tribute to him: 

Happy birthday, Leonid Brezhnev! 

What a lovely seventy-fifth 
We watched the party on TV 
You seemed to be taking things casually 
What a mighty heart must beat in your breast 
To hold forty-nine medals on your chest I— 

As well as manufacturing evidence of the global 
popularity of the Soviet leadership, the KGB fed it a 
carefully sanitized, politically correct view of the outside 
world. Throughout the Soviet era there was a striking 
contrast between the frequent success of intelligence 
collection and the poor quality of intelligence analysis. 
Because analysis in all one-party states is distorted by the 
insistent demands of political correctness, foreign 
intelligence reports do more to reinforce than to correct 
the regime’s misconceptions. Though the politicization of 
intelligence sometimes degrades assessment even within 
democratic systems, it is actually built into the structure 

of all authoritarian regimes. Soviet intelligence reports 
throughout the Stalin era, and for some years after, 
usually consisted only of selective compilations of 
relevant information on particular topics with little 
attempt at interpretation or analysis for fear that it might 
contradict the views of the political leadership. Though 
intelligence analysis improved under Andropov, it 
remained seriously undeveloped by Western standards. 
Leonov, who was dismayed to be appointed in 1971 as 
deputy head of the FCD assessment section. Service 1, 
estimates that it had only 10 per cent of the importance 
occupied by the Directorate of Intelligence (Analysis) in 
the CIA. Its prestige was correspondingly low. A general 
air of depression hung over Service 1, which was usually 
regarded as ‘a punishment posting’. To be transferred 
there from an operational section, as happened to Leonov, 
was ‘equivalent to moving from a guards regiment in the 
capital to the garrison in a provincial backwater’ .— 

In 1973 Leonov was promoted to head Service I and 
was soon able to resist the traditional pressure to accept 
rejects from operational departments. Freedom of debate, 
he claims, came to his department much earlier than to 
foreign intelligence as a whole, let alone to the rest of the 
KGB.— That debate, however, was coloured by Leonov’s 
conspiracy theories about the United States which were 
still in evidence during the final years of the Soviet 
Union.— There was also little change in the standards of 

political correctness required in intelligence reports to the 
Soviet leadership: 

All the filtration stages . . . were concerned with making 
sure that alarming, critical information did not come to 
the attention of the bosses. [Such information] was 
provided in a sweetened, smoothed form, with all the 
thorns removed in advance.— 

Vadim Kirpichenko, who later rose to become first deputy 
head of foreign intelligence, recalls that during the 
Brezhnev era, pessimistic intelligence was kept from him 
on the grounds that it would ‘upset Leonid II yich’ . — 

When Soviet policy in the Third World suffered 
setbacks which could not be concealed, analysts knew 
they were on safe ground if they blamed imperialist 
machinations, particularly those of the United States, 
rather than failures of the Soviet system. As one FCD 
officer admitted at the end of the Cold War, ‘In order to 
please our superiors, we sent in falsified and biased 
information, acting on the principle “Blame everything on 
the Americans, and everything will be OK”.’— Within the 
Centre it was possible during the Andropov era to express 
much franker opinions about Third World problems - for 
example, about Soviet prospects in Egypt after the death 
of Nasser or economic collapse in Allende’s Chile— - 

than were communicated to the political leadership. From 
the moment that the KGB leadership had taken up a 
position, however, FCD dissidents kept their heads down. 
When, for example, Andropov concluded that the first 
Reagan administration had plans for a nuclear first strike 
against the Soviet Union, none of the probably numerous 
sceptics in KGB residencies around the world dared to 
breathe a word of open dissent.— 

Despite the sanitized nature of the Centre’s reports to 
the political leadership, however, its optimism about the 
Third World was genuine. By the mid-1970s, the KGB 
was confident that it was winning the Cold War in the 
Third World against a demoralized and increasingly 
discredited ‘Main Adversary’. As Henry Kissinger later 

It is doubtful that Castro would have intervened in 
Angola, or the Soviet Union in Ethiopia, had America not 
been perceived to have collapsed in Indochina, to have 
become demoralized by Watergate, and to have afterward 
retreated into a cocoon.— 

But while Washington was stricken by self-doubt, 
Moscow was in economic denial. The severe structural 
problems of the Soviet economy and the military might 
which depended on it were far more serious than the 

transitory loss of American self-confidence which 
followed Vietnam. In June 1977 the Soviet government 
was forced to purchase 11.5 million tonnes of grain from 
the West. In August it concluded that another 10 million 
tonnes would be needed to meet the shortfall in Soviet 
production. Yet at the celebration three months later of 
the sixtieth anniversary of the October Revolution, 
Brezhnev declared to thunderous applause, ‘This epoch is 
the epoch of the transition to Socialism and Communism . 
. . and by this path, the whole of mankind is destined to 
go.’ Though the naive economic optimism of the 
Khrushchev era had largely evaporated, the ideological 
blinkers which constricted the vision of Brezhnev, 
Andropov and other Soviet true believers made it 
impossible for them to grasp the impossibility of the 
increasingly sclerotic Soviet command economy 
competing successfully with the market economies of the 

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Andropov 
passionately believed that, ‘Everything that has been 
achieved here [in the Soviet Union] has long put 
socialism far ahead of the most democratic bourgeois 
states.’— While the Soviet system would solve its 
problems, those of the capitalist West were insoluble. The 
onward march of socialism in the Third World pointed to 
the inevitability of its ultimate global triumph. In the 
confident words of Karen N. Brutents, first deputy head 

of the International Department: ‘The world was going 
our way.’— The CIA feared that Bmtents might be right. 
It reported to the White House in June 1979 that, ‘Part of 
the Soviet mood is a sense of momentum in the USSR’s 
favour in the Third World.’ Brezhnev and the Soviet 
leadership, it concluded, ‘can view their position in the 
world with considerable satisfaction’.— 

How the KGB set out to win the Cold War in the Third 
World, and with what consequences, is the subject of this 

Latin America 

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Latin America: Introduction 

President Ronald Reagan was fond of quoting what he 
claimed was Lenin’s description of the Soviet master-plan 
to take over the Western hemisphere: 

First, we will take over Eastern Europe, then we will 
organize the hordes of Asia . . . then we will move on to 
Latin America; once we have Latin America, we won’t 
have to take the United States, the last bastion of 
capitalism, because it will fall into our outstretched hands 
like overripe fruit.- 

Reagan was so impressed by this quotation that he 
repeated it twice in his memoirs. Lenin, however, said no 
such thing. His only published reference to Latin 
America, in Imperialism: The Highest Stage of 
Capitalism, was to cite approvingly a German economist 
who claimed that ‘South America, and especially 
Argentina, was under the financial control of London’ and 
was ‘almost a British commercial colony ’.- 

For over forty years after the Bolshevik Revolution, 
Moscow doubted its own ability to challenge American 

influence in a continent which it regarded as the United 
States’ backyard. By far the most important Soviet 
intelligence operation in Latin America during the Stalin 
era was aimed not at subverting any of the ruling regimes 
but at assassinating the great Russian heretic Leon 
Trotsky, who had taken refuge near Mexico City.- In 
1951, two years before Stalin’s death, he scornfully 
dismissed the twenty Latin American republics, most of 
them traditionally anti-Communist, as the ‘obedient army 
of the United States’.- For the remainder of the decade the 
Soviet Union maintained diplomatic missions and ‘legal’ 
KGB residencies in only three Latin American capitals - 
Mexico City, Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Though the 
KGB began delivering secret Soviet subsidies to a handful 
of pro-Moscow Communist parties in 1955, the amounts 
remained small by comparison with those given to the 
leading parties in the West and Asia.- 

The serious interest of the Centre (KGB headquarters) 
and subsequently of the Kremlin in the possibility of 
challenging the United States in its own backyard was 
first aroused by the emergence of a new generation of 
charismatic Latin American revolutionary leaders, chief 
among them Fidel Castro. The KGB’s leading Latin 
American expert, Nikolai Leonov, who was the first to 
make contact with Castro, wrote later, ‘Cuba forced us to 
take a fresh look at the whole continent, which until then 
had traditionally occupied the last place in the Soviet 

leadership’s system of priorities.’- The charismatic appeal 
of Castro and ‘Che’ Guevara extended far beyond Latin 
America. Though the Western ‘New Left’ of the 1960s 
had little interest in the increasingly geriatric leadership of 
the Soviet Union, it idolized both Castro and Guevara, 
lavishing on them the uncritical adulation which much of 
the Old Left had bestowed on Stalin’s supposed worker- 
peasant state in the 1930s. Che Guevara T-shirts on 
American campuses comfortably outnumbered, even in 
presidential election years, those bearing the likeness of 
any US politician alive or dead. Though there was much 
that was genuinely admirable in Cuban health-care and 
educational initiatives, despite the increasingly 
authoritarian nature of the Cuban one-party state, the 
radical pilgrims to Havana in the 1960s were as uncritical 
as those to Moscow in the 1930s of whom Malcolm 
Muggeridge had written, ‘Their delight in all they saw 
and were told, and the expression they gave to that 
delight, constitute unquestionably one of the wonders of 
our age.’ One of the wonders of the 1960s was delight 
such as that expressed by the political economist Paul 
Sweezy after his pilgrimage to Cuba: 

To be with these people, to see with your own eyes how 
they are rehabilitating and transforming a whole nation, to 
share their dreams of the great tasks and achievements 
that lie ahead - these are purifying and liberating 

experiences. You come away with your faith in the human 
race restored. 

Though sympathetic to the Cuban Revolution, Frances 
Fitzgerald accurately noted that ‘many North American 
radicals who visit Cuba or who live there have performed 
a kind of surgery on their critical faculties and reduced 
their conversation to a kind of baby talk, in which 
everything is wonderful, including the elevator that does 
not work and the rows of Soviet tanks on military parade 
that are in the “hands of the people” ’ . 

Similar examples of self-administered brain surgery 
proliferated across both the West and the Third World. 
Even Jean-Paul Sartre, despite his global reputation for 
rigorous philosophical analysis, became for a period 
almost incoherent in his hero-worship: 

Among these fully awake men, at the height of their 
powers, sleeping doesn’t seem like a natural need, just a 
routine of which they had more or less freed themselves . 
. . They have excluded the routine alternation of lunch and 
dinner from their daily programme. 

... Of all these night watchmen, Castro is the most 
wide awake. Of all these fasting people, Castro can eat the 
most and fast the longest . . . [They] exercise a veritable 
dictatorship over their own needs . . . they roll back the 

limits of the possible.- 

Castro’s emergence, after some hesitations, as a reliable 
pro-Moscow loyalist was of immense importance for both 
Soviet foreign policy and KGB operations. Had he shared 
much of the New Left’s scornful attitude to the bloated 
Soviet bureaucracy and its increasingly geriatric 
leadership, siding instead with the Prague Spring and 
other manifestations of ‘Socialism with a human face’ (as 
many expected him to do after the tanks of the Warsaw 
Pact invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968), Castro 
would have added to Moscow’s problems instead of 
becoming one of its greatest international assets. With 
Castro and other charismatic Latin American 
revolutionaries on its side against American imperialism, 
the prestige of the Soviet Union in the Third World was 
enormously enhanced and its ageing revolutionary image 

It was often the KGB, rather than the Foreign Ministry, 
which took the lead role in Latin America. As 
Khrushchev later acknowledged, the first Soviet 
ambassador to Castro’s Cuba ‘turned out to be unsuited 
for service in a country just emerging from a revolution’ 
and had to be replaced by the KGB resident, who proved 
to be ‘an excellent choice’.- Nikolai Leonov later 
described how he had also ‘worked with many [other] 

Latin American leaders ... to help them as far as possible 
in their anti-American stance’.- The first contacts with 
Salvador Allende before his election as President of Chile 
in 1970 and with Juan and Isabel Peron before their return 
to Argentina in 1973 were also made by the KGB rather 
than by a Soviet diplomat. KGB contacts with the 
Sandinistas began almost two decades before their 
conquest of power in Nicaragua in 1979. As Leonov 
acknowledged, the initiative frequently came from the 
Centre’s Latin American experts: 

We ourselves developed the programme of our actions, 
orienting ourselves ... I might as well admit that 
sometimes we also wanted to attract attention to 
ourselves, to present our work as highly significant. This 
was to protect the Latin American direction in intelligence 
from withering away and dying out. On the whole we 
managed to convince the KGB leadership that Latin 
America represented a politically attractive springboard, 
where anti-American feeling was strong . . .— 

KGB operations were greatly assisted by the clumsy 
and sometimes brutal American response to Latin 
American revolutionary movements. The poorly planned 
and ineptly executed attempt to overthrow Castro by a 
CIA-backed landing at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961 was 

probably the most farcically incompetent episode in Cold 
War US foreign policy. Humiliation at the Bay of Pigs, 
however, did not prevent Kennedy authorizing 
subsequently a series of plans to assassinate Castro which, 
mercifully, also degenerated into farce. Some, like the 
proposal to place an explosive seashell on the sea bed 
when Castro went snorkelling, probably never progressed 
beyond the drawing board. The most practicable scheme 
devised during Kennedy’s presidency seems to have been 
the plan for one of Castro’s lovers to slip two poison 
capsules into his drink. While waiting for an opportunity, 
she hid them in a jar of cold cream. When she came to 
retrieve them, the capsules had melted. It is doubtful in 
any case that she would actually have used them. 

Investigative journalism and official investigations in 
the mid- 1970s gave global publicity to a series of such 
homicidal farces. Also revealed were CIA attempts on 
presidential instructions to destabilize the regime of 
Chile’s Marxist President Salvador Allende in the early 
1970s. Among the revelations was that of an apoplectic 
President Richard M. Nixon ordering his Director of 
Central Intelligence, Richard Helms, to ‘make the 
[Chilean] economy scream’. 

KGB active-measures specialists could not have hoped 
for more promising raw material to use as the basis of 
their campaigns than the series of scandalous revelations 
of American dirty tricks in Latin America from the Bay of 

Pigs to Iran-Contra a quarter of a century later. Service A 
was also able to exploit a much older tradition of 
resentment at Yanqui imperialism, which was kept alive 
during the Cold War by a recurrent US tendency to claim 
that its determination to root out Communist influences in 
Latin America wherever possible was in reality a high- 
minded attempt to defend democratic values in the 
interests of Latin Americans themselves. Having 
persuaded himself in 1965, contrary to the advice of the 
State Department, that a coup in the Dominican Republic 
was Communist-inspired, President Johnson sought to 
justify US military intervention by the sanctimonious 
rhetoric which rarely failed to enrage much of Latin 
American opinion: ‘The purpose of America is never to 
suppress liberty, but always to save it. The purpose of 
America is never to take freedom, but always to return it.’ 

American intervention, however, had little to do with 
democratic renewal. When Johnson’s extravagant claims 
of ‘headless bodies lying in the streets of Santo Domingo’ 
were challenged by opponents of US intervention, he 
phoned the US ambassador and appealed to him, ‘For 
God’s sake, see if you can find some headless bodies.’ 
The left-wing regimes overthrown with American 
assistance or approval in Guatemala in 1954, in the 
Dominican Republic in 1965 and in Chile in 1973 were 
replaced by military dictatorships.— 

The Sandinista victory in Nicaragua in 1979 revived 

much the same hopes and fears of Central American 
revolution created by Castro’s triumph in Cuba twenty 
years earlier. As one of their supporters noted, the 
Sandinistas had inspired ‘a renewal of belief in the 
possibility of a revolution’. ‘Backwater Nicaragua’, said 
the left-wing writer Paul Berman, became ‘the world 
center of the New Left’. For the journalist Claudia 
Dreifus: ‘To be in Managua was like being in a time 
machine. Here was a place seemingly run by the kind of 
people who were Sixties radicals. Wherever one went, 
people were young, singing political folk songs and 
chanting “Power to the People”.’— 

The Reagan administration’s campaign against the 
Sandinista regime was a public-relations disaster on a 
global scale. Just as the Bay of Pigs invasion was 
remembered by President John F. Kennedy as ‘the most 
excruciating period of my life’, so the lowest point in 
Ronald Reagan’s generally popular presidency came as a 
result of the revelation that the profits from secret arms 
sales to Iran, then a state sponsor of terrorism, had been 
illegally diverted to support the Nicaraguan Contra rebels 
in their attempt to overthrow the Marxist Sandinista 
regime. When Reagan was informed in 1985 that this 
episode had been uncovered by the Attorney General, his 
chief of staff noted that ‘the color drained from [the 
president’s] face’.— 

A survey in the mid-1980s found that the two most 
‘unappealing countries’ in the view of Mexican academics 
were the United States and Pinochet’s Chile. Though the 
USSR came in third place, 72 per cent of those polled 
believed that reports of ‘repression’ in the Soviet Union 
had been exaggerated. Clearly the most admired country 
was Castro’s Cuba.— Estimating how much Service A’s 
disinformation contributed to the Latin American distrust 
of Yanqui imperialism is an almost impossible task. It is, 
however, possible to identify some causes of widespread 
anti-American indignation which were clearly of Soviet 
origin. Among them was the ‘baby parts’ fabrication 
which alleged that wealthy Americans were buying up 
and butchering Latin American children in order to use 
their bodies for organ transplants. The story was taken up 
by a Soviet front organization, the International 
Association of Democratic Lawyers (lADL), and 
publicized extensively in the press of over fifty countries. 
Those taken in by the fabrication included groups as 
remote from the KGB as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who 
published the story in 1989 in their magazine Awake, 
which had a world-wide circulation of 1 1 million copies 
printed in fifty-four languages.— In 1990 an American 
correspondent in Mexico noted that the ‘baby parts’ story 
was still current even in ‘the respectable press’: 

It was reported that Mexican children routinely were 

being kidnapped, spirited across the US border, and 
murdered for their vital organs, which were then 
transplanted into sick American children with rich parents 
. . . Millions of educated and uneducated people - 
particularly in Latin America - firmly believe that the 
United States has created, in essence, an international 
network of child murderers, backed by gruesome teams of 
medical butchers.— 

Despite their many differences, KGB active measures and 
American policy to Latin America thus had one strikingly 
similar effect - to strengthen the traditional distrust of 
Yanqui imperialism. 


‘The Bridgehead’, 1959-1969 

One of the most striking news photographs of 1960 
showed the tall, youthful, bearded ‘Maximum Leader’ of 
the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz,- being greeted 
with a bear hug by the short, podgy, beaming Soviet 
leader Nikita Khrushchev at the United Nations in New 
York. Khrushchev’s boisterous embrace symbolized a 
major shift in both Soviet foreign policy and KGB 
operations. Moscow had at last a charismatic 
revolutionary standard-bearer in the New World. 

Castro later claimed that he was already a Marxist- 
Leninist when he began his guerrilla campaign against the 
corrupt pro-American Cuban dictatorship of Fulgencio 
Batista in 1953: ‘We felt that Lenin was with us, and that 
gave us great strength in fighting.’ That claim, however, 
was one of a number of attempts by Castro, once in 
power, to rewrite the history of his unorthodox early 
career. The word ‘socialism’ did not appear in any of 
Castro’s speeches until 1961.- Castro had a privileged 
upbringing in an affluent Cuban landowning family, and 
drew his early political inspiration not from Lenin but 
from the radical nationalist Partido del Pueblo Cubano 
and the ideals of its anti-Marxist founder, Eduardo 

Chibas. Until 1958 the Cuban Communist Party - the 
Partido Socialista Popular (PSP) - continued to insist, 
with Moscow’s backing, that Batista could only be 
overthrown not by Castro’s guerrillas but by a popular 
uprising of Cuban workers led by the Communists. As 
late as October 1958, three months before Batista fled and 
Castro entered Havana in triumph, Khrushchev spoke 
pessimistically of ‘the heroic but unequal struggle of the 
Cuban people’ against imperialist oppression.- Not until 
27 December did the Kremlin approve a limited supply of 
arms by the Czechs to Castro’s guerrillas. Even then it 
insisted that only German weapons of the Second World 
War era or arms of Czech design be handed over, for fear 
that a Soviet arms shipment, 

33 if discovered, might provoke a crisis with the United 
States. The arms, however, arrived too late to make a 
difference. At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve 
1958, Batista fled from Cuba, leaving Castro and his 
guerrillas to enter Havana in triumph.- 

The KGB’s foreign intelligence arm, the First Chief 
Directorate (FCD), had realized Castro’s potential earlier 
than either the Soviet Foreign Ministry or the 
International Department of the Communist Party Central 
Committee. The first of its officers to do so was a new 
recruit, Nikolai Sergeyevich Feonov, who was sent to 
Mexico City in 1953 in order to improve his Spanish 

before entering the KGB training school. En route to 
Mexico, Leonov became ‘firm friends’ with Fidel’s more 
left-wing younger brother, Raul Castro, at a socialist 
youth congress in Prague, then crossed the Atlantic with 
him aboard an Italian freighter bound for Havana. To his 
later embarrassment, on arrival at Havana Leonov insisted 
that Raul hand him the negatives of all the photographs he 
had taken of him during the crossing for fear that they 
might be used for ‘provocations’.- Soon after Leonov’s 
arrival in Mexico, Fidel Castro led an unsuccessful attack 
on an army barracks which was followed by the 
imprisonment of himself and Raul for the next two years. 
After his release, Fidel spent a year in exile in Mexico and 
appealed to the Soviet embassy for arms to support a 
guerrilla campaign against Batista. Though the appeal was 
turned down, Leonov met Castro for the first time in 
1956, was immediately impressed by his potential as a 
charismatic guerrilla leader, began regular meetings with 
him and gave him enthusiastic moral support. Leonov 
privately regarded Castro’s politics as immature and 
incoherent, but noted that both Fidel’s closest advisers, 
Raul Castro and the Argentinian Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, 
appeared to be committed Marxists.- ‘I am one of those’, 
wrote Che in 1957, ‘. . . who believes that the solution to 
the problems of this world lies behind what is called the 
Iron Curtain. ’- 

Leonov’s far-sightedness and early association with the 

Castro brothers launched him on a career which led 
eventually to his appointment in 1983 as deputy head of 
the FCD, responsible for KGB operations throughout 
North and South America. His early assessments of Fidel, 
however, made little impression in the Centre (KGB 
headquarters).- Even when Castro took power in January 
1959, Moscow still doubted his ability to withstand 
American pressure. Lacking a residency in Havana, the 
KGB obtained much of its Cuban intelligence from the 
PSP,- which looked askance at the apparently moderate 
complexion of the new regime. By midsummer, however, 
the moderates had been ousted from the government, 
leaving the cabinet as little more than a rubber stamp for 
policies decided by Castro, the ‘Maximum Leader’, and 
his advisers. Though initially restrained in his public 
utterances, Castro privately regarded the United States as 
‘the sworn enemy of our nation’. He had written a few 
months before coming to power, ‘When this war [against 
Batista] is over. I’ll start a much longer and bigger war of 
my own: the war I’m going to fight against [the 
Americans]. I realize that will be my true destiny.’ While 
American hostility was later to reinforce Castro’s alliance 
with the Soviet Union, it did not cause it. The initiative 
for the alliance came from Havana.— 

From the outset the KGB was closely involved in 
establishing the Soviet-Cuban connection. In July 1959 
Castro sent his first intelligence chief, Ramiro Valdes, to 

Mexico City for secret talks with the Soviet ambassador 
and KGB residency.— Three months later, a Soviet 
‘cultural delegation’ headed by the former KGB resident 
in Buenos Aires, Aleksandr Ivanovich Alekseyev, arrived 
in Havana to establish the first Cuban residency. 
Alekseyev presented Fidel Castro with a bottle of vodka, 
several jars of caviar and a photographic portfolio of 
Moscow, then assured him of the Soviet people’s ‘great 
admiration’ both for himself and for the Cuban 
Revolution. Castro opened the bottle and sent for biscuits 
on which to spread the caviar. ‘What good vodka, what 
good caviar!’ he exclaimed. ‘I think it’s worth 
establishing trade relations with the Soviet Union!’ Castro 
then ‘stunned’ his visitor by declaring that Marx and 
Lenin were his intellectual guides. ‘At that time’, said 
Alekseyev later, ‘we could not even imagine that [Castro] 
knew Marxist theory.’— 

During his meeting with Alekseyev, Castro proposed a 
visit to Cuba by Deputy Prime Minister Anastas Mikoyan, 
Khrushchev’s favourite personal emissary and elder 
statesman of his regime, whose career stretched back to 
the Bolshevik Revolution. Under Brezhnev, Mikoyan ’s 
career was summed up behind his back as ‘From Ilyich to 
Ilyich [from Lenin to Brezhnev], without a heart attack or 
paralysis.’ Before leaving for Havana as the most senior 
Soviet representative ever to visit Latin America, 
Mikoyan summoned Leonov to his presence and asked 

him if it was really true that he knew the Castro brothers. 
Among the evidence which persuaded Mikoyan to take 
him as his interpreter were the photographs taken by Raul 
while crossing the Atlantic seven years earlier. The main 
Cuban-Soviet talks took place not around a Havana 
conference table but after dark at Fidel’s hunting cabin by 
a lagoon, the night air punctuated by croaking tropical 
frogs and buzzing mosquitoes. Most of their meals were 
of fish they caught in the lagoon and cooked themselves 
or else taken in workers’ dining halls. They slept on 
concrete floors at an unfinished campsite, wrapped in 
soldiers’ greatcoats for warmth, occasionally warming up 
with strong aromatic coffee. Mikoyan felt transported 
back from life as a top-ranking Moscow bureaucrat to his 
revolutionary origins. ‘Yes, this is a real revolution,’ he 
told Leonov. ‘Just like ours. I feel as though I’ve returned 
to my youth!’ By a trade agreement signed during his 
visit, the Soviet Union agreed to purchase about one-fifth 
of Cuba’s sugar exports, supply oil at well below world 
prices and make Cuba a low-interest loan of $100 million 
for economic development projects.— 

On 15 March 1960, soon after Mikoyan’ s return, 
Khrushchev sent his first personal message to Castro. 
Instead of putting it in writing, however, he instructed that 
it should be delivered verbally by the KGB. Aleksey ev 
informed Castro that Khrushchev wanted him to have no 
doubt about ‘our sympathy and fellow-feeling’. To flatter 

Castro personally, he was told that he was to receive 
honoraria for the publication of his speeches and articles 
in Russian. According to Alekseyev, the Maximum 
Leader was ‘visibly moved’ by the news that his words 
were held in such esteem in Moscow. Khrushchev also 
announced that Cuba was free to purchase whatever arms 
it wished from Czechoslovakia - ‘and, if necessary, then 
directly from the Soviet Union’.— The Cuban arms 
purchases were negotiated in Prague by a delegation 
headed by Raul. Despite sleeping with his boots on and 
demanding the services of blonde prostitutes, he displayed 
a Marxist-Leninist fervour which made a good impression 
on his hosts. According to the Czech general responsible 
for hosting the Cuban delegation, ‘The[ir] villa was of 
course tapped but we learned nothing from our bugs that 
our guests would have been unwilling to tell us.’— During 
Raul’s visit to Prague, Leonov was personally instructed 
by the foreign intelligence chief, Aleksandr Mikhailovich 
Sakharovsky, head of the FCD, to travel to Prague, stay 
with the KGB resident and, without the knowledge of 
either the Czechs or the Soviet embassy, discover a way 
of passing on a personal invitation from Khrushchev to 
visit Moscow. An older and experienced KGB colonel 
was sent to assist him. Making contact with Raul Castro 
proved more difficult than Leonov had expected. Raul’s 
villa was in a closed area of the city, he travelled 
constantly surrounded by armed guards, and no advance 
timetable of his movements was available. In the end 

Leonov decided to sit on a street bench on a route which 
Raul’s car was bound to pass on its way to the villa. Raul 
would recognize Leonov, and tell the car to stop. Beyond 
this point, Leonov would improvise. The plan worked; 
Raul picked Leonov up, and took him to the villa which 
the guards only allowed him to enter when he produced 
his Soviet diplomatic passport. Leonov waited for a 
moment when the guards were out of earshot, then 
whispered to Raul that he had brought with him a 
personal invitation from Khrushchev. Two days later, on 
17 July, they flew to Moscow, so deep in conversation 
that Leonov forgot that, for reasons of protocol, he was 
not supposed to accompany Raul off the plane at the 
airport, where a reception committee of military top brass 
was waiting for him on the airport tarmac. As Leonov 
emerged with Raul at the top of the aircraft steps, he was 
dragged away by burly KGB bodyguards who were 
probably unaware of his role in arranging the visit and, he 
believes, would have beaten him up had Raul not shouted 
after him, ‘Nikolai, we must see one another again 
without fail!’ In the course of Raul’s visit, further arms 
supplies were negotiated along with the sending to Cuba 
of Soviet military advisers, some of them Spanish 
Republican exiles living in Moscow who had fought in 
the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War.— 

As in arranging Raul Castro’s visit to Moscow, the 
KGB played a much more important role than the Foreign 

Ministry in developing the Cuban alliance. Fidel Castro 
regarded Alekseyev, the KGB resident, as a personal 
friend, telling him of his pleasure that they ‘are able to 
meet directly, bypassing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
and every rule of protocol’. The Maximum Leader did not 
take to Sergei Kudryavtsev, who arrived as Soviet 
ambassador in Havana following the formal establishment 
in May 1960 of diplomatic relations between Cuba and 
the Soviet Union. Kudryavtsev repelled the Cubans by 
behaving - according to Alekseyev - as arrogantly as ‘one 
of Batista’s generals’. He also appeared constantly 
preoccupied with his own security, frequently wearing a 
bullet-proof vest as he travelled round Havana. Castro 
continued to use the KGB as his main channel of 
communication with Moscow. Alekseyev, not 
Kudryavtsev, remained his chief contact within the Soviet 
embassy.— The FCD set up a new section (which became 
its Second Department) to specialize in Latin American 
affairs, hitherto the responsibility of its First (North 
American) Department. Leonov was appointed to run the 
Cuban desk.— 

Despite the influential KGB presence in Havana, 
Khrushchev’s policy to Castro’s Cuba was distorted by 
woefully inaccurate KGB and GRU intelligence reports 
from the United States. For most of the Cold War, the 
Washington and New York legal residencies had little 
success in providing the intelligence from inside the 

federal government which had been so plentiful during 
the Second World War. Their limitations were clearly 
exposed during the two years which led up to the most 
dangerous moment of the Cold War, the Cuban missile 
crisis of 1962. Conspiracy theory became a substitute for 
high-grade intelligence. On 29 June 1960 the KGB 
Chairman, Aleksandr Shelepin, personally delivered to 
Khrushchev an alarmist assessment of American policy, 
based on a horrifically misinformed report from an 
unidentified NATO liaison officer with the CIA: 

In the CIA it is known that the leadership of the Pentagon 
is convinced of the need to initiate a war with the Soviet 
Union ‘as soon as possible’ . . . Right now the USA has 
the capability to wipe out Soviet missile bases and other 
military targets with its bomber forces. But over the next 
little while the defence forces of the Soviet Union will 
grow . . . and the opportunity will disappear ... As a 
result of these assumptions, the chiefs at the Pentagon are 
hoping to launch a preventive war against the Soviet 

Khrushchev took this dangerously misguided report at its 
improbable face value. On 9 July he issued a public 
warning to the Pentagon ‘not to forget that, as shown at 
the latest tests, we have rockets which can land in a pre- 
set square target 13,000 kilometres away’. ‘Soviet 

artillerymen’, he declared, ‘can support the Cuban people 
with their rocket fire should the aggressive forces in the 
Pentagon dare to start intervention in Cuba.’ During his 
visit to Moscow later in July, Raul Castro conveyed 
Fidel’s gratitude for Khrushchev’s speech. He also 
expressed his personal admiration for the KGB and asked 
for some of its officers to be sent to Havana to help to 
train Cuban intelligence. In August 1960 the Centre 
decided on a new codeword for Cuba - AVANPOST 
(‘Bridgehead’). Thanks chiefly to Castro and the KGB, 
the Soviet Union now had, for the first time in its history, 
a foothold in Latin America.— 

Castro and his chief lieutenants made no secret of their 
desire to inspire the rest of Latin America with their own 
revolutionary example. As early as April 1959 eighty 
guerrillas set sail from Cuba in a comic-opera attempt to 
‘liberate’ Panama which ended with their own surrender 
to the Panamanian National Guard.— Che Guevara, whose 
revolutionary fantasies were on an even grander scale 
than Castro’s, told Kudryavtsev in October 1960, ‘Latin 
America is at boiling point, and next year we can expect 
revolutionary explosions in several countries . . .’— 
Though the explosions turned out to be damp squibs, they 
generated far less publicity than the CIA’s inept attempt, 
approved by the White House, to topple the Castro regime 
by landing an American-backed ‘Cuban brigade’ at the 
Bay of Pigs in April 1961, which gave the Maximum 

Leader an international reputation as a revolutionary 
David engaged in a heroic struggle with the imperialist 
American Goliath. Throughout the Bay of Pigs operation, 
Leonov was in the office of Shelepin’s inexperienced 
successor as KGB Chairman, Vladimir Semichastny, 
briefing him every two to three hours on the latest 
developments. On the Chairman’s wall he put up two 
large maps: one showing the course of events as reported 
by the Americans, the other based on Soviet sources in 
Cuba.— It can scarcely have occurred to either Leonov or 
Semichastny that the CIA operation would end so rapidly 
in humiliating defeat. More than 1 ,000 prisoners captured 
at the Bay of Pigs were taken to a sports stadium in 
Havana where for four days Castro flamboyantly 
interrogated and harangued them on television. At one 
point, broadcast on TV news programmes across the 
world, the prisoners applauded the man they had come to 
overthrow. The abortive invasion served both to raise 
Castro’s personal popularity to new heights and to speed 
Cuba’s transformation into a one-party state. In front of 
cheering crowds at May Day celebrations of the Cuban 
victory over American imperialism, Castro announced 
that Cuba was now a socialist state which would hold no 
further elections. The revolution, he declared, was the 
direct expression of the will of the people. 

In Washington, President John F. Kennedy, who had 
been in office for only three months at the time of the Bay 

of Pigs debacle, despairingly asked his special counsel, 
Theodore Sorensen, ‘How could I have been so stupid?’ 
At a summit meeting with Kennedy at Vienna in June, 
Khrushchev belligerently demanded an end to the three- 
power status of West Berlin and a German peace treaty by 
the end of the year. Kennedy said afterwards to the 
journalist James Reston: ‘I think [Khrushchev] did it 
because of the Bay of Pigs. I think he thought anyone who 
was so young and inexperienced as to get in that mess 
could be taken, and anyone who got into it and didn’t see 
it through had no guts. So he just beat the hell out of 

Taking its cue from Khrushchev, the KGB also set out 
‘to beat the hell’ out of the United States by exploiting the 
Cuban bridgehead. On 29 July 1961 Shelepin sent 
Khrushchev the outline of a new and aggressive global 
grand strategy against the Main Adversary, designed ‘to 
create circumstances in different areas of the world which 
would assist in diverting the attention and forces of the 
United States and its allies, and would tie them down 
during the settlement of the question of a German peace 
treaty and West Berlin’. The first part of the plan 
proposed to use national liberation movements in the 
Third World to secure an advantage in the East- West 
struggle and ‘to activate by the means available to the 
KGB armed uprisings against pro-Western reactionary 
governments’. At the top of the list for demolition 

Shelepin placed ‘reactionary’ regimes in the Main 
Adversary’s own backyard in Central America. His 
master-plan envisaged creating a second anti-American 
bridgehead in Nicaragua, where the newly founded Frente 
Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN) was dedicated 
to following the example of the Cuban Revolution and 
overthrowing the brutal pro-American dictatorship of the 
Somoza dynasty. President Franklin Roosevelt was said to 
have justified his support for the repellent founder of the 
dynasty with the cynical maxim, ‘I know he’s a son of a 
bitch but he’s our son of a bitch.’ To the Centre the 
Somozas probably appeared as vulnerable to guerrilla 
attack as Batista had proved in Cuba. Shelepin proposed 
that the KGB secretly co-ordinate a ‘revolutionary front’ 
in Central America in collaboration with the Cubans and 
the Sandinistas. On 1 August, with only minor 
amendments, his grand strategy was approved as a 
Central Committee directive.— 

The FSLN leader, Carlos Fonseca Amador, codenamed 
GIDROLOG (‘Hydrologist’), was a trusted KGB agent.— 
In 1957, at the age of twenty-one, Fonseca had been the 
only Nicaraguan to attend the Sixth World Youth Festival 
in Moscow, and he had stayed on in the USSR for another 
four months. His book, A Nicaraguan in Moscow, which 
he wrote on his return, was full of wide-eyed admiration 
for the Soviet Union as a people’s democracy with a free 
press, total freedom of religion, and - even more 

improbably - magnificently efficient state-run industries. 
Fonseca was equally enthusiastic about Fidel Castro. 
‘With the victory of the Cuban Revolution’, he said later, 
‘the rebellious Nicaraguan spirit recovered its brightness . 
. . The Marxism of Lenin, Fidel, Che [Guevara] and Ho 
Chi-Minh was taken up by the Sandinista National 
Liberation Front which has started anew the difficult road 
of guerrilla warfare . . . Guerrilla combat will lead us to 
final liberation.’— 

Within weeks of the victory of Castro’s guerrillas in 
January 1959, Tomas Borge, one of the founders of the 
FSLN, and a group of Sandinistas arrived in Havana, 
where they were promised ‘all possible support’ by Che.— 
Much though he admired Fidel and Che Guevara, Fonseca 
was a very different kind of personality - remembered by 
one of his admirers as ‘almost always serious’ and by his 
son as ‘Super austere, very disciplined, methodical, 
cautious. He didn’t drink or smoke.’ Fonseca was a 
dedicated revolutionary with little sense of humour and a 
solemn expression. Only one published photograph shows 
him with a smile on his face.— 

The KGB’s second major penetration of the Sandinistas 
was probably the recruitment by the Mexico City 
residency in 1960 of the Nicaraguan exile Edelberto 
Torres Espinosa (codenamed PIMEN), a close friend of 
Fonseca as well as General Secretary of the anti-Somoza 

Nicaraguan United Front in Mexico, and President of the 
Latin American Friendship Society. Initial contact with 
Torres had been established when his daughter 
approached the Soviet embassy with a request to study at 
the Patrice Lumumba Friendship University in Moscow. 
The Mexico City residency reported to the Centre that 
Torres was committed to the liberation of the whole of 
Latin America and saw revolution in Nicaragua as simply 
one step along that path.— An admiring biographer of 
Fonseca describes the older Torres as his ‘mentor’. 
Among the projects on which they had worked together 
was a study of the anti-imperialist nineteenth-century 
Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario. Fonseca was later married 
in Torres’s house in Mexico City.— 

Shelepin reported to Khrushchev in July 1961: 

In Nicaragua ... at the present time - via KGB agents and 
confidential contacts- PIMEN, GIDROLOG and LOT— - 
[the KGB] is influencing and providing financial aid to 
the Sandino [Sandinista] Revolutionary Front and three 
partisan detachments which belong to the Internal 
Revolutionary Resistance Front, which works in co- 
ordination with its friends [Cuban and Soviet bloc 
intelligence services]. In order to obtain weapons and 
ammunition, it is proposed that an additional $10,000 be 
allocated to these detachments from KGB funds.— 

The main early objective of KGB penetration of the 
Sandinista FSLN was the creation within it of what the 
Centre called ‘a sabotage-terrorism group’ headed by 
Manuel Ramon de Jesus Andara y Ubeda (codenamed 
PRIM), a Nicaraguan surgeon working in Mexico.— On 
22 November 1961 Aleksandr Sakharovsky, the head of 
the FCD, reported to Semichastny, the KGB Chairman: 

In accordance with the long-term plan for the KGB’s 
intelligence operations in Latin America and Decision No. 
191/75-GS of the highest authorities dated 1 August 1961 
[approving Shelepin’s grand strategy in the Third World], 
our Residency in Mexico has taken measures to provide 
assistance in building up the national liberation movement 
in Nicaragua and creating a hotbed of unrest for the 
Americans in this area. The Residency, through the 
trusted agent GIDROLOG [Fonseca] in Mexico, selected 
a group of Nicaraguan students (12 people), headed by the 
Nicaraguan patriot-doctor PRIM [Andara y Ubeda], and 
arranged for their operational training. All operations with 
prim’s group are conducted by GIDROLOG in the name 
of the Nicaraguan revolutionary organization ‘The 
Sandinista Front’, of which he, GIDROLOG, is the 
leader. The supervision of the group’s future activities 
and financial aid given to it will also be provided through 
GIDROLOG. At the present time PRIM’s group is ready 

to be despatched to Honduras, where it will undergo 
additional training and fill out its ranks with new 
guerrillas, after which the group will be sent to 
Nicaraguan territory. During the initial period PRIM’s 
group will be tasked with the following assignments: the 
organization of a partisan detachment on Nicaraguan 
territory, filling out its ranks with the local population, 
and creating support bases of weapon and ammunition 
supplies. In addition, the detachment will make individual 
raids on government establishments and enterprises 
belonging to Americans, creating the appearance of a 
massive partisan struggle on Nicaraguan territory. In 
order to equip PRIM’s group and provide for its final 
training in combat operations, assistance amounting to 
$10,000 is required. The highest authorities have given 
their consent to using the sum indicated for these 

I request your approval. 

Though Semichastny had only just been appointed KGB 
Chairman and had been selected by Khrushchev for his 
political reliability rather than his understanding of 
intelligence, he did not hesitate. The day after receiving 
Sakharovsky’s report, he gave his approval.— 
Semichastny would not have dared to do so unless he had 
been confident of Khrushchev’s support. There can be 
little doubt that Khrushchev shared the KGB’s 

exaggerated optimism on the prospects for a second 
bridgehead in Nicaragua on the Cuban model. 

Having gained Semichastny’s approval, Sakharovsky 
directed the KGB residency in Mexico City to give 
Andara y Ubeda (PRIM) $6,000 to purchase weapons and 
instruct him to despatch an initial group of seven 
guerrillas, later to be increased to twenty-two, from 
Mexico to Nicaragua. His guerrilla group was to be 
assembled at a camp in Nicaragua by 1 March 1962, 
ready to begin sabotage operations against American 
bases a fortnight later. Andara y Ubeda, however, 
insisted, no doubt correctly, that his men were too poorly 
armed and trained to launch attacks on the well-defended 
US bases. Instead, they engaged in guerrilla and 
intelligence operations against the Somoza regime, non- 
military American organizations and anti-Castro Cuban 
refugees. Between November 1961 and January 1964 
Andara y Ubeda’ s guerrillas received a total of $25,200 
through the Mexico City residency. Andara y Ubeda, 
however, was not at first aware that he was being funded 
by the KGB. Torres (PIMEN) told him that the money 
came from members of the ‘progressive bourgeoisie’ who 
wished to overthrow the Somoza dictatorship. Andara y 
Ubeda was asked - and agreed - to sign a political 
manifesto, supposedly prepared by his progressive 
bourgeois backers (in reality drafted by the KGB), which 
called for a Nicaraguan revolution as part of a socialist 

struggle against imperialism.— 

Torres also kept the KGB informed on the activities of 
other small Sandinista guerrilla groups, who were being 
trained with varying success in the jungles of Honduras 
and Costa Rica. The Mexico City residency reported to 
the Centre that he saw himself not as a Soviet agent but as 
a member of a national liberation movement working with 
the Soviet Union to emancipate the peoples of Latin 
America from economic and political enslavement by the 
United States. Torres’s case officers, V. P. Nefedov and 
V. V. Kostikov, none the less regarded him as ‘a valuable 
and reliable KGB agent’, who never failed to fulfil his 

In the heady early years of the Cuban Revolution, the 
Centre seems to have believed that its example was 
capable of inspiring movements similar to the Sandinistas 
in much of Latin America. Guerrilla groups sprang up in 
Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Guatemala. In 1961 
Castro’s intelligence organization was reorganized as the 
Direccidn General de Inteligencia (DGI), under the 
Ministry of the Interior. With Ramiro Valdes, Castro’s 
first intelligence chief, in overall charge as Interior 
Minister, Manuel Pineiro Losada, nicknamed ‘Barba 
Roja’ because of his luxuriant red beard, became head of 
the DGI. Pineiro’s chief priority was the export of the 
Cuban Revolution. The DGI contained a Direccidn de 

Liberacion Nacional with three ‘Liberation Committees’ 
responsible, respectively, for exporting revolution to the 
Caribbean, Central and South America. Pineiro and Che 
Guevara spent many evenings, usually into the early 
hours and sometimes until daybreak, discussing the 
prospects for revolution with would-be revolutionaries 
from Latin America and the Caribbean. Always spread 
out on the table while they talked was a large map of the 
country concerned which Che examined in detail, 
alternately puffing on a cigar and drinking strong 
Argentinian tea - mate - through a straw.— 

While Che and Pineiro dreamed their revolutionary 
dreams and traced imaginary guerrilla operations on their 
maps into the early hours, the KGB sought methodically 
to strengthen its liaison with and influence on the DGI. 
Among the most striking evidence of the closeness of the 
DGI’s integration into the intelligence community of the 
Soviet bloc was its collaboration in the use of ‘illegals’, 
intelligence officers and agents operating under bogus 
identities and (usually) false nationalities. In 1961 the 
Spanish- speaking KGB illegal Vladimir Vasilyevich 
Grinchenko (successively codenamed RON and KLOD), 
who ten years earlier had obtained an Argentinian 
passport under a false identity, arrived in Cuba, where he 
spent the next three years advising the DGI on illegal 

Further KGB exploitation of the Cuban ‘bridgehead’, 
however, was dramatically interrupted by the missile 
crisis of October 1962. In May Khrushchev summoned 
Alekseyev, the KGB resident in Havana, unexpectedly to 
Moscow and told him he was to replace the unpopular 
Kudryavtsev as Soviet ambassador. A fortnight later 
Khrushchev astonished Alekseyev once again by saying 
that he had decided to install offensive nuclear missile 
sites in Cuba targeted against the United States. A small 
delegation, including Alekseyev, was sent to Havana to 
secure Castro’s approval. ‘If the issue had been only our 
defence’, said Castro later, ‘we would not have accepted 
the missiles.’ He agreed to the building of the missile 
sites, he insisted, in the broader interests of solidarity with 
the Soviet bloc - or, as Moscow preferred to call it, ‘the 
socialist commonwealth’. Though Khrushchev sought the 
KGB’s assistance in cementing the alliance with Castro, 
he did not trouble to seek its assessment of the likely 
American reaction to the building of the Cuban missile 
bases. Acting, like Stalin, as his own intelligence analyst, 
he rashly concluded that ‘the Americans will accept the 
missiles if we install them before their [mid-term 
Congressional] elections in November’. Few world 
leaders have been guilty of greater foreign policy 
misjudgements. The discovery of the construction of the 
missile sites by US U-2 spy planes in October 1962 led to 
the most dangerous crisis of the Cold War.— 

Khrushchev’s decision to resolve the crisis by 
announcing - without consulting Castro - the unilateral 
withdrawal of ‘all Soviet offensive arms’ from Cuba 
caused outrage in Havana. Castro angrily told students at 
Havana University that Khrushchev ‘had no balls’. 
Privately, he denounced the Soviet leader as a 
‘sonofabitch’, a ‘bastard’ and an ‘asshole’. In a bizarre 
and emotional letter to Khrushchev, Castro declared that 
the removal of the missile bases brought tears to 
‘countless eyes of Cuban and Soviet men who were 
willing to die with supreme dignity’. Aleksey ev warned 
Moscow in the aftermath of the missile crisis that ‘one or 
two years of especially careful work with Castro will be 
required until he acquires all of the qualities of Marxist- 
Leninist party spirit’. — 

In an attempt to shore up the Cuban bridgehead, 
Khrushchev issued a personal invitation to Castro to visit 
the USSR in order to ‘become acquainted with the Soviet 
Union and the great victories achieved by its peoples’, 
and ‘to discuss matters concerning relations between the 
peoples of the Soviet Union and Cuba, and other matters 
of common interest’. In April 1963, accompanied by 
Alekseyev, Castro and his entourage arrived in Moscow, 
intending to stay only a few days. Castro was persuaded, 
however, to stay on for a forty-day tour of the Soviet 
Union which, amid almost continuous applause, took him 
from Leningrad to the Mongolian border. Old Bolsheviks 

in Leningrad told him that no one since Lenin had 
received such a hero’s welcome. Wearing his olive-green 
battle fatigues when the weather was warm enough, 
Castro addressed enthusiastic crowds at sports stadiums, 
factories and town centres across the Soviet Union. He 
inspected a rocket base and the Northern Fleet, reviewed 
the May Day parade with Khrushchev from the top of the 
Kremlin wall, was made a Hero of the Soviet Union, and 
received the Order of Lenin and a gold star.— Castro 
responded with effusive praise for the achievements of 
Soviet Communism and its support for the Cuban 
Revolution. He told a mass rally in Red Square: 

The Cuban Revolution became possible only because the 
Russian Revolution of 1917 had been accomplished long 
before. (Applause) Without the existence of the Soviet 
Union, Cuba’s socialist revolution would have been 
impossible . . . The might of the Soviet Union and of the 
whole socialist camp stopped imperialist aggression 
against our country. It is quite natural that we nourish 
feelings of profound and eternal gratitude to the Soviet 
Union. (Applause) . . . From the bottom of their hearts the 
peoples of the entire world, all the peoples of the world, 
must regard your success as their own. (Applause)— 

Khrushchev told the Presidium that his personal talks with 

Castro had lasted several days: . As soon as I finished 

breakfast, he would come and wait for me. We would sit 
down together until 2:00. Then we would have lunch and 
more time together ... He was left very satisfied.’— 
Throughout his forty-day triumphal progress across the 
Soviet Union, Castro was escorted both by Alekseyev and 
by Nikolai Leonov, the young KGB officer who had first 
identified Castro’s revolutionary potential in the mid- 
1950s. Leonov acted as Castro’s interpreter and, when the 
visit was over, boasted in the Centre that he and the 
Maximum Leader were now firm friends for life. In the 
wake of the visit, the Centre received the first group of 
Cuban foreign intelligence officers for training by the 

Scarcely had Castro returned to Cuba, however, than 
doubts returned in the minds of his Russian hosts about 
his reliability and political maturity. Moscow was 
particularly disturbed by the increasing public emphasis 
in Havana on ‘exporting the revolution’. In September 
1963, Che Guevara published a new, much-quoted article 
on guerrilla warfare. Previously, he had insisted on the 
importance of a series of preconditions for the 
establishment of guerrilla bases, such as the absence of an 
elected, constitutional government. Now he appeared to 
be arguing that no preconditions were necessary. 
‘Revolution’, he declared, ‘can be made at any given 
moment anywhere in the world.’ Worse still, in Moscow’s 

eyes, was the fact that Che’s revolutionary heresies 
seemed to have the blessing of the Castro regime. Despite 
his personal closeness to Castro, even Alekseyev was 
shocked. A cable from the Soviet embassy in Havana to 
Moscow accused Che of ignoring ‘basic tenets of 
Marxism-Leninism’ and denounced his essay as 
‘ultrarevolutionary bordering on adventurism’. Che paid 
no heed either to the criticism from Moscow or to the 
opposition to his ideas from Latin American Communist 
parties. Henceforth he was to be personally involved in 
the export of the Cuban Revolution.— 

As well as being increasingly alarmed by Cuban 
‘adventurism’, Moscow was also dismayed by the failure 
of the Sandinistas to live up to its early expectations. The 
first FSLN guerrilla force, inadequately dressed in olive- 
green uniforms (which, though unsuitable for the climate, 
were chosen to preserve its self-image as freedom 
fighters), endured a miserable existence at its 
mountainous base on the Honduras-Nicaragua border. As 
Borge later recalled, ‘There was nothing to eat, not even 
animals to hunt ... It wasn’t just hunger that was terrible, 
but constant cold twenty- four hours a day ... We were 
always wet through with the clinging rain of that part of 
the country . . .’ In order to survive, the guerrillas were 
reduced to appealing to local peasants for food. In 1963 
the demoralized guerrilla force was routed with heavy 
loss of life by the Nicaraguan National Guard. For the 

next few years, in the words of one of its supporters, the 
FSLN had ‘neither the arms, the numbers nor the 
organization to confront the National Guard again’.— In 
1964, with the assistance of Torres,— the Mexico City 
residency reconstituted a sabotage and intelligence group 
(DRG) from the remnants of Andara y Ubeda’s (PRIM’s) 
guerrillas. The group was given one of the great historic 
codenames of Soviet history, chosen by Lenin as the title 
of the newspaper he had founded in 1900: ISKRA - 
‘Spark’.— By 1964, however, the extravagant optimism in 
the Centre at the prospects for Latin American revolution 
which had inspired Shelepin’s 1961 master-plan had 
faded. The KGB plainly expected that it would be some 
years before the Sandinista ‘spark’ succeeded in igniting a 
Nicaraguan revolution. 

During his summer leave in 1964, Aleksey ev was told 
by Shelepin to discuss Cuban affairs with Leonid 
Brezhnev. This was the first hint he received of 
preparations for the KGB-assisted coup which led to 
Khrushchev’s overthrow in October and Brezhnev’s 
emergence as Soviet leader.— Soon after the coup, 
Mikhail Suslov, the chief Party ideologist, told the Central 
Committee that Khrushchev had been profligate in the 
promises he had made to other nations. Though he did not 
identify the states concerned, Suslov probably had Cuba 
chiefly in mind.— The Kremlin watched aghast as its 
Cuban allies squandered its economic aid on such 

frivolities as the giant Coppelia ice-cream emporium. 
Resentment at the cost of supporting Cuba’s mismanaged 
economy combined with growing annoyance at Castro’s 
revolutionary indiscipline. In the mid-1960s, despite 
opposition from Latin American Communist parties as 
well as from Moscow, Cuba made unsuccessful attempts 
to set up guerrilla bases in Peru, Argentina, Venezuela, 
Guatemala and Colombia.— 

The main emissaries of the Cuban Revolution were 
illegals belonging to, or controlled by, the DGI. Cuban 
illegals were trained far more rapidly than their KGB 
counterparts: partly because the DGI was less thorough 
and paid less attention to devising secure ‘legends’, partly 
because it was far easier for a Cuban to assume another 
Latin American nationality than for a Russian to pose as a 
west European. Instead of going directly to their Latin 
American destinations, most Cuban illegals were 
deployed via Czechoslovakia. According to statistics kept 
by the Czechoslovak StB (and handed over by it to the 
KGB), from 1962 to 1966 a total of 650 Cuban illegals 
passed through Czechoslovakia. The great majority 
carried Venezuelan, Dominican, Argentinian or 
Colombian passports and identity documents. In most 
cases the documents were genuine save for the 
substitution of a photograph of the illegal for that of the 
original owner.— One probable sign that the KGB had 
begun to distance itself from the Cuban attempt to export 

revolution, however, was the return to Moscow in 1964 of 
Grinchenko, who for the past three years had been 
advising the DGI on illegal operations.— He does not 
appear to have been replaced. In 1965, however, in an 
attempt to reinforce collaboration with the DGI, 
Semichastny (travelling under the pseudonym ‘Yelenin’) 
led a KGB delegation to Cuba. When they met in the 
country house of the Soviet ambassador, the easy rapport 
between Alekseyev and Castro quickly created an 
atmosphere conducive to convivial discussion over a 
shashlik dinner. Semichastny was struck by Castro’s 
personal fascination with intelligence tradecraft. Later, as 
they watched a KGB film on the tracking down and 
interrogation of Oleg Penkovsky, the senior GRU officer 
who had given SIS and the CIA crucial intelligence on 
Soviet missile site construction before the Cuban missile 
crisis, Castro turned to Valdes, his Interior Minister, and 
the DGI officers who accompanied him, and exhorted 
them to learn as much as possible from the KGB 
delegation during their stay.— Despite his enthusiasm for 
KGB tradecraft, however, Castro continued to alarm the 
Centre by what it regarded as his excess of revolutionary 
zeal. In January 1966, undeterred by Moscow’s 
reservations, Havana hosted a Trilateral Conference to 
support the onward march of revolution in Africa, Asia 
and Latin America. Tor Cuban revolutionaries’, Castro 
declared, ‘the battleground against imperialism 
encompasses the whole world . . . And so we say and 

proclaim that the revolutionary movement in every comer 
of the world can count on Cuban combat fighters. 

Castro’s confident rhetoric, however, was belied by the 
lack of success of the revolutionary movement in Latin 
America. In the summer of 1967 the Sandinistas launched 
a new offensive which the Centre condemned as 
premature.— Their guerrilla base in the mountainous 
jungle on the Honduran border was far better organized 
than at the time of the debacle in 1963, thanks largely to 
much greater support from local peasants. According to 
one of the guerrillas, ‘They took on the job of wiping out 
tracks where the [FSLN] column had passed; the 
companeros hung out coloured cloths to warn us of any 
danger; they invented signals for us with different sounds 
. . . We had a whole team of campesino brothers and 
sisters who knew the area like the back of their hand. 

At the mountain of Pancasan in August 1967, however, 
the Sandinistas suffered another disastrous defeat at the 
hands of the Nicaraguan National Guard. Among those 
killed was the ISKRA leader, Rigoberto Cmz Arguello 
(codenamed GABRIEL). The Centre blamed this disaster 
on ‘disloyalty’ in the FSLN leadership (all of which had 
gathered at the guerrilla base), inadequate resources with 
which to take on the National Guard and the ‘unprepared 
state’ of the local population.— The jubilant Nicaraguan 
dictator, Tachito Somoza, boasted that the Sandinistas 
were finished. The late 1960s and early 1970s were ‘a 

period of silence’ for the FSLN during which it continued 
to rob banks to finance its underground existence but 
avoided open clashes with the National Guard.— 

The rout of the Sandinistas was quickly followed by a 
major setback in the Cuban attempt to ‘export the 
revolution’. In 1966 Che Guevara devised a hopelessly 
unrealistic plan to set up a base in Bolivia, the poorest 
country in Latin America, to train guerrillas from all parts 
of the continent and spread revolution across the Western 
hemisphere. Che convinced himself that he would turn 
Bolivia into another Vietnam. Argentina and Brazil would 
intervene and provoke mass protest movements which 
would bring down their military regimes. According to 
Che’s fantasy master-plan for continental revolution, the 
United States would then also be drawn in. The strains of 
fighting guerrillas in both Vietnam and Latin America 
would force Washington to set up a dictatorship whose 
inevitable disintegration would destroy the bourgeois state 
and open the way to revolution in the United States. — 

To conceal his journey to, and presence in, Bolivia for 
as long as possible, Che employed some of the techniques 
used by the DGI Illegals Directorate. He shaved off his 
beard and moustache, had his long hair cut short, put on a 
suit, disguised himself as a Uruguayan bureaucrat and had 
his photograph inserted in two false Uruguayan passports, 
each made out in a different name. In October 1966 Che 

flew to Moscow, then - like most Cuban illegals - 
returned to Latin America via Prague on one of his 
passports. In November he arrived in Bolivia, where his 
grandiose scheme for setting the continent ablaze rapidly 
reduced itself to guerrilla operations in a small area of the 
Rio Grande basin.— Only a few years earlier, before his 
revolutionary rhetoric lost all touch with Latin American 
reality, Che had insisted, ‘A guerrilla war is a people’s 
war ... To attempt to conduct this kind of war without the 
support of the populace is a prelude to inevitable 
disaster.’— Che’s Bolivian adventure ended in ‘inevitable 
disaster’ for precisely that reason. Not a single peasant in 
the Rio Grande basin joined his guerrillas. Even the 
Bolivian Communist Party (accused of treachery by Che) 
failed to support him. He wrote gloomily in his diary, 
‘The peasant masses are no help to us whatever, and they 
are turning into informers.’ 

During a visit to Havana in July 1967 the Soviet Prime 
Minister, Aleksei Kosygin, complained that Cuban 
attempts to export revolution were ‘playing into the hands 
of the imperialists and weakening and diverting the efforts 
of the socialist world to liberate Latin America’. Castro’s 
refusal to heed Soviet advice caused a significant setback 
to the hitherto high-flying career of his friend, Aleksandr 
Alekseyev, the former KGB resident turned Soviet 
ambassador in Havana, who was accused in the Centre of 
going native and failing to restrain Castro’s adventurism. 

Alekseyev was recalled to Moscow, allegedly for medical 
treatment, in the summer of 1967. His successor as 
ambassador was a tough career diplomat, Aleksandr 
Soldatov, who did not arrive in Havana until the 
following year. The chief KGB adviser in the DGI, 
Rudolf Petrovich Shlyapnikov, was also recalled in the 
summer of 1967 after being accused by the DGI of 
conspiring with a pro-Moscow ‘microfaction’ in the 
Cuban Communist Party.— 

Che’s guerrilla operations ended in October 1967 with 
his capture and execution by US -trained Bolivian forces. 
Death enormously enhanced his reputation, replacing the 
reality of the brave but incompetent guerrilla with the 
heroic image of the revolutionary martyr. Castro declared 
in an emotional address to the Cuban people that 8 
October, the day of Che’s capture, would henceforth be 
for ever celebrated as the Day of the Heroic Guerrilla 

As all of us pay him homage, as all our thoughts are 
turned to the Che, as we look forward confidently to the 
future, to the final victory of the people, we all say to him 
and to all the heroes who have fought and fallen at his 
side: ‘Ever onward to victory!’ 

Moscow initially failed to see the symbolic value of the 
martyred Che as a weapon in the propaganda war against 

US imperialism. Pravda published instead an article by an 
Argentinian Communist denouncing the futility of the 
Cuban policy of exporting revolution. Leonid Brezhnev 
clearly had Guevara in mind when publicly condemning 
the idea that ‘a conspiracy of heroes’ could make a 
socialist revolution.— 

The KGB was later to recognize the world-wide 
popularity of the Che Guevara myth as a useful element in 
active-measures campaigns against American 
imperialism. In October 1967, however, the only 
commemoration in Moscow of Che’s death was by a 
small, forlorn congregation of Latin American students 
who gathered outside the US embassy. In Washington, by 
contrast, over 50,000 Americans, most from various 
factions of the New Left which spread across American 
campuses in the late 1960s, assembled in front of the 
Lincoln Memorial and bowed their heads in silent homage 
to the great opponent of US imperialism. A poll of US 
university students in 1968 discovered that more 
identified with Che than with any other figure, alive or 

In the immediate aftermath of Che’s martyrdom and the 
thinly veiled Soviet criticism of Cuban adventurism, 
Castro showed little inclination to mend his fences with 
Moscow. When in January 1968 he scornfully dismissed 
some of the ideas ‘put forward in the name of Marxism’ 
as ‘real fossils’, it was obvious that he had Soviet ideas in 

mind: ‘Marxism needs to develop, overcome a certain 
sclerosis, interpret the realities of the present in an 
objective and scientific way, behave like a revolutionary 
force and not like a pseudo-revolutionary church. ’ 

It was clear to Castro’s listeners that Cuba was the 
‘revolutionary force’ and the Soviet Union the ‘pseudo- 
revolutionary church’ which had succumbed to 
ideological sclerosis. Soon afterwards the Maximum 
Leader staged a show trial of a ‘microfaction’ of pro- 
Soviet loyalists within the Cuban Communist Party, who 
were found guilty of ‘ideological diversionism’ 
prejudicial to the ‘unity and firmness of the revolutionary 
forces’. During the trial, the head of the DGI, Manuel 
Pineiro, gave evidence that members of the microfaction 
had been in contact with the KGB.— 

With the threatened collapse of the Soviet ‘bridgehead’ 
in Cuba, the KGB’s grand strategy conceived in 1961 to 
orchestrate ‘armed uprisings against pro-Western 
reactionary governments’ in Latin America seemed in 
tatters. The Centre’s early optimism about the prospects 
for a Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua had faded away. 
During the later 1960s the Centre was more interested in 
using FSLN guerrillas in operations to reconnoitre 
sabotage targets in the southern United States than in 
helping them prepare for revolution in Nicaragua. In 1966 
a KGB sabotage and intelligence group (DRG) based on 
the ISKRA guerrilla group was formed on the Mexican- 

US border with support bases in the area of Ciudad 
Juarez, Tijuana and Ensenada. Its leader, Andara y Ubeda 
(PRIM), travelled to Moscow for training in Line F 
operations. Among the chief sabotage targets were 
American military bases, missile sites, radar installations, 
and the oil pipeline (codenamed START) which ran from 
El Paso in Texas to Costa Mesa, California. Three sites on 
the American coast were selected for DRG landings, 
together with large-capacity dead-drops in which to store 
mines, explosive, detonators and other sabotage materials. 
A support group codenamed SATURN was tasked with 
using the movements of migrant workers (braceros) to 
conceal the transfer of agents and munitions across the 

The year 1968 was a difficult one for the KGB in both 
Europe and Latin America. The show trial of the pro- 
Soviet microfaction in Havana was quickly followed by 
what Moscow considered an outrageous display of 
ideological subversion in Czechoslovakia. The attempt by 
the reformers of the Prague Spring to create ‘Socialism 
with a human face’ was interpreted by the KGB as 
counter-revolution. The near-collapse of official 
censorship culminated in a Prague May Day parade with 
banners proclaiming such irreverent messages for 
Moscow as ‘Long live the USSR - but at its own 
expense!’ The KGB played a major role both in assisting 
the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the forces of the 

Warsaw Pact in August 1968 and in the subsequent 
‘normalization’ which ensured the country’s return to pro- 
Soviet orthodoxy. — 

Castro was widely expected to side with Prague 
reformers and to condemn the August invasion of 
Czechoslovakia. He began his first broadcast speech after 
the invasion, however, by saying that some of what he 
had to say would ‘run counter to the feelings of many 
people’. Castro acknowledged that the invasion had no 
legal basis but insisted that, in the greater interests of ‘the 
people’s struggle against imperialism’, it was fully 

In short, the Czechoslovak regime was moving toward 
capitalism and it was inexorably marching toward 
imperialism. About this we did not have the slightest 
doubt . . . The essential thing, whether we accept it or not, 
is whether the socialist bloc could permit the development 
of a political situation which led to the breakdown of a 
socialist country and its fall into the arms of imperialism. 
From our viewpoint, it is not permissible and the socialist 
bloc has the right to prevent it in one way or another.— 

All this was music to Moscow’s ears. The Maximum 
Leader’s emergence over the next few months as a 
dependable Moscow loyalist made it possible for the 

Soviet Union to shore up its crumbling Cuban bridgehead. 

Probably the main reason for Castro’s ideological 
somersault only months after the show trial and 
imprisonment of Moscow loyalists within the Cuban 
Communist Party was a severe economic crisis which 
served to emphasize Cuba’s dependence on Soviet 
economic aid. Cuban industry and power stations ran on 
Soviet oil shipped from the Black Sea. When Moscow 
began to cut back its oil exports as a sign of its 
displeasure early in 1968, there were power cuts in 
Havana, and Cuban sugar mills and factories began to 
grind to a halt. Castro himself worsened the crisis by an 
economically disastrous ‘revolutionary offensive’ in 
March designed to destroy the remnants of free enterprise 
by nationalizing 55,000 small businesses which accounted 
for a third of Cuba’s retail sales. As a reward for the 
Maximum Leader’s newfound loyalty, the Soviet Union 
effectively bailed out the Cuban economy. By the end of 
1969, Cuba owed the Soviet Union $4 billion.— 

Castro’s decision to side with Moscow against the 
Czechoslovak reformers also reflected his own 
authoritarian leadership style and distaste for the political 
freedoms of the Prague Spring. By the mid-1960s the real 
achievements of the Cuban Revolution - the reforms in 
health and education and the end of gangsterismo chief 
among them - were increasingly overshadowed by an 
empty revolutionary rhetoric which bore little relation 

either to the regime’s shambolic economic 
mismanagement or to its intolerance of dissent. In 1965 
Castro himself admitted that Cuban jails contained 20,000 
political prisoners.— A huge network of surveillance kept 
close watch for any sign of ideological dissidence. The 
DGI was assisted by the Committees for the Defence of 
the Revolution (CDRs), a nationwide network of 
neighbourhood associations which reported all suspicious 
activities. Founded in 1960, the CDRs expanded over the 
next decade to include almost a third of the adult 
population. Immediately after Castro’s endorsement of the 
crushing of the Prague Spring, the CDRs, acting on 
instructions from the DGI, arranged for a series of 
‘spontaneous’ demonstrations to support his speech. Cuba 
thus developed a vast system of social control similar to, 
but more conspicuous than, those operated by the KGB 
and its east European allies. By the late 1960s, Castro was 
using the CDRs to dictate even the length of men’s hair 
and women’s dresses. In November 1968 the parents of 
long-haired youths and miniskirted girls were summoned 
to appear before the local authorities.— Castro had a 
particular dislike of homosexuals and instructed that they 
‘should not be allowed in positions where they are able to 
exert an influence on young people’. Gays were routinely 
refused tenancies in new housing projects and frequently 
singled out for service in forced-labour units.— 

Just as some of the Old Left of the 1930s, seduced by 

the myth-image of the Soviet Union as the world’s first 
worker-peasant state, had been blind to the savage reality 
of Stalin’s Russia, so a generation later many of the New 
Left of the 1960s shut their eyes to the increasingly 
authoritarian (though much less homicidal) nature of 
Castro’s rule and his sometimes brutal disregard of basic 
human rights. The heroic image of Castro as a 
revolutionary David in battle fatigues blockaded on his 
island by the Goliath of American imperialism had a 
global appeal exploited by Soviet as well as Cuban 
propagandists. Among Castro’s most naively enthusiastic 
Western supporters were the Americans of the 
Venceremos (‘We Shall Overcome’) Brigade, who from 
1969 onwards came to cut sugar cane in Cuba and show 
their solidarity with the Cuban Revolution. Castro paid 
public tribute to the courage of the brigadistas ‘in defying 
the ire of the imperialists’. — 

Privately, however, he looked askance at the presence 
of gay and women’s liberation movements among his 
American New Left supporters. Venceremos feminists, 
for their part, were taken aback by the behaviour of the 
Cuban female singers sent to entertain the Brigade: ‘They 
frequently had bleached hair and tight-fitting skirts, and 
relied on sexual gestures and flirtation with the audience. 
We knew that, when not entertaining, these women were 
probably dedicated revolutionaries, doing hard work. The 
incongruity was hard to deal with.’— 

Doubtless reflecting the views of the Maximum Leader, 
the DGI complained to the KGB that many of the New 
Left brigadistas were homosexuals and drug addicts. 
Venceremos gays, the DGI bizarrely reported, saw ‘the 
possibility of using homosexuality to bring about the 
physical degeneration of American imperialism’. The 
Brigade, however, proved a valuable source of US 
identity documents for use in illegal intelligence 
operations.— The brigadistas were also regarded as an 
important propaganda asset. 

Castro’s return to Moscow loyalism had an immediate 
effect on the DGI’s relations with the KGB. As a DGI 
officer later acknowledged, its role ‘was always limited 
by the fact that Fidel Castro’s strategic assumptions, 
personal convictions and intuitions were effectively off 
limits. Cuban intelligence was unable to challenge or 
contradict these.’— In accordance with the wishes of the 
Maximum Leader, during the winter of 1968-69 all heads 
of DGI overseas stations were recalled to Havana to be 
given new instructions on co-operation with the KGB. 
The DGI chief, Manuel Pineiro, informed them that there 
had been a ‘lessening of contradictions’ between Cuba 
and the Soviet Union, and that they were to participate in 
a major new drive to collect scientific and technological 
intelligence (S&T) for the USSR. Pineiro, however, had 
incurred the displeasure of the Centre as a result of his 

earlier investigation of KGB contacts with the pro- 
Moscow ‘microfaction’ before its show trial in January 
1968. Early in 1969 KGB pressure led to his replacement 
by the more reliably pro-Soviet Jose Mendez Cominches. 
Henceforth the main priority of the DGI was intelligence 
collection rather than the export of revolution. Assistance 
to national liberation movements was hived off to the 
newly independent Direccidn de Liberacidn Nacional 
(DLN), later the Departamento de America (DA), headed 
by Pineiro.— Following a trip by Raul Castro to Moscow 
in the spring of 1970, there was a purge of those DGI 
officers who still appeared reluctant to co-operate with the 
KGB. A senior KGB adviser was given an office next 
door to the DGI chief, Mendez.— 

The Soviet ‘bridgehead’ in Cuba seemed once again 



‘Progressive’ Regimes and ‘Socialism with 

Red Wine’ 

At the beginning of the 1970s the greater part of Latin 
America was still, in Andropov’s phrase, ‘a new field for 
Soviet foreign policy activity’. He wrote in an unusually 
frank memorandum to the FCD, ‘Our leaders know very 
little about Latin America. We must write more about 
these countries, and draw attention to them.’ Andropov 
was determined that the lead in expanding Soviet 
influence in Latin America should be taken not by the 
Foreign Ministry but by the KGB: 

We must remember that, when it comes to shedding light 
on the situation in the countries of Latin America, without 
us neither the Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor the Ministry 
of Foreign Trade will be able to undertake any effective 
action. We must be the first to establish contacts with 
important individuals in those countries where we do not 
have embassies, and to send our officers there on short or 
long-term visits. - 

Andropov was anxious to exploit the new opportunities 

for KGB operations offered by the emergence of 
‘progressive’ military regimes in Peru and Bolivia, and by 
the election of a Marxist President of Chile. Rather than 
attempting the high-risk strategy of trying to recruit Latin 
American Presidents and other leading politicians as 
Soviet agents, Andropov’s preferred strategy was to turn 
as many as possible into ‘confidential contacts’, willing to 
have clandestine meetings with KGB officers who 
attempted to influence their policies, particularly towards 
the United States.- Agent recruitment was pursued only at 
a lower level of the Latin American political and official 
hierarchies, as well as in the media and other professions. 

The KGB’s greatest asset in recruiting both confidential 
contacts and an agent network was the popular resentment 
in Latin America at the arrogance of the Yanqui colossus 
of the North. The Centre’s leading Latin American expert, 
Nikolai Leonov, who had been the first to identify Fidel 
Castro’s revolutionary potential, later acknowledged: 

All political efforts by the Soviet government, and hence 
by our country’s intelligence service, were aimed at 
causing the greatest possible harm to North American 
dominance in this part of the world. So we supported 
politically, sometimes by sending weaponry or other aid, 
anyone who was against United States dominance - any 
government, any national liberation movement, any 
revolutionary group. However, with few exceptions, the 

extreme left [other than pro-Moscow Communist parties] 
did not enjoy great popularity in the Kremlin at that time. 
They were feared, and for that reason were always 
sidelined. But reasonable patriotic centre-left forces in 
Latin America always found strong support in the USSR. 
I personally took part in many operations of this type. I 
worked with many Latin American leaders, trying at least 
to encourage them, to help them as far as possible in their 
anti-American stance. - 

Moscow’s suspicion of ‘the extreme left’ was due, in 
large part, to fear that it was contaminated with Maoist 
heresy. A subsidiary theme in KGB operations in Latin 
America was to defeat the Chinese challenge to Soviet 
Communism. Alistair Horne wrote in 1972: 

It is not in South-east Asia, the Middle East or Africa that 
the ideological battle of the seventies seems likely to be 
waged, but in South America. Here, one feels, may well 
be the battleground where the orthodoxy of Soviet 
communism will triumph definitively over Maoism or 

That estimate proved to be exaggerated, though at the 
beginning of the twenty-first century the main vestiges of 
Maoist revolutionary movements - in particular the 

Peruvian Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) - were located 
in Latin America. At the beginning of the 1970s, 
however, Home’s prophecy seemed highly plausible. 

The first ‘progressive’ junta to attract the attention of 
the Centre in Latin America was in Pern. To Marxist- 
Leninists, class conflict in Pern seemed to make it ripe for 
revolution. Since the foundation of the Pemvian Republic 
in 1821, vast wealth had been concentrated in the hands 
of an urban elite, while the mass of the mral population - 
mostly aboriginals - lived in grinding poverty. Land 
ownership was more unequal than anywhere else in Latin 
America. In the 1960s 9 per cent of landowners owned 82 
per cent of the land, while millions of peasants had none 
at all. The slums which ringed Lima, mostly inhabited by 
peasants unable to make a living in the countryside, were 
among the most wretched on the continent. Half-hearted 
land reform was halted in the mid-1960s by a hostile, 
conservative Congress.- Dependency theory, which 
became popular in the 1950s and 1960s, blamed Pern’s 
backwardness on American imperialism. In order to 
maintain its own prosperity, the United States was 
allegedly promoting the ‘underdevelopment’ or 
‘dependency’ of Latin America by controlling access to 
major natural resources, by maintaining financial and 
military control, and by other methods designed to 
prevent its southern neighbours escaping from their 
poverty. The US-owned International Petroleum 

Company, an Exxon subsidiary which dominated Peru’s 
petroleum industry, seemed to the Latin American left to 
symbolize the way in which the power of American 
capital undermined Peruvian national sovereignty.- 

Peru’s political history had been punctuated by military 
coups. However, the junta headed by General Juan 
Velasco Alvarado, which seized power in October 1968, 
broke with precedent. It was the first Peruvian coup led 
by left-wing radicals, many of them with a background in 
military intelligence. ‘Intelligence’, claimed one of the 
radicals, ‘. . . opened our eyes and made us see the 
urgency for change in our country.’ Within days of his 
coup, on what became known as ‘National Dignity Day’, 
Velasco nationalized the International Petroleum 
Company without compensation,- and began preparations 
for a series of other nationalizations. The junta went on to 
announce a radical programme of land reform and sought 
to prevent the flight of capital to Swiss bank accounts by 
giving itself the power to inspect bank deposits. Its 
policies combined radical reform with military discipline. 
The junta banned the riotous annual Lima carnival on the 
grounds of public safety and arrested those who 
transgressed traditional standards of sexual propriety in 
public parks. - 

Since the Soviet Union did not have diplomatic 
relations with Peru at the time of the coup, it had no 

embassy or legal residency capable of reporting on the 
new regime. Nikolai Leonov, who had recently been 
given accelerated promotion to the post of deputy head of 
the FCD Second (Latin American) Department, was sent 
to investigate, staying at a Lima hotel posing as a 
correspondent of the Novosti Press Agency. With the help 
of the press office at the Peruvian Foreign Ministry, 
Leonov succeeded in making contact with a number of 
members and supporters of the new regime. His stay was 
none the less a difficult one - chiefly, he believed, because 
the CIA had revealed his real identity to a number of its 
local contacts. As a result, Leonov later claimed, he 
received threatening phone calls in Russian and the 
unwanted attentions of a photographer who took 
numerous pictures of him while he was dining in 
restaurants. On one occasion, he was ‘followed along the 
street by a carload of semi-naked girls’ - possibly festival 
dancers whose playful intentions Leonov misconstrued as 
a CIA provocation. A further difficulty was the fact that 
the only way that he could communicate with the Centre 
from Lima was by post. When he went to the main post 
office, he was told not to seal his letters with sticky tape, 
doubtless in order to make them easier to open. On one 
occasion early in 1969, when he felt it necessary to send a 
top-secret cipher telegram to Moscow, he had to travel to 
the KGB residency in Chile to do so. Though Mitrokhin 
did not note the text of Leonov’s report, its tone was 
clearly optimistic. ‘We were’, Leonov said later, ‘working 

politically against the United States and we put all our 
heart into this task.’- The Centre could not fail to be 
impressed by the new opportunities in Peru for operations 
against the United States. In February 1969, after an 
unbroken period of co-operation between American and 
Peruvian armed forces stretching back to the Second 
World War, all US military missions were expelled. For 
the first time, Peru began to turn for military assistance to 
the Soviet Union. In an attempt to strengthen popular 
support for its reform policies, the Velasco regime 
became the first Latin American military junta to form an 
undeclared tactical alliance with the Communists. Though 
the previously outlawed Peruvian Communist Party 
remained illegal, it was permitted to operate openly from 
its Lima headquarters and to publish its own newspaper.— 

In August 1969, following the establishment of 
Peruvian- Soviet diplomatic relations, the KGB set up its 
first residency in Lima, headed for the next seven years 
by Arseni Fyodorovich Orlov.— Orlov reported 
optimistically that the military government was adopting 
‘a progressive, anti-imperialist line’ with the support of 
the Communist Party.— When armed Communists took 
over the headquarters of the Bankworkers’ Union in June 
1970, the government failed to intervene. The most 
popular manifestation of Peru’s new Soviet connection 
was the arrival of the Moscow State Circus, which 
performed in Lima’s Plaza de Toros for an entire month.— 

The Lima residency quickly acquired several 
‘confidential contacts’ in the junta. One was reported to 
be President Velasco’s ‘most trusted confidant’ and a 
‘firm supporter’ of collaboration between the Peruvian 
intelligence community and the KGB.— Orlov reported 
that, thanks to the good offices of another member of the 
junta, ‘the Residency has established contact with the 
President.’— One of Velasco’s senior advisers (identified 
by name in Mitrokhin’s notes) was recruited as a KGB 
agent. According to a 1971 report from the residency, 
which records a payment to him of $5,000: ‘He enjoys the 
trust of President Velasco Alvarado. Through [him] 
influence is exerted on the President and on members of 
the Peruvian government, and public opinion is shaped 
through him. Two government newspapers are under his 

In order to impress Soviet leaders, the KGB commonly 
exaggerated its ability to ‘shape’ foreign public opinion, 
and it may well have done so in this case. However, the 
Lima residency undoubtedly approved the Velasco 
regime’s censorship of media opposition to it. In January 
1972 there were world- wide protests at the sequestration 
of Peru’s leading newspaper. La Prensa, the most 
influential of the junta’s critics. The nineteenth-century 
house of its proprietor, Don Pedro Beltran, an important 
part of Lima’s cultural heritage, was demolished on the 

pretext of street- widening. The New York Times 
denounced the ‘savage vendetta against one of the most 
respected journalists in the Americas’. — 

Encouraged by the Lima residency’s contacts with the 
junta, the KGB proposed formal co-operation with its 
Peruvian counterpart, the Servicio de Inteligencia 
Nacional (SIN), codenamed KONTORA. Negotiations 
between KGB and SIN representatives produced a draft 
agreement providing for an exchange of intelligence, co- 
operation in security measures, KGB training for SIN 
officers and the provision to SIN of KGB ‘operational 
technical equipment’. In June 1971 the CPSU Central 
Committee approved the draft agreement. Two operations 
officers and one technical specialist were stationed in 
Lima to liaise with SIN. Meetings between Soviet and 
Peruvian intelligence officers took place about once a 
week, usually in SIN safe apartments. The Lima residency 
noted with satisfaction that one of the immediate 
consequences of the agreement was the ending of SIN 
surveillance of the embassy and other Soviet offices.— 
With KGB assistance, SIN set up a surveillance post near 
the US embassy which secretly photographed all those 
entering and leaving, and recorded their names in a card 
index. SIN later used KGB equipment to record embassy 
phone calls and intercept radio messages. — The Centre 
claimed that co-operation with SIN led to ‘the 
neutralization of an American agent network in the 

[Peruvian] trade unions and the liquidation of an 
American intelligence operational technical group’. It also 
claimed the credit for ‘the exposure of the conspiratorial 
activity’ of the Minister of Internal Affairs, General 
Armando Artola, who appears to have opposed the Soviet 
connection and was sacked in 1971.— 

Initially, KGB liaison officers found some members of 
SIN ‘guarded’ in their dealings with them. According to 
KGB files, however, many were won over by items of 
current intelligence, gifts, birthday greetings, ‘material 
assistance’, invitations to visit the Soviet Union and other 
friendly gestures.— Mitrokhin concluded from his reading 
of KGB files that intelligence both from ‘confidential 
contacts’ in the junta and from SIN was ‘highly valued’ in 
the Centre.— In 1973 the new head of SIN, General 
Enrique Gallegos Venero, visited Moscow for discussions 
with Andropov, Fyodor Mortin, head of the FCD, and 
other senior KGB officers. During his visit it was agreed 
to extend intelligence co-operation to include Peruvian 
military intelligence (codenamed SHTAB by the KGB).— 
Though apparently satisfied with the results of Gallegos’s 
visit, the Centre took a somewhat censorious view of the 
behaviour of SIN officers, ranging in rank from captain to 
lieutenant-colonel, who were invited to Moscow at its 
expense (air travel included) to take part in FCD training 
courses. One KGB report primly concluded: 

The Peruvians who were studying at the special P-2, P-3, 
and P-4 departments at the FCD’s Red Banner [later 
Andropov] Institute were active in making contact with 
girls and women of loose behaviour in Moscow, and had 
intimate relations with them, after which these 
acquaintances were handed over to another group of 
students for intimate relations. The students did not heed 
the attempts of the course supervisors to enlighten them.— 

In general, however, the Centre congratulated itself on the 
success of intelligence collaboration with Peru. A 1975 
report gave the work of the Lima residency ‘a positive 
evaluation’.— Intelligence on ‘the situation in Peru’s 
ruling circles’, some of it passed on to the Politburo, was 
assessed as ‘especially valuable’.— KGB co-operation 
with SIN against US targets led to the expulsion of a 
series of CIA officers and the curtailment of Peace Corps 
activities and US-sponsored English-language courses.— 
A relative of President Velasco’s wife, occupying ‘a high 
position’ in the administration, was exposed as, allegedly, 
a CIA agent.— The Lima residency also carried out ‘wide- 
ranging active measures’ against US targets.— 
‘Operational technical’ experts were sent from the Centre 
to instruct SIN officers in the use of KGB surveillance, 
eavesdropping and photographic equipment in operations 
against the US, Mexican and Chilean embassies in 
Lima.— With financial assistance from the KGB, SIN 

agents were sent to carry out KGB assignments in Chile, 
Argentina and other parts of Latin America.— 

From 1973 onwards Peru made a series of massive 
Soviet arms purchases, totalling more than $1.6 billion 
over the next twelve years. In the Western hemisphere 
only Cuba received more.— The Centre’s claims that it 
also succeeded in ‘increasing the progressive measures of 
Velasco’s government’,— however, were probably made 
chiefly to impress the Soviet leadership. The KGB’s 
influence on the military government’s security, defence 
and foreign policy did not extend to its domestic reform 
programme. In 1972, for example, the Interior Minister, 
General Pedro Richter Prado, was dismayed by much of 
what he saw on a tour of collective farms in Poland and 
Czechoslovakia. Soviet bloc agriculture, he told Alistair 
Home, was ‘going backwards’. The junta publicly 
declared that, ‘Pern stands for neither Communism nor 
Capitalism’. Home concluded that, by this time, its 
confused ideological preferences lay somewhere between 
Tito’s Yugoslavia and Gaullist France. Its heavy-handed 
economic mismanagement was compounded by the 
problems of financing the imports of Soviet arms. Almost 
a quarter of the national budget went on the armed forces, 
double the proportion in neighbouring Colombia. The 
revenues from the massive newly discovered oil reserves 
in the Amazon basin were frittered away.— 

The Centre did not usually make reports to the 
Politburo which undermined its own previous claims to be 
able to influence foreign leaders. It is therefore unlikely 
that it reported to the political leadership on the declining 
prospects of the ‘progressive’ Peruvian junta as it 
struggled to cope with the consequences of its economic 
mismanagement. The coup toppling Velasco in August 
1975, led by General Francisco Morales Bermudez, began 
a more conservative phase of military rule.— The KGB 
was, however, able to claim an apparently striking victory 
over Peruvian Maoism. In June 1975 the Lima residency 
made ‘operational contact’ with one of the leaders of the 
pro-Chinese Marxist-Leninist Party of Peru, codenamed 
VANTAN. The KGB claimed the credit for disrupting, 
with VANTAN’s assistance, the Party’s 1976 Congress. 
According to a file summary noted by Mitrokhin: ‘At its 
Congress, the Party sharply criticized Peking’s policy, 
including its line of splitting the Communist and 
Workers’ movement, and decided to break with Maoism 
and to dissolve itself. This operation produced great 
repercussions in Latin- American countries.’— 

The next Latin American state after Peru to acquire 
what the KGB considered a ‘progressive’ military 
government was Bolivia, its landlocked southern 
neighbour. Bolivia’s turbulent political history had been 
punctuated by more military coups than anywhere else in 
the world. At the beginning of the 1970s the presidential 

palace in La Paz (at 12,000 feet, the highest on the 
continent) was still pockmarked with bullet holes from 
previous coups which, given the likelihood of further 
violent regime changes, were not thought worth repairing. 
In front of the palace was a lamp-post with an inscription 
recording that a president had been hanged from it in 

The leader of the junta which took power in April 

1969, General Alfredo Ovando Candia, had been 
commander-in-chief of the Bolivian army at the time of 
Che Guevara’s capture and death eighteen months earlier. 
It was widely believed, however, that he had since been at 
least partly seduced by the Che revolutionary myth and 
felt a deep sense of guilt at having ordered his execution. 
Once in power, Ovando followed the Peruvian example, 
nationalizing American-owned companies, establishing 
diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and seeking 
support from workers, peasants and students. In October 

1970, following a failed coup by right-wing army officers 
and riots by left-wing university students, Ovando was 
overthrown by the vociferously anti-imperialist General 
Juan Jose Torres Gonzalez, who had been sacked as 
commander-in-chief for what Ovando considered his 
excessive adulation of Fidel Castro.— 

The resident in La Paz, Igor Yevgenievich Sholokhov, 
was instructed to gain access to Torres (codenamed 
CAESAR by the KGB) ‘in order to use him to carry out 

measures to rally anti-American forces in Bolivia’.— In 
the excitable aftermath of the ‘October Revolution’ which 
had brought Torres to power, students at San Andres 
University in La Paz led violent demonstrations against 
American imperialism. Torres took no action as US 
offices were broken into and pillaged and the Yanqui 
community was reduced to living in a state of semi- siege. 
US diplomats removed the CD plates from their cars for 
fear of attack; even the Clinica America in La Paz was 
forced to change its name to Clinica Metodista.— The 
KGB was encouraged by Torres’s close relations with the 
Communists as well as by his hostility to the Yanquis. 
Soon after he became President, the First Secretary of the 
Bolivian Communist Party, Jorge Kolle Cueto, reported to 
Sholokhov that Torres was ‘taking steps to involve the 
Left in co-operation with the government’, and had 
offered to help the Communists establish paramilitary 
groups to meet the threat of a right-wing coup.— 

In July Andropov wrote to Brezhnev: 

Considering the progressive nature of the change 
occurring in Bolivia, Torres’s desire to develop 
multifaceted co-operation with the USSR, and the 
Bolivian friends’ [Communists’] positive attitude towards 
the President, it would be worthwhile examining the 
possibility of supplying arms to Bolivia, as well as 

providing Torres with economic aid . . . , for the purpose 
of increasing his influence in the army and assisting in 
frustrating the conspiratorial plans of the reactionaries, 
thus gaining the time needed by the country’s democratic 
forces to strengthen their position.— 

Andropov’s assessment, however, proved far too 
optimistic. By the time he wrote his report Torres’s 
prospects of survival were already slim. ‘Progressive 
change’ in Bolivia was rapidly collapsing into anarchy. 
The army was deeply divided between right- and left- 
wing factions. In June 1971 the unoccupied Congress 
building next to the presidential palace was seized by the 
various factions of the left who declared themselves the 
Asamblea del Pueblo and began to function as a parallel 
government. Inevitably the factions quickly fell out 
among themselves, with the Communist Party denouncing 
the Maoists as ‘petit bourgeois dedicated to leading the 
working class on a new adventure’. The extravagant if 
confused revolutionary rhetoric of the Assembly and 
Torres’s apparent impotence in the face of it helped to 
provoke in August 1971 Bolivia’s 187th coup, led by the 
right-wing Colonel Hugo Banzer Suarez, who had been 
sacked by Torres as commandant of the Military 
Academy. After the discovery of the large quantities of 
arms from the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia 
despatched at Torres’s request, Banzer ordered a mass 

expulsion of Soviet diplomats and intelligence officers.— 

Despite the disappointment of Torres’s overthrow, the 
KGB continued to seek opportunities to cultivate other 
Latin American leaders. Before the 1970 presidential 
election in Costa Rica, it had secret discussions with the 
successful candidate, Jose Figueres Ferrer (codenamed 
KASIK).— Figueres was the leading Costa Rican 
politician of his generation. As head of the founding junta 
of the post-war Second Republic, he had taken the lead in 
abolishing the army and turning Costa Rica into an 
unarmed democracy - a unique event in the history of the 
Americas. Figueres ’s first contact with Soviet 
intelligence, though he did not realize it, went back to 
1951, when he had unwittingly appointed as envoy in 
Rome (and non-resident envoy in Belgrade) a KGB 
illegal, Iosif Grigulevich, posing as Teodoro Castro, the 
illegitimate son of a dead (and, in reality, childless) Costa 
Rican notable. Unknown to Figueres, early in 1953 
Grigulevich had been given a highly dangerous mission to 
assassinate Marshal Tito. When his mission was aborted 
after Stalin’s death in March, ‘Teodoro Castro’ 
disappeared - so far as Figueres was concerned - into thin 
air, beginning a new life in Moscow under his real name, 
Grigulevich, as an academic expert on Latin America.— 

Figueres was first elected President in 1953, serving 
until 1958. His long-running feud with the US-backed 

Somoza dictatorship in neighbouring Nicaragua, which 
continued after his presidency, appears to have attracted 
the favourable attention of the KGB. When President Luis 
Somoza challenged him to a duel, Figueres agreed - 
provided it was fought on the deck of a Soviet submarine 
which Somoza falsely claimed to have captured.— Despite 
his anti-militarism, Figueres became a strong supporter of 
the Sandinistas. Before the 1970 presidential election the 
KGB secretly transmitted to him via the Costa Rican 
Communist Party a ‘loan’ of US $300,000 to help finance 
his campaign in return for a promise, if elected, to 
establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. Once 
reinstalled as President, Figueres kept his promise.— In 
1971 the CPSU Central Committee authorized A. I. 
Mosolov, head of the newly established San Jose 
residency, to establish contact with him.— 

Mosolov and Figueres agreed on regular secret 
meetings to be arranged through the intermediary of a 
confidant of the President. Before each meeting, the 
confidant would meet Mosolov at a pre-arranged 
rendezvous in San Jose, then drive him in his own car to 
see Figueres.— Some of Mosolov’ s reports on these 
meetings were considered sufficiently important by the 
Centre to be passed on to the Politburo. The KGB’s 
motives in doing so probably had less to do with the 
intrinsic importance of the reports’ contents than with the 
further evidence they provided of the high level of its 

foreign contacts. As in Peru and Bolivia, the Centre 
wished to demonstrate to the Soviet leadership that in a 
continent formerly dominated by American imperialism, 
it now had direct access even to presidents and juntas. It 
claimed, probably with some exaggeration, that the KGB 
was able ‘to exert useful influence’ over Figueres.— 

As well as providing confidential reports on other 
countries in Central America and the Caribbean, Figueres 
discussed his own political future with the KGB 
residency, probably in the hope of obtaining further 
Soviet financial support. He told Mosolov that he 
intended to stay in control of his political party and 
influence government decisions even after he ceased to be 
president in 1974. ‘In order to do this’, Mosolov reported, 
‘he has acquired a radio station and television channel, 
and is preparing to publish his own newspaper. ’ All were 
regarded by the KGB as useful vehicles for active 
measures. — 

The Soviet ambassador in San Jose, Vladimir 
Nikolayevich Kazimirov, like his colleagues in a number 
of other capitals, deeply resented the fact that the 
resident’s political contacts were superior to his own. 
While on leave in Moscow in August 1973, he demanded 
a meeting with Andropov and complained that Mosolov 
did not even bother to inform him about his contacts with 
Figueres. On one occasion he had called on the President, 

only to discover that Mosolov had met him an hour 
earlier. Kazimirov claimed that American agents in Costa 
Rica were seeking to use the President’s contacts with the 
KGB to compromise him.— The ambassador’s objections 
appear to have had little effect. KGB meetings with, and 
subsidies to, Figueres continued. The Centre informed 
Brezhnev in January 1974: ‘In view of the fact that 
Figueres has agreed to publish materials advantageous to 
the KGB, he has been given 10,000 US dollars under the 
guise of stock purchases in his newspaper. When he 
accepted this money, Figueres stated that he greatly 
appreciated Soviet support.’— 

Relations with Figueres, however, gradually cooled. In 
1976 Manuel Pineiro, head of the Cuban Departamento de 
America (DA), told a senior KGB officer that Figueres 
was ‘an arrant demagogue’, who kept a private armoury 
of weapons including machine guns and bazookas at his 
villa outside San Jose.— A KGB assessment concluded 
that Figueres ’s ‘views and actions’ were inconsistent.— 

By far the most important of the KGB’s confidential 
contacts in South America was Salvador Allende Gossens 
(codenamed LEADER by the KGB),— whose election as 
President of Chile in 1970 was hailed by a Moscow 
commentator as ‘second only to the victory of the Cuban 
Revolution in the magnitude of its significance as a 
revolutionary blow to the imperialist system in Latin 

America’. Allende was the first Marxist anywhere in the 
world to win power through the ballot box. His victory in 
Chile, following the emergence of ‘progressive’ military 
governments in Peru and Bolivia, was cited by Pravda 
and other Soviet official organs as proof of ‘the 
multiplicity of forms within the framework of which Latin 
America is paving its way to true independence’.— 

Allende had first attracted KGB attention in the early 
1950s when, as leader of the Chilean Socialist Party 
(Partido Socialista), he had formed an alliance with the 
then banned Communist Party. In 1952 he stood with its 
support at the presidential election but won only 6 per 
cent of the vote. Though there was as yet no KGB 
residency in Chile, a Line PR (political intelligence) 
officer, Svyatoslav Fyodorovich Kuznetsov (codenamed 
LEONID), probably operating under cover as a Novosti 
correspondent, made the first direct contact with Allende 
in the following year .— At the presidential election of 
1958, standing as the candidate of a left-wing alliance, the 
Frente de Accion Popular (FRAP), Allende was beaten 
into second place by only 35,000 votes. What Allende ’s 
KGB file describes as ‘systematic contact’ with him 
began after the establishment in 1961 of a Soviet trade 
mission in Chile, which provided cover for a KGB 
presence. Allende is reported to have ‘stated his 
willingness to co-operate on a confidential basis and 
provide any necessary assistance, since he considered 

himself a friend of the Soviet Union. He willingly shared 
political information . . Though he became a KGB 
‘confidential contact’, however, he was never classed as 
an agent. The KGB claimed some of the credit for 
Allende’s part in the campaign which led to the 
establishment of Soviet-Chilean diplomatic relations in 
1964. — The new Soviet embassy in Santiago contained 
the first KGB legal residency on Chilean soil.— 

At the 1964 presidential election, standing once again 
as the candidate of the FRAP alliance, Allende was 
further from victory than six years earlier, being soundly 
beaten by a strong centrist candidate in what became 
virtually a two-horse race. But, with 39 per cent of the 
vote, he did well enough to show that, if the anti-Marxist 
vote were to be divided at the next election, he would 
stand a good chance of victory.— The glaring social 
injustices of a country in which half the population lived 
in shanty towns or rural poverty also seemed to favour the 
electoral prospects of the left. The Archbishop of Santiago 
told the British ambassador that, ‘considering the 
appalling conditions which the mass of the population had 
to put up with, it was not surprising that there were many 
Communists in Chile; what was . . . surprising was that 
the poorer classes were not Communist to a man.’ The 
high birth-rate and level of immigration added to Chile’s 
social tensions. During the 1960s the population grew by 
nearly a third.— 

Though recognizing the advantages of electoral alliance 
with Allende, the leadership of the Chilean Communist 
Party made clear to the KGB that it regarded him as both 
‘a demagogue’ and ‘a weak and inconsistent politician’ 
with Maoist sympathies: 

His characteristic traits were arrogance, vanity, desire for 
glorification and a longing to be in the spotlight at any 
price. He was easily influenced by stronger and more 
determined personalities. He was also inconsistent in his 
attitude to the Communist Party. LEADER explained his 
attitude to the Communist Party by referring to his 
position as leader of the Socialist Party to which, as a 
party member, he was bound to be loyal. He had visited 
China a number of times and ranked Mao Zedong on the 
same level as Marx, Engels and Lenin. 

The Santiago residency also reported that Chilean 
Communists were concerned by Allende ’s close 
connections with Freemasonry. His paternal grandfather 
had been Serene Grand Master of the Chilean Masonic 
Order, and Allende himself had been a Mason since 
before the Second World War. His Masonic lodge, the 
Communists complained to the KGB, had ‘deep roots 
among the lower and middle bourgeoisie’.— Allende was 
unlike any existing stereotype of a Marxist leader. During 

his visits to Havana in the 1960s, he had been privately 
mocked by Castro’s entourage for his aristocratic tastes: 
fine wines, expensive objets d’art, well-cut suits and 
elegantly dressed women. Allende was also a womanizer. 
The Nobel laureate in literature, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 
described him as ‘a gallant with a touch of the old school 
about him, perfumed notes and furtive rendezvous’. 
Despite the private mockery which they aroused in 
Allende ’s Communist allies, however, his bourgeois 
appearance and expensive lifestyle were electoral assets, 
reassuring middle-class voters that their lives would 
continue normally under an Allende presidency. As even 
some of Allende ’s opponents acknowledged, he also had 
enormous personal charm. Nathaniel Davis, who became 
US ambassador in Santiago in 1971, was struck by his 
‘extraordinary and appealing human qualities ... He had 
the social and socializing instincts of a long-time, top- 
drawer political personality. ’— 

In 1970 Allende stood again for the presidency as the 
candidate of an enlarged left-wing coalition: the Unidad 
Popular (UP) of the Communist, Socialist and Radical 
parties (and three smaller left-wing groups - the API, 
MAPU and SDP). His chances of success were 
strengthened by the division of the anti-Marxist vote 
between rival Christian Democrat and National Party 
candidates. Allende ’s original KGB case officer, 
Svyatoslav Kuznetsov, then serving in the Mexico City 

residency, was sent to Chile to maintain contact with him 
throughout the election campaign and co-ordinate covert 
operations designed to ensure his success.— 

Both the CIA, acting on instructions from the White 
House and the 40 Committee (which oversaw US covert 
action), and the KGB spent substantial amounts of money 
in an attempt to influence the outcome of the election. 
Though the CIA spent $425,000 trying to ensure 
Allende’s defeat,— its money was targeted far less 
effectively than that of the KGB. The 40 Committee 
approved a covert propaganda campaign ‘to alert Chileans 
to the dangers of Allende and a Marxist government’ but 
forbade support for either of the candidates opposing 
Allende. The Director of Central Intelligence, Richard 
Helms, was sceptical of the effectiveness of a CIA 
operation based on the assumption that it was possible to 
‘beat somebody with nobody’.— KGB money, by 
contrast, was precisely targeted. Allende made a personal 
appeal, probably via Kuznetsov, for Soviet funds.— Like 
other ‘fraternal’ parties around the world, the Chilean 
Communists received annual subsidies from Moscow, 
secretly transmitted to them by the KGB. Throughout the 
1960s they were paid more than any other Communist 
Party in Latin America. Their original allocation for 1970 
was $400,000.— However, doubtless on KGB advice, the 
Politburo made an additional allocation to the Party on 27 
July to assist its role in the election campaign. It also 

approved a personal subsidy of $50,000 to be handed 
directly to Allende.— The Chilean Communist Party 
provided Allende with an additional $100,000 from its 
own funds.— The KGB also gave $18,000 to a left-wing 
Senator to persuade him not to stand as a presidential 
candidate and to remain within the Unidad Popular 
coalition. Given the closeness of the result, even the small 
vote which he might have attracted could have tipped the 
balance against Allende. That, at least, was the view of 
the KGB. ^ 

On 4 September 1970 Allende won the presidential 
election with 36.3 per cent of the vote; his Nationalist and 
Christian Democrat opponents gained, respectively, 35 
and 27.8 per cent. In its report to the Central Committee, 
the KGB claimed some of the credit for Allende ’s 
victory.— Though it doubtless did not underestimate the 
importance of its role, the closeness of the result suggests 
that the KGB may indeed have played a significant part in 
preventing Allende being narrowly beaten into second 
place. Allende won by only 39,000 votes out of a total of 
the 3 million cast. Given the failure of any candidate to 
gain 50 per cent of the vote, the election of the President 
passed to a joint session of the two houses of the Chilean 
Congress on 24 October. Though precedent dictated that 
Allende would be elected, Andropov remained anxious 
about the outcome. He reported to the Central Committee 
on 23 September: 

As the question of the election of the President will finally 
be decided by a vote in Congress on 24 October, Allende 
is still faced with a determined struggle with his political 
opponents, and substantial material resources may still be 
required for this purpose. With the aim of strengthening 
confidential relations with Allende and creating 
conditions for continuing cooperation with him in the 
future, it would be expedient to give him material 
assistance amounting to 30,000 dollars if the need arises. 

At the same time, the Committee of State Security 
[KGB] will carry out measures designed to promote the 
consolidation of Allende ’s victory and his election to the 
post of President of the country. The International 
Department of the CPSU Central Committee (Comrade V. 
V. Zagladin) supports this proposal. — 

The KGB’s anxiety about parliamentary confirmation of 
Allende’ s electoral victory was understandable. The result 
of the presidential election left President Richard Nixon, 
according to his National Security Advisor, Henry 
Kissinger, ‘beside himself with rage. Having berated the 
Democrats for over a decade for allowing Cuba to go 
Communist, Nixon now faced the prospect as a 
Republican President of seeing Chile follow suit. There 
was, he angrily told Kissinger and the DCI, Richard 

Helms, ‘only a one in ten chance, perhaps’ of preventing 
Allende’s confirmation, but the attempt must be made in 
order to ‘save Chile’ from Communism. The CIA drew up 
a two-track plan. Track I was to find some method of 
persuading the Chilean Congress not to vote Allende into 
office. Track II was to engineer a military coup.— Both 
failed. On 24 October Allende was formally elected 
President by vote of the Chilean Congress. 

Regular Soviet contact with Allende after his election 
was maintained not by the Soviet ambassador but by 
Kuznetsov, who was instructed by the Centre to ‘exert a 
favourable influence on Chilean government policy’. 
According to LEADER’S KGB file: 

In a cautious way Allende was made to understand the 
necessity of reorganizing Chile’s army and intelligence 
services, and of setting up a relationship between Chile’s 
and the USSR’s intelligence services. Allende reacted to 
this positively. 

The KGB devoted its attention to strengthening 
Allende’s anti-American leanings. To this end, 
information obtained by the KGB Residency in Chile on 
the activities of American intelligence officers trying to 
penetrate the leaders of the army and intelligence services 
was conveyed to Allende. Important and goal-directed 
operations were conducted according to plan.— 

CIA covert action against Allende continued during his 
presidency. Immediately after the September presidential 
election, Nixon gave instructions to ‘make the [Chilean] 
economy scream’, though in the event economic 
mismanagement by the Allende regime almost certainly 
did far more damage than the CIA.— The intelligence 
supplied by Kuznetsov to Allende about CIA operations 
in Chile included a certain amount of disinformation, such 
as the claim that Nathaniel Davis, who arrived in Santiago 
as US ambassador in October 1971, was a CIA officer. — 
There is no evidence that Allende realized he was being 
deceived. In 1971 he presented Kuznetsov with a 
Longines watch as a mark of his personal esteem.— 

Kuznetsov arranged his regular meetings with Allende 
through the President’s personal secretary, Miria 
Contreras Bell, known as ‘La Payita’ and codenamed 
MARTA by the KGB.— ‘La Payita’ appears to have been 
Allende ’s favourite mistress during his presidency. 
According to Nathaniel Davis: 

Apparently it was for La Payita, and in her name, that 
Allende purchased El Canaveral, a property in El Arrayan 
suburb outside Santiago. This estate also served as a 
training site for the president’s bodyguards, a political 
meeting place, and, allegedly, an intimate hideaway 

where sex films were shown and the president, UP 
bigwigs, and their girlfriends cavorted - and had 
themselves photographed as they did so.— 

Kuznetsov reported more discreetly that, ‘according to 
available information’, Allende was spending ‘a great 
deal of time’ in La Payita’s company: ‘Allende is very 
attentive to ladies, and tries to surround himself with 
charming women. His relationship with his wife has more 
than once been harmed as a result.’— Despite Allende ’s 
affairs, however, his wife Hortensia remained intensely 
loyal to him. Kuznetsov did his best to cultivate her as 
well as her husband.— 

Cuban intelligence also established close relations with 
the Allende family. Allende ’s personal guard, the black- 
beret Gmpo de Amigos Personates, contained numerous 
Cubans. His daughter, Beatriz, who oversaw presidential 
security, married a Cuban intelligence officer, Luis 
Fernandez Ona, with the disconcerting nickname ‘tiro 
fijo’ (‘quick-on-the-trigger’).— One of the CIA officers 
stationed in Chile recalls that he had ‘a lot of respect for 
the Cuban Intelligence. They were a lot more effective 
than the Russians in the sense that they still had 
revolutionary fervour, they were prepared to make 
sacrifices, they spoke the language, and they were 
prepared to mix it up with the campesinos.'— 

In May 1971 FCD Service 1 (Intelligence Analysis), of 
which Leonov had become deputy head,— sent Kuznetsov 
a lengthy list of topics on which it instructed him to 
obtain Allende’s views: 

• The President’s assessment of the internal political 
situation in the country, and his plans to hinder the 
subversive activities of the right-wing opposition. 

• The President’s assessment of the economic 
situation in the country and measures planned to 
strengthen the economy. 

• Relations between the government and the parties 
in the Popular Unity coalition. 

• The President’s attitude towards unilateral actions 
by parties within the bloc, especially the Communist 

• The possibility of and conditions necessary for the 
unification of the Communists and socialists into a single 

• Decisions by the President to strengthen the 
leadership of the Chilean armed forces and government 
with supporters of the left-wing parties. 

• Prospects for the development of economic, 
political and military relations between Chile and the 
USSR, Cuba, other socialist countries, and China. 

• Relations between Chile and the United States. 

• Chile’s policy with respect to the countries of Latin 

It was a tribute to Kuznetsov’s access to the President that 
he was able to obtain full responses on all these topics. 
Nikolai Leonov, was full of praise for the quality of 
Allende’s information. Reports based on it were 
forwarded to the Politburo.— In October 1971, on 
instructions from the Politburo, Allende was given 
$30,000 ‘in order to solidify the trusted relations’ with 
him.— Allende also mentioned to Kuznetsov his desire to 
acquire ‘one or two icons’ for his private art collection. 
He was presented with two icons, valued by the Centre at 
150 rubles, as a gift.— 

On 7 December, in a memorandum to the Politburo 
personally signed by Andropov, the KGB proposed giving 
Allende another $60,000 for what was euphemistically 
termed ‘his work with [i.e. bribery of] political party 
leaders, military commanders, and parliamentarians’. 
Allende was to be urged to strengthen his authority by 
establishing ‘unofficial contact’ with Chilean security 
chiefs and ‘using the resources of friends [Communists]’ 
in the Interior Ministry. The KGB also proposed giving an 
additional $70,000 to a Chilean monthly already 
subsidized by the KGB, to ‘make it more combative and 
sharp in its defence of the interests of Popular Unity and 
in its exposure of the local reactionaries’ and imperialists’ 
intrigues’. The proposals were approved by the 


In June 1972 Kuznetsov’s close relationship with 
Allende was disturbed by the arrival in Santiago of a 
tough new Soviet ambassador, Aleksandr Vasilyevich 
Basov, whose membership of the Central Committee 
indicated both his high rank within the nomenklatura and 
the importance attached by Moscow to relations with 
Allende ’s Chile. Unlike his predecessor, Basov was not 
prepared to play second fiddle to a KGB officer. His 
relations with the residency worsened, apparently soon 
after his arrival in Santiago, after the discovery in the 
walls of both his office and apartment of American 
listening devices with miniature transmitters which could 
be activated from some distance away.— Basov doubtless 
blamed the KGB for failing to protect the security of the 
embassy. The KGB in turn blamed the Chilean 
Communist Party for recommending the firm which had 
been employed for building work at the embassy. The 
Party leader, Luis Corvalan Lepe (codenamed SHEF), 
was secretly informed by the KGB that the firm was 
untrustworthy and had been penetrated by ‘hostile agents’ 
who had installed the devices.— 

Basov initially insisted on accompanying Kuznetsov to 
meetings with Allende, thus hampering the conduct of 
KGB business which the resident was reluctant to discuss 
in the presence of the ambassador. — Within a few 

months, however, Basov was seeking to replace 
Kuznetsov as the main Soviet contact with Allende. The 
Santiago residency complained to the Centre: 

The ambassador intends to set the line himself for 
meetings with LEADER [Allende], and he goes to the 
meetings with LEADER accompanied not by LEONID 
[Kuznetsov] but by other officials. The ambassador is 
‘jealous’ of LEONID’S visits to LEADER, because he is 
taking away his bread [most important business]. 
Therefore, he demands detailed meeting plans and reports 
on the meetings. He is trying to supervise us on this 

Basov’s ultimate aim was to reduce most Soviet contact 
with Allende to ‘a single channel’ controlled by himself. 
The residency complained that one channel ‘is insufficient 
for conducting active measures and other special 
operations’. Hitherto Kuznetsov had built up a close 
relationship with Allende’ s wife and his daughter Beatriz. 
Both, according to the KGB, ‘turn[ed] directly to 
LEONID with various requests’. Basov, however, 
assigned contact with the Allende family to a member of 
his staff and tried to make it impossible for Kuznetsov to 
continue his meetings with Allende ’s wife.— In December 
1972, Kuznetsov was able to renew contact with 
Hortensia and Beatriz Allende while they were staying at 

the Barvikha Sanatorium in the Soviet Union. During 
their stay, almost certainly without informing Basov, the 
Centre made, at its own expense, a two-week booking at 
the sanatorium for Kuznetsov and his wife Galina.— It is 
clear from the tone of subsequent KGB reports that, once 
again probably without the ambassador’s knowledge, 
Kuznetsov succeeded in establishing a secret channel ‘for 
handling the most confidential and delicate matters’ 
directly with Allende.— 

The tone of KGB reporting on Chile during 1972 was 
somewhat more cautious than during the previous year. 
Nixon’s visit to Moscow in 1972 and Brezhnev’s return 
visit to Washington in the following year represented the 
high point of a period of Soviet- American detente. 
Andropov, like the Soviet leadership in general, was 
anxious not to provoke the Nixon administration by too 
ostentatious a challenge to American influence in Latin 
America - all the more so because the United States 
seemed tacitly to accept that the Soviet Union was free to 
act as it wished within its own sphere of influence in 
eastern and central Europe. ‘Latin America’, wrote 
Andropov, ‘is a sphere of special US interests. The US 
has permitted us to act in Poland and Czechoslovakia. We 
must remember this. Our policy in Latin America must be 

A further reason for caution in the level of Soviet 

support for Allende was the general instability of Latin 
American regimes - as evidenced recently in Bolivia, 
where President Torres had been overthrown in August 

1971, only a month after Andropov had suggested 
supplying him with arms and economic aid. When the 
FCD suggested renewing contact with Torres in January 

1972, Andropov gave his unenthusiastic approval: 

Apparently, this is something that must be done, although 
experience in other countries has shown that it is almost 
impossible for a deposed president to regain the position 
he has lost. This is some sort of irreversible law of 
history. Perhaps it is better to turn our attention to the new 
leaders who will undoubtedly appear in Bolivia.— 

During Torres’s exile in Chile and Argentina, the local 
KGB residencies maintained secret contact with him, 
using him for active-measures campaigns (of which 
Mitrokhin’s notes give no details) and giving him 
financial assistance.— Andropov’s forecast that Torres 
would never return to power, however, turned out to be 
entirely correct. 

There was growing anxiety in the Centre at Allende ’s 
failure to consolidate his position by bringing the armed 
forces and security system under his control. Andropov 
decreed that the FCD’s main Latin American priorities in 

1972 were to strengthen - discreetly - the Soviet footholds 
in Chile and Peru. Both footholds, he had concluded, were 

The main thing is to keep our finger on the pulse of 
events, and obtain multifaceted and objective information 
about the situation there, and about the correlation of 
forces. It is necessary to direct the course of events, and 
make sure that events do not catch us unawares, so that 
we don’t have any surprises, and will be aware of the very 
first tremors of approaching changes and events - thus 
enabling us to report them to the leadership in a timely 

There is one particular question which perhaps does not 
affect us [the KGB] directly, but which cannot be 
avoided, and that is the interpretation that the events in 
Chile and Peru have received in our press, and the 
emphasis that has been placed on the role of the Soviet 
Union there. One gets the impression that the [Soviet] 
press is doing too much boasting and bragging. I don’t 
think that the friends [the Chilean and Peruvian 
Communist parties] have liked this. 

While anxious to bolster the Allende regime by 
establishing close KGB liaison with Chilean intelligence, 
Andropov instructed that any attempt to force the pace 

would be counterproductive: 

Do not permit anything that would cause complaints 
about our activity in Chile and Peru. 

Do not force the establishment of liaison with the 
[intelligence] service in Chile. Arouse their interest by 
passing them intelligence of a topical nature through 

In the course of 1972 Moscow substantially downgraded 
its assessment of the prospects of the Allende regime. In 
July a leading Soviet journal was still maintaining, ‘The 
record of Chile shows that a number of Latin American 
countries can adopt a form of socialist construction.’ In 
October, however, the ‘Truckers’ Strike’, allegedly 
backed by CIA funding, virtually paralysed the economy 
for three weeks, providing dramatic evidence of the 
weakness of the Popular Unity government and the power 
of its opponents. At a meeting of the CPSU Central 
Committee in November, Chile was officially said not to 
be building socialism but merely to be seeking ‘free and 
independent development on the path of democracy and 
social progress’. The mounting evidence of chronic 
economic mismanagement also made Moscow reluctant 
to provide large-scale support. Allende returned from a 
visit to Moscow in December with much less than he had 
hoped for. Simultaneously the Sunday Times published a 

report by its leading foreign correspondent, David 
Holden, headlined ‘Chile, Collapse of a Marxist 
Experiment?’ ‘Allende’s own survival is in doubt’, 
predicted Holden. ‘ . Anger, fear and a determination to 
fight are now more evident on the Right as well as the 

Andropov was anxious none the less that the KGB 
should do what it could to prevent the defeat of the 
Allende regime either at the polls or by military coup. On 
25 December 1972 he sent the Politburo a memorandum 
giving a rather exaggerated impression of the KGB’s 
ability to influence Chilean politics: 

The KGB maintains confidential relations with Allende 
and [a left-wing senator], and also with prominent 
individuals in the Socialist, Radical, and Christian 
Democratic Parties. 

Parliamentary elections will take place in March 1973. 

Considering the situation during the pre-election 
period, it is planned to take measures to strengthen 
relations with the above-mentioned people, and also to 
make new contacts in government, party, and 
parliamentary circles, including certain representatives of 
the right-wing opposition and the extremist organization, 
the Leftist Revolutionary Movement (MIR). 

Through unofficial contacts with the country’s 
influential people and other ways, it is planned to 
concentrate [the KGB’s] efforts on the following: helping 
to consolidate the forces supporting Chile’s government; 
creating obstacles to any co-operation between the 
Christian Democratic and the National parties within the 
framework of the opposition; exerting an influence on the 
armed forces in order to prevent them from being used 
against Popular Unity. 

The KGB also is planning to use its capabilities to carry 
out a series of active measures in Latin American and 
other countries for the purpose of exposing the 
imperialists’ interference in Chile’s internal affairs, and to 
exert the necessary influence on public opinion, thus 
inducing the anti-imperialist and progressive elements to 
support Popular Unity more actively. 

In order to finance these measures, in addition to 
operations against government and political figures 
(including influencing some of them through financial 
means), the sum of $100,000 is required. Part of this 
money is to be given to Allende for work with his own 
contacts in political and military circles. 

Approval for the payment of $100,000 from the Council 
of Ministers reserve fund for KGB ‘special measures’ in 
Chile was given by the Politburo on 7 February 1973.— 

An additional ‘monetary reward’ of $400 was made to 
Allende for unspecified ‘valuable information’ he had 

A further report to the Politburo by Andropov in 
February 1973 gave an optimistic assessment of the 
KGB’s influence on Allende during his meetings with 

Allende set this channel apart from the usual unofficial 
governmental contacts and used it for handling the most 
confidential and delicate matters (establishing contact 
between Chile’s and the USSR’s armed forces, consulting 
on the use of Chilean atomic raw materials, organizing 
co-operation between the Chilean and Soviet security 
services, and other matters) by handing over information 
and discussing current political issues. [The KGB] is 
succeeding in exerting a definite influence on Allende. 
This is aiding, in particular, a more correct understanding 
on the President’s part of China’s policies, as well as a 
decision on his part to strengthen contact between the 
Chilean and Peruvian military for the purpose of exerting 
a positive influence on the leadership of Chile’s armed 
forces. In turn, Allende is systematically informing us on 
the situation in the country and in Popular Unity, on his 
own personal plans, and so forth. 

Our officer’s meetings with Allende, during which they 

discussed business matters, were conducted in private. 
The President invited him to pay a visit at any time - 
either at work or at his home - without prior notice, 
whenever there was an urgent necessity for this. 

The strengthening of our officer’s relations with 
Allende was facilitated by material aid given to him, 
personal attention, and the fulfilment of his personal 

In order to make more effective and beneficial use of 
our contact with Allende, the following is suggested: 

• help in strengthening Allende ’s position and 
authority both within the country and on the Latin 
American continent through the unofficial channels 
available to us; 

• broader use of Allende ’s ability to assess the 
situation in Latin American countries, bearing in mind 
that he can send his own emissaries to several of them; 

• measures to obtain information through Allende on 
the policies of the Chinese government, including the use 
of the President’s trusted persons, whom he can send 

• material assistance to Allende for his work with 
contacts in political and military circles, especially during 
the pre-election period, up to the sum of $50,000 - taken 
from funds allocated to the KGB via CPSU Central 
Committee Resolution No. P-78/31, dated 13 February 

The flaws in Andropov’s report were characteristic of 
many similar documents. Its chief purpose was to impress 
the Politburo with the KGB’s ability to gain clandestine 
access to a foreign leader and exert influence on him. 
Characteristically, it avoided mentioning any problems 
which might take the gloss off the KGB’s success. 
Privately, the Centre was increasingly worried about 
Allende’s prospects of survival. Andropov, however, gave 
no hint of those concerns to the Politburo. His 
memorandum, including the request for additional 
funding, was duly approved.— 

Privately, the Centre was worried by the deficiencies of 
Allende’s security and intelligence system, which 
increased his vulnerability to a military coup. Once again, 
it gave the political leadership a rose-tinted view of the 
improvements which were under way. The Centre 
reported to Brezhnev that on 17 February 1973 the KGB 
operations officer responsible for liaison with the Chilean 
security services (not identified in Mitrokhin’s notes) met 
Allende secretly at a villa in the suburbs of Santiago: 

Allende expressed certain of his views regarding the 
reorganization of the security services. According to his 
plan, an efficient apparatus with both intelligence and 
counter-intelligence functions would be created to report 

directly to him. As the basis for this apparatus, he planned 
to use one component of the Servicio de Investigaciones 
[the Chilean security service] and recruit reliable 
personnel from the Socialist and Communist parties. The 
main efforts of this organ would be directed at uncovering 
and suppressing subversive activity on the part of 
Americans and local reactionary forces, and in organizing 
intelligence work within the armed forces, since the 
position taken by the armed forces was a decisive factor 
that would determine the fate of the Chilean revolutionary 

Allende is very much counting on Soviet assistance in 
this matter.— 

The attempted reorganization achieved little. The Servicio 
de Investigaciones successfully intimidated some of the 
regime’s opponents and gained a reputation for turning 
the cellars at its headquarters into torture chambers. 
Nathaniel Davis, the US ambassador, noted, however, that 
the Servicio ‘was consumed by personal squabbles 
between the Socialists and the Communists’. Any attempt 
to strengthen the civilian intelligence community faced an 
almost impossible dilemma. The measures necessary to 
forestall a coup - in particular, any attempt to gather 
intelligence on plotting within the armed services - were 
likely to provoke the military into the very action they 

were designed to prevent.— 

In the March congressional elections Allende’s Unidad 
Popular won 44 per cent of the vote as compared with the 
opposition’s 56 per cent. Nathaniel Davis summed up the 
result as ‘discouraging for both sides . . . Unidad Popular 
found itself a continuing minority for the foreseeable 
future, and the opposition found its majority insufficient 
to force legitimate change’ .— There is no evidence that 
the KGB tried to explain to the Politburo why its 
‘confidential relations’ with leading Chilean politicians 
across the political spectrum had failed to produce the UP 
victory which it had led the Politburo to expect three 
months earlier. Preferring as usual to concentrate on its 
successes, it emphasized instead the President’s 
willingness to provide further assistance to its operations. 
Andropov wrote to Brezhnev to request approval for 
funding intelligence collection by Allende in other South 
American countries on the KGB’s behalf: 

Our officer had a discussion with [Allende] about 
receiving information on Latin America by enlisting the 
President’s assistance. Allende showed an interest in this 
matter and expressed several specific ideas of his own. In 
particular, he expressed a willingness to send his own 
trusted people to Latin American countries, where they 
would be able to establish contacts with his friends and 

political supporters, and obtain useful information from 

In the near future the President will be able to send his 
emissary to Venezuela for the purpose of ascertaining the 
situation in that country on the eve of the presidential 
elections coming up in November of this year. Among his 
trusted personal contacts, Allende named [Luis] Beltran 
Prieto [Figueroa], the leader of the progressive 
Venezuelan party called the People’s Election Movement 
[Movimento Electoral del Pueblo]. 

In addition, the President is willing to co-operate in 
obtaining information on Argentina and Ecuador, where 
the situation is characterized by complexities and 

Brezhnev wrote ‘Approved’ at the bottom of Andropov’s 
request. — 

Andropov, however, was increasingly pessimistic about 
Allende’ s prospects of survival. One day in the spring of 
1973, he made an unexpected visit to FCD headquarters at 
Yasenevo. According to Nikolai Leonov: 

He summoned everyone who had anything to do with 
Latin America and put a single question to us: How did 
we view the Chilean case? Did it have a chance or not? 

Should we commit all our resources, or was it already too 
late to risk them? The discussion was quite profound . . . 
We came to the conclusion that the measure being 
planned for making a cash loan - I believe 30 million US 
dollars was being talked about - would be unable to 
rescue the situation in Chile. It would be like putting a 
patch on a worn-out tyre. In the KGB’s view, Allende’s 
fundamental error was his unwillingness to use force 
against his opponents. Without establishing complete 
control over all the machinery of the state, his hold on 
power could not be secure. ‘All our sympathies were with 
[Allende’s] experiment’, recalls Leonov, ‘. . . but we did 
not believe in its success. ’— Over the next few months 
the Santiago residency reported what it considered 
‘alarming signs of increased tension’. — 

The first attempt to overthrow the regime was made by 
activists of the extreme right-wing Patria y Libertad 
movement, who hatched a plot with disaffected officers of 
the Second Armoured Regiment to kidnap Allende on 27 
June. The Santiago residency informed the Centre that it 
had obtained intelligence on plans for the coup and 
warned Allende.— Its achievement, however, was rather 
less impressive than it probably appeared in Moscow. The 
security of the coup plotters was so poor that their plans 
leaked and the coup planned for the 27th was postponed. 
On the 29th, however, three combat groups of tanks and 
armoured cars with about a hundred troops left their 

barracks and headed for the centre of Santiago. The coup 
petered out in farce. As Nathaniel Davis noted, ‘the 
column obeyed all the traffic lights and at least one tank 
stopped to fill up at a commercial gas station’. The most 
significant aspect of the failed coup was the apathetic 
response to it by Chilean workers, the supposed bedrock 
of Allende’s support. Allende broadcast an appeal for ‘the 
people ... to pour into the centre of the city’ to defend his 
government. They did not do so. That highly significant 
fact was duly noted by the Army Chief of Staff, General 
Augusto Pinochet Ugarte.— 

The next ten weeks were a period of continuous 
political, economic and military crisis. Since Allende’s 
election in 1970, Chile’s currency had been devalued on 
the open market by the staggering figure of 10,000 per 
cent. David Holden headlined a report from Santiago, 
‘Chile: Black Market Road to Socialism’, and reported 
that, ‘Anyone who can afford the time to queue for petrol 
legally can become a rich man by selling his daily intake 
at 30 times the official price ... To an outsider, it seems a 
mighty peculiar road to Socialism - or to anywhere else 
for that matter.’— 

In his unsuccessful appeal to Chilean workers on 29 
July to come to the defence of the regime, Allende had 
declared, ‘If the hour comes, the people will have arms’ - 
his first public statement that he would mobilize left-wing 

paramilitary groups if faced with military revolt. During 
August the armed forces mounted an increasingly 
intensive search for illegal arms dumps - predictably 
concentrating on those held by the left.— The KGB later 
complained that Allende paid too little attention to its 
warnings of an impending coup.— When Pinochet and a 
military junta launched the coup in the early hours of 1 1 
September,— Corvalan and the Communist leadership, 
who had also been kept informed by the KGB,— were 
better prepared than Allende. The Communist Party 
newspaper that morning carried the banner headline, 
‘Everyone To His Combat Post!’ ‘Workers of city and 
countryside’ were summoned to combat ‘to repel the rash 
attempt of the reactionaries who are determined to bring 
down the constitutional government’. While Corvalan and 
the leadership moved underground. Communist factory 
managers began to mobilize workers in the industrial belt. 

Allende, however, failed to live up to his promise six 
weeks earlier to summon the people to arms to defend his 
regime. When the coup began on 1 1 September, instead 
of seeking support in the working-class areas of Santiago, 
he based himself in the presidential offices in La Moneda, 
where he was defended by only fifty to sixty of his 
Cuban-trained GAP and half a dozen officers from the 
Servicio de Investigaciones. Allende ’s lack of preparation 
to deal with the coup partly derived from his preference 
for improvisation over advance planning. His French 

confidant, Regis Debray, later claimed that he ‘never 
planned anything more than forty-eight hours in advance’. 
But Allende was also anxious to avoid bloodshed. 
Convinced that popular resistance would be mown down 
by Pinochet’s troops, he bravely chose to sacrifice himself 
rather than his followers. Castro and many of Allende’ s 
supporters later claimed that he was gunned down by 
Pinochet’s forces as they occupied La Moneda. In reality, 
it seems almost certain that, faced with inevitable defeat, 
Allende sat on a sofa in the Independence Salon of La 
Moneda, placed the muzzle of an automatic rifle (a 
present from Castro) beneath his chin and blew his brains 
out. — 

Allende, wrote David Holden, was ‘instantly canonized 
as the western world’s newest left-wing martyr’, 
becoming overnight ‘the most potent cult figure since his 
old friend, Che Guevara’. Devotees of the Allende cult 
quickly accepted as an article of faith Castro’s insistence 
that, instead of committing suicide, Allende had been 
murdered in cold blood by Pinochet’s troops. The 
Guardian declared on 17 September, ‘For Socialists of 
this generation, Chile is our Spain . . . This is the most 
vicious Fascism we have seen in generations.’ Pinochet’s 
regime was as loathed in the 1970s as Franco’s had been 
in the 1930s.— 

As well as doing what it could to promote the Allende 

cult, KGB active measures also sought to establish a 
secondary cult around the heroic figure of the Communist 
leader Luis Corvalan, who had been captured after the 
coup and, together with some of Allende’s former 
ministers, imprisoned in harsh conditions on Dawson 
Island in the Magellan Straits. As well as seeking to 
promote international appeals for Corvalan’ s release, the 
KGB also tried to devise a method of rescuing him and 
other prisoners from Dawson Island by a commando raid 
organized by the FCD Special Actions Directorate V, 
which was approved in principle by Andropov on 27 
March 1974. — Satellite photographs were taken of 
Dawson Island and used by Directorate V to construct a 
model of the prison. The rescue plan eventually devised 
was for a large commercial cargo vessel to enter the 
Magellan Straits with three or four helicopters concealed 
beneath its hatches. When the vessel was fifteen 
kilometres from Dawson Island, the helicopters would 
take off carrying commandos who would kill the 
relatively small number of prison guards, rescue Corvalan 
and other prisoners, and transfer them to a submarine 
waiting nearby. The helicopters would then be destroyed 
and sunk in deep water, thus leaving no incriminating 
evidence to prevent the Soviet cargo vessel continuing on 
its way. The rescue plan, however, was never 
implemented. According to Leonov: ‘When this plan was 
presented to the leadership, they looked at us as if we 
were half-crazy, and all our attempts to persuade them to 

study it in greater detail proved fruitless, although the 
military did agree to provide the means to carry it out.’— 

Schemes were also devised to kidnap a leading member 
of the Chilean military government, or one of Pinochet’s 
relatives, who could then be exchanged for Corvalan.— 
These schemes too were abandoned and Corvalan was 
eventually exchanged for the far more harshly persecuted 
Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky. 

For the KGB, Pinochet represented an almost perfect 
villain, an ideal counterpoint to the martyred Allende. 
Pinochet himself played into the hands of hostile 
propagandists. Marxist books were burnt on bonfires in 
Santiago as Pinochet spoke menacingly of cutting out the 
‘malignant tumour’ of Marxism from Chilean life. The 
Direccion de Investigaciones Nacionales (DINA) set out 
to turn Pinochet’s rhetoric into reality. From 1973 to 1977 
its Director, General Manuel Contreras Sepulveda, 
reported directly to Pinochet. Official commissions 
established by Chile’s civilian governments after the end 
of military rule in 1990 documented a total of 3,197 extra- 
judicial executions, deaths under torture and 
‘disappearances’ during the Pinochet era. Since not all 
could be documented, the true figure was undoubtedly 
higher.— A Chilean government report in 2004 
concluded that 27,000 people had been tortured or 
illegally imprisoned.— 

KGB active measures successfully blackened still 
further DINA’s deservedly dreadful reputation. Operation 
TOUCAN, approved by Andropov on 10 August 1976, 
was particularly successful in publicizing and 
exaggerating DINA’s foreign operations against left-wing 
Chilean exiles. DINA was certainly implicated in the 
assassination of Allende’s former Foreign Minister, 
Orlando Letelier, who was killed by a car bomb in the 
United States in 1976, and may also have been involved 
in the murder of other former Allende supporters living in 
exile. Operation TOUCAN thus had a plausible basis in 
actual DINA operations. TOUCAN was based on a forged 
letter from Contreras to Pinochet, dated 16 September 
1975, which referred to expenditure involved in the 
expansion of DINA’s foreign operations, chief among 
them plans to ‘neutralize’ (assassinate) opponents of the 
Pinochet regime in Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, the 
United States, France and Italy. Service A’s forgers 
carefully imitated authentic DINA documents in their 
possession and the signature of its Director. The letter was 
accepted as genuine by some major newspapers and 
broadcasters in western Europe as well as the Americas 
(see appendix, p. 88). The Western media comment which 
caused most pleasure in the Centre was probably 
speculation on links between DINA and the CIA. The 
leading American journalist Jack Anderson, who quoted 
from the KGB forgery, claimed that DINA operated freely 

in the United States with the full knowledge of the CIA. 
The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, he reported, was 
investigating DINA’s activities.— 

Pinochet’s military government was far more 
frequently denounced by Western media than other 
regimes with even more horrendous human-rights 
records. KGB active measures probably deserve some of 
the credit. While operation TOUCAN was at the height of 
its success, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge were in the 
midst of a reign of terror in Cambodia which in only three 
years killed 1.5 million of Cambodia’s 7.5 million people. 
Yet in 1976, the New York Times published sixty-six 
articles on the abuse of human rights in Chile, as 
compared with only four on Cambodia.— The difficulty 
of obtaining information from Cambodia does not provide 
a remotely adequate explanation for this extraordinary 


Secret to the Intelligence Service of Chile 

To the Secretariat of the President of the Republic Copy 1 
DINA /R/ No. 1795/1 07 

Explanation of the request for an increase in estimated 


DINA Santiago 16 September 1975 

From the Director of National Intelligence to the 
President of the Republic 

In accordance with our agreement with you, I am 
giving the reasons for the request for the expenditure oj 
DINA to be increased by 600,000 American dollars in the 
current financial year. 

1. An additional ten members of DINA are to be sent 
to our missions abroad: two to Peru, two to Brazil, two to 
Argentina, one to Venezuela, one to Costa Rica, one to 
Belgium and one to Italy. 

2. Additional expenditure is required to neutralize 
the active opponents to the Junta abroad, especially in 
Mexico, Argentine, Costa Rica, the USA, France and 

3. The expense of our operations in Peru supporting 
our allies in the armed forces and the press (Equise and 
Opinion Libre). 

4. Maintenance costs for our workers taking a 
course for anti-partisan groups at the SNI centre at 
Manaus in Brazil. 

Yours sincerely. 

Colonel Manuel Contreras Sepulveda 
Director of National Intelligence 

Official stamp of DINA 


Intelligence Priorities after Allende 

In February 1974 the Politburo carried out what appears 
to have been its first general review of Latin American 
policy since the Chilean coup. It defined as the three main 
goals of Soviet policy: ‘to steadily broaden and strengthen 
the USSR’s position on the continent; to provide support 
to the progressive, anti-American elements struggling for 
political and economic independence; and to provide 
active opposition to Chinese penetration’. Significantly, 
there was no mention either of encouragement to 
revolutionary movements in Latin America or of any 
prospect, outside Cuba, of a new Marxist-led government 
on the Allende model. The KGB’s main priorities were 
‘to expose the plans of the US and its allies against the 
progressive, patriotic forces and the USSR’; to provide 
‘full and timely intelligence coverage’ of the whole of 
Latin America (including what the Centre called ‘white 
[blank] spots’ in those countries which had no diplomatic 
relations with the Soviet Union); to expand the number of 
confidential contacts in Latin American regimes without 
resorting to the more risky process of agent recruitment; 
and to maintain clandestine contact with nineteen 
Communist parties, two-thirds of which were still illegal 
or semi-illegal. - 

The five main targets for KGB operations identified in 
1974 were Cuba, Argentina, Peru, Brazil and Mexico. 
Significantly, neither Nicaragua nor Chile any longer 
ranked as a priority target. In Nicaragua, the prospects for 
a Sandinista revolution were no longer taken seriously in 
the Centre. In Chile the firm grip established by the 
Pinochet military regime seemed to exclude any further 
experience of ‘Socialism with red wine’ for the 
foreseeable future. 

As the only surviving Marxist regime in Latin America 
after the overthrow of the Allende regime, Cuba ranked 
clearly first in the KGB’s order of priorities. In the view 
of both the Centre and the Politburo: ‘Cuba is taking on 
an important role as a proponent of socialist ideas. F. 
Castro’s reorientation in important political issues 
(disclaiming the policy of exporting the revolution, 
accepting a single form of socialism based on Marxist- 
Leninist doctrine) is of great importance. ’- 

At the Twenty-fourth Congress of the CPSU, held in 
the great palace of the Kremlin in 1971, Fidel Castro had 
received louder applause than any of the other fraternal 
delegates - to the deep, though private, irritation of some 
of them.- To many foreign Party bureaucrats in their 
sober business suits, it must have seemed very unfair that, 
after many years of never straying from the Moscow line, 
they should arouse less enthusiasm than the flamboyant 

Castro who had so recently dabbled in revisionism. 

Castro’s popularity in Moscow was due partly to the 
fact that he had established himself as the Soviet Union’s 
most persuasive advocate in the Third World. He was the 
star performer at the Fourth Conference of the Non- 
Aligned Movement which met in Algiers in 1973, arguing 
the Soviet case more eloquently than any Soviet 
spokesman could have done. The host nation, Algeria, 
supported the traditional non-aligned policy of 
equidistance between East and West, arguing that there 
were Two imperialisms’: one capitalist, the other 
Communist. Castro insisted, however, that the countries 
of the Soviet bloc were the natural and necessary allies of 
the non-aligned: 

How can the Soviet Union be labelled imperialist? Where 
are its monopoly corporations? Where is its participation 
in multinational companies? What factories, what mines, 
what oilfields does it own in the underdeveloped world? 
What worker is exploited in any country of Asia, Africa 
or Latin America by Soviet capital? 

. . . Only the closest alliance among all the progressive 
forces of the world will provide us with the strength 
needed to overcome the still-powerful forces of 
imperialism, colonialism, neocolonialism and racism, and 
to wage a successful fight for the aspirations to peace and 

justice of all the peoples of the world. 

The delegates were at least partly persuaded. The 
conference rejected the views of its Algerian hosts, failed 
to brand the Soviet Union as imperialist and denounced 
the ‘aggressive imperialism’ of the West as ‘the greatest 
obstacle on the road toward emancipation and progress of 
the developing countries 

As well as proving an eloquent advocate of the Soviet 
cause in the international arena, Cuba was also an 
important intelligence ally. The Centre established what it 
regarded as ‘good working relations’ with the head of the 
DGI, Jose Mendez Cominches.- By 1973, if not earlier, 
Mendez Cominches was attending conferences of the 
intelligence chiefs of the Soviet bloc. At that time 
seventy-eight Cuban intelligence officers were at KGB 
training schools. Technical equipment valued by the 
Centre at 2 million rubles was provided free of charge to 
the DGI. The KGB liaison mission in Havana contained 
experts in all the main ‘lines’ of intelligence operation 
who provided the Cubans with ‘assistance in the planning 
of their work’.- After the mass expulsion of Soviet 
intelligence officers from London in 1971, the DGI’s 
London station took over the running of some KGB 
operations in Britain .- By, and probably before, 1973, the 
KGB maintained ‘operational contact’ with the DGI in six 

foreign capitals as well as in Havana.- During the 1970s 
the KGB made increasing use of DGI assistance in 
operations against the Main Adversary both inside and 
outside the United States. In 1976, for example, the KGB 
and DGI agreed on ‘joint cultivation’ of targets in the 
National Security Agency, the Pentagon and US military 
bases in Latin America and Spain. The DGI was thought 
particularly useful in cultivating Hispanics and blacks. 
Two of the five ‘talent- spotting leads’ in the United States 
selected by the KGB for ‘joint cultivation’ with the DGI 
in 1976 were African-American cipher clerks. - 

In Latin America during the 1970s the DGI had fewer 
legal residencies than the KGB, chiefly because of the 
smaller number of states with which Cuba maintained 
diplomatic relations. In 1976- 77 there appear to have 
been DGI residencies only in Ecuador, Guyana, Jamaica, 
Mexico, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.— Though 
Mitrokhin’s notes provide only fragmentary information, 
all appear to have assisted KGB operations in various 
ways. In 1977 the DGI informed the KGB liaison office 
in Havana that it had a series of agents in ‘high official 
positions’ in Mexico, including the Interior Ministry and 
police force, and suggested that they be run jointly.— 
Mitrokhin’s notes do not mention whether this offer was 

The Centre seems to have been well informed about 

even the most highly classified aspect of DGI activity - its 
illegal operations. In the early 1970s the DGI had about 
forty-five illegals, all of whom went on year-long KGB 
training courses in Moscow.— Some KGB illegals with 
bogus Latin American identities were sent to Cuba to 
perfect their language skills and acclimatize themselves to 
living in a Latin American environment before being 
deployed to their final destinations. In 1976 a senior KGB 
delegation including both the head and deputy head of the 
FCD illegals directorate, Vadim Alekseyevich 
Kirpichenko and Marius Aramovich Yuzbashyan, went to 
Havana to discuss co-operation with their counterparts in 
the DGI. Agreement was reached on the joint training of 
several Latin American illegals for deployment against 
US, Latin American, Spanish and Maoist targets. The 
DGI agreed that the KGB could use its radio 
communications system to relay messages to its illegals 
operating in the United States and Latin America. During 
a return visit to Moscow the following year, the head of 
the DGI illegals directorate agreed to recruit two or three 
illegals for the KGB.— 

Cuba was also one of the most important bases for 
KGB SIGINT operations, chiefly against US targets. The 
KGB file on the 1979 running costs of intercept posts in 
KGB residencies around the world shows that the Havana 
post (codenamed TERMIT-S) had the third largest 
budget; only the Washington and New York posts were 

more expensive to operate.— An even larger intercept 
post, also targeted on the United States, was situated in 
the massive SIGINT base set up by the GRU at Lourdes 
in Cuba in the mid-1960s to monitor US Navy 
communications and other high-frequency 
transmissions.— On 25 April 1975 a secret Soviet 
government decree (No. 342-115) authorized the 
establishment of a new KGB SIGINT station (codenamed 
TERMIT-P) within the Lourdes base, which began 
operations in December 1976. Run by the Sixteenth 
Directorate, TERMIT-P had a fixed 12-metre dish 
antenna and a mobile 7-metre dish antenna mounted on a 
covered lorry, which enabled it to intercept microwave 
communications ‘downlinked’ from US satellites or 
transmitted between microwave towers. — 

As well as co-operating closely with the DGI in a 
variety of intelligence operations, the KGB maintained an 
undeclared residency in Havana which kept close watch 
on the Castro regime and the mood of the population; in 
1974 it sent 205 reports by cable and sixty- four by 
diplomatic bag. Its sources included sixty-three agents 
and sixty-seven co-optees among the large Soviet 
community. — The aspect of Cuban intelligence which 
gave greatest concern to the Havana residency was its 
internal security. Though brutal by Western standards, 
Cuban internal surveillance struck the Centre as 
unacceptably feeble. The department charged with 

combating ideological subversion had a total 
establishment of only 180, many of them - in the KGB’s 
view - poorly qualified. According to a report from the 
Havana residency in 1976, one Cuban anti- subversion 
officer had recruited five out of fourteen members of a 
Cuban orchestra simply ‘in case the orchestra went on 
tour abroad’.— The Centre was particularly disturbed by 
the fact that it could not persuade the DGI to share its own 
obsession with Zionist ‘subversion’. The KGB liaison 
office drew the DGI’s attention to the presence of 
seventeen Zionist organizations in Cuba but complained 
to the Centre that no action had been taken against any of 

By Soviet standards, the Cuban surveillance 
department was also seriously understaffed. With a total 
of 278 staff in Havana and 112 in the provinces in 1976, 
the KGB residency calculated that it could deploy only 
about twelve surveillance groups of nine or ten people per 
day. Because of the two-shift system, this meant that it 
was able to keep full-time surveillance of only six moving 
targets.— The KGB was also dissatisfied with the scale of 
Cuban eavesdropping and letter-opening. The 260 people 
employed to monitor telephone conversations and 
eavesdropping devices listened in to a daily average of 
only about 900 international phone calls.— Cuban 
censorship monitored about 800 addresses on a full-time 
basis and translated 300 to 500 foreign-language letters a 


The Centre’s concern at the Cuban failure to reproduce 
its own absurdly labour-intensive systems of surveillance 
and obsessive pursuit of even the most trivial forms of 
ideological subversion was most evident in the months 
before Brezhnev’s visit to Cuba early in 1974. The 
Havana residency was also worried by what it believed 
was lax treatment of Cuban political prisoners. Of the 
8,000 ‘sentenced for counter-revolutionary activity’, 
many were reported to be allowed home once a month 
and on public holidays. Particular concern was caused by 
the fact that some of the ‘counter-revolutionaries’ given 
this comparatively lenient treatment had in the past made 
‘anti- Soviet statements’ and might be on the streets during 
Brezhnev’s visit.— 

No dissident, however, disturbed the stage-managed 
welcome given to the vain and decrepit Soviet leader in 
Havana’s Revolution Square by a crowd officially 
estimated at over a million people. Castro’s own words of 
welcome plumbed new depths of platitudinous 
sycophancy. ‘No other foreign visitor to Cuba’, he 
declared, ‘has ever been welcomed by our people so 
joyfully or with such rapturous enthusiasm as was 
Comrade Brezhnev.’ Castro eulogized Brezhnev’s own 
stumbling banalities as ‘major political statements of 
tremendous importance’ for the entire world: 

It must be remembered that we attach paramount 
importance to the history of the Soviet Union itself and to 
the role played by the CPSU. I refer to both the USSR’s 
role in the development of the history of all mankind and 
to the role which the USSR and the CPSU have played in 
the cause of solidarity with Cuba . . . For us, Comrade 
Brezhnev - the most eminent Soviet leader - personifies, 
as it were, the entire policy of the USSR and the CPSU. 
And it was for this reason that our people looked forward 
to his arrival and were eager to express their feelings of 
friendship, profound respect and gratitude towards the 
Soviet Union.— 

Castro did not feel it necessary, however, to display the 
same level of sycophancy to other Soviet bloc leaders. 
The KGB reported that the visit to Cuba shortly after 
Brezhnev’s by Erich Honecker, the East German leader, 
had gone extremely badly. In private meetings Castro 
accused East Germany and other ‘socialist countries’ of 
doing little to help Cuba and ‘profiteering’ at Cuban 
expense by refusing to pay a fair price for its sugar. 
Honecker was said to have responded ‘in an angry and 
intemperate manner’. ‘If I had known that Castro would 
react in this manner to our visit’, he told his staff, ‘I 
would not have gone.’ The atmosphere at Havana airport 
on Honecker’ s departure was said to have been 

‘extremely cold’. His entourage spent much of the flight 
home trying to calm him down, fearful - according to the 
KGB - that news of his row with Castro might leak to the 
West.— Behind the scenes, however, the conflict 
continued. In 1977 the East German Ministry of State 
Security (Stasi) liaison officer in Havana, Johann Miinzel, 
told one of his KGB colleagues that the Cuban leadership 
were doing little to address their economic problems and 
simply expected other socialist countries to bail them out 
in the name of ‘proletarian internationalism’. The DGI 
simultaneously complained to the KGB that Stasi officers 
were inclined to lecture them rather than treat them as 

Moscow, however, judged Cuba’s private quarrels with 
some member states of the Warsaw Pact in the mid-1970s 
as of far less significance than its public contribution to 
the establishment of new Marxist regimes in Africa. The 
FCD declared in a report to Andropov in 1976, ‘Africa 
has turned into an arena for a global struggle between the 
two systems [communism and capitalism] for a long time 
to come.’— Cuban assistance in that struggle was of 
crucial importance. The nearly simultaneous break-up of 
the Portuguese Empire and the overthrow of the Ethiopian 
Emperor Haile Selassie brought to power self-proclaimed 
Marxist regimes in Angola, Mozambique and Ethiopia. In 
Angola, the richest of Portugal’s colonies, the end of 
Portuguese rule was followed in 1975 by a full-scale civil 

war in which the Marxist Popular Movement for the 
Liberation of Angola (MPLA) was opposed by the 
National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) and 
the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola 
(UNIT A). Though small-scale Soviet support for the 
MPLA, led by Agostinho Neto, had begun a decade 
earlier, the decisive factor in the struggle for power was 
the arrival of Cuban troops beginning in the autumn of 
1975. Disappointed by the declining prospects for 
revolution in Latin America, Castro looked on Angola as 
an opportunity both to establish himself as a great 
revolutionary leader on the world stage and to revive 
flagging revolutionary fervour at home.— According to 
Castro’s friend, the Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia 

He personally had picked up the commanders of the 
battalion of special forces that left in the first flight and 
had driven them himself in his Soviet jeep to the foot of 
the plane ramp. There was no spot on the map of Angola 
that he hadn’t memorized. His concentration on the war 
was so intense and meticulous that he could quote any 
figure on Angola as if it were Cuba, and he spoke of 
Angolan cities, customs and people as if he had lived 
there his entire life.— 

Though the initiative for intervention in Angola was 
Cuban, from October 1975 it was enthusiastically 
encouraged by Moscow. During the next three months, 
the Soviet General Staff arranged the transport of over 
12,000 Cuban troops to Africa by sea and air, as well as 
supplying them with advanced military hardware. 
Moscow was delighted with Castro’s willingness to 
respect its political primacy in Angola. The Soviet charge 
d’affaires in Luanda, G. A. Zverev, reported in March 
1976, ‘Close [Soviet-Cuban] co-ordination in Angola 
during the war has had very positive results.’ The Luanda 
embassy demonstrated its missionary zeal by distributing 
huge amounts of Soviet propaganda. By the summer it 
had run out of portraits of Lenin and requested a further 

The Centre was also delighted by the level of Cuban 
intelligence collaboration. Castro sent the head of the 
DGI, Mendez Cominches, to take personal charge of 
intelligence operations in Angola, where, according to 
KGB files, he regularly provided ‘valuable political and 
operational intelligence’. Vladimir Kryuchkov, the head 
of the FCD, gained Andropov’s approval to send Mendez 
Cominches regular food parcels from Moscow, each 
valued by the Centre at 500 rubles, to encourage his 
continued co-operation.— Pedro Pupo Perez, the acting 
head of the DGI in Havana during Mendez Cominches ’s 
absence, also provided intelligence on Africa and Latin 

America, and was rewarded with a gift valued at 350 
rubles which was intended to ‘consolidate confidential 
relations’.— Among the DGI operations in Angola carried 
out to assist the KGB was a penetration of the Brazilian 
embassy to obtain intelligence on its cipher system. A 
technical specialist from the KGB’s Sixteenth (SIGINT) 
Directorate flew out from Moscow with equipment which 
enabled a DGI agent to photograph the wiring of the 
embassy’s Swiss-made TS-803 cipher machine.— The 
KGB regularly showed its appreciation to the Cuban 
Interior Minister, Sergio del Valle, who was responsible 
for the DGI, for keeping it informed about ‘important 
political and operational questions’. During a visit to 
Moscow in 1975, he was presented by Viktor Chebrikov, 
Deputy Chairman (and future Chairman) of the KGB, 
with a gift valued at 160 rubles.— In January 1977, during 
another visit to Moscow, Andropov approved the 
presentation to del Valle by Kryuchkov of a gift worth up 
to 600 rubles ‘in return for information and in order to 
consolidate relations’.— Del Valle’s relations with senior 
KGB officers became so close that he was even willing, 
on occasion, to complain to them about Castro’s delusions 
of grandeur as a great international revolutionary leader.— 

Late in 1977 Soviet-Cuban collaboration in Angola was 
extended to Ethiopia in support of the vaguely Marxist 
military junta headed by Lieutenant-Colonel Mengistu 
Haile Mariam in its war against Somalia. During the 

winter of 1977-78 Soviet military aircraft, as well as 
shipping huge quantities of arms, transported 17,000 
Cuban troops to Addis Ababa.— The Cuban forces 
worked closely with Soviet military advisers to co- 
ordinate troop movements and military tactics. Their 
presence in Ethiopia, initially kept secret, was publicly 
admitted by Castro on 15 March 1978. ‘The Cuban 
internationalist fighters’, he declared, ‘stood out for their 
extraordinary effectiveness and magnificent combat 
ability.’ It was ‘really admirable’ to see ‘how many sons 
of our people were capable of going to that distant land 
and fighting there as if fighting in their own country’. In 
both Moscow and Havana, Cuban military intervention 
and the decisive defeat of the Somali forces were 
celebrated as a triumph of proletarian internationalism.— 
A joint report in April by the Soviet Foreign Ministry and 
the International Department of the Central Committee 
noted with satisfaction: ‘The Soviet Union and Cuba are 
in constant contact aimed at co-ordination of their actions 
in support of the Ethiopian revolution. ’— 

The level of Cuban intelligence and military 
collaboration during the mid- and late 1970s met and 
probably exceeded the expectations of the Centre and the 
Politburo during the policy review of 1974. A KGB 
delegation to Cuba in 1978, headed by Deputy Chairman 
Vadim Petrovich Pirozhkov, presented Fidel and Raul 
Castro with PSM pistols and ammunition. Raul was also 

given a dinner service and food parcel valued at 450 
rubles.— By contrast, KGB operations in the other four 
priority Latin American targets agreed in 1974 - 
Argentina, Peru, Mexico and Brazil - failed to achieve as 
much as the Centre had hoped. 

In the immediate aftermath of the Pinochet coup in Chile, 
the main opportunity identified by the KGB for the 
expansion of Soviet influence in South America was in 
Argentina. Twelve days after Allende’s death, Juan 
Domingo Peron was elected President. Peron’s third wife, 
Maria Estela (Isabel) Martinez, a confidential contact of 
the KGB, became Vice-President. Peronist nationalism, 
once regarded in Moscow as a ‘fascist’ phenomenon, now 
fitted in well with the KGB strategy of undermining US 
preponderance in Latin America by cultivating anti- 
American leaders. 

First elected as President of Argentina in 1946, Per6n 
had been forced into exile in Spain and his under-age 
mistress sent to a reformatory after a military coup in 
1955. Eighteen years later his political fortunes revived 
with the election in May 1973 of a Peronist candidate. 
Hector Jose Campora, as President. The only foreign 
heads of state to attend Campora’ s inauguration, which 
was boycotted by most other political leaders, were Latin 
America’s two Marxist presidents: Salvador Allende of 
Chile and Osvaldo Dorticds of Cuba. Within a few days 

Campora had established diplomatic relations with Cuba, 
East Germany and North Korea. He also moved quickly 
to legalize the previously outlawed Argentinian 
Communist Party (CPA). Aware that Campora had been 
elected chiefly to pave the way for Peron himself, the 
Centre gained Brezhnev’s permission to use a Peronist 
deputy, who had been recruited as a confidential contact 
by the Buenos Aires residency, to approach Peron while 
he was still in exile in Spain, sound him out on his policy 
towards the Soviet Union and propose ‘unofficial contacts 
with Soviet representatives’ once he became President. 
Though Peron was not told, the ‘Soviet representatives’ 
were to be KGB officers.— Isabel Peron received a more 
direct approach from the KGB. Vladimir Konstantinovich 
Tolstikov (codenamed LOMOV), who had succeeded 
Leonov as head of the Second (Latin American) 
Department in 1971, travelled to Spain to make personal 
contact with her, apparently posing as a representative of 
the Soviet film export agency and bringing with him a 
number of gifts.— 

On 13 July Campora resigned the presidency in order 
to make it possible for Peron to stand in new presidential 
elections in September. The CPA immediately offered 
him an electoral alliance. Though Peron rejected the offer 
and purged Marxists from the Peronist movement, he 
none the less received Communist support during the 
campaign.— His inauguration as President in October was 

attended by a Soviet delegation which included Tolstikov, 
travelling under the alias Sergei Sergeyevich 
Konstantinov. Rather than drawing attention to himself by 
a direct approach to Vice-President Isabel Peron, 
Tolstikov made indirect contact with her through the 
leading Chilean exile in Argentina, General Carlos Prats 
Gonzalez, a former commander-in-chief of the Chilean 
army whom Allende had made Interior Minister a year 
before the coup. Prats was given $10,000 from the funds 
allocated by the Central Committee for ‘work with the 
Chilean resistance and emigre community’ after the 
overthrow of the Allende regime. At Tolstikov’ s request. 
Prats reminded Isabel Peron of their meetings in Spain 
and the gifts she had received from Tolstikov, and asked 
her to arrange a meeting between him and her husband 
after the departure of the rest of the Soviet delegation. 
Tolstikov did not identify himself as a KGB officer. 
Instead he posed as a senior Latin American specialist in 
the Foreign Ministry who could henceforth provide a 
direct confidential channel to the Soviet leadership. Isabel 
Peron arranged for Tolstikov to be received by the 
President at his private residence at 9 a.m. on 21 October. 

The KGB had no illusion about the prospects of turning 
Juan Peron into an Argentinian Allende. His secret 
meeting with Tolstikov, however, confirmed his potential 
as an ally against the Main Adversary. Peron denounced 
the United States’ ‘predatory economic policy towards 

Argentina’ and the high-handed behaviour of American 
companies: ‘Like an infection, American capital 
penetrates through all the cracks.’ He told Tolstikov not to 
be misled by his public expressions of ‘friendship toward 
the United States’: ‘If one is not in a position to defeat the 
enemy, then one must try to deceive him.’ Peron also 
subjected Tolstikov to an exposition of his confused 
political philosophy, claiming that his ‘concept of 
justicialismo, or a society based on fairness, differed very 
little from socialism’. However, ‘the transformation of 
society proceeds harmoniously and in stages, changing 
the social structure gradually and not subjecting it to a 
radical break, which causes great disruption and economic 
ruin’. Tolstikov then had to listen patiently as Peron 
subjected him to a rambling disquisition of his views on a 
variety of other subjects. To the Centre, however, the 
meeting between Tolstikov and Peron must have seemed 
an important success. For the first time since Allende’s 
death, the KGB had opened a direct, covert channel to the 
President of a major South American state.— 

Tolstikov also held talks with Peron’ s influential 
Economics Minister, Jose Gelbard (codenamed BAKIN), 
a confidential contact of the Buenos Aires residency since 
1970 who would, the Centre hoped, ‘exert useful 
influence’ on Peron. According to KGB files, Gelbard 
was described by Castro as an undeclared Communist. 
Together with two other Jewish businessmen, he secretly 

helped to finance the Argentinian Communist Party and 
held regular meetings with the KGB resident, Vasili 
Mikhailovich Muravyev, in one of the businessmen’s 
houses. Before each meeting the businessman picked up 
the resident in his car at a pre-arranged location in Buenos 
Aires, then drove him to his house to meet Gelbard, who 
entered through the back door and supplied what the KGB 
considered ‘important political and economic 
information’. Meetings of the Communist leadership also 
sometimes took place in the same house.— 

In December 1973 Tolstikov reported to the Centre that 
Gelbard was, as expected, ‘in favour of strengthening 
political and economic relations with the USSR’. ‘He 
believes that co-operation with the USSR in the fields of 
hydro-electric energy, petrochemicals, ship-building, and 
fishing will help put an end to Argentina’s dependence on 
the US, and will reinforce progressive tendencies in 
government policy. ’ 

Gelbard asked Tolstikov for a Soviet trade delegation 
to be sent to Argentina. His request was reinforced by the 
general secretary of the Argentinian Communist Party, 
Amedo Alvarez, who told Tolstikov that the delegation 
would reinforce Peron’s links with ‘democratic forces’. 
Tolstikov’ s meeting with Gelbard was considered of such 
importance that the Centre sent a report on it to Brezhnev, 
who speedily approved the sending of a trade mission.— 

Peron turned the arrival of the Soviet delegation in 
January 1974 into a public relations circus which was in 
striking contrast to the cool reception accorded to a US 
delegation a few months later.— The Centre judged many 
of the reports it received from the Buenos Aires residency 
in 1974 ‘especially valuable’, and passed some of them on 
to Brezhnev.— 

In May 1974 Gelbard and a 140-strong Argentinian 
trade delegation made a highly publicized return visit to 
the Soviet bloc. The importance attached to the visit was 
demonstrated by the numerous red carpets laid out for 
Gelbard in Moscow, where he was successively received 
in private audience by Brezhnev, Aleksei Kosygin, the 
Prime Minister, and Nikolai Podgorny, the Soviet 
President. Radio Moscow congratulated Argentina for 
having ‘shown other countries in South America how to 
strengthen their independence and how to free themselves 
from the shackles of the multi-national corporation’. 
While in Moscow, Gelbard signed trade and economic co- 
operation agreements by which the Soviet Union agreed 
to long-term credits of $600 million - about twice those 
granted to Allende’s Chile. Similar agreements with other 
countries in the Soviet bloc added long-term credits worth 
another $350 million. There were advantages to both 
sides in the agreements. The Soviet Union, obliged by the 
failure of its collective agriculture to import massive 
amounts of grain, had an obvious interest in increasing the 

number of its suppliers and in particular to limit its 
dependence on US imports. Argentina, faced with the 
protectionism of the European Community and 
contracting demand elsewhere as a result of the dramatic 
oil price rise of 1973, was anxious to find new markets.— 

The hopes raised in the Centre for its Argentinian 
operations by Juan Peron’s election in September 1973, 
however, declined rapidly after his sudden death from a 
heart attack on 1 July 1974. Though his widow and 
successor, Isabel, was a KGB confidential contact, she 
lacked both the personal authority and political skill of 
her husband. Gelbard was sacked as Economics Minister 
in 1975. In March 1976 Isabel Per6n was ousted in a 
right-wing military coup led by General Jorge Videla, 
who began a campaign against Communist ‘subversion’. 
Moscow did its best to salvage what it could of the 
Argentinian connection. By refraining from public 
denunciation of the Videla regime, the Argentinian 
Communist Party managed to remain relatively 
unmolested. The Soviet delegation at the United Nations 
went to the extraordinary lengths of vetoing American 
attempts to secure UN condemnation of the regime’s 
appalling human-rights record. Politically, all that was 
achieved was a face-saving exercise. There were, 
however, real economic benefits. In 1980 80 per cent of 
Argentina’s grain exports went to the Soviet Union.— 

During the later 1970s, the KGB also lost much of the 
foothold it had acquired in Peru earlier in the decade. In 
1974 the Centre still considered many of the reports from 
the Lima residency ‘especially valuable’, and passed 
some of them to Brezhnev, no doubt in order to 
demonstrate the continuing strength of its contacts with 
the junta.— The junta’s economic policies, however, 
despite their ideological appeal in Moscow, led to chronic 
inflation, economic stagnation and repeated debt crises. 
After a coup in August 1975 by General Francisco 
Morales Bermudez, the military government drifted to the 
right.— As in Argentina, Moscow tried to salvage what it 
could of the relationship built up over the previous few 
years. With Andropov’s approval, the KGB presented 
Morales Bermudez with a Makarov pistol and 200 
cartridges.— In December 1975 the Centre sent the 
Peruvian intelligence service, SIN, a gift of operational 
equipment valued at about $300,000.— In the following 
year the new heads of SIN and Peruvian military 
intelligence were each presented, like Morales Bermudez, 
with Makarov pistols; they also received further gifts 
valued, respectively, at 300 and 150 hard-currency rubles. 
Ten SIN officers were trained, at the KGB’s expense, at 
the FCD Red Banner Institute during 1976.— 

Such gestures achieved little. In August 1976 Tolstikov 
was informed by the Cuban ambassador to Peru and 
Deputy Interior Minister Abrahantes that Morales 

Bermudez had assured Castro that he was ‘a supporter of 
revolutionary changes in Peru’ and prepared to 
collaborate in the struggle against the CIA. 
Simultaneously, however, he was removing ‘progressive’ 
officials and moving to the right. The Cuban regime 
concluded that Morales Bermudez was not to be trusted 
and suspended aid to Peru.— By 1976 Cuban intelligence 
was pessimistic about the prospects for challenging 
American influence in South America. Manuel Pineiro, 
head of the Departamento de America, which was 
responsible for the export of revolution, told Tolstikov in 
August that since the tour of five Latin American states 
earlier in the year by Henry Kissinger, ‘one can begin to 
observe the onset of reaction and the fascistization of the 
regimes there’. On the South American mainland, said 
Pineiro, only Guyana was following ‘an anti-imperialist 
course’: ‘[Forbes] Burnham, the Prime Minister of 
Guyana, shares some of the ideas of Marxism-Leninism, 
but for tactical reasons is forced to conceal this.’— 

Mexico’s presence on the list of the KGB’s five priority 
Latin American targets in 1974 was due both to its 
strategic importance as a large state on the southern 
border of the United States and to the apparent 
opportunities created by the election as President in 1970 
of Luis Echeverria Alvarez. Under the Mexican 
constitution, Echeverria served for a non-renewable six- 

year term, controlling during that period vast political 
patronage and having the final word on all major policy 
issues. Like his predecessors, though legitimized by a 
presidential election, he owed his position as President to 
a secret selection process within the Partido 
Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), which had dominated 
Mexican politics for the past forty years. 

Echeverria’s ultimate ambition (which he never came 
close to realizing) was, the KGB believed, to follow his 
term as President by becoming Secretary- General of the 
United Nations. He thus sought to establish himself 
during his presidency as a champion of Third World 
causes, became the first Mexican President to visit Cuba, 
was frequently publicly critical of the United States and in 
1973 made a well-publicized trip to the Soviet Union. The 
KGB did not succeed in establishing direct access to 
Echeverria in the way that it did to Juan and Isabel Peron 
in Argentina and to some members of the military junta in 
Peru. From 1972 onwards, however, the Mexico City 
residency claimed to have one agent and two confidential 
contacts who provided ‘stable channels for exercising 
influence on the President’. The agent, codenamed 
URAN, was a former Chilean diplomat of the Allende era. 
Of the two confidential contacts who were also said to 
influence Echeverria’s foreign policy, MARTINA was the 
Rector of a Mexican university and OLMEK a leading 
member of the Partido Popular Socialista, one of a 

handful of small parties usually prepared to do deals with 
the ruling PRI. The Mexico City residency claimed the 
credit for persuading Echeverria to break off relations 
with the Pinochet regime, for much of his criticism of the 
United States, and for his decision to recognize the 
Marxist MPLA regime in Angola. It reported that its 
contacts had told Echeverria that these actions would 
strengthen his reputation in the Third World and enhance 
his prospects of becoming UN Secretary-General. — In 
1975 he signed a mutual co-operation agreement with 
Comecon. In the same year, to the delight of Moscow, 
Echeverria instructed the Mexican representative at the 
UN to support an anti-Israeli resolution condemning 
Zionism as a form of racism - though he had second 
thoughts when this provoked Jewish leaders in the United 
States to promote a tourist boycott of Mexico.— 

The KGB may well have exaggerated its ability to 
influence Echeverria’ s policy. When foreign statesmen or 
media made pronouncements in line with Soviet policy, it 
was quick to claim the credit for its own active measures. 
The KGB probably also exaggerated its influence on the 
press. In 1974, for example, the Mexico City residency 
reported that it had planted 300 articles in Mexican 
newspapers, among them Excelsior, then Mexico City’s 
leading paper, the Diario de Mexico and Universal. — 

One of the KGB’s most spectacular active measures. 

however, backfired badly. In 1973 the CIA defector Philip 
Agee (subsequently codenamed PONT by the KGB) had 
approached the residency in Mexico City and offered 
what the head of the FCD Counter-Intelligence 
Directorate, Oleg Kalugin, described as ‘reams of 
information about CIA operations’. The residency, 
wrongly suspecting that he was part of a CIA deception, 
turned him away. According to Kalugin, ‘Agee then went 
to the Cubans, who welcomed him with open arms . . . 
[and] shared Agee’s information with us.’— Service A, 
the FCD active-measures department, claimed much of 
the credit for the publication in 1975 of Agee’s 
sensational memoir. Inside the Company: CIA Diary, 
most of which was devoted to a denunciation of CIA 
operations in Latin America, identifying approximately 
250 of its officers and agents. Inside the Company was an 
instant best-seller, described by the CIA’s classified in- 
house journal as ‘a severe body blow to the Agency’.— 

Before publication, material on CIA penetration of the 
leadership of Latin American Communist parties was 
removed at Service A’s insistence.— Service A seems to 
have been unaware, however, that KGB residencies were 
currently attempting to cultivate several of those publicly 
identified in Inside the Company as CIA agents or 
contacts. Among them was President Echeverria who, 
while the minister responsible for internal security, was 
alleged to have had the CIA codename LITEMPO-I4, to 

have been in close contact with the CIA station in Mexico 
City and to have revealed to it the undemocratic processes 
by which, well in advance of his election in 1970, he had 
been selected by the ruling PRI as the next President.— 
The Mexican Foreign Minister told the Soviet ambassador 
that President Echeverria had been informed of the 
KGB’s involvement in the publication of Agee’s book 
and regarded it as an unfriendly act against both Mexico 
and the President personally. On instructions from 
Andropov and Gromyko, the ambassador claimed 
unconvincingly that the Soviet Union had no 
responsibility for the book.— 

Brazil owed its place in the KGB’s 1974 list of its five 
priority targets in Latin America simply to its size and 
strategic importance: 

Special significance is ascribed to Brazil - a huge country 
with great wealth and claims to becoming a major power 
in the future, which is acquiring the characteristics of an 
imperialist state and actively entering the international 
arena. But the residency there is weak due to quota 
limitations [by the Brazilian government on the size of the 
Soviet embassy] and thus has modest capabilities.— 

For most of its existence, the military regime which held 

power from 1964 to 1985 made Brazil a relatively hostile 
environment for KGB operations. There was little 
prospect during the 1970s either of acquiring confidential 
contacts within the government, as in Argentina and Peru, 
or of finding contacts with direct access to the President, 
as in Mexico. The KGB’s best intelligence on Brazil 
probably came from its increasing ability to decrypt 
Brazil’s diplomatic traffic. By 1979 the radio-intercept 
post (codenamed KLEN) in the Brasilia residency was 
able to intercept 19,000 coded cables sent and received by 
the Foreign Ministry as well as approximately 2,000 other 
classified official communications.— 

SIGINT enabled the Centre to monitor some of the 
activities of probably its most important Brazilian agent, 
codenamed IZOT, who was recruited while serving as 
Brazilian ambassador in the Soviet bloc.— As well as 
providing intelligence and recruitment leads to three other 
diplomats, IZOT also on occasion included in his reports 
information (probably disinformation) provided by the 
KGB. Assessed by the KGB as ‘adhering to an anti- 
American line and liberal views concerning the 
development of a bourgeois society’, IZOT was a paid 
agent. His remuneration, however, took a variety of 
forms, including in 1976 a silver service valued by the 
Centre at 513 rubles. The Centre had increasing doubts 
about IZOT’s reliability. On one occasion it believed that 
he was guilty of ‘outright deception’, claiming to have 

passed on information provided by the KGB to his 
Foreign Ministry when his decrypted cables showed that 
he had not done so.— 

The presidency of Ernesto Geisel (1974-79) made the 
first tentative moves towards democratization of the 
authoritarian and sometimes brutal Brazilian military 
regime. It remained, however, resolutely anti-Communist. 
In 1976 the official censor banned even a TV broadcast of 
a performance by the Bolshoi Ballet for fear of 
Communist cultural contagion. When Geisel revoked the 
banishment orders on most political exiles in 1978, he 
deliberately excluded the long-serving Secretary-General 
of the Brazilian Communist Party, Luis Carlos Prestes.— 
The inauguration as President in March 1979 of General 
Joao Batista Figueiredo, chief of the Service Nacional de 
Informa^oes (SNI), Brazil’s intelligence service, 
paradoxically made life somewhat easier than before for 
both the Communist Party and the KGB residency. The 
Brazilian intelligence community was divided between 
reformers who favoured a gradual transition to democracy 
and hard-liners who were preoccupied by the danger of 
subversion. Figueiredo sided with the reformers. So, even 
more clearly, did his chief political adviser and head of 
his civilian staff. General Golbery do Couto e Silva, who 
fifteen years earlier had been the chief architect and first 
head of SNI.— Despite hard-line opposition, Figueiredo 
issued an amnesty for most of Brazil’s remaining political 

exiles, including Prestes and other leading Communists.— 

While accepting that, in the East- West struggle, Brazil 
was ultimately on the side of the ‘Giant of the North’, 
Golbery argued publicly in favour of a pragmatic foreign 
policy which avoided subordination to the United States: 
‘It seems to us only just that [, like the US,] we should 
also learn to bargain at high prices.’— That, Golbery 
seems to have believed, involved dialogue with the Soviet 
Union. In the spring of 1980 a Soviet parliamentary 
delegation headed by Eduard Shevardnadze, then a 
candidate (non-voting) member of the Politburo, visited 
Brasilia. Unknown to their hosts, the plane (Special Flight 
L-62) carried new radio interception equipment to 
improve the performance of the residency’s SIGINT 
station, and took the old equipment with it when it left. 
Among the delegation was Brezhnev’s personal assistant, 
Andrei Mikhailovich Aleksandrov. The detailed 
instructions given to the resident on the entertainment of 
Aleksandrov provide a good example of the pains taken 
by the Centre to impress the political leadership. He was 
told to ensure that the KGB officer selected to show 
Aleksandrov the sights during his visit was smartly but 
soberly dressed, had his hair neatly cut, and expressed 
himself lucidly, concisely and accurately at all times.— 

The pampered parliamentary delegation paved the way 
for other, more covert contacts by the KGB with the 

Brazilian leadership. In December 1980 Nikolai Leonov 
travelled to Brazil for talks with General Golbery. Though 
Leonov posed as an academic working as a Soviet 
government adviser, Golbery’ s background in intelligence 
makes it highly unlikely that he failed to identify him as a 
senior KGB officer. In June 1981, with Figueiredo’s 
approval, Golbery sent a member of his staff for further 
discussions in Moscow, where it was agreed that a 
‘counsellor’ (in fact a KGB officer) would be added to the 
embassy staff in Brasilia, whose chief duty would be to 
conduct regular ‘unofficial’ meetings with the President.— 
Further, public evidence of a new era in Soviet-Brazilian 
relations was the signing in 1981 of a series of trade 
agreements worth a total of about $2 billion.— 

The chief opposition to Golbery’ s support for 
democratic reforms at home and better relations with the 
Soviet bloc came from military hard-liners led by General 
Octavio Aguiar de Medeiros, the current chief of SNI. 
Golbery also opposed the austerity programme of the 
Minister of Economy, Antonio Delfim Neto. In August 
1981 he resigned in protest at the failure to prosecute 
military extremists involved in bomb attacks against the 
political opposition. Golbery was replaced as head of 
Figueiredo’s civilian staff by Joao Leitao de Abreu, a 
lawyer more acceptable to military hard-liners .— Since 
the Brazilian files noted by Mitrokhin end in 1981, there 
is no indication of whether or not the meetings arranged 

by Golbery between Figueiredo and a KGB officer went 

The KGB sought to compensate for the declining success 
of its operations against the priority targets established in 
1974 by trying to make new ‘confidential contacts’ 
among ‘progressive’, anti-American political leaders. 
Among its targets in the mid-1970s was Alfonso Lopez 
Michelson (codenamed MENTOR), leader of the 
Colombian Movimiento Revolucionario Liberal (MRL), 
who was elected President in 1974, declared an economic 
state of emergency and announced that Colombia would 
henceforth reject US economic assistance because 
‘foreign aid breeds an unhealthy economic dependency 
and delays or undermines measures that should be taken 
for development’.— In March 1975 the Politburo 
approved a KGB operation, codenamed REDUT, aimed at 
establishing ‘unofficial relations’ with President Lopez.— 
A senior KGB officer was despatched to Bogota, met 
Lopez on 29 May and gained his agreement to future 
meetings. Though Mitrokhin’s notes do not identify the 
officer concerned, he was almost certainly the head of the 
FCD Second (Latin American) Department, Vladimir 
Tolstikov, who also met Lopez on subsequent occasions. 
As in his earlier meetings with Peron, Tolstikov identified 
himself during visits to Bogota as Sergei Sergeyevich 
Konstantinov, a senior Latin American specialist in the 

Foreign Ministry, and claimed to be able to provide a 
direct confidential channel to the Soviet leadership. At his 
first meeting with Tolstikov, unaware of his KGB 
connection, Lopez handed him an album of pictures of 
Colombia which he asked to be presented to Brezhnev 
with a personal message from himself - a minor 
diplomatic gesture which was doubtless given an 
enhanced significance when reported to Brezhnev.— 

The Centre’s exaggerated hopes of establishing 
‘unoffical relations’ with Lopez derived from his distrust 
of the United States which, like many other Latin 
Americans, he blamed for the economic exploitation of 
Latin America. After Jimmy Carter’s election as US 
President in November 1976, L6pez was reported to have 
dismissed him as ‘a provincial politician with a 
pathological stubbornness and the primitive reasoning of 
a person who produces and sells peanuts - an accidental 
figure on the American political horizon’.— 

Operating under his diplomatic alias, Tolstikov 
established good personal relations with L6pez, who in 
1976 awarded ‘Sergei Sergeyevich Konstantinov’ the 
Order of San Carlos ‘for active participation in 
strengthening relations between the USSR and 
Colombia’.— A rather more substantial achievement of 
the Bogota residency was to establish covert contact at a 
senior level with the Colombian intelligence service, the 

Departamento Administrativo de Securidad (DAS) and, it 
claimed, to influence its intelligence assessments.— 

Alfonso Lopez was the first Colombian President to 
visit the neighbouring Republic of Panama, which had 
split from Colombia in 1903 after an uprising engineered 
by the United States. The new Republic had promptly 
been bullied into accepting a treaty leasing the Panama 
Canal Zone in perpetuity to the United States. Lopez gave 
public support to the campaign for the abrogation of the 
treaty by the President of Panama, General Omar Torrijos 
Herrera (codenamed RODOM by the KGB), and agreed 
to Tolstikov’s request to arrange a meeting for him with 
Torrijos.— In the event, the Centre selected for the 
meeting an even more senior officer operating under 
diplomatic cover, Nikolai Leonov, who over twenty years 
earlier had been Castro’s first KGB contact and had since 
risen to become head of FCD Service No. 1 (Analysis and 
Reports). On 28 June 1977 Torrijos sent his personal 
aircraft to Bogota to fly Leonov to a former US airbase in 
Panama, where they continued discussions for four days. 
Though Leonov brought with him gifts valued by the 
Centre at 1,200 rubles, he initially found Torrijos in a 
difficult mood. A few days earlier Guatemala had broken 
off diplomatic relations with Panama after Torrijos had 
incautiously told an American journalist that he rejected 
Guatemalan claims to sovereignty over Belize. He told 
Leonov angrily, T’m not going to receive any more 

foreigners - not even the Pope!’ 

Torrijos’s anger, however, quickly refocused on the 
United States. He told Leonov that he was determined to 
restore Panama’s sovereignty over the Canal Zone and 
eliminate every trace of the American presence. ‘This’, he 
declared, ‘is the religion of my life!’ He gave Leonov a 
film entitled The Struggle of the People of Panama for the 
Canal which he asked him to pass on to Brezhnev. In 
return Leonov presented Torrijos with a hunting rifle and 
a souvenir selection of vodkas, and gave his wife an 
enamel box. Torrijos declared his willingness to continue 
‘unofficial contact’ with Soviet representatives and gave 
Leonov the direct phone numbers of his secretary, 
through whom future meetings could be arranged. He also 
gave orders for Leonov to be given a visa allowing him to 
visit Panama at any time over the next year. Leonov gave 
Torrijos his home telephone number in Moscow - a 
somewhat irregular proceeding which, as Leonov later 
acknowledged, disconcerted both the Centre and those 
members of his family who took calls from Torrijos.— 
Shortly after he returned to Moscow, Torrijos phoned 
him, said that he wanted to check that he had returned 
safely and discussed with him the negotiation of a Soviet- 
Panamanian trade treaty.— Torrijos believed his phone 
conversations with Leonov were probably intercepted by 
NS A, the American SIGINT agency, but - according to 
Leonov - looked on them as a way of putting pressure on 

the Carter administration, which he knew to be nervous 
about his Soviet contacts.— 

Despite the diplomatic cover used by Leonov, there is 
no doubt that Torrijos realized that he was a KGB 
officer.— After reviewing the results of Leonov’s mission, 
the Centre decided to arrange meetings with Torrijos 
every six to eight months, chiefly in an attempt to 
influence his policy (mainly, no doubt, to the United 
States). A KGB officer operating under cover as a 
correspondent with Tass, the Soviet news agency, was 
given responsibility for making the detailed arrangements 
for these meetings. In order to flatter Torrijos another 
operations officer, also under Tass cover, was sent to 
deliver to him a personal letter from Brezhnev.— To 
reinforce Torrijos’s suspicion of the Carter administration 
he was also given a bogus State Department document 
forged by Service A which discussed methods of dragging 
out the Panama Canal negotiations and removing Torrijos 
himself from power.— 

On 7 September 1977 Torrijos and President Jimmy 
Carter met in Washington to sign two treaties: a Canal 
Treaty transferring the Canal Zone to Panamanian control 
in stages to be completed by 2000 and a Neutrality Treaty 
providing for joint US-Panamanian defence of the Canal’s 
neutrality. At another meeting in Washington on 14 
October, however. Carter told Torrijos that the 

administration had only about fifty-five of the sixty-seven 
Senate votes required for ratification of the treaties.— For 
the next few months Torrijos had to spend much of his 
time acting as a jovial host in Panama to US senators 
whom he privately detested. According to the US 
diplomat Jack Vaughn: 

[Torrijos] had an uncanny ability, looking at a VIP, to 
know whether he was the raunchy type who wanted girls 
around or if he was prudish and straitlaced, or maybe he 
wanted a more intellectual presentation. And, where do 
you want to go, what can I show you? He’d take them in a 
helicopter for short sightseeing trips, and they’d get off 
and go around and meet the natives. A very carefully 
orchestrated, devastatingly effective show . . . The effect 
on a gringo politician was, ‘This guy has real power, he 
can make things happen.’ He really did a job on the 

Ratification remained in doubt until the last moment. At 
the end of 1977, Torrijos asked for a meeting with 
Leonov to discuss the state of the negotiations with the 
United States. What probably most concerned him were 
the charges by leading Republican senators opposed to 
ratification that he was involved in drug trafficking. 
Carter, however, was convinced that the charges were 

false. In mid-February 1978 the Senate went into secret 
session to hear evidence from the Senate Intelligence 
Committee refuting the charges.— Ironically, the KGB 
believed the charges which Carter and the Senate 
Intelligence Committee dismissed.— 

There is little doubt that the charges were correct. 
According to Floyd Carlton Caceres, a notable drug 
smuggler as well as personal pilot to Torrijos and his 
intelligence chief, Manuel Noriega Morena (later 
President), Torrijos had made contact with drug 
traffickers almost as soon as he took power. By 1971 his 
diplomat brother Moises ‘Monchi’ Torrijos was providing 
drug couriers with official Panamanian passports to 
enable them to avoid customs searches.— In 1992 Noriega 
was to become the first foreign head of state to face 
criminal charges in a US court; he was sentenced to forty 
years’ imprisonment on eight counts of cocaine 
trafficking, racketeering and money laundering. 

Had the drug-trafficking charges against Torrijos stuck 
in 1978, there would have been no prospect of ratifying 
the treaties with the United States. On 16 March, 
however, the Neutrality Act passed the Senate by one vote 
more than the two-thirds majority required. Carter later 
recalled, ‘I had never been more tense in my life as we 
listened to each vote shouted out on the radio.’— 
Apparently unknown to Carter and US intelligence. 

Leonov arrived in Panama City on 22 March for six days 
of talks with Torrijos, bringing with him presents for the 
Torrijos family with a total value of 3,500 rubles. Torrijos 
used the secret talks with Leonov partly to get off his 
chest in private the loathing of the Yanquis which he 
dared not express in public. ‘I hate the United States’, he 
told Leonov, ‘but my position forces me to tolerate a great 
deal. How I envy Fidel Castro!’ 

The biggest strain of all had been dealing with the US 

From November of last year up to March of this year, 
there have been 50 senators in Panama at our invitation. I 
worked with all of them personally, and it was a heavy 
cross for me to bear. Almost all of the senators are crude, 
arrogant, and unwilling to listen to any arguments from 
the other side . . . They are cavemen whose thought 
processes belong to the previous century. 

Torrijos also had a personal scorn for Carter, whose 
inadequacy as President was ‘a painful thing to see’.— 
Carter, by contrast, had a somewhat naive admiration for 
Torrijos. ‘No one’, he believed, ‘could have handled the 
affairs of Panama and its people more effectively than had 
this quiet and courageous leader. ’— 

Though the KGB flattered Torrijos skilfully, they did 
not share Carter’s unreciprocated respect for him. 
Torrijos’s KGB file contains a description of him by 
Allende as ‘a lecher’.— Given his own promiscuity, 
Allende presumably intended to imply that Torrijos’s 
sexual liaisons were conducted with less dignity than his 
own. Torrijos’s current girlfriend at the time of his sudden 
death in 1981 was a student friend of one of his own 
illegitimate daughters.— The Torrijos file also includes 
Cuban intelligence reports about his involvement, along 
with some members of his family and inner circle, with 
the drug trade and other international criminal 
networks.— Torrijos’s Panama began to rival Batista’s 
Cuba as a magnet for Mafia money-laundering, arms 
smuggling and contraband.— The KGB regarded many 
of Torrijos’s personal mannerisms as somewhat pathetic 
imitations of Castro’s. Like Castro, he dressed in military 
fatigues, carried a pistol and smoked Cuban cigars 
(presented to him by Castro, each with a specially printed 
band inscribed with his name). Also like Castro, he kept 
his daily schedule and travel routes secret, and pretended 
to make spontaneous gestures and decisions which were 
in reality carefully premeditated. Torrijos regularly sought 
Castro’s advice on his negotiations with the United States, 
though the advice was so secret that it was concealed even 
from the Panamanian ambassador in Havana. The KGB 
reported that Noriega flew frequently to Havana in a 

private aircraft. As the KGB was aware, however, 
Noriega was also in contact with the CIA.— 

On 18 April 1978 the Canal Treaty finally passed by 
the US Senate by the same slim majority as the Neutrality 
Act a month earlier. Doubtless after prior agreement with 
the Centre, Leonov suggested to Torrijos that the best way 
of depriving the United States of any pretext for claiming 
special rights to defend the Canal would be to turn 
Panama into ‘a permanently neutral state on the model of 
Switzerland, Sweden, and Austria’. Torrijos was hostile to 
the idea - chiefly, Leonov believed, because he feared the 
effect of neutrality on his own authority. ‘Would [a 
neutral] Panama be able to conduct its own foreign 
policy?’ he asked Leonov. ‘Would it be possible to assist 
the anti-imperialist movement? Would I become a 
political eunuch?’— Though Torrijos was succeeded as 
President in 1978 by Education Minister Aristedes Royo, 
he retained real power as head of the National Guard, 
resisting gentle pressure from Leonov to end military rule. 
He gave three reasons for being reluctant to follow 
Leonov’s advice to set up his own political party: 

In the first place, I would then cease to be the leader of 
the entire nation, and would be the leader of only a 
political party. In the second place, after creating one 
party, I would then have to permit the formation of other 
opposition parties. And third, I do not want to do this 

because this is what the Americans are always trying to 
get out of me.— 

Torrijos told Leonov he was none the less convinced that 
by the year 2000 the majority of Latin American states 
would have adopted ‘socialism in one form or another’.— 
Within Panama the pro-Moscow Communist Partido del 
Pueblo (PDP) was the only political party allowed to 
operate; the rival Maoist Communist Party was brutally 
persecuted and several of its leaders murdered. 

In its early stages the corrupt, authoritarian Torrijos 
regime had made reforms in land distribution, health care 
and education. Progress towards Panamanian socialism, 
however, was largely rhetorical. The PDP unconvincingly 
declared the regime la yunta pueblo- gobierno - a close 
union of people and government. The corrupt and brutal 
National Guard became el brazo armado del pueblo, the 
people’s weapon arm.— According to KGB reports, the 
PDP leadership maintained ‘clandestine contact’ with two 
ministers in the Torrijos government.— PDP influence 
was particularly strong in the Education Ministry. 
Communist- inspired educational reforms in 1979, 
however, collapsed in the face of teachers’ strikes and 
demonstrations. Economic bumbling and corruption 
together left Panama with one of the highest per capita 
national debts anywhere in the world.— 

On 31 July 1981, while Torrijos was en route with his 
girlfriend to a weekend retreat, his plane flew into the side 
of a mountain killing all on board.— The KGB, always 
prone to conspiracy theories, concluded that he was the 
victim of a CIA assassination plot.— A few years earlier, 
by resolving the great historic grievance against the 
United States which dated back to the birth of the state, 
Torrijos had given Panamanians a new sense of identity 
and national pride. By the time he died, however, many 
were pleased to see him go. The celebrations in some 
cantinas which followed his plane crash became so 
boisterous that they were closed down by the National 
Guard. The KGB had little left to show for the effort it 
had put into cultivating the Torrijos regime. 

The same was true of most of the KGB’s efforts during 
the 1970s to cultivate anti-American and ‘progressive’ 
regimes in Latin America. The series of short-term 
successes which the Centre proudly reported to the 
Politburo failed to establish a stable basis for the 
expansion of Soviet influence in Latin America. The KGB 
itself had lost confidence in the staying power of the 
Allende regime well before it was overthrown. Covert 
contacts with the ‘progressive’ junta in Peru, Torres in 
Bolivia, Peron in Argentina and Torrijos in Panama lasted 
only a few years until those leaders were deposed or died. 
At the end of the decade, however, the KGB’s fortunes 

suddenly revived. The revolution in Central America of 
which it had been so hopeful in the early 1960s, and in 
which it had subsequently lost faith, unexpectedly became 
a reality at the end of the 1970s. 


Revolution in Central America 

For Fidel Castro 1979 was a year of both economic failure 
and international triumph. After two decades in power, his 
regime was as dependent as ever on large subsidies which 
the ailing Soviet economy could ill afford. Popular 
disaffection was more visible than ever before. Ten times 
as many Cubans fled to Florida in small boats during 
1979 as in the previous year.- Castro, however, seemed 
more interested by increasing international recognition of 
his role on the world stage, newly signalled by his 
election as Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement. The 
KGB liaison office in Havana reported growing concern 
at Castro’s delusions of grandeur: 

The personal influence of F. Castro in [Cuba’s] politics is 
becoming stronger. His prestige as an ‘outstanding 
strategist and chief commander’ in connection with the 
victories in Africa (Angola, Ethiopia), and as a far-sighted 
politician and statesman, is becoming overblown. F. 
Castro’s vanity is becoming more and more noticeable. 

Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces are extolled. 
Castro’s approval is needed on every issue, even 
insignificant ones, and this leads to delays, red tape, and 

the piling up of papers requiring Castro’s signature. 
Everyone sees that this is an abnormal situation, but 
everyone remains silent for fear that any remark could be 
interpreted as an encroachment on the chiefs 
incontestable authority. Cuba’s revolutionary spirit is 
becoming more and more dissipated, while there is an 
emergence of servility, careerism, and competition 
between government agencies, and their leaders’ attempts 
to prove themselves to Fidel in the best possible light. 
There is competition between the MVD [Ministry of 
Internal Affairs] and the RVS [Revolutionary Armed 
Forces] within the government to challenge MVD 
Minister Sergio del Valle’s subservient position with 
respect to R. Castro. Their former friendly relationship 
has cooled. 

MVD Minister Valle [whose responsibilities included 
the DGI], in an outburst of open exasperation, told P. I. 
Vasilyev, a representative of the KGB, the following: 

‘You might think that I, as the Minister of Internal 
Affairs and a member of the Politburo, can decide 
everything, but I cannot - 1 cannot even give an apartment 
to a Ministry employee. For this too, it is necessary to 
have the approval of the Commander- in-Chief [Fidel 
Castro]. ’- 

Castro’s self-importance was further inflated by the long- 

delayed spread of revolution in Central America. In 
March 1979 the Marxist New Jewel Movement, led by 
Maurice Bishop, seized control of the small Caribbean 
island of Grenada. A month later fifty Cuban military 
advisers arrived by ship, bringing with them large 
supplies of arms and ammunition to bolster the new 
regime. In September 400 Cuban regular troops arrived to 
train a new Grenadan army. In December 300 Cubans 
began the construction of a large new airport with a 
runway capable of accommodating the largest Soviet and 
Cuban military transport planes.- The once- secret 
documents of the New Jewel Movement make clear that, 
as well as being inspired by the Cuban example. Bishop’s 
Marxism also had a good deal in common with the variety 
once described by French student revolutionaries as ‘the 
Groucho tendency’. Bishop, however, was determined to 
stamp out opposition. As he told his colleagues: ‘Just 
consider. Comrades . . . how people get detained in this 
country. We don’t go and call for no votes. You get 
detained when I sign an order after discussing it with the 
National Security Committee of the Party or with a higher 
Party body. Once I sign it - like it or don’t like it - it’s up 
the hill for them. ’ 

Once satisfied that the Bishop regime was solidly 
established, Moscow also began supplying massive 
military aid. A Grenadan general, Hudson Austin, wrote 
to Andropov as KGB Chairman early in 1982 to thank 

him ‘once again for the tremendous assistance which our 
armed forces have received from your Party and 
Government’, and to request KGB training for four 
Grenadan intelligence officers. Austin ended his letter ‘by 
once again extending our greatest warmth and embrace to 
you and your Party - Sons and Daughters of the heroic 

Of far greater significance than Bishop’s seizure of 
power in Grenada was the ousting of the brutal and 
corrupt Somoza regime in Nicaragua in July 1979 by the 
Sandinistas. Until less than a year earlier the Frente 
Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN) had had few 
major successes. On 25 August 1978, however, the 
Terceristas (or ‘Insurrectional Tendency’), the dominant 
faction within the FSLN, pulled off one of the most 
spectacular coups in guerrilla history. Twenty-four 
Terceristas, disguised as members of an elite National 
Guard unit, seized control of the Managua National 
Palace where the Somoza-dominated National Congress 
was in session, and took all its members hostage. KGB 
files reveal that the guerrillas had been trained and 
financed by the Centre, which gave them the codename 
ISKRA (‘Spark’) - the same as that of the Sandinista 
sabotage and intelligence group founded by the KGB 
fourteen years earlier. On the eve of the ISKRA attack on 
the National Palace, Vladimir Kryuchkov, the head of the 
FCD, was personally briefed on plans for the operation by 

officers of Department 8 (‘Special Operations’) of the 
Illegals Directorate S.- In return for the release of the 
hostages, the Somoza regime was forced to pay a large 
ransom and free fifty-nine Sandinista prisoners. On their 
way to Managua airport, where a plane was waiting to 
take them to Cuba, the guerrillas and the freed prisoners 
were cheered by enthusiastic crowds. But though the 
FSLN was winning the battle for hearts and minds, 
Somoza still retained an apparently firm grip on power. 
Urban insurrections by the Sandinistas in September were 
brutally crushed by the National Guard. - 

In Havana Castro and other Cuban leaders had a series 
of meetings with the three most influential Sandinistas: 
the Tercerista leaders Humberto and Daniel Ortega 
Saavedra, and the only surviving founder of the FSLN, 
Tomas Borge, who had been freed from a Nicaraguan 
prison by the ISKRA operation. It was thanks largely to 
Cuban pressure on them that the three factions of the 
FSLN formally reunited by an agreement signed in 
Havana in March 1979.- Simultaneously, the Cuban 
Departamento America (DA) helped the Sandinistas set 
up a base in Costa Rica from which to prepare an 
offensive against the Somoza regime. At the end of May 
FSLN forces crossed into Nicaragua. The arms and 
tactical advice provided by the DA’s operations centre in 
San Jose made a major contribution to the rapid 
Sandinista victory. The former Costa Rican President, 

Jose Figueres, said later that, but for arms from Cuba and 
Costa Rican support for Sandinista operations, the victory 
over Somoza ‘would not have been possible’. The speed 
with which the resistance of Somoza’ s National Guard 
crumbled took both the CIA and the KGB by surprise. 
When the Sandinista offensive began, the CIA reported to 
the White House that it had little prospect of success. On 
19 July, however, dressed in olive-green uniforms and 
black berets, the FSLN entered Managua in triumph.- 

Cuban advisers quickly followed in the Sandinistas’ 
wake. The most influential of them, the former head of 
the DA operations centre in San Jose, Julian Lopez Diaz, 
was appointed Cuban ambassador in Managua. A week 
after their seizure of power, a Sandinista delegation, 
headed by their military commander, Humberto Ortega, 
flew to Havana to take part in the annual 26 July 
celebrations of the attack on the Moncada Barracks which 
had begun Castro’s guerrilla campaign against the Batista 
regime. Amid what Radio Havana described as mass 
‘demonstrations of joy’, a female Sandinista guerrilla in 
battle fatigues presented Cuba’s Maximum Leader with a 
rifle captured in combat against Somoza’ s National 
Guard.- Castro paid emotional tribute to ‘this 
constellation of heroic, brave, intelligent and capable 
commanders and combatants of the Nicaraguan 
Sandinista National Liberation Front’: 

They gained victory along a path similar to our path. They 
gained victory the only way they, like us, could free 
themselves of tyranny and imperialist domination - taking 
up arms [applause], fighting hard, heroically. And we 
must say and emphasize that the Nicaraguan revolution 
was outstanding for its heroism, its perseverance, the 
perseverance of its combatants - because it is not the 
victory of a single day, it is a victory after twenty years of 
struggle [applause], twenty years of planning 

In early August CIA analysts correctly forecast that the 
Sandinistas would seek Cuban help to ‘transform the 
guerrilla forces into a conventional army’, the Ejercito 
Popular Sandinista (EPS). According to the same 
intelligence assessment, ‘The Cubans can also be 
expected in the months ahead to begin using Nicaragua to 
support guerrillas from countries in the northern tier of 
Central America. 

Castro’s apotheosis as an international statesman, 
already enhanced by the Nicaraguan Revolution, came in 
September 1979 at the Havana conference of the Non- 
Aligned Movement. Active measures to exploit the 
conference proceedings in the Soviet interest had been co- 
ordinated in advance at meetings between Pedro Pupo 
Perez of the DGI and Oleg Maksimovich Nechiporenko 

and A. N. Itskov of the KGB.— In his opening speech as 
Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, Castro 
denounced not merely the ‘Yanqui imperialists’ but ‘their 
new allies - the Chinese government’. He then paid 
fulsome tribute to the Soviet Union: 

We are thankful to the glorious October Revolution 
because it started a new age in human history. It made 
possible the defeat of fascism and created conditions in 
the world which united the unselfish struggle of the 
peoples and led to the collapse of the hateful colonial 
system. To ignore this is to ignore history itself. Not only 
Cuba, but also Vietnam, the attacked Arab countries, the 
peoples of the former Portuguese colonies, the 
revolutionary processes in many countries of the world, 
the liberation movements which struggle against 
oppression, racism, Zionism and fascism in South Africa, 
Namibia, Zimbabwe, Palestine and in other areas have a 
lot to be thankful for regarding socialist solidarity. I ask 
myself if the United States or any country in NATO has 
ever helped a single liberation movement in our world. 

According to the official transcript of Castro’s speech, 
this passage was followed by applause.— Though ninety- 
two other heads of state were present, Castro was never 
out of the spotlight. For the next three years he continued 

as Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement. 

The first Soviet official to arrive in Managua in the 
immediate aftermath of the Sandinista seizure of power 
was the Centre’s senior Latin American specialist, Nikolai 
Leonov, head of FCD Service No. 1 (Analysis and 
Reports). ‘The city’, Leonov recalls, ‘was still smoking 
and we had no embassy, but I was there under the cover 
of a journalist.’— As after the Cuban Revolution twenty 
years earlier, the KGB played a far more important role 
than the Soviet Foreign Ministry in conducting relations 
with the new regime. The Soviet ambassador from 
another Latin American country who arrived in Managua 
to conduct the formal procedures of establishing 
diplomatic relations created an even worse impression 
than the first Soviet ambassador to Castro’s Cuba.— On 
arrival at the airport, the ambassador staggered down the 
aircraft steps, his breath reeking of alcohol, and collapsed 
into the arms of his aides in front of the outraged 
Sandinista welcoming party. It was officially announced 
that he had been ‘taken ill as a result of a difficult flight’, 
and he was driven to hospital where attempts were made 
to revive him in time for the official ceremonies which 
were due to take place that evening on the stage of a 
Managua theatre. The ambassador made it to the theatre 
but collapsed once more and was forced to depart in the 
middle of the speeches. His aides had scarcely taken off 
his shoes and put him to bed when an irate Sandinista 

minister arrived to demand an explanation. Leonov 
attended a meeting next morning at the house of the 
Cuban ambassador where senior Sandinistas sought to 
register an official protest. 

After giving my outraged hosts the opportunity to speak 
their minds fiilly, I said as calmly as possible that I shared 
their assessments and feelings. However, it was hardly 
worth starting the history of our relations with a protest 
and a diplomatic conflict. The ambassador was a human 
being with weaknesses, illnesses, [infirmities of] age . . . 
An official note of protest (which lay before me on the 
desk) was unnecessary, because it did not reflect the real 
climate of our relations but, on the contrary, might spoil 
them. I gave a firm promise to inform the Politburo of 
what had taken place, but would prefer to do this orally. It 
would be awkward for me to accept the note since [as an 
undercover KGB officer] I had no official status, and the 
embassy was not yet open. I talked and talked, to buy 
time for passions to cool down. 

Leonov reported the incident to Andropov by a telegram 
marked strictly ‘personal’, and Andropov informed 
Gromyko, also on a personal basis. Before long, however, 
it seemed to Leonov that half the Foreign Ministry knew 
about the ambassador’s disgrace. Leonov as well as the 
Sandinistas bore the brunt of the anger of the Ministry, 

which, he was told, was ‘offended’ by his report and 
refused to see him on his return to Moscow.— 

After delivering a preliminary report in person to the 
Centre, Leonov returned to Managua on 12 October for a 
week of secret talks with the Ortega brothers and Borge, 
the three dominating figures in the new regime, as well as 
with five other leading Sandinistas.— Leonov reported to 
the Centre that: 

The FSLN leadership had firmly decided to carry out the 
transformation of the FSLN into a Marxist-Leninist Party, 
including within it other leftist parties and groups on an 
individual basis. The centrist and bourgeois mini-parties 
already existing in the country would be kept only 
because they presented no danger and served as a 
convenient facade for the outside world. 

Daniel Ortega told Leonov: 

We do not want to repeat Cuba’s mistakes with regard to 
the United States, whereas the United States is clearly 
avoiding a repetition of the mistakes it made with regard 
to Cuba. Our strategy is to tear Nicaragua from the 
capitalist orbit and, in time, become a member of the 
CMEA [Comecon]. 

According to Leonov, Ortega ‘regarded the USSR as a 
class and strategic ally, and saw the Soviet experience in 
building the Party and state as a model to be studied and 
used for practical actions in Nicaragua’. Ortega agreed to 
‘unofficial contacts’ with Soviet representatives (a 
euphemism for meetings with KGB officers) in order to 
exchange information. He gave Leonov a secret document 
outlining the FSLN’s political plans for transmission to 
the CPSU Central Committee.— Though Mitrokhin did 
not note its contents, this was, almost certainly, the so- 
called ‘Seventy-Two-Hour Document’, officially entitled 
the ‘Analysis of the Situation and Tasks of the Sandinista 
People’s Revolution’, prepared by the Sandinista 
leadership in two secret seventy-two-hour meetings in 
September. It denounced ‘American imperialism’ as ‘the 
rabid enemy of all peoples who are struggling to achieve 
their definitive liberation’ and proclaimed the intention of 
turning the FSLN into a Marxist-Leninist ‘vanguard 
party’ which, in alliance with Cuba and the Soviet bloc, 
would lead the class struggle not merely in Nicaragua but 
across its borders in Central America.— 

The first country to which the Sandinista leadership 
hoped to export their revolution was El Salvador, the 
smallest and most densely populated state in Latin 
America, ruled by a repressive military government. The 

KGB reported that a meeting of the Central Committee of 
the Partido Comunista Salvadoreno (PCS) in August 
1979, after discussing events in Nicaragua, had agreed to 
make preparations for revolution. It was even thought 
likely that, following the flight of the Nicaraguan dictator, 
Anastasio Somoza, the Salvadoran President, General 
Julio Rivera, might surrender power without a fight. In 
September the PCS leader, Schafik Handal, visited 
Nicaragua and was promised arms by the Sandinistas.— 
Leonov also met Handal, probably soon after his own 
talks with Sandinista leaders in October, and discussed 
with him plans for Soviet bloc countries to supply 
Western-manufactured arms in order to disguise their 
support for the Salvadoran revolution.— These plans, 
however, were overtaken by a coup in El Salvador led by 
army officers anxious to maintain the dominant position 
of the armed forces. The political situation stabilized 
temporarily at the beginning of 1980 when the Christian 
Democrat Party agreed to form a new junta with the 
military and their exiled leader, Jose Napoleon Duarte. 
But while Duarte’s government attempted to inaugurate a 
programme of social reform, right-wing death squads 
pursued a campaign of terror against their political 

The Soviet attitude towards the prospects for revolution 
in Central America was ambivalent. The invasion of 
Afghanistan in December 1979 made Moscow both wary 

of further military commitments and anxious to repair the 
damage to its international reputation by successes 
elsewhere. Its desire to exploit the Sandinista revolution 
was balanced by nervousness at the likely reaction of the 
United States. The Carter administration, however, 
though expressing concern at the Sandinistas’ left-wing 
policies, none the less gave them economic aid. In an 
attempt to diminish the risks inherent in the challenge to 
US influence in Central America, Moscow was happy to 
leave the most visible role to Fidel Castro.— 

During the year after the Sandinista victory, Castro 
flew secretly to Nicaragua on a number of occasions, 
landing on the private airstrip at one of the estates of the 
deposed dictator, Anastasio Somoza. In July 1980 he 
made his first public visit to Managua to celebrate the first 
anniversary of the revolution and was greeted at the 
airport by the nine Sandinista comandantes, each in battle 
fatigues virtually identical to his own. ‘Because you are a 
profoundly revolutionary people’, he told a cheering 
crowd, ‘we Cuban visitors feel as if we were in our own 
fatherland!’— During the Sandinistas’ early years in 
power, military and economic assistance to the new 
regime was jointly discussed by tripartite Soviet-Cuban- 
Nicaraguan committees. In May 1980 a Sandinista 
delegation visited Moscow to ask for the large-scale 
military aid required to turn the Ejercito Popular 
Sandinista into the most powerful force in Central 

America. Though the Soviet Union agreed to arm and 
equip the EPS over the next few years, it cautiously left 
the details to be decided by a tripartite committee which 
was not due to convene in Managua for another year.— 

El Salvador, meanwhile, was slipping into civil war. 
During 1980 right-wing death squads carried out a series 
of well-publicized atrocities, among them the killing of 
Archbishop Oscar Amulfo Romero during a church 
service, the assassination of several leading Christian 
Democrats, and the rape and murder of three American 
nuns and a church worker. In March the PCS decided to 
support the ‘armed road’ to revolution.— Three months 
later, at a secret meeting in Havana attended by Castro 
and Humberto Ortega, Schafik Handal and the leaders of 
El Salvador’s four other Marxist factions united as the 
Direccion Revolucionaria Unida (DRU). The KGB 
reported that the two dominating figures in the DRU were 
Handal, the PCS leader, and a former PCS General- 
Secretary, Cayetano Carpio, leader of a breakaway 
movement.— The DRU was given a secure base in 
Nicaragua and, in consultation with Ortega, agreed to 
imitate the Sandinistas’ strategy against the Somoza 
regime by seeking to create a military machine powerful 
enough to defeat the army of the state.— Thousands of 
Salvadoran revolutionaries were given rapid military 
training in Cuba; several hundred more were trained in 
Nicaragua.— The DRU agreed with its Cuban and 

Sandinista allies on the importance of striking ‘a decisive 
blow’ before the end of the Carter administration in 
January 1981 for fear that, if Ronald Reagan were elected 
President, he would provide more active military 
assistance to the Duarte government (as indeed he decided 
to do).— 

In accordance with the strategy he had agreed with 
Leonov, Handal toured the Soviet bloc and two of its 
allies in June and July 1980 in search of arms and military 
equipment of Western manufacture for use in El Salvador. 
On Soviet advice, his first stop was in Hanoi where the 
Communist Party leader Le Duan gave him an 
enthusiastic welcome and provided enough US weapons 
captured during the Vietnam War to equip three 
battalions. Handal’ s next stop was East Berlin where 
Honecker promised 3 million Ostmarks to pay for 
equipment but was unable to supply any Western arms. In 
Prague Vasil Bil’ak agreed to supply Czech weapons of 
types available on the open market. The Bulgarian 
Communist Party leader, Dimitur Stanichev, gave 300 
reconditioned German machine guns from the Second 
World War, 200,000 rounds of ammunition, 10,000 
uniforms and 2,000 medical kits. Hungary had no 
Western weapons but the Party leader, Janos Kadar, 
promised 10,000 uniforms as well as medical supplies. 
Handal’ s final stop was in Ethiopia whose army had been 
completely re-equipped by the Soviet Union over the 

previous few years. Lieutenant-Colonel Mengistu 
promised to supply 700 Thompson automatic weapons 
and other Western arms left over from the Haile Selassie 
era.— According to a KGB report, Handal acknowledged 
that the success of his arms mission had been possible 
only because of Soviet support: 

We are clearly aware of the fact that, in the final analysis, 
our relations with the other countries in the socialist camp 
will be determined by the position of the Soviet Union, 
and that we will need the advice and recommendations of 
the leadership of the CPSU Central Committee. We 
cannot let out a war cry and lead trained personnel into 
battle without being sure of the full brotherly support of 
the Soviet Communists. 

After HandaTs return to Central America, the various 
guerrilla factions in El Salvador united as the Farabundo 
Marti de Liberacion Nacional (FMLN). The KGB 
reported that the Cubans were confident that revolution 
would succeed in El Salvador by the end of the year.— 
The Salvadoran government was regarded as so divided 
and corrupt and its army as so poorly equipped and 
motivated that the guerrilla victory appeared certain.— 

In January 1981, however, a supposedly ‘final 
offensive’ by the FMLN, approved by the Cubans, failed. 

forcing the guerrillas to take refuge in the mountains.— 
Simultaneously the new Reagan administration made 
clear that it intended to take a much tougher line in 
Central America. Using strikingly undiplomatic language, 
Reagan’s first Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, 
delivered a blunt warning to Moscow that ‘their time of 
unrestricted adventuring in the Third World was over’. 
‘Every official of the State Department, in every exchange 
with a Soviet official’ was instructed to repeat the same 
message.— Wary of publicly provoking the new 
administration, Moscow sought to distance itself from the 
bloodshed in El Salvador. At the Twenty-sixth Congress 
of the CPSU in February, attended by Communist leaders 
and other fraternal delegates from around the world, 
Handal and the PCS were conspicuous by their absence - 
no doubt on instructions from Moscow. 

While cautious in its public statements, however, the 
Soviet leadership authorized an increase in arms 
shipments to Cuba, some of them secretly intended for 
other destinations in Central America. According to US 
officials, more Soviet arms were sent to Cuba during the 
first eight months of 1981 than at any time since the 
missile crisis of 1962.— In May 1981 a Nicaraguan- 
Soviet-Cuban commission met in Managua to discuss the 
supply of Soviet arms to the Sandinista EPS. Following 
agreement in June, the first heavy weapons (tanks and 
artillery) began to arrive at Port Bluff in July.— Castro 

subsequently complained that, instead of continuing to 
discuss all their arms requirements with Cuba, the 
Sandinistas were now approaching the Soviet Union 
directly.— On 21 November Humberto Ortega and 
Marshal Ustinov signed an arms treaty in Moscow 
ratifying the agreement reached in Managua in June.— 
Within a few years the EPS was over 100,000 strong and 
had become the most powerful military force in Central 
American history. 

Castro somewhat hysterically compared the 
inauguration of Ronald Reagan as US President in 
January 1981 to Adolf Hitler’s appointment as German 
Chancellor in January 1933. After Reagan’s election two 
months earlier, Castro had summoned the Cuban people 
to organize themselves into territorial militia to defend 
their fatherland against American attack. To pay for 
weapons, workers ‘volunteered’ to give up a day’s wages. 
The Yanqui invaders, Castro declared, would ‘face an 
anthill, an armed anthill . . . invincible and unyielding, 
and never, never surrendering!’ In addition to the private 
warnings which he instructed American diplomats to 
deliver, Alexander Haig publicly denounced Cuba and the 
Soviet Union for acting as both ‘tutors and arms 
suppliers’ to Central American revolutionaries. Cuba’s 
activities, he declared, were ‘no longer acceptable in this 
hemisphere’. The United States would ‘deal with this 
matter at source’. To Castro that appeared as an invasion 

threat.— Privately, he was annoyed that Moscow did not 
take a stronger line in public towards the new Reagan 
administration. According to a KGB report, he told a 
Soviet military delegation which visited Cuba in 
February, headed by the chief-of-staff of the Soviet armed 
forces. Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov, that the Soviet Union 
should toughen its policy towards the United States. In 
particular, it should refuse to accept the deployment of 
American cruise missiles in Europe. Castro made the 
extraordinary proposal that, if the deployment went 
ahead, Moscow should seriously consider re-establishing 
the nuclear missile bases in Cuba dismantled after the 
missile crisis nineteen years earlier. The new Cuban 
militia, he boasted, now numbered 500,000 men.— 

The KGB reported that Castro’s fears of American 
attack were strengthened by the crisis in Poland, where 
the authority of the Communist one-party state was being 
eroded by the groundswell of popular support for the 
Solidarity movement. Though he had no more (and 
probably even less) sympathy for Solidarity than he had 
had for the reformers of the Prague Spring in 1968, Castro 
told ‘a Soviet representative’ (probably a KGB officer) 
that if the Red Army intervened in Poland in 1981, as it 
had done in Czechoslovakia in 1968, there might be 
‘serious consequences for Cuba in view of its immediate 
proximity to the USA’. Castro, in other words, was afraid 
that a Soviet invasion of Poland might provoke an 

American invasion of Cuba.— When General Wojciech 
Jamzelski became Polish Party leader in October, Castro 
insisted on the need for him to take ‘decisive measures’ 
which would make Soviet intervention unnecessary: 
‘Otherwise he will be finished both as a military leader 
and as a political figure.’ The only solution, Castro 
argued, was for Jamzelski to declare martial law, even if 
Solidarity responded by calling a general strike: ‘One 
should not be afraid of strikes, since in themselves they 
are incapable of changing the government.’— Castro 
seems to have been aware that Moscow’s policy was 
essentially the same as his. Andropov told the Politburo 
that Soviet military intervention was too risky to 
undertake. The veiled threats of intervention, which 
Castro took seriously, were intended to persuade the 
irresolute Jamzelski to declare martial law and outlaw 
Solidarity, which he duly did in December 1981.— 

Despite Castro’s impeccable ideological orthodoxy and 
denunciation of Polish revisionism, his delusions of 
grandeur as a major statesman on the world stage 
continued to cause concern in Moscow. The KGB 
reported in 1981 that the Cuban presence in Africa was 
giving rise to ‘complications’: ‘Leading personalities in 
Angola and Ethiopia doubt the desirability of the Cuban 
troops’ continuing presence on the territory of these 
countries. The Cubans’ efforts to influence internal 
processes in developing countries are turning into 

interference in their internal affairs.’ 

Cuban interference was all the more resented because 
its own mismanaged economy made it impossible for it to 
offer economic aid. The KGB also reported that Castro 
was in danger of being carried away by the prospects for 
revolution in Central America: 

The victory of the Sandinista National Liberation Front in 
Nicaragua and of progressive forces in Grenada, the 
increasing number of incidents in El Salvador, and the 
mobilization of left-wing groups in Guatemala and 
Honduras give some Cuban leaders the impression that 
the historic moment has now come for a total revolution 
in Central Latin America, and that this must be expedited 
by launching an armed struggle in the countries of the 

Raul Castro reports that some members of the Central 
Committee of the Cuban Communist Party - [Manuel] 
Pineiro, head of the American Department [Departamento 
America] and Secretary of the Central Committee, 
together with [Jose] Abr [ah] antes, the First Deputy 
Minister of Internal Affairs - are prompting Fidel Castro 
to take ill-considered action and calling for the export of 

Castro’s first target for ‘the export of revolution’ 

remained El Salvador. He told Ogarkov in February 1981 
that he had called a secret meeting in Havana of DRU and 
FMLN leaders in order to work out an agreed strategy for 
continuing the revolutionary struggle after the failure of 
what had been intended as the ‘final offensive’ in 
January.— Though Mitrokhin’s notes do not record the 
results of that meeting, Schafik Handal later informed a 
KGB operations officer that the PCS had adopted a policy 
of guerrilla warfare and sabotage operations, with the aim 
of forcing the junta into negotiations with the DRU. In 
October the DRU held a meeting in Managua with 
representatives of the Sandinista regime and six 
revolutionary groups from Honduras. They jointly agreed 
to prepare for a guerrilla uprising in Honduras in case this 
proved necessary to prevent action by the Honduran army 
against FMFN guerrillas. According to KGB reports, 
pressure had been put on the President of Honduras, 
General Policarpo Paz Garcia, to prevent his troops from 
being drawn into the civil war in El Salvador. Guerrilla 
forces in Guatemala were also allegedly strong enough to 
deter intervention by the Guatemalan army. Costa Rican 
Communists were said to have 600 well-trained and 
equipped guerrillas who were prepared to intervene on the 
side of the FMFN. Colombian revolutionaries had 
received over 1.2 million dollars’ worth of weapons and 
ammunition via the Sandinistas and were reported to be 
‘capable of initiating combat actions in Colombia upon 
command’. The Fibyan leader. Colonel Qaddafi, was 

providing large sums of money for the transport of 
weapons to guerrilla groups.— 

Late in 1981, the FMLN agreed with Castro on a 
strategy designed to disrupt the elections due to be held in 
El Salvador in March 1982. Soviet arms supplies 
channelled by the Cubans through Honduras and Belize 
were used to block roads, destroy public transport and 
attack polling booths and other public buildings.— 
Ogarkov, among others, appears to have believed that the 
strategy might succeed. According to the Grenadan 
minutes of his meeting in Moscow shortly before the 
elections with the Chief of Staff of the People’s 
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Grenada: 

The Marshal [Ogarkov] said that over two decades ago 
there was only Cuba in Latin America, today there are 
Nicaragua, Grenada and a serious battle is going on in El 
Salvador. The Marshal of the Soviet Union then stressed 
that United States imperialism would try to prevent 
progress but that there were no prospects for imperialism 
to turn back history.— 

The FMLN strategy, however, failed. The turnout at the 
El Salvador elections, witnessed by hundreds of foreign 
observers and journalists, was over 80 per cent. 
Henceforth the DRU and FMLN were resigned to a 

protracted ‘people’s war’ on the Vietnamese model, 
epitomized by the slogan, ‘Vietnam Has Won! El 
Salvador Will Win!’— Civil war continued in El Salvador 
for another decade. 

Since Moscow appears to have seen little prospect of 
an early FMLN victory, the KGB’s main priority became 
to exploit the civil war in active measures designed to 
discredit US policy. In particular it set out to make 
military aid to the El Salvador government (increased 
more than five-fold by the Reagan administration between 
1981 and 1984) so unpopular within the United States that 
public opinion would demand that it be halted. 
Mitrokhin’s notes on KGB active measures consist of 
only a brief file summary: ‘Influence was exerted on US 
public opinion: about 150 committees were created in the 
United States which spoke out against US interference in 
El Salvador, and contacts were made with US Senators.’— 

As often happened, the Centre seems to have 
exaggerated its ability to influence Western opinion. The 
majority of US protesters required no prompting by the 
KGB to oppose the policy of the Reagan administration in 
El Salvador. Both the KGB and the Cuban Departamento 
America, however, undoubtedly played a significant and 
probably co-ordinated role in expanding the volume of 
protest. A tour of the United States by Schafik Handal’s 
brother, Farid, early in 1980 led to the founding of the 

Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador 
(CISPES), an umbrella group co-ordinating the work of 
many local committees opposed to US involvement. Farid 
Randal’s most important contacts in New York were 
Alfredo Garcia Almedo, head of the DA’s North 
American department, who operated under diplomatic 
cover as a member of the Cuban Mission to the UN, and 
the leadership of the Communist Party of the United 
States, which was also in touch with the KGB.— 

Soon after its foundation, CISPES disseminated an 
alleged State Department ‘Dissent Paper on El Salvador 
and Central America’, which purported to reflect the 
concerns of many ‘current and former analysts and 
officials’ in the National Security Council, State 
Department, Pentagon and CIA. In reality, the document 
was a forgery, almost certainly produced by FCD Service 
A. It warned that continued military aid to the El Salvador 
government would eventually force the United States to 
intervene directly, and praised the political wing of the 
FMLN as ‘a legitimate and representative political force’ 
with wide popular support. Among the journalists who 
quoted the document were two columnists on the New 
York Times. One, Flora Lewis, later apologized to her 
readers for having been deceived by a forgery. The other, 
Anthony Lewis (no relation), did not.— 

Soviet caution about the ‘export of revolution’ in 

Central America was reinforced by the increased risks of 
confrontation with the United States. On 1 December 
1981 Reagan authorized covert support for the ‘Contra’ 
opposition, initially approving the expenditure of $19 
million to train 500 ‘resistance fighters’. Support for the 
Contras rapidly ceased to be secret and turned into a 
public relations disaster which KGB active measures 
sought to exploit around the world.— As the ‘Great 
Communicator’ later acknowledged in his memoirs, ‘One 
of my greatest frustrations . . . was my inability to 
communicate to the American people and to Congress the 
seriousness of the threat we faced in Central America.’— 
On 10 March 1982 the Washington Post revealed the 
covert action programme approved three months earlier 
and disclosed that the 500 Contras were being secretly 
trained to destroy Nicaraguan power plants and bridges, 
as well as to ‘disrupt the Nicaraguan arms supply line to 
El Salvador’. Six months later the Contras numbered 
almost 3,500. On 8 November the lead story in 
Newsweek, headlined ‘America’s Secret War: Target 
Nicaragua’, revealed the use of the Contras in a CIA 
covert operation intended to overthrow the Nicaraguan 
government and the involvement of the US ambassador to 
Honduras in their training and organization. The Reagan 
administration was forced to admit its secret backing for 
the Contras, but claimed implausibly that the purpose was 
merely to put pressure on, rather than to overthrow, the 

Congress was unconvinced. On 8 December, by a 
majority of 411 to 0, the House of Representatives passed 
the ‘Boland Amendment’, prohibiting both the Defense 
Department and the CIA from providing military 
equipment, training or advice for the purpose of 
overthrowing the Sandinista regime. The experience of 
the US-backed attempt to overthrow the Castro regime by 
the landing at the Bay of Pigs in 1961 should have made 
clear that paramilitary operations on the scale planned 
against the Sandinistas twenty years later in an era of 
more investigative journalism could not reasonably be 
expected to remain secret. ‘A covert operation’, writes 
George Shultz, who succeeded Haig as Secretary of State 
in 1982, ‘was being converted to overt by talk on Capitol 
Hill and in the daily press and television news coverage.’ 
By the summer of 1983, the CIA favoured making public 
American support for Contra operations, and transferring 
management of it to the Defense Department. The 
Pentagon, however, successfully resisted taking 
responsibility for such a controversial programme. 
Reagan’s covert action in Central America had thus 
become riddled with contradictions which were easily 
exploited by both his political opponents and Soviet 
active measures. What had become in practice an overt 
programme of support to the Contras was still being 
implemented as a covert operation - with the result, as 
Shultz complained, that ‘the administration could not 

openly defend it’. Reagan himself added to the 
contradictions by publicly proclaiming one policy while 
secretly following another. The stated aim of support for 
the Contras was to prevent the Sandinistas undermining 
their neighbours ‘through the export of subversion and 
violence’. ‘Let us be clear as to the American attitude 
toward the Government of Nicaragua,’ the President told 
a joint session of Congress on 27 April. ‘We do not seek 
its overthrow.’ The KGB was well aware, however, that 
Reagan’s real aim was precisely that - the overthrow of 
the government of Nicaragua.— 

Though Soviet commentators continued to express 
‘unswerving solidarity’ with the Nicaraguan people and 
‘resolute condemnation’ of US aggression towards them, 
they failed to include Nicaragua on their list of Third 
World ‘socialist-oriented states’ - a label which would 
have implied greater confidence in, and commitment to, 
the survival of the Sandinista revolution than Moscow 
was willing to give. Both the Soviet Union and Cuba 
made clear to Sandinista leaders that they would not 
defend them against American attack. During Daniel 
Ortega’s visit to Moscow in March 1983, he was obliged - 
no doubt reluctantly - to assent to Andropov’s declaration 
as Soviet leader that ‘the revolutionary government of 
Nicaragua has all necessary resources to defend the 
motherland’. It did not, in other words, require further 
assistance from the Soviet Union to ‘uphold its freedom 

and independence’.— 

Ortega’s visit coincided with the beginning of the 
tensest period of Soviet-American relations since the 
Cuban missile crisis. Since May 1981 the KGB and GRU 
had been collaborating in operation RYAN, a global 
operation designed to collect intelligence on the presumed 
(though, in reality, non-existent) plans of the Reagan 
administration to launch a nuclear first strike against the 
Soviet Union. For the next three years the Kremlin and 
the Centre were obsessed by what the Soviet ambassador 
in Washington, Anatoli Dobrynin, called a ‘paranoid 
interpretation’ of Reagan’s policy. Residencies in Western 
capitals, Tokyo and some Third World states were 
required to submit time-consuming fortnightly reports on 
signs of US and NATO preparations for nuclear attack. 
Many FCD officers stationed abroad were much less 
alarmist than the Centre and viewed operation RYAN 
with scome scepticism. None, however, was willing to put 
his career at risk by challenging the assumptions behind 
the operation. RYAN thus created a vicious circle of 
intelligence collection and assessment. Residencies were, 
in effect, required to report alarming information even if 
they were sceptical of it. The Centre was duly alarmed 
and demanded more. Reagan’s announcement of the SDI 
(‘Star Wars’) programme in March 1983, coupled with 
his almost simultaneous denunciation of the Soviet Union 
as an ‘evil empire’, raised Moscow’s fears to new heights. 

The American people, Andropov believed, were being 
psychologically prepared by the Reagan administration 
for nuclear war. On 28 September, already terminally ill, 
Andropov issued from his sickbed an apocalyptic 
denunciation of the ‘outrageous military psychosis’ 
which, he claimed, had taken hold of the United States: 
‘The Reagan administration, in its imperial ambitions, 
goes so far that one begins to doubt whether Washington 
has any brakes at all preventing it from crossing the point 
at which any sober-minded person must stop.’— 

The overthrow of the Marxist regime in Grenada a few 
weeks later appeared to Moscow to provide further 
evidence of the United States’ ‘imperial ambitions’. In 
October 1983 a long-standing conflict between Prime 
Minister Maurice Bishop and his deputy, Bernard Coard, 
erupted in violence which culminated in the shooting of 
Bishop, his current lover and some of his leading 
supporters in front of a mural of Che Guevara. Ronald 
Reagan and Margaret Thatcher disagreed in their 
interpretation of the killings. The new regime, Mrs 
Thatcher believed, though it contained more obvious 
thugs, was not much different from its predecessor. 
Reagan, like Bill Casey, his DCI, regarded the coup as a 
serious escalation of the Communist threat to the 
Caribbean. Grenada, he believed, was ‘a Soviet-Cuban 
colony, being readied as a major military bastion to export 
terror and undermine democracy’. Reagan was also 

concerned at the threat to 800 American medical students 
in Grenada. On 25 October a US invasion overthrew the 
regime and rescued the students. The operation further 
fuelled Soviet paranoia. Vice-President Vasili Kuznetsov 
accused the Reagan administration of ‘making delirious 
plans for world domination’ which were ‘pushing 
mankind to the brink of disaster’. The Soviet press 
depicted Reagan himself as a ‘madman’. The Sandinistas 
feared that Nicaragua might be the next target for an 
American invasion. So did the KGB.— 

The impact of the Grenada invasion in Moscow was 
heightened by the fact that it immediately preceded the 
most fraught phase of operation RYAN. During the 
NATO command-post exercise, Able Archer 83, held 
from 2 to 11 November to practise nuclear release 
procedures, paranoia in the Centre reached dangerous 
levels. For a time the KGB leadership was haunted by the 
fear that the exercise might be intended as cover for a 
nuclear first strike. Some FCD officers stationed in the 
West were by now more concerned by the alarmism of the 
Centre than by the threat of Western surprise attack. 
Operation RYAN wound down (though it did not end) 
during 1984, helped by the death of its two main 
protagonists, Andropov and Defence Minister Ustinov, 
and by reassuring signals from London and Washington, 
both worried by intelligence reports on the rise in Soviet 

The period of acute US-Soviet tension which reached 
its peak late in 1983 left Moscow in no mood to raise the 
stakes in Central America. The Soviet-Nicaraguan arms 
treaty of 1981 had provided for the delivery of a squadron 
of MiG-2 Is in 1985. Moscow was well aware, however, 
that the supply of MiG-2 1 s would be strongly opposed by 
the United States. Early in 1984 Castro began trying to 
persuade the Sandinista leadership that they should accept 
a squadron of helicopters instead. Humberto Ortega 
reacted angrily, telling a meeting of the Sandinista 
National Directorate: Tt doesn’t seem at all unlikely to me 
that the Soviets, lining up their international interests, 
have asked Castro to persuade us to give up the MiG-2 Is. 
But we must never renounce them, nor must we allow 
Cuba to continue being an intermediary between 
ourselves and the Soviets.’ The MiG-2 Is, however, were 
never delivered.— In the mid-1980s Soviet bloc support 
for the Nicaraguan economy fluctuated between $150 and 
$400 million a year, all in bilateral trade credits rather 
than hard-currency loans - a significant drain on Soviet 
resources but a small fraction of the aid it gave to Cuba.— 

For different reasons. Central America turned into a 
major policy failure for both the United States and the 
Soviet Union. The disorganized Contras (whose numbers, 
even on the most optimistic estimate, were never more 
than one-fifth those of the EPS) had no prospect of 

defeating the Sandinistas. Their inept guerrilla campaign 
served chiefly to discredit themselves and their American 
supporters. On 24 May 1984 the House voted another 
Boland Amendment, more drastic than the first. Signed 
into law by Reagan in October, Boland II (as it became 
known) prohibited military or paramilitary support for the 
Contras by the CIA, Defense ‘or any other agency or 
entity involved in intelligence activities’ for the next year. 
The Deputy Director for Intelligence (and future DCI), 
Robert Gates, wrote to the DCI, Bill Casey, on 14 
December 1984: 

The course we have been on (even before the funding cut- 
off) - as the last two years will testify - will result in 
further strengthening of the regime and a Communist 
Nicaragua which, allied with its Soviet and Cuban friends, 
will serve as the engine for the destabilization of Central 
America. Even a well-funded Contra movement cannot 
prevent this; indeed, relying on and supporting the 
Contras as our only action may actually hasten the 
ultimate unfortunate outcome. 

The only way to bring down the Sandinistas, Gates 
argued, was overt military assistance to their opponents, 
coupled with ‘air strikes to destroy a considerable portion 
of Nicaragua’s military buildup’. Covert action could not 
do the job. Neither Casey nor Reagan was willing to face 
up to this uncomfortable truth.— 

The attempt to circumvent the congressional veto on 
aid to the Contras led the White House into the black 
comedy of Tran-Contra’ - an illegal attempt to divert to 
the Contras the profits of secret arms sales to Iran, 
followed by an attempted cover-up. Though the word 
‘impeachment’ was probably never uttered either by the 
President himself or by his advisers in their conversations 
with him during the Iran-Contra crisis, it was in all their 
minds after the affair became public knowledge at a press 
conference on 25 November 1986. White House 
reporters, Reagan’s chief-of-staff believed, were ‘thinking 
a single thought: another Presidency was about to destroy 
itself. That evening Vice-President George Bush dictated 
for his diary a series of staccato phrases which summed 
up the despondency in the White House: ‘The 
administration is in disarray - foreign policy in disarray - 
cover-up - Who knew what when?’ US support for the 
Contras had proved hopelessly counterproductive, 
handing a propaganda victory to the Sandinistas and 
reducing the Reagan presidency to its lowest ebb.— 

Though the failures of US policy in Central America 
were eagerly exploited by Soviet active measures, 
however, Moscow was beginning to lose patience with 
the Sandinistas. In May 1986, despite the fact that 
Nicaragua already owed the Soviet Union $1.1 billion, the 
Politburo was still willing ‘to supply free of charge 
uniforms, food and medicine to seventy thousand 

servicemen of the Sandinista army’.— By 1987, with 
economic problems mounting at home, Gorbachev was 
increasingly reluctant to throw good money after bad in 
Central America. The Nicaraguan Minister of External 
Cooperation, Henry Ruiz, ruefully acknowledged that 
Soviet criticism of the Sandinistas’ chronic economic 
mismanagement was ‘legitimate’. — The economic 
pressure created by the decline of Soviet bloc support was 
heightened by a simultaneous US embargo. According to 
the secretary-general of the Sandinista Foreign Ministry, 
Alejandro Bendana, Moscow told Managua bluntly that it 
was ‘time to achieve a regional settlement of security 
problems’. After three years of tortuous negotiations, 
continued conflict and missed deadlines, a peace plan 
chiefly devised by the Costa Rican President, Oscar Arias 
Sanchez, finally succeeded. According to Bendana, ‘It 
wasn’t the intellectual brilliance of Oscar Arias that did it. 
It was us grabbing frantically onto any framework that 
was there, trying to cut our losses.’— As part of the peace 
plan, the Sandinistas agreed to internationally supervised 
elections in February 1990, and - much to their surprise - 
lost to a broad-based coalition of opposition parties. 

With the demise of the Sandinistas, Cuba was, once 
again, the only Marxist-Feninist state in Fatin America. 
During the later 1980s, however, there was a curious 
inversion of the ideological positions of Cuba and the 
Soviet Union. Twenty years earlier, Castro had been 

suspected of heresy by Soviet leaders. In the Gorbachev 
era, by contrast, Castro increasingly saw himself as the 
defender of ideological orthodoxy against Soviet 
revisionism. By 1987 the KGB liaison mission in Havana 
was reporting to the Centre that the DGI was increasingly 
keeping it at arm’s length. The situation was judged so 
serious that the KGB Chairman, Viktor Chebrikov, flew 
to Cuba in an attempt to restore relations. He appears to 
have had little success.— Soon afterwards the Cuban 
resident in Prague, Florentino Aspillaga Lombard, 
defected to the United States and publicly revealed that 
the DGI had begun to target countries of the Soviet bloc. 
He also claimed, probably correctly, that Castro had a 
secret Swiss bank account ‘used to finance liberation 
movements, bribery of leaders and any personal whim of 
Castro’.— At the annual 26 July celebration in 1988 of the 
start of Castro’s rebellion thirty-five years earlier, the 
Soviet ambassador was conspicuous by his absence. In his 
speech Castro criticized Gorbachev publicly for the first 
time. Gorbachev’s emphasis on glasnost and perestroika 
was, he declared, a threat to fundamental socialist 
principles. Cuba must stand guard over the ideological 
purity of the revolution. Gorbachev’s visit to Cuba in 
April 1989 did little to mend fences. 

The rapid disintegration of the Soviet bloc during the 
remainder of the year, so far from persuading Castro of 
the need for reform, merely reinforced his conviction that 

liberalization would threaten the survival of his regime. 
Gorbachev, he declared in May 1991, was responsible for 
‘destroying the authority of the [Communist] Party’. 
News of the hard-line August coup was greeted with 
euphoria by the Cuban leadership. One Western diplomat 
reported that he had never seen Castro’s aides so happy. 
The euphoria, however, quickly gave way to deep dismay 
as the coup collapsed. The governments of the Russian 
Federation and the other states which emerged on the 
former territory of the Soviet Union quickly dismantled 
their links with Cuba. The rapid decline of Soviet bloc aid 
and trade had devastating consequences for the Cuban 
economy. Castro declared in 1992 that the disintegration 
of the Soviet Union was ‘worse for us than the October 
[Missile] Crisis’.— Never, even in his worst nightmares, 
had he dreamt that Cuba would be the only Marxist- 
Leninist one-party state outside Asia to survive into the 
twenty- first century. 

The Middle East 

The Middle East in the Later Cold War 












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The Middle East: Introduetion- 

For much of the Cold War, Soviet policy-makers believed 
they had an in-built advantage in the struggle with the 
Main Adversary and its allies for power and influence in 
the Middle East. If Latin America was the United States’ 
‘backyard’, the Middle East was that of the Soviet Union. 
Israel’s special relationship with the United States made 
its Arab enemies, in Moscow’s view, the natural allies of 
the Soviet Union. Gromyko and Ponomarev jointly 
denounced Israel and international Zionism as ‘the main 
instrument of US imperialism’s assault on Arab 
countries’.- Hatred of Israel multiplied hostility to the 
United States in the rest of the Middle East.- The dramatic 
loss of America’s confidence in dealing with the Muslim 
world after the fall of its ally, the Shah of Iran, and the 
rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini was epitomized by the 
decision of the Carter administration not to send any 
congratulations to Muslim leaders to celebrate the 1 ,400th 
anniversary of Islam in 1979, for fear that it would 
somehow cause offence. The Soviet Union, by contrast, 
despite its official atheism, flooded Arab capitals with 
messages of congratulation. - 

The greatest volume of Soviet intelligence on the 

Middle East, as on much else of the Third World, came 
from SIGINT rather than HUMINT. By 1967 KGB 
codebreakers were able to decrypt 152 cipher systems 
used by a total of seventy-two states. Though no later 
statistics are available, the volume of decrypts doubtless 
continued to increase. Every day an inner circle within the 
Politburo - consisting in 1980 of Brezhnev, Andropov, 
Gromyko, Kirilenko, Suslov and Ustinov - were sent 
copies of the most important decrypts. The heads of the 
KGB’s First and Second Chief Directorates were sent a 
larger selection. Though none of the decrypts have yet 
been declassified, they will one day be a source of major 
importance for historians of Soviet foreign policy .- 

The task of KGB and GRU codebreakers was greatly 
simplified by the vulnerability of Middle Eastern cipher 
systems, which was also exploited by British and 
American intelligence. During the Suez crisis of 1956 the 
British Foreign Secretary, Selwyn Lloyd, wrote to 
congratulate GCHQ on both the ‘volume’ and the 
‘excellence’ of the Middle Eastern decrypts it had 
produced and to say ‘how valuable’ they had proved to 
be.- Soviet codebreakers also benefited from the KGB’s 
remarkable success in obtaining intelligence on cipher 
systems by penetrating Moscow embassies. Though 
Mitrokhin had no access to the decrypts themselves,- he 
and other defectors have provided an important insight 
into the extent of these penetrations. Ilya Dzhirkvelov has 

revealed his part during the early 1950s in successful 
break-ins at the Egyptian, Syrian, Iranian, Turkish and 
other Middle Eastern embassies in Moscow for which he 
and his colleagues were rewarded with engraved watches 
and the title of ‘Honoured Chekist’.- The files noted by 
Mitrokhin reveal that in the later stages of the Cold War, 
at least thirty-four KGB agents and confidential contacts 
took part in a highly successful operation to penetrate the 
Moscow embassy of Syria, then the Soviet Union’s main 
Middle Eastern ally. Middle Eastern states had little idea 
of the extent to which, because of the vulnerability of 
their cipher systems and embassy security, they were - so 
far as Moscow was concerned - conducting open 

SIGINT provided only a partial insight into the 
secretive policy-making of the region. Because of the 
autocratic nature of Middle Eastern regimes, the 
decrypted telegrams of their diplomats did not always 
disclose their real intentions. Anwar al- Sadat was one of a 
number of rulers in the region whose secret diplomacy 
was sometimes at variance with his country’s official 
foreign policy. The KGB, however, may well have been 
able to break his presidential cipher as well as to decrypt 
Egyptian diplomatic traffic. It remains unclear whether 
the KGB discovered his secret contacts with the Nixon 
administration from SIGINT or HUMINT - or both. The 
discovery caused serious alarm within the Politburo.- 

Penetrating the inner circles of the mostly suspicious 
rulers of the Middle East was more difficult than 
penetrating their Moscow embassies and diplomatic 
ciphers. The KGB, none the less, had close links with the 
intelligence services of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Soviet 
Union’s first major Middle Eastern ally. His main 
intelligence adviser, Sami Sharaf, was profuse in his 
protestations of gratitude and friendship to ‘Comrade 
Brezhnev’, and claimed to be convinced that, as the 
disciple of ‘the great leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, he 
occupies a special position in relation to his Soviet 
friends’. Probably the KGB’s longest-serving agent in 
Syria was the diplomat and lawyer Tarazi Salah al-Din 
(codenamed IZZAT), who had been recruited by the KGB 
in 1954, became Director-General of the Foreign Ministry 
in the early 1970s, and was a member of the International 
Tribunal in The Hague at the time of his accidental death 
in 1980. The KGB also claimed for a time to be able to 
influence President Asad’s youngest brother, Rifat, who 
commanded Asad’s elite ‘Defence Companies’, the best 
armed and trained units in the Syrian army, as well as the 
hit squads who operated against Syrian dissidents abroad. 
Despite, or perhaps partly because of, Saddam Hussein’s 
fascination with the career of Joseph Stalin, he seems to 
have made Baghdad a more difficult operating 
environment for the KGB than Cairo or Damascus.— 

In the Middle East, unlike Latin America, there was no 

realistic prospect of the emergence of a major Marxist- 
Leninist regime which would act as a role model for the 
Arab world and spread revolution through the region. 
Though the People’s Democratic Republic of [South] 
Yemen claimed to be such a regime, its almost continuous 
and frequently homicidal internal power struggles made 
it, from Moscow’s point of view, more of a liability than 
an asset. Moscow thus sought to base its strategy in the 
Middle East on alliance with one of the leading 
‘progressive’ Arab powers which, it was hoped, would 
progress gradually to Marxism-Leninism. Its main hopes 
from 1955 to 1970 were pinned on Nasser, by far the most 
charismatic Arab leader of the Cold War as well as ruler 
of the largest Middle Eastern state. During the halcyon 
years of Nasser’s special relationship with Moscow, he 
was one of the most eloquent advocates of the Soviet role 
in the Middle East. ‘[The Russians]’, he told an American 
interviewer in 1957, ‘helped us survive. Yes, and they 
helped us escape domination by the West.’— After 
Nasser’s sudden death in 1970, Moscow was never able to 
find an Arab ally of remotely equal stature. His successor, 
Sadat, expelled all Russian advisers and opted instead for 
a special relationship with the United States and peace 
with Israel. Though Iraq became in the mid-1970s the 
chief recipient of Soviet military aid to the Third World, 
Saddam Hussein’s suspicions of Soviet policy - despite 
his admiration for Stalin - ensured that the Soviet 
bridgehead in Baghdad was never secure. All that 

remained thereafter was an alliance with Asad’s Syria, 
increasingly notorious as a state sponsor of terrorism as 
well as an increasing drain on the Soviet economy. No 
wonder that even the usually unsentimental Gromyko 
looked back nostalgically at the end of his long career on 
the special relationship with Nasser, arguing 
unconvincingly that, had he lived only ‘a few years 
longer’, the subsequent history of the Middle East might 
have been very different.— 

During the Cold War, the KGB maintained secret links 
with, and channelled secret subsidies to, most if not all 
Middle Eastern Communist parties. None of these parties, 
however, possessed a popular charismatic leader to 
compare with Castro, Guevara, Allende or the leading 
Sandinistas, and all were liable to be sacrificed to Soviet 
strategic interests. In 1965, at a time when Moscow was 
pursuing its courtship of Nasser, the Egyptian Communist 
Party was persuaded to dissolve itself and tell its members 
to join the ruling Arab Socialist Union.— When 
Khrushchev made Nasser a Hero of the Soviet Union, one 
of his Presidium privately complained that he was 
honouring a leader who ‘drove Communists into 
concentration camps’.— In 1972 Moscow put pressure on 
a somewhat reluctant Iraqi Communist Party to reach an 
accommodation with the Ba‘th regime. When thousands 
of Party members were imprisoned and many tortured at 
the end of the decade, however, Moscow stayed silent for 

fear of antagonizing Baghdad at a time when it was at the 
forefront of the Arab campaign to prevent the United 
States brokering a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. 
In Syria there was a growing breach between the long- 
serving Party leader and dogmatic neo- Stalinist, Khalid 
Bakdash, and the majority of the Party Politburo who 
resented both Bakdash’ s autocratic leadership and 
Moscow’s support for the equally autocratic Asad.— 

Since the Soviet Union was itself a Middle Eastern 
power bordering some of the other main states of the 
region, the Middle East was a greater preoccupation of 
Gromyko and the Foreign Ministry than Latin America. 
For that reason the role played by KGB residencies in 
most major Middle Eastern states, though important, was 
less central than that of Soviet embassies. The main 
exception was Israel, with which - to the subsequent 
dismay of the Foreign Ministry - the Soviet Union broke 
off diplomatic relations in 1967. Soviet policy to Israel 
thereafter became entangled with and was often driven by 
the KGB’s anti-Zionist obsessions. ‘Zionist subversion’ 
was a particular obsession of Yuri Andropov who, as 
KGB Chairman, interpreted every protest by Jewish 
‘refuseniks’ who were denied the right to emigrate to 
Israel as part of an international Zionist conspiracy 
against the Soviet Union. In a stream of reports to the 
Politburo he insisted on the need for resolute action to 
‘neutralize’ the most minor protests. Even Brezhnev 

occasionally complained about the lack of proportion 
evident in the KGB campaign against refuseniks. After 
one wearisome discussion in the Politburo in 1973, he 
complained, ‘Zionism is making us stupid’. Gromyko 
washed his hands of much of the anti-Zionist campaign, 
telling his staff ‘not to bother him with . . . such “absurd” 
matters’.— Moscow none the less considered its role in 
1975 in the adoption of UN Resolution 3379 denouncing 
Zionism as a form of racism as a major diplomatic 
victory, which demonstrated the Soviet Union’s 
‘enormous support for the struggle of the Arab peoples’.— 
The Zionist obsession of the KGB leadership came close 
to, and at times arguably crossed, the threshold of 
paranoid delusion. A KGB conference concluded 
absurdly in 1982 that ‘virtually no major negative 
incidents took place [anywhere] in the socialist countries 
of Europe without the involvement of Zionists’. 
Andropov insisted that even the sending of matsos 
(unleavened bread) from the West to Soviet Jews for their 
Passover celebrations represented a potentially serious act 
of ideological sabotage.— 

The unexpected surge of international terrorism in the 
early 1970s and the precedent set a few years before by 
the KGB’s use of Sandinista guerrillas against US targets 
in Central and North America — encouraged the Centre to 
consider the use of Palestinian terrorists as proxies in the 
Middle East and Europe. In 1970 the KGB began secret 

arms deliveries to the Marxist-Leninist Popular Front for 
the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).— The secret was 
remarkably well kept. Though there were a series of 
Western press reports on support for the PFLP from Syria, 
Iraq and Libya, there were none of any significance on its 
Soviet connection. The KGB’s willingness to use other 
terrorist proxies was inhibited by fear that the proxies 
would fail to conceal its involvement— - just as during the 
second half of the Cold War it failed to implement any of 
its numerous and detailed plans for the assassination of 
KGB defectors for fear that it would be blamed for their 
demise.— After the death of the two main Soviet agents 
within the PFLP in 1978, the KGB’s direct connection 
with it appears to have died away.— Nor does the KGB 
seem to have established a connection with any other 
Palestinian terrorist group which was nearly as close as 
that with the PFLP for most of the 1970s. The Centre 
appears to have regarded the two most active terrorist 
leaders of the later 1970s and 1980s, Ilich Ramirez 
Sanchez (better known as ‘Carlos the Jackal’) and Sabri 
al-Banna (better known as ‘Abu Nidal’), as mavericks 
with whom it was prudent to avoid all direct connection. 
Its judgement proved right in both cases. Carlos was a 
champagne terrorist with a passion for killing, high living 
and self-important revolutionary rhetoric.— As well as 
attacking European and US targets, the increasingly 
paranoid Abu Nidal became obsessed with the hunt for 

mostly imaginary Palestinian traitors, whom he subjected 
to horrific torture and execution.— While refusing to deal 
directly with either Carlos or Abu Nidal, however, 
Andropov was content for other Soviet bloc intelligence 
agencies to do so. With Andropov’s knowledge (and 
doubtless his blessing). East Germany became what its 
last interior minister, Peter-Michael Diestel, later called 
‘an Eldorado for terrorists’.— By the mid-1980s, however, 
both Carlos and Abu Nidal had become such an 
embarrassment to their Soviet bloc hosts that their east 
European bases were closed down. Both continued to 
receive assistance from the Soviet Union’s main Middle 
Eastern ally, Hafiz al-Asad. Carlos later claimed, in a 
characteristic transport of semi-reliable rhetoric, to be ‘a 
senior officer of the Syrian secret service’.— Abu Nidal 
died in Baghdad in 2002, allegedly by his own hand, more 
probably murdered on the instructions of his former 
protector, Saddam Hussein.— 

The KGB’s dealings with Yasir Arafat and the PLO 
were ambivalent. Moscow gave strong support to an Arab 
initiative in the UN General Assembly recognizing the 
PLO as the lawful representative of Palestinian Arabs and 
giving it observer status at the UN. A Palestinian 
delegation to Moscow in 1975, headed by Arafat, 
expressed profound gratitude to the Soviet Union ‘for its 
unfailing support of the just struggle of the Palestinian 
people for their national aspirations, against the intrigues 

of imperialism, Zionism and reaction’.— But despite 
Moscow’s public praise for the PLO and the secret 
training for its guerrillas provided by the KGB, Arafat 
never gained the trust of either the Kremlin or the Centre. 
When PLO forces in Lebanon were defeated by an Israeli 
invasion in 1982, the Soviet Union offered no assistance. 
Though Moscow was embarrassed by the homicidal feud 
which broke out between Asad and Arafat in 1983, the 
closeness of its alliance with Syria was unaffected by it. 
In the final years of the Cold War Arafat was almost as 
unpopular in Moscow as in Washington.— 


The Rise and Fall of Soviet Influence in 


The first Arab leader to be courted by the Kremlin was 
Gamal Abdel Nasser, who in 1954, at the age of only 
thirty- six, became the first native Egyptian ruler of an 
independent Egypt since Persian invaders had overthrown 
the last of the pharaohs almost 2,500 years earlier. 
Nasser’s campaign against imperialism went back to his 
childhood protests against the British occupation of 
Egypt. ‘When I was a little child’, he recalled, ‘every time 
I saw aeroplanes flying overhead I used to shout: 

“O God Almighty, may 
A calamity overtake the English! ” ' - 

Despite his hostility to the British, neither the Kremlin nor 
the Centre immediately warmed to Nasser. As 
Khrushchev later acknowledged: ‘We were inclined to 
think that Nasser’s coup was just another one of those 
military take-overs which we had become so accustomed 
to in South America. We didn’t expect much to come of 
it.’- Ivan Aleksandrovich Serov, who became KGB 

Chairman in 1954, knew so little about Egypt that he 
believed Egyptians were black Africans rather than Arabs. 
His Middle Eastern specialists appear to have been too 
embarrassed by his ignorance to point his error out to 

Moscow began to pay serious attention to Nasser when, 
only six months after taking power, he successfully put 
pressure on the British to withdraw their troops from the 
Suez Canal zone. Two months later, in December 1954, 
the youthful FCD high flier, Vadim Kirpichenko, arrived 
in Cairo as head of political intelligence with the principal 
ambition of penetrating Nasser’s entourage. He had an 
early success, though neither Kirpichenko ’s memoirs 
(unsurprisingly) nor the files noted by Mitrokhin reveal 
the identity of the individual involved. Kirpichenko 
identifies him only as ‘a firm friend [who] provided 
interesting information’, without making clear whether he 
was an agent or a confidential contact. Given that 
Nasser’s entourage was aware that the individual was 
sometimes in contact with Kirpichenko, it seems more 
likely that he was a confidential contact. At a time when 
the Soviet ambassador in Cairo, Daniil Semenovich 
Solod, was still inclined to dismiss Nasser as a reactionary 
nationalist, Kirpichenko ’s contact provided the first 
reliable evidence of ‘where Nasser intended to lead his 
country’ - towards a special relationship with the Soviet 
Union.- In September 1955 Nasser delighted Moscow and 

shocked the West by signing an agreement to purchase 
large quantities of Soviet arms via Czechoslovakia - an 
agreement concluded in such secrecy that even the 
Egyptian ambassador in Moscow was kept in ignorance of 
negotiations for it.- 

Kirpichenko’s contact also proved his worth during the 
visit to Cairo of Khrushchev’s private envoy (shortly to 
become his foreign minister), Dmitri Shepilov, on a fact- 
finding mission in May 1956. After Solod had tried and 
failed for several days to arrange a meeting between 
Shepilov and Nasser, Kirpichenko went round to his 
contact’s house at 1 a.m., failed to find him in but 
eventually tracked him down around dawn. At 9.30 a.m. 
the contact rang to say that a presidential motorcade 
would shortly arrive to conduct Shepilov to a meeting 
with Nasser at 10 o’clock.- Two Soviet defectors, the 
KGB officer Vladimir Kuzichkin and the diplomat 
Vladimir Sakharov (a KGB co-optee), both Middle 
Eastern specialists, later identified Kirpichenko ’s 
confidential contact or agent as Sami Sharaf, a pot-bellied 
man with a drooping moustache and the flattering 
codename ASAD (‘Lion’) who in 1959, as Director of the 
President’s Office of Information, was to become 
Nasser’s chief intelligence adviser.- Kirpichenko insists 
that ‘Sami Sharaf was never our agent, and I did not even 
know him’.- He does, however, acknowledge that Sharaf 
was an ‘ardent supporter’ of Egyptian-Soviet friendship 

who, after Nasser’s death, had repeated unauthorized 
discussions of official business at the Soviet embassy- - 
the kind of man, in other words, whom the KGB would 
almost certainly have attempted to recruit as at least a 
‘confidential contact’. When Sharaf finally met Brezhnev 
a year after Nasser’s death, he was profuse in his 
protestations of gratitude and friendship: 

I must thank Comrade Brezhnev for giving me this 
opportunity to see him in spite of all his preoccupations. I 
am sure . . . that this is a special favour for me personally. 
I trust relations between us will be everlasting and 
continuous, and that the coming days and the positions 
which we adopt will be taken as a sincere witness to the 
friendship which exists between [Egypt] and the Soviet 
Union, parties, peoples and governments ... I firmly 
believe that, since Sami Sharaf is the son of the great 
leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, he occupies a special 
position in relation to his Soviet friends.— 

In July 1956 Nasser caused an international sensation by 
nationalizing the Suez Canal, hitherto a concession run by 
the Paris-based Suez Canal Company - in Arab eyes, the 
supreme symbol of Western imperialist exploitation. He 
then urgently sought Soviet advice on how to respond to 
Western opposition.— The black comedy of the failed 
Anglo-French attempt, in collusion with Israel, to reclaim 

control of the Suez Canal by force of arms in November 
played into the hands of both Khrushchev and Nasser. 
Within the Middle East the balance of power shifted 
decisively against the conservative, pro-Western regimes 
in Iraq and Jordan and in favour of the radical forces led 
by Egypt. Nasser emerged as the hero of the Arab world. 
Suez also drove him closer to Moscow and to the KGB. 
On the eve of the Anglo-French invasion Nasser received 
intelligence about plans to assassinate him, apparently 
drawn up by the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) 
on the orders of the temporarily unbalanced British Prime 
Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, who was obsessed by his 
determination to ‘knock Nasser off his perch’.— 
Kirpichenko received a request from his contact in 
Nasser’s entourage for help in improving his personal 
security. Two senior officers of the KGB Ninth 
(Protective Security) Directorate flew to Cairo and, 
together with Kirpichenko, were invited to lunch with 
Nasser in what Kirpichenko calls ‘a very warm domestic 
setting’. Subsequent investigation quickly revealed that 
Nasser’s only security consisted of a group of 
bodyguards. There was no alarm system in any of the 
buildings where he lived and worked. His cook bought 
bread at a bakery opposite the presidential residence, and 
meat and vegetables at the nearest market. Having 
rectified these security failings, the KGB advisers were 
then asked to provide protection against radiation and 
poison gas. The best method, they explained, was to keep 

a caged bird on all premises used by Nasser. If any of the 
birds died, the building concerned should be evacuated. 
Egyptian intelligence asked in vain for higher-tech 
systems of detection which the KGB was reluctant to 

In 1958 Nasser received a hero’s welcome on his 
arrival in Moscow for a triumphal three-week tour of the 
Soviet Union which both the Kremlin and the Centre 
intended to cement the special relationship with him. The 
entire Soviet leadership turned out to welcome Nasser at 
the airport and made him guest of honour at the annual 
May Day parade, standing beside a beaming Khrushchev 
on the reviewing platform above the Lenin mausoleum. 
The important role the KGB had assumed in Soviet- 
Egyptian relations was shown by the choice of 
Kirpichenko, rather than a diplomat, as interpreter during 
Nasser’s trip - much as Leonov was later chosen to 
interpret for Castro. Kirpichenko found Nasser already 
tired when he arrived in Moscow and felt increasingly 
sorry for him as he worked his way through the long list 
of official engagements prepared for his visit. Since, 
however, all the engagements had been approved by 
Khrushchev, Kirpichenko felt powerless to cut any of 
them. Khrushchev, unlike his guest, was in ebullient form 
throughout the visit. During an evening at the Bolshoi 
Ballet to see Swan Lake, when the evil black swan 
appeared on stage Khrushchev exclaimed, ‘That’s Dulles 

[US Secretary of State]! But don’t worry, Comrade 
Nasser, don’t worry! At the end of the act we’ll break his 
wings . . .’ Kirpichenko duly translated.— Nasser seems to 
have been impressed as well as exhausted by the series of 
effusive welcomes to which he was subjected during his 
visit. On his return to Cairo, he told a huge, cheering 
crowd that the Soviet Union was ‘a friendly country with 
no ulterior motive’ which held the Arab nation ‘in great 

The main advantage derived by the KGB from the state 
visit was the liaison established between Kirpichenko and 
the head of the main Egyptian intelligence service, Salah 
Muhammad Nasr, who accompanied Nasser on his tour. 
‘Salah Nasr’, writes Kirpichenko, ‘was attentive to me 
and tried in all sorts of ways to show that he assigned 
important significance to our contact. ’ It was agreed that, 
after their return to Cairo, Kirpichenko would renew 
contact under the pseudonym ‘George’. The female 
receptionist to whom he spoke on arrival at Nasr’s office, 
however, told him, ‘ “Mister George”, we all know who 
you are. You were interpreting for our president. You 
were in the newsreels every day in all the cinemas!’ 
Despite this minor contretemps, Kirpichenko and Nasr 
maintained good personal and working relations for the 
next nine years until Nasr was arrested for plotting against 

The special relationship with Nasser had moments of 
tension, due chiefly to his persecution of Communists in 
Egypt and in Syria (during the union of the two countries 
in the United Arab Republic from 1958 to 1961), and his 
denunciation of Communists in Iraq caused serious 
friction. By the early 1960s, however, Khrushchev and 
the Centre, though not all of the Presidium, were 
convinced that a new ‘correlation of forces’ existed in the 
Middle East which had to be exploited in the struggle 
against the Main Adversary. The aggressive global grand 
strategy devised by KGB Chairman Aleksandr Shelepin 
and approved by Khrushchev in the summer of 1961 
envisaged the use of national liberation movements as the 
basis of a forward policy in the Third World.— Castro’s 
victory in Cuba also encouraged the new policy of allying 
with anti-imperialist but ideologically unorthodox Third 
World nationalists, instead of relying simply on orthodox 
Communist parties which unfailingly toed the Moscow 
line. As well as supporting Cuba and the Sandinistas, 
Shelepin also conceived a remarkable scheme to support a 
Kurdish rebellion in northern Iraq and tell Nasser through 
‘unofficial’ (probably KGB) channels that, if the rebellion 
succeeded, Moscow ‘might take a benign look at the 
integration of the non-Kurdish part of Iraqi territory with 
the UAR [United Arab Republic] on the condition of 
Nasser’s support for the creation of an independent 
Kurdistan’.— Unrealistic though the scheme was, 
particularly during the final months of the UAR’s 

existence, the hugely ambitious plan for a Nasserite union 
of Egypt, Syria and the greater part of Iraq which 
Shelepin put to Khrushchev gives some sense of the 
Centre’s hopes for exploiting both his enormous prestige 
as the most popular Arab leader of the twentieth century 
and his willingness to enter a special relationship with the 
Soviet Union. 

Throughout the 1960s more Soviet hopes were pinned 
on Nasser than on any other Third World leader outside 
Latin America. Soviet ideologists devised the terms ‘non- 
capitalist path’ and ‘revolutionary democracy’ to define a 
progressive, intermediate stage between capitalism and 
socialism. Nasser’s decision to nationalize much of 
Egyptian industry in 1961 provided encouraging evidence 
of his own progress along the ‘non-capitalist path’.— 
Among the Soviet agents in the media who eulogized his 
achievements was the former SIS officer Kim Philby, 
who until his defection to Moscow early in 1963 was the 
Beirut correspondent for the Observer and The 
Economist. In an article entitled ‘Nasser’s Pride and 
Glory’ on the tenth anniversary of the Egyptian 
Revolution in the summer of 1962, Philby declared that 
he had successfully turned Egypt into a ‘co-operative 
socialist democracy’: ‘It is now as difficult to conceive an 
Egypt without Nasser as a Yugoslavia without Tito or an 
India without Nehru - and Nasser is still a young man.’— 
Of all Soviet aid to the Third World between 1954 and 

1961 43 per cent went to Egypt. In 1964 Nasser was made 
a Hero of the Soviet Union, the USSR’s highest 
decoration. A year later, the Egyptian Communist Party 
dissolved itself and its members applied for membership 
of the ruling Arab Socialist Union.— 

By the mid-1960s the majority view among Moscow’s 
Middle Eastern experts was that Soviet equipment and 
training had transformed the Egyptian armed forces. They 
were sadly disillusioned by the humiliating outcome of 
the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War in 1967. The Israeli attack 
on Egypt at 8.45 a.m. (Cairo time) on 5 June took the 
Centre as well as Nasser by surprise. The Soviet news 
media learned of the attack before the KGB, which only 
discovered the outbreak of war from intercepted 
Associated Press reports.— The war was virtually decided 
during the first three hours when Israeli air-raids 
destroyed 286 of 340 Egyptian combat aircraft on the 
ground, leaving the Egyptian army without air cover 
during the ensuing land battles in the Sinai desert. 

On 28 June 1967, in one of his first speeches as KGB 
Chairman, Yuri Andropov addressed KGB Communist 
Party activists on the subject of ‘The Soviet Union’s 
Policy regarding Israel’s Aggression in the Near East’. In 
order to avoid similar intelligence failures in future and 
have ‘timely information and forecasts of events’, the 
KGB ‘must draw highly qualified specialists into 

intelligence work from a variety of academic fields’.— 
Among the Soviet journalists and academic experts sent 
on missions to increase the Centre’s understanding of the 
Middle East was Yevgeni Primakov, codenamed MAKS 
(later head of the post-Soviet foreign intelligence agency, 
the SVR, and one of Boris Yeltsin’s prime ministers). In 
the late 1960s Primakov succeeded in getting to know 
both Hafiz al-Asad in Syria and Saddam Hussein in 
Iraq.— Intelligence analysis, which had scarcely existed 
hitherto in a KGB frightened of offering opinions 
uncongenial to the political leadership, made modest - 
though always politically correct - strides during the 
Andropov era. 

In public, the Kremlin stood by Nasser and the Arab 
cause after the humiliation of the Six-Day War, 
denounced imperialist aggression and (to its subsequent 
regret) broke off diplomatic relations with Israel. 
Privately, however, there was savage criticism of the 
incompetence of the Arab forces and outrage at the 
amount of Soviet military equipment captured by the 
Israelis. Within the Centre there was grudging admiration 
for both the Israelis’ military skill and the success of 
Israeli propaganda which sought to create an impression 
of Arab cowardice in battle by photographing Egyptian 
PoWs in their underwear and other unheroic poses 
standing next to undamaged Soviet tanks.— The debacle 
of the Six-Day War left Moscow with only two options: 

either to cut its losses or to rebuild the Arab armies. It 
chose the second. President Podgomy visited Egypt with 
an entourage which included Marshal Matvei Zakharov, 
chief of the Soviet general staff, Kirpichenko, then 
working at the Centre, and Primakov.— Zakharov stayed 
on to advise on the reorganization and re-equipment of 
the Egyptian army. Desperate to resurrect his role as the 
hero of the Arab world, Nasser proved willing to make 
much larger concessions in return for Soviet help than 
before the Six-Day War. He told Podgorny: 

What is important for us is that we now recognize that our 
main enemy is the United States and that the only possible 
way of continuing our struggle is for us to ally ourselves 
with the Soviet Union . . . Before the fighting broke out, 
we were afraid that we would be accused by the Western 
media of being aligned [with the Soviet Union], but 
nothing of that sort concerns us any longer. We are ready 
to offer facilities to the Soviet fleet from Port Said to 
Salloum and from al-Arish to Gaza.— 

Soviet advisers in Egypt eventually numbered over 
20,000. In 1970, at Nasser’s request, Soviet airbases, 
equipped with SAM-3 missiles and combat aircraft with 
Russian crews, were established to strengthen Egyptian 
air defences. 

Nasser’s most striking political gifts were his powerful 
rhetoric and charismatic stage presence, which enabled 
him to survive the military humiliation of 1967, for which 
he bore much of the responsibility, and inspired the Arab 
street with a seductive but unrealizable vision of Pan- 
Arab unity which would restore the pride and honour of 
which imperialism had robbed them. He left behind few 
practical achievements. The celebrated Aswan Dam and 
vast Helwan steel works, both financed by the Soviet 
Union and praised as models of socialist construction, 
were built in defiance of local conditions. Egyptian 
socialism had failed. As Nasser once admitted, ‘The 
people can’t eat socialism. If they weren’t Egyptian 
they’d beat me with their shoes [almost the ultimate Arab 
humiliation].’ The main growth area during Nasser’s 
eighteen years in power was the civil service, which 
increased from 325,000 to 1.2 million mostly inefficient 
bureaucrats. Cairo, built to accommodate 3 million 
people, was close to meltdown with a population almost 
three times as large. Water pipes and sewage systems 
regularly collapsed, flooding parts of the city. Politically, 
Nasser left behind him a one-party state with an ailing 
economy built on the twin foundations of rigged elections 
and concentration camps to terrorize his opponents.— 

The vast Soviet investment in Nasser’s Egypt during 
the 1950s and 1960s rested on a far more precarious base 
than Moscow was willing to acknowledge. The influx of 

Soviet advisers served only to underline the gulf between 
Soviet and Egyptian society. Russians and Egyptians 
rarely visited each other’s homes. Though almost half of 
the 15,000 Arabs who studied in the United States during 
the late 1950s and 1960s married Americans, marriage 
between Soviet advisers and their Egyptian hosts was 
virtually unknown.— Resentment at the aloofness of the 
advisers was compounded by the arrogance of the Soviet 
ambassador, Vladimir Mikhailovich Vinogradov. ‘The 
Soviet Union’, complained Vice-President Anwar al- 
Sadat, ‘had begun to feel that it enjoyed a privileged 
position in Egypt - so much so that the Soviet ambassador 
had assumed a position comparable to that of the British 
High Commissioner in the days of the British occupation 
of Egypt.’— 

With Nasser’s sudden death in September 1970 and his 
replacement by Sadat, the imposing but fragile edifice of 
Soviet influence in Egypt began to crumble. Almost two 
decades later, the Soviet Foreign Minister, Andrei 
Gromyko, was still insisting that ‘had [Nasser] lived a few 
years longer, the situation in the region might today be 
very different’.— Aleksei Kosygin, the Soviet Prime 
Minister, told Sadat soon after he became President, ‘We 
never had any secrets from [Nasser], and he never had 
any secrets from us.’— The first half of the statement, as 
Kosygin was well aware, was nonsense; the second half, 
thanks to Sami Sharaf and others, may at times have been 

close to the truth. On his first day as President, Sadat had 
an immediate confrontation with Sharaf in his office. 
According to Sadat: 

He had a heap of papers to submit to me. ‘What is this?’ I 

‘The text of tapped telephone conversations between 
certain people being watched. ’ 

‘Sorry,’ I said, ‘I don’t like to read such rubbish . . . 
And, anyway, who gave you the right to have the 
telephones of these people tapped? Take this file away.’ I 
swept it off my desk.— 

There were times when Sadat took a greater interest in 
‘such rubbish’ than he cared to admit to Sharaf. 
Kirpichenko, who returned to Cairo as resident in 1970, 
discovered that Sadat was ‘listening in’ to the 
conversations of a group of pro-Soviet plotters against 
him: chief among them Vice-President Ali Sabry, Interior 
Minister Sha’rawi Gum ’a. War Minister Muhammad 
Fawzi and Minister for Presidential Affairs Sami Sharaf. 
The group, which Sadat privately called the ‘crocodiles’ 
(an expression adopted by the Cairo residency), had 
frequent meetings with Vinogradov and, in Kirpichenko ’s 
euphemistic phrase, ‘shared with him their apprehensions 

regarding Sadat’s line’— - in other words their plans to 
overthrow him.— The plotters sought Vinogradov’s 
support but, according to Nikolai Leonov, the ambassador 
was ‘overcome by fear’ and gave no reply.— 

The reports from Cairo which most alarmed the 
Politburo were what Kirpichenko claims was ‘reliable’ 
intelligence on Sadat’s secret contacts with President 
Nixon, raising the suspicion that he was planning to 
loosen Egyptian links with the Soviet Union and move 
closer to the United States. — In January 1971 Fawzi, 
whose responsibilities included Cairo security, received a 
report of unauthorized radio transmissions. The 
triangulation techniques used to locate the source of the 
transmissions revealed that they came from Sadat’s house. 
Further investigation showed that he was exchanging 
secret messages with Washington - despite the fact that 
diplomatic relations with the United States had been 
broken off by Nasser. According to Fawzi, he confronted 
Sadat, who told him that the secret contacts were no 
business of his. Fawzi allegedly retorted that it was the 
business of intelligence services to discover such things.— 
Kirpichenko may well have been informed of the 
confrontation between Fawzi and Sadat either by one of 
the ‘crocodiles’ or by one of his informants within 
Egyptian intelligence. It is equally likely that Sadat’s 
radio messages to and from Washington were intercepted 
by the SIGINT station (codenamed ORION)— in the 

Cairo residency. The KGB’s remarkable success with 
Third World ciphers made its codebreakers better able to 
decrypt Sadat’s presidential cipher than any Egyptian 
intelligence agency. — Given the anxieties aroused in 
Moscow by Sadat’s policies, decrypting his 
communications must have had a particularly high 
priority. Just as worrying from Moscow’s point of view 
were the secret conversations in Cairo during March and 
April between the US diplomat Donald Bergus and 
Sadat’s emissaries. Tapes of the conversations, recorded 
without Sadat’s knowledge by a section of Egyptian 
intelligence, were passed on to the ‘crocodiles’ and, 
almost certainly, revealed by them to the Soviet 

On 28 April 1971, for the only time in Kirpichenko’s 
career as a foreign intelligence officer, he was suddenly 
summoned back to Moscow, together with Vinogradov 
and the senior military adviser in Egypt, General Vasili 
Vasilyevich Okunev, to give his assessment of Sadat’s 
intentions direct to a meeting of the Politburo. 
Vinogradov was criticized by Suslov for what he claimed 
were the contradictions between the ‘quite optimistic’ 
tone of his oral assessment (which was similar to that of 
Okunev) and some of the evidence contained in his 
diplomatic despatches. Kirpichenko, by contrast, bluntly 
declared that Sadat was deceiving the Soviet Union. 
Andropov told him afterwards, ‘Everything you said was 

more or less correct, but a bit sharply expressed. ’ He was 
also informed that President Podgomy had said of his 
comments on Sadat, ‘It’s not at all appropriate ... to 
speak of presidents in such a manner!’ What also stuck in 
Kirpichenko’s memory was the fact that while the table 
around which the Politburo sat had on it red and black 
caviar and a selection of fish delicacies, he and those 
seated around the walls were offered only sausage and 
cheese sandwiches.— 

The events of the next few weeks fully justified 
Kirpichenko’s pessimism. On 11 May a young police 
officer brought Sadat a tape recording showing, according 
to Sadat, that the ‘crocodiles’ ‘were plotting to overthrow 
me and the regime’.— (Though Sadat’s memoirs do not 
mention it, he had doubtless received similar tapes 
before.) At a meeting with Vinogradov, the chief plotters 
had sought Soviet support for a plot to overthrow Sadat 
and establish ‘socialism in Egypt’. Moscow, however, 
dared not take the risk of promising support and Sadat 
struck first.— The timing of the arrest of the ‘crocodiles’ 
on the evening of 13 May took the Cairo residency by 
surprise. Kirpichenko spent the evening, like many other 
Soviet representatives, at a reception in their honour in the 
garden of the East German embassy. At the high point of 
the evening, just as suckling pigs appeared on the table, 
news arrived of the arrests, forcing Kirpichenko to 
abandon the meal and return to his embassy.— 

Sadat, however, still went to great lengths to conceal 
his real intentions from the Russians. Only a fortnight 
later, he signed with President Podgomy in Cairo a 
Soviet-Egyptian Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation. 
His main motive, as he later acknowledged, was ‘to allay 
the fears of the Soviet leaders’ by seeking to persuade 
them that he was engaged in an internal power struggle 
rather than a reorientation of Egyptian foreign policy 
away from Moscow. As he saw Podgorny off at the 
airport, Sadat appealed to him to tell the Politburo, ‘Please 
have confidence in us! Have confidence! Confidence! 

His disingenuous pleading had little effect. The Centre’s 
confidence in Sadat was already almost gone. The Cairo 
residency had little doubt that he ‘was aiming to cut down 
Soviet-Egyptian relations and would take active steps to 
curtail the activity of Soviet Intelligence in Egypt’.— For 
the moment, however, Moscow did not voice its 
suspicions, fearing that open opposition to Sadat would 
only undermine still further its remaining influence and 
huge investment in Egypt. 

The Centre’s irritation at its declining influence in 
Cairo was balanced by its hope of a Communist take-over 
in Khartoum. The leaders of the Sudanese Communist 
Party were considered by the KGB to be the most loyal 
and dedicated in the Middle East.— In July 1971 a coup 
by Sudanese army officers, supported by the Communists, 

briefly succeeded in toppling President Gaafar 
Muhammad al-Nimeiri. Vinogradov called on Sadat to 
urge him to recognize the new regime. An angry 
argument followed during which Sadat declared, ‘I cannot 
allow a Communist regime to be established in a country 
sharing my borders.’— With Sadat’s assistance, the coup 
was brutally suppressed and Nimeiri restored to power. 
Among those executed for their part in the coup was the 
General Secretary of the Sudanese Communist Party, 
Abdel Maghoub. Simultaneously the Centre discovered 
that a Soviet diplomat in the Middle East co-opted by the 
KGB, Vladimir Nikolayevich Sakharov, was working for 
the CIA. Alerted by a pre-arranged signal - a bouquet 
placed by the Agency on the back seat of his Volkswagen 
- Sakharov defected just in time. Among the secrets he 
had betrayed to the CIA was Sharaf s involvement with 
the KGB. 52 

As Soviet influence declined under Sadat’s rule, 
Egyptian Communists increasingly regretted the decision 
to dissolve their Party in 1965. In 1971 the Soviet 
embassy in Cairo, probably through the KGB residency, 
paid the relatively modest sum of 1 ,000 Egyptian pounds 
to a leading Egyptian Communist, codenamed 
SOYUZNIK (‘Ally’), to support left-wing candidates for 
the People’s Assembly.— Moscow, however, remained 
anxious not to provoke Sadat by reviving the defunct 
Egyptian Communist Party and discouraged attempts to 

do so. In April 1972 the three main underground Marxist 
groups united and began producing critical reports on the 
current state of Egypt under the name Ahmad ‘Urabi al- 
Misri.— SOYUZNIK and the other leaders of the newly 
unified underground movement secretly asked the Soviet 
embassy in Cairo to put them in contact with the 
leadership of the Soviet Communist Party. Moscow 
replied that the time was not yet ripe for setting up an 
open Marxist organization in Egypt. SOYUZNIK 
responded that the Soviet comrades plainly did not 
understand the real state of affairs in Egypt but that the 
new movement would none the less count on financial aid 
from fraternal Communist parties.— Two years later the 
KGB began channelling money to SOYUZNIK via the 
Iraqi Communist Party.— 

By the summer of 1972, Sadat had secretly decided to 
expel all Soviet military advisers. On 8 July he summoned 
the Soviet ambassador to see him. According to 
Vinogradov, ‘Sadat suddenly announced that our military 
advisers could return home, as they were “very tired”! I 
was absolutely furious. “Tired, Mr President!” I then 
challenged [him], “If you don’t need them any more, then 
say it more directly!” ’— According to Sadat’s version of 
the same episode, he simply announced that he had 
‘decided to dispense with the services of all Soviet 
military experts’, and ordered them to leave within a 
week.— Moscow, however, still could not bring itself to 

sacrifice what remained of its hard-won position in Egypt 
by an open breach with Sadat. The Soviet leadership 
concluded that it had no choice but to continue political 
and military support for Egypt for fear that Sadat might 
otherwise throw in his lot with the United States. It 
therefore opted for a face-saving official statement which 
claimed improbably that, ‘After an exchange of views, the 
[two] sides decided to bring back the military personnel 
that had been sent to Egypt for a limited period.’ 
Relations with Egypt, the statement maintained, continued 
to be ‘founded on the solid basis of the Soviet-Egyptian 
Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation in the joint 
struggle for the elimination of the results of Israeli 
aggression’. After a brief interruption Soviet arms 
supplies to Egypt resumed. Sadat declared in April 1973, 
‘The Russians are providing us now with everything 
that’s possible for them to supply. And I am now quite 

Sadat’s arrest of the pro-Soviet faction within the 
Egyptian leadership and the expulsion of Soviet advisers 
damaged the morale of the KGB agent network and 
complicated the work of the Cairo residency. Fearful of 
discovery, a number of Egyptian agents began to distance 
themselves from their case officers.— In January 1973, as 
a security measure, the Centre ordered the residency to 
cease operations against Egyptian targets ‘from agent 
positions’.— Its existing agents, however, though 

downgraded to ‘confidential contacts’, continued in some 
instances to provide significant intelligence on Sadat’s 
military planning. 

Like Western intelligence agencies, the KGB was 
confused about Sadat’s intentions towards Israel. On 
twenty-two occasions in 1972- 73 Egyptian forces were 
mobilized for periods of four or five days, then sent home. 
In the spring of 1973 war appeared to be imminent and 
Israel mobilized its forces. On Andropov’s instructions, 
the FCD prepared a report on the crisis in the Middle East 
which was submitted to the Politburo on 7 May: 

According to available information, steps are being taken 
in the Egyptian army to raise its battle readiness. To raise 
morale, Sadat and the top military leadership are going 
out to visit the troops. The General Staff of the Arab 
Republic of Egypt Armed Forces has drawn up an 
operational plan to force [cross] the Suez Canal. 

Similar measures are being taken in Syria, whose 
leadership has taken a decision to prepare for aggressive 
military operations against Israel together with the 
Egyptian army. 

The military intentions of Egypt and Syria are known, 
not only to the leading circles of other Arab countries, but 
also in the West, and in Israel. 

According to available information, the Americans and 
the British are inclined to believe that the statements of 
Egyptian and Syrian leaders about the forthcoming 
confrontation with Israel are intended for internal 
consumption, but also aim to exert a certain psychological 
effect on Western countries and Israel. At the same time, 
they do not rule out the possibility that Sadat will carry 
out specific military operations. 

Analysis of the available information indicates that the 
actions of Sadat with the support of [Colonel] Qaddafi [of 
Libya] and [President] Asad [of Syria] could lead to an 
uncontrolled chain of events in the Near East. 

It is not impossible that with the aim of involving world 
opinion in the Near East problem and exerting pressure on 
the USSR and the USA, Sadat might opt to resume 
limited military operations on the eve of the forthcoming 
meeting between Comrade Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev and 

It was of supreme importance that no Middle Eastern 
conflict interfere with Brezhnev’s visit to Washington in 
June. To Brezhnev, notorious for his love of pomp and 
circumstance, his reception on the immaculately groomed 
South Lawn of the White House was, according to 
Dobrynin, the Soviet ambassador in Washington, ‘the 
moment of his highest triumph. What could be greater 

than his being placed on a footing equal to the American 
president . . . ?’— ‘In order to influence Sadat in our 
favour’ and dissuade him from going to war with Israel, 
the KGB suggested sending a senior Soviet representative 
to hold talks with both him and Asad, as well as delaying 
the despatch to Egypt of missiles which the Soviet Union 
had agreed to supply. It also proposed using ‘unofficial 
channels’, in particular the head of the CIA station in 
Cairo, to persuade the Americans ‘that the resumption of 
military operations in the Near East at the present time 
would not be in the interests of either the Soviet Union or 
the USA’ and that they should bring pressure to bear on 

In the event, no conflict in the Middle East disturbed 
Brezhnev’s Washington apotheosis as a world leader. 
‘Even the brilliant sunshine’, Dobrynin nostalgically 
recalled, ‘seemed to accentuate the importance of the 
event’: ‘The solemn ceremony, with both countries’ 
national anthems and a guard of honor, the leader of the 
Soviet Communist Party standing side by side with the 
American president for the whole world to see - all this 
was for the Soviet leadership the supreme act of 
recognition by the international community of their power 
and influence.’— 

The war scare of May 1973 none the less served 
Sadat’s purpose. Even more than previous false alarms, it 

persuaded both the American and Israeli intelligence 
communities that his repeated mobilizations and threats of 
war were bluff. The simultaneous attack by Egyptian and 
Syrian forces on 6 October 1973, the Jewish holy day of 
Yom Kippur, caught Israel as well as the United States off 
guard.— The future DCI, Robert Gates, recalled that day 
as ‘my worst personal intelligence embarrassment’. While 
he was briefing a senior US arms negotiator on the 
improbability of conflict, the news of the outbreak of war 
was broadcast over the radio. Gates ‘slunk out of his 
office’. The KGB did very much better. Still conscious of 
having been caught out by the previous Arab-Israeli War 
six years earlier, it was able to provide advance warning 
to the Politburo before Yom Kippur - probably as a result 
of intelligence both from SIGINT and from penetrations 
of the Egyptian armed forces and intelligence 

After the humiliation of the six-day defeat in 1967, the 
early successes of the Yom Kippur War restored Arab 
pride and self-confidence. Militarily, however, though the 
war began well for Egypt and Syria, it ended badly with 
Israeli forces sixty miles from Cairo and twenty from 
Damascus. Sadat drew the conclusion that, because of its 
influence on Israel, only the United States could mediate a 
peace settlement. While Soviet influence declined, Henry 
Kissinger became the dominating figure in the peace 
process. Until his visit to the Middle East in November 

1973 the globe-trotting Kissinger had never visited a 
single Arab state. Over the next two years of shuttle 
diplomacy he made eleven further visits and conducted 
four major rounds of negotiations. The Centre tried 
desperately to devise active measures to persuade Sadat 
that Kissinger would double-cross him. In operation IBIS, 
Service A in the FCD forged a despatch from the Swiss 
ambassador in Washington to his foreign ministry, 
reporting that he had been told by a Middle Eastern 
specialist in the State Department that the United States 
would not infringe any of Israel’s interests. The forgery 
was shown to Sadat late in 1973 but had no discernible 
influence on him.— 

The Centre’s anxiety at its loss of Middle Eastern 
influence to the United States was reflected in instructions 
from Andropov to the FCD on 25 April 1974 to devise 
active measures to prevent any further worsening in 
Soviet- Arab relations, force anti-Soviet Arab politicians 
onto the defensive and undermine the influence of the 
West and China, which was currently increasing at Soviet 
expense.— The Centre was particularly outraged by 
Sadat’s links with the CIA. It reported in October 1974 
that the Director of Central Intelligence, William Colby, 
had visited Egypt as Sadat’s personal guest. The KGB set 
out to take revenge on the thirty-year-old Presidential 
Secretary for Foreign Relations, Ashraf Marwan (Nasser’s 
son-in-law), who it believed had overall charge of the 

Egyptian intelligence community and was responsible for 
liaison with the Agency.— Section A devised an active- 
measures campaign which was designed to portray 
Marwan as a CIA agent. The Centre attached such 
importance to the campaign that in May 1975 it sent the 
head of the First (North American) Directorate, Vladimir 
Kazakov, to oversee final preparations for its 
implementation at the Cairo residency.— Articles 
denouncing Marwan’ s alleged links with the CIA were 
placed in Lebanese, Syrian and Libyan newspapers. — In 
the course of the KGB disinformation campaign against 
him, Marwan was accused of taking bribes and 
embezzling large sums of money given to Egypt by Saudi 
Arabia and Kuwait for arms purchases. The Cairo 
residency also planted rumours that Marwan was having 
an affair with Sadat’s wife, Jihan, and reported that these 
had reached Sadat himself. Predictably, the KGB claimed 
the credit in 1976 when Sadat replaced Marwan as his 
Secretary for Foreign Relations. — 

Service A’s active measures against Sadat made much 
of his early enthusiasm for Adolf Hitler.— Sadat himself 
acknowledged in his autobiography that, as a fourteen- 
year-old when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, he 
had been inspired by the way the Fiihrer set out to 
‘rebuild his country’: ‘I gathered my friends and told 
them we ought to follow Hitler’s example by marching 
forth ... to Cairo. They laughed and went away. ’— 

During the Second World War Sadat was also a great 
admirer of Rommel’s campaign against the British in the 
Western Desert, and later established a museum in his 
memory at El-Alamein. As late as 1953 he said publicly 
that he admired Hitler ‘from the bottom of my heart’.— 
The KGB claimed the credit for inspiring publications 
with titles such as ‘Anwar Sadat: From Fascism to 
Zionism’, which portrayed him as a former Nazi agent 
who had sold out to the CIA.— Sadat’s control of the 
press meant that within Egypt active measures against 
him were mostly confined to spreading rumours and 
leaflets. In other Arab countries the KGB claimed to be 
able to inspire press articles denouncing Sadat as an 
accomplice in the attempts of both the United States and 
Israel to keep the occupied territories under Israeli 
control. Among the allegations fabricated by Service A 
was the claim that Sadat’s support had been purchased by 
secret accounts in his name in Jewish-controlled banks.— 
Other Soviet-bloc intelligence agencies collaborated in 
the active-measures campaign. In an operation codenamed 
RAMZES, the Hungarian AVH forged a despatch to the 
State Department from the US ambassador in Cairo 
containing a psychological evaluation of Sadat which 
concluded that he was a drug addict who no longer had 
sexual relations with his wife and was exhibiting a 
marked deterioration in his mental faculties.— 

Despite the priority given to active measures against 

Sadat in and beyond the Arab world during the years after 
the Yom Kippur War, the KGB remained extremely 
cautious about operations in Egypt itself. Its caution 
extended to the illegal Egyptian Communist Party which 
on May Day 1975 announced its rebirth in fraternal 
messages to other Communist parties around the world.— 
Andropov instructed the Centre to inquire into the 
leadership and composition of the Party, then prepare 
jointly with the International Department of the CPSU 
Central Committee a proposal for giving it financial 
assistance. ‘Handing over money directly to the Egyptian 
Communist Party’, he added, ‘is dangerous for us because 
of the possibility of a leak.’ It was therefore decided to 
continue passing money to the Egyptian Communists via 
the Iraqi Party.— Sadat’s introduction of a limited form of 
multi-party democracy in 1976 made it somewhat easier 
for leading members of the still-illegal Communist Party 
to campaign in public - and easier also for the KGB to 
maintain contact with them. Three opposition ‘platforms’ 
were allowed to contest the general election of that year - 
among them the left-wing National Progressive Unionist 
Party (NPUP)— headed by the Communist leader, Khaled 
Mohieddin, to whom the KGB gave the codename 
LYUBOMIR. In 1976 the Cairo residency handed over to 
a Communist contact two sums of $50,000 (slightly more 
than 18,000 Egyptian pounds): one for the Communist 
Party, one for the NPUP election campaign.— 

At a meeting with Aleksandr Sergeyevich Kulik, 
Kirpichenko’s successor as Cairo resident, and the 
leadership of the FCD Eighteenth (Arab States) 
Department in 1975, Andropov reaffirmed the ban on 
running Egyptian agents in Egypt itself He also gave 
instructions that documents were not to be accepted from 
confidential contacts - probably for fear that KGB officers 
might be caught in the act of receiving them. There is 
little doubt that the Cairo residency was frustrated by the 
restrictions imposed on it. In May 1976 Vladimir 
Kryuchkov and N. A. Dushin, head of the KGB Third 
(Military Counter-Intelligence) Directorate, signed a joint 
submission to Andropov requesting permission to recruit 
a senior Egyptian military intelligence officer, codenamed 
GERALD. Andropov replied, ‘By order of the highest 
authority [Instantsii\ it is forbidden to carry on agent 
work in the Arab Republic of Egypt. ’ GERALD remained 
a confidential contact.— FCD files noted by Mitrokhin 
contain a number of examples of former Egyptian agents, 
downgraded to confidential contacts, who broke contact 
with the Cairo residency - among them, in 1976, FEDOR, 
a colonel in the Egyptian army recruited in Odessa in 
1972,— and MURTARS, an employee of the Presidential 
Office recruited in Moscow in 1971.— A Centre report in 
1977 concluded that the Cairo residency had no sources in 
‘most targets of penetration’. Later in the year it was 
discovered that KHASAN, an employee of the Soviet 

Cultural Centre in Cairo whom the residency had used to 
channel disinformation to Egyptian intelligence, had in 
reality been operating under Egyptian control.— 

Sadat’s unilateral denunciation of the Soviet-Egyptian 
Friendship Treaty in March 1976 caused little surprise but 
predictable indignation in the Centre. The FCD claimed 
that this indignation was more widely shared. It reported 
in November, probably with some exaggeration, 
‘According to information from Egyptian business circles, 
the curtailment of relations with the USSR is creating 
dissatisfaction in a considerable section of the Egyptian 
bourgeoisie . . .’: Tn an effort to lessen the dissatisfaction 
in the country with its biased policy towards the West, the 
Egyptian leadership is taking certain steps which are 
intended to give the impression that it is interested in the 
normalization of relations with the Soviet Union.’ 
However, the FCD quoted with approval the opinion of 
the former Egyptian Prime Minister, Aziz Sidqi 
(codenamed NAGIB, ‘Baron’): ‘The readiness of Sadat to 
seek a reconciliation with the USSR is a mere manoeuvre 
based on expediency.’ Sadat, the Centre believed, was 
bent on moving closer to the United States.— 

Though the Centre sought to improve the appearance of 
its Middle Eastern reports by quoting from confidential 
conversations with prominent Egyptians, the intelligence 
access of the Cairo residency had diminished 

considerably since the early 1970s. One sign of its 
limitations was the fact that it was taken by surprise by 
the mass popular protests in January 1977 against the 
reduction of government subsidies on basic foodstuffs and 
cooking gas. — In two days of rioting 160 were killed and 
hundreds more wounded before the army restored order. 
Sadat’s government blamed the riots on an ‘odious 
criminal plot’ by ‘leftist plotters’. ‘Many Communist 
elements’, it charged, had infiltrated the NPUP and tried 
to use it to ‘overthrow the government and install a 
Communist regime’. Over a period of three months, 3,000 
Egyptians were arrested and charged with ‘subversive 
conspiracy’.— During the campaign against ‘leftist 
plotters’ a counsellor at the Soviet embassy, O. V. 
Kovtunovich, visited its main Communist contact in his 
office. Fearing that his office was bugged, the contact said 
little but wrote on a sheet of paper, ‘About 35 members of 
our organization have been arrested, and 17 are in hiding. 
The printing press of the organization has not been 
affected, nor have most of the district leaders of the 
organization. Assistance must be given to the families of 
those who have been arrested or are in hiding. We need 
urgent material assistance, amounting to 3,000 Egyptian 
pounds.’ Apparently afraid even to hand over the note in 
his office, the contact waited until Kovtunovich was 
leaving, then passed it to him in a corridor.— Probably as 
a result of this and similar experiences, three Egyptian 

Communists were sent for counter-intelligence training in 
the Soviet Union to enable them to set up a Party security 
service.— The Cairo residency’s main Communist contact 
sent his thanks to the Soviet leadership. Only their 
support, he told them, had kept the Party afloat during 

On 1 October 1977, the Soviet Union and the United 
States signed a joint statement on the need to resolve the 
Arab-Israeli conflict. Moscow believed that it had 
recovered much of the diplomatic ground it had lost in the 
Middle East since the Yom Kippur War and at last 
secured US recognition of the Soviet role in peace 
negotiations. Almost immediately, however, according to 
an official history of Soviet foreign policy, ‘Under 
pressure from Israel, the [US] Carter Administration 
treacherously violated the agreement.’— Only seven 
weeks after the agreement was signed, Sadat travelled to 
Jerusalem to begin a dialogue with the Israelis. His visit 
was one of the most stunning diplomatic coups de theatre 
of modem times. As Sadat stepped off the plane at Tel 
Aviv airport on 20 November, an Israeli radio reporter 
gasped over the air, ‘President Sadat is now inspecting a 
guard of honour of the Israeli Defence Force. I’m seeing 
it, but I don’t believe it!’ The former Israeli Prime 
Minister, Golda Meir, said of Sadat and the current Israeli 
Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, at the end of the visit, 
‘Never mind the Nobel Peace Prize [which Sadat and 

Begin were to be awarded a year later]. Give them both 

With its habitual tendency to conspiracy theory, never 
more marked than in its attitude to Zionism and the 
Jewish lobby in the United States, the Centre interpreted 
Sadat’s visit less as a piece of theatre than as a deep-laid 
plot. Sadat, it believed, had arranged the trip with the 
Americans, who had known that it was imminent even 
when treacherously signing the agreement with the Soviet 
Union. The ‘Framework for Peace in the Middle East’ 
signed by Sadat, Begin and Carter at Camp David in 
September 1978 was instantly denounced by Pravda as ‘a 
sell-out transacted behind the back of the Arab nation, one 
which serves the interests of Israel, America, imperialism 
and the Arab reactionaries’. The Centre believed that 
Carter and the CIA had lured Sadat into an American- 
Zionist plot intended to oust Soviet influence from the 
Middle East. It responded with an intensified active- 
measures campaign accusing Sadat of being a CIA agent 
with a villa in Montreux waiting for him with round-the- 
clock Agency protection when he was finally forced to 
flee from the wrath of the Arab nation he had betrayed.— 

In March 1979 Sadat returned to the United States to 
sign a peace treaty with Israel in a ceremony on the South 
Lawn of the White House attended by distinguished 
guests and television reporters from around the world. As 
after the Camp David agreement six months earlier, Sadat 

was welcomed on his return to Cairo by huge enthusiastic 
crowds convinced that they were witnessing the dawn of a 
new era of peace and prosperity. There were authenticated 
reports of Egyptian taxi drivers offering free rides to 
Israeli visitors. Initially the opposition of the NPUP 
leadership to Camp David caused resentment even among 
some of its own rank and file. In much of the Arab world, 
however, Sadat was treated as a pariah who had sold out 
to Israel. Egypt was expelled from the Arab League, 
which moved its headquarters from Cairo to Tunis. 
Perhaps as many as 2 million Egyptians working in other 
Arab countries were sent home. Within Egypt, as the new 
era of prosperity failed to arrive, euphoria gave way to 
disillusion.— Though an Israeli- Egyptian peace treaty 
was signed in March 1979, the plans made at Camp David 
for a broader settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict came 
to nothing. Sadat’s opponents accused him of having 
betrayed the Palestinian people and reinforced Israeli 
control of the occupied territories. 

The Cairo residency claimed that during 1979, thanks 
to its Communist contacts, it had been able to inspire 
press articles, public meetings and questions in the 
People’s Assembly.— The trials in 1978-79 of those 
accused of complicity in the ‘conspiracy’ of January 1977 
offered the NPUP a platform for attacks on the Sadat 
regime which it would not otherwise have been able to 
voice publicly. Mohieddin announced that the NPUP 

constituted ‘a democratic committee for the defence of 
liberties, including lawyers who were non-party members, 
coming together around the principle of providing all the 
guarantees of legal defence to those imprisoned for their 
opinions and supporting their families’. The evidence 
against most of those arrested was too flimsy even for 
them to be brought to trial. In most other cases, 
defendants were found not guilty or received lenient 
sentences. There were only twenty jail sentences, none 
longer than three years. Mohieddin himself successfully 
sued the pro-government press when he was accused of 
unpatriotic behaviour because of his opposition to Sadat’s 
peace policy with Israel, and was awarded damages of 
20,000 Egyptian pounds.— 

As well as receiving at least $100,000 a year for the 
Egyptian Communist Party, the Cairo residency’s main 
Communist contact also requested - and probably 
received - a similar annual sum for the NPUP .— One of 
its leaders privately acknowledged in 1978 that, without 
$100,000 a year from Moscow, the NPUP ‘was in danger 
of falling apart. The fate of the left-wing movement in 
Egypt depended on this money.’— The Centre had 
grandiose plans for the formation of an ‘anti-Sadat front’, 
based on the NPUP, which, it believed, would organize 
popular opposition to his ‘pro-imperialist’ policies.— Its 
plans, however, achieved nothing of significance. Despite 
tactical successes, the NPUP was incapable of mobilizing 

mass support. At the elections to the People’s Assembly 
in 1983 it gained only 4 per cent of the vote.— 

Probably no other Third World leader inspired as much 
loathing in Moscow as Sadat. While stationed at the 
Centre at the end of the 1970s, Oleg Gordlevsky heard a 
number of outraged KGB officers say that he should be 
bumped off. Though there is no evidence that the Centre 
was ever implicated in such a plot, it was aware that some 
of its contacts were. In December 1977 it received 
information that a secret meeting in Damascus between 
leaders of Syrian intelligence and the Popular Front for 
the Liberation of Palestine had discussed plans for 
assassinating both Sadat and Ashraf Marwan.— On 6 
October 1981, the anniversary of the outbreak of the Yom 
Kippur War, Sadat was assassinated by fundamentalist 
fanatics while reviewing a military parade. Though there 
is no indication in files noted by Mitrokhin that the KGB 
had advance warning of the assassination plot, the news 
that it had succeeded was greeted with jubilation in the 
Centre— - and doubtless in the Kremlin. 

Almost a decade after Sadat’s death, Gromyko could 
still barely contain his hatred of him: ‘He has been called 
the “Egyptian darkness”, after the biggest dust cloud in 
human history which settled on Egypt 3,500 years ago 
when the volcanic island of Santorini erupted . . . All his 
life he had suffered from megalomania, but this acquired 

pathological proportions when he became President.’— 
Underlying Gromyko’s cry of rage was his consciousness 
that the Sadat era had witnessed the complete failure of 
Soviet policy in Egypt and the loss of the largest military, 
economic and political investment Moscow had made in 
any Third World country - extending to the unprecedented 
lengths of approving in 1965 the dissolution of the 
Egyptian Communist Party. But the political system 
which had made it possible for Sadat to carry out what he 
termed the ‘corrective revolution’ of the early 1970s and 
remove the pro- Soviet group from positions of power had 
been put in place by Hero of the Soviet Union Gamal 
Abdel Nasser. The presidential system developed by 
Nasser was a thinly disguised structure of personal rule 
which survived virtually intact into the twenty-first 
century. The main effect of the supposedly democratic 
reforms introduced by Sadat and by his successor, former 
Vice-President Hosni Mubarak, was to reinforce the 
clientelism on which presidential rule was based. Even the 
NPUP, on which in the early 1980s Moscow had pinned 
its hopes for a return to the Soviet-Egyptian alliance, 
eventually succumbed to the clientelism of the Mubarak 
regime. The NPUP’s move from confrontation to co- 
operation was epitomized in 1995 by Mubarak’s 
appointment of one of its leaders, Rifa‘at al-Sa‘id, to the 
Consultative (Shura) Council. ‘It was’, declared Sa‘id, 
‘crazy to isolate ourselves from the system of which we 
are part.’— 


Iran and Iraq 

During the Second World War the Red Army, together 
with forces from its Western allies, had occupied Iran. 
Soviet intelligence used the occupation to establish its 
largest presence so far beyond its borders with nearly 
forty residencies and sub-residencies. The main residency 
in Tehran had 115 operations officers. Their principal 
task, as in neighbouring areas of the Soviet Union, was 
the identification, abduction and liquidation of those 
whom Stalin considered ‘anti- Soviet’ elements.- Only 
strong post-war pressure from both the United States and 
Britain persuaded the Soviet Union to end its military 
occupation in 1946. For almost two decades thereafter 
Moscow hoped, and the West feared, that an Iranian 
revolution would bring a pro- Soviet regime to power. 
Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, who had become Shah in 1941 
shortly before his twenty- second birthday, remained 
uneasy on the ‘peacock throne’. In 1949 a group of Tudeh 
(Communist) Party members in the Iranian officer corps 
made an attempt on his life.- Though the Shah survived, 
his authority was weakened two years later when he 
yielded to public pressure and appointed the eccentric 
nationalist. Dr Muhammad Mossadeq, as his Prime 

Minister. Mossadeq promptly nationalized the oil industry 
- to the outrage of the British government which owned 
50 per cent of the shares in the Iranian Oil Company. 

Both Britain and, still more, the United States greatly 
exaggerated Mossadeq’ s susceptibility to Communist 
influence. When Dwight D. Eisenhower became President 
in January 1953, Sir Anthony Eden, the Foreign Secretary 
in Winston Churchill’s government, found him ‘obsessed 
by the fear of a Communist Iran’. Six months later the 
CIA and SIS jointly organized a coup which overthrew 
Mossadeq, and restored the authority of the Shah. 
According to Kermit Roosevelt, the CIA officer chiefly 
responsible for planning the coup, an emotional Shah told 
him afterwards, ‘I owe my throne to God, my people, my 
army - and to you!’ He then reached into his inside pocket 
and presented Roosevelt with a large gold cigarette case. 
On his way back to Washington, Roosevelt called at 
London to brief Churchill in person. He found the Prime 
Minister propped up in bed, recovering from a stroke but 
eager to hear a first-hand account of the coup. ‘Young 
man,’ said Churchill, when Roosevelt had finished his 
briefing, ‘if I had been but a few years younger, I should 
have loved nothing better than to have served under your 
command in this great venture!’ Eisenhower was equally 
enthusiastic. He wrote in his diary that Roosevelt’s 
exciting report ‘seemed more like a novel than a historical 
fact’. The short-term success of the coup, however, was 

heavily outweighed by the long-term damage to American 
and British policy in Iran.- It was easy for KGB active 
measures to encourage the widespread Iranian belief that 
the CIA and SIS continued to engage in sinister 
conspiracies behind the scenes. Even the Shah from time 
to time suspected the Agency of plotting against him. The 
Centre tried hard to encourage his suspicions. 

For a quarter of a century after the 1953 coup, none the 
less, the CIA’s influence in Tehran comfortably exceeded 
that of the KGB. The banning of the Tudeh Party and the 
exile of its leadership meant that the Centre was unable to 
rely in Iran on the assistance it received from fraternal 
Party leaders in a number of other Middle Eastern 
countries. In 1957, in order to both monitor and intimidate 
domestic opposition, the Shah created with help from 
both the CIA and Mossad a new state security and 
intelligence organization, better known by its acronym 
SAVAK, which rapidly acquired a fearsome reputation 
for brutality. Two years after its foundation, Iran and 
Israel signed a secret agreement on intelligence and 
military co-operation.- 

The KGB retaliated with a series of active measures to 
which it seems to have attached exaggerated importance. 
Late in 1957 the head of the Soviet department of the 
Iranian Foreign Office was trapped by a KGB agent into - 
allegedly - changing money illegally during a visit to 

Moscow and reported to the Iranian ambassador. 
According to a KGB report, he was dismissed on the 
personal orders of the Shah and replaced by a less anti- 
Soviet successor.- The Centre’s most effective tactic, 
however, was to exploit the Shah’s continuing sense of 
insecurity and recurrent fears of US double-dealing. In 
February 1958, Service A forged a letter from the 
American Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, to his 
ambassador in Tehran, belittling the Shah’s ability and 
implying that the United States was plotting his 
overthrow. The Tehran residency circulated copies of the 
letter to influential Iranian parliamentarians and editors in 
the confident expectation that one would come to the 
attention of the Shah - which it duly did. According to the 
KGB file on the operation, the Shah was completely taken 
in by the fabricated Dulles letter and personally instructed 
that a copy be sent to the US embassy with a demand for 
an explanation. Though the embassy dismissed it as a 
forgery, the Tehran residency reported that its denials 
were disbelieved. Dulles’s supposedly slighting 
references to the Shah were said to be a frequent topic of 
whispered conversation among the Iranian elite.- The 
impact of these insults on the Shah’s insecure personality 
was all the greater because of the court culture of 
‘shadulation’ which normally protected him from any hint 
of criticism. 

The Shah’s irritation with the United States was 

increased by its failure to provide as much military aid as 
he wanted. During 1959 he flirted with the idea of signing 
a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union unless his 
demands were met by Washington. Dulles privately 
complained that the Shah was coming close to ‘blackmail 
tactics’ .- Friction between Tehran and Washington was 
skilfully exacerbated by the Centre. In 1960 Service A 
fabricated secret instructions from the Pentagon ordering 
US missions in Iran and other Third World countries to 
collaborate in espionage operations against the countries 
to which they were accredited and to assist in operations 
to overthrow regimes of which Washington disapproved. 
Copies of the forged instructions were sent in November 
to the Tehran embassies of Muslim states by a supposedly 
disaffected Iranian working for the US military mission. 
Once again, as the Centre had intended, the forgery was 
believed to be genuine by the Iranian government and 
came to the attention of the Shah. The US ambassador 
was summoned by the Iranian foreign minister and asked 
for an explanation. As a result of the active measures, 
according to the Tehran residency, in 1961 the Shah 
personally ordered the replacement of a number of pro- 
American Iranian officers .- 

The KGB also claimed to have influenced the Shah’s 
choice of his third (and last) wife, the twenty-one-year-old 
Farah Diba, whom it wrongly believed had Communist 
sympathies. The Centre boasted that, while Ms Diba was 

an architecture student in Paris, a KGB agent had 
persuaded the Iranian cultural attache, Djahanguir 
Tafazoli, to introduce her to the Shah.- Though she was 
unaware of the KGB’s interest in her, Farah Diba’s 
correspondence with her mother shows that there was 
some truth to the Centre’s boast. Her first meeting with 
the Shah took place at a reception at the Iranian embassy 
during his visit to Paris in the spring of 1959. Tafazoli 
took Ms Diba’s hand and tried to take her to meet the 
Shah. The shy Ms Diba hung back but when the Shah 
spoke to her later in the reception, she told her mother 
that, ‘Tafazoli added immediately, “Mademoiselle is a 
very good student. She is first in her class and she speaks 
French very well.” ’ Ms Diba added that it was ‘very nice 
of [Tafazoli] to have said so many nice things about me’. 
A cousin who was at the reception told her that the Shah 
clearly liked her and had his eyes on her as she left the 
room. ‘Of course’, wrote Ms Diba, ‘all of that is just 
talk.’— Only a few months later, however, she and the 
Shah became engaged. The KGB’s misplaced interest in 
the future Empress appears to have derived from the fact 
that she had a circle of Communist student friends within 
the Paris Left Bank cafe society which she frequented. A 
friend who persuaded her to attend a demonstration in 
support of Algerians ‘fighting French imperialism’ was 
later imprisoned in Iran as a member of the Tudeh 
Party.— The Centre was also encouraged by the fact that. 

unknown to Farah Diba, one of her relatives was a KGB 
agent codenamed RION.— The KGB, however, failed to 
realize that she remained, as she had been brought up, a 
convinced royalist. 

Though Farah Diba went to the pro- Algerian 
demonstration to counter taunts that she lacked the 
courage to do so, she recalls finding the world-view of her 
Communist and fellow-traveller friends ‘grim and deeply 
depressing’: ‘They were so young, but already they 
seemed to be against the whole world, extremely sour and 
bitter. You would have thought that, in their view, there 
was nothing worth keeping on this planet apart from the 
Soviet Union.’— 

As soon as Farah Diba became Empress of Iran in 
December 1959, it became clear that the KGB had 
misjudged her. The new Empress’s radicalism showed 
itself not in her politics but in her artistic tastes. Farah 
Diba scandalized both Shia clergy and conservative 
Iranians by her patronage of avant-garde Western art. At a 
time when, as one Iranian businessman put it, ‘we were 
only just beginning to listen to Bach’, the Empress’s 
interest in Stockhausen seemed shocking.— 

For some years after his marriage to Farah Diba the 
Shah’s position still appeared far from secure. At his 
summit meeting with John F. Kennedy in Vienna in 1961, 
Khrushchev confidently predicted that Iran would fall like 

a rotten fruit into Soviet hands. The CIA also thought that 
an Iranian revolution was on the cards. A National 
Intelligence Estimate of 1961 concluded, ‘Profound 
political and social change in one form or another is 
virtually inevitable.’ Among those plotting against the 
Shah was the brutal head of SAVAK, General Teimur 
Bakhtiar, whom the Shah sacked after receiving a warning 
from the CIA.— The Shah also had to endure several 
further assassination attempts. According to the KGB 
defector, Vladimir Kuzichkin, one of the attempts was 
organized by the KGB and personally approved by 
Khrushchev. In February 1962 a Volkswagen Beetle 
packed with explosive by a KGB illegal was parked on 
the route taken by the Shah as he drove to the Majlis (the 
Iranian parliament). As the Shah’s motorcade passed the 
VW, the illegal pressed the remote control but the 
detonator failed to explode.— There was no further plot 
by the KGB to assassinate the Shah, due in large part to a 
dramatic scaling down of its foreign assassinations after 
the damaging international publicity given to the trial in 
West Germany later in the year of one of the Centre’s 
leading assassins, Bogdan Stashinsky.— 

During the Khrushchev era sabotage replaced 
assassination as the most important of the ‘special 
actions’ for which the FCD was responsible. At the heart 
of its sabotage planning was the identification of foreign 
targets, mostly in the West, and preparations for their 

destruction in time of war or other crises by Soviet 
sabotage and intelligence groups (diversionnye 
razvedyvatelnye gruppy or DRGs) operating with local 
Communist or other partisans.— Greater preparations for 
sabotage were made in Iran than in any other non- 
Westem country. Between 1967 and 1973 a series of 
landing sites, bases and arms dumps for DRGs in Iranian 
Kurdistan, Iranian Azerbaijan and Abadan were selected, 
photographed and reconnoitred in detail, mostly by KGB 
illegals. The Azerbaijani, Kazakh and Kyrgyz KGBs were 
ordered to assist in recruiting illegals who could pass as 
members of one of Iran’s ethnic groups and help in setting 
up illegal residencies on Iranian territory.— Following 
Andropov’s call in 1967 for a new ‘offensive to paralyse 
the actions of our enemies’, the main priority of FCD 
Department V became the planning of ‘special actions of 
a political nature’ - the peacetime use of sabotage and 
other forms of violence in the furtherance of Soviet 
policy. Line F officers in residencies, who reported to 
Department V, were instructed to show greater ingenuity 
in devising ‘special actions’ in which the hand of the 
KGB would be undetectable. — In Tehran alone detailed 
preparations were made for the bombing of twenty-three 
major buildings (among them royal palaces, major 
ministries, the main railway station, police and SAVAK 
headquarters, TV and radio centres) as well as key points 
in the electricity supply system and fifteen telephone 

exchanges.— None of these elaborate schemes, however, 
ever proceeded beyond the planning stage. In September 
1971 the defection of a Line F officer in the London 
residency, Oleg Adolfovich Lyalin, compromised many 
of Department V’s plans and led to the recall of most 
other Line F officers. Though the planning of ‘special 
actions of a political nature’ by the KGB continued, they 
never again had the same priority.— 

During the later 1960s the Shah’s regime seemed to 
stabilize. The United States, whose military aid was on a 
much larger scale than a decade earlier, saw partnership 
with Iran and Saudi Arabia as the key to preserving 
Western access to the oil of the Persian Gulf. The Shah 
acquired the image in the West of an enlightened despot 
gallantly pursuing liberal reforms in the teeth of bigoted 
opposition. Washington and other Western capitals 
preferred to turn a blind eye when the Shah used SAVAK 
to crush protests from left-wing militants, independent- 
minded liberals and Islamic activists, chief among them 
the Ayatollah Khomeini.— A brief for President Lyndon 
Johnson before the visit to Washington in 1968 by the 
Iranian Prime Minister, Amir Abbas Hoveyda, warned, 
‘Queries about party politics should be avoided because 
the Iranian parliament is a one-party body, hand-picked 
by the Shah in an effort at “guided democracy”. Freedom 
of the press is similarly a touchy subject.’— Though the 
Soviet Union maintained a tone of official cordiality in its 

relations with Iran, it was well aware that it was losing the 
struggle for influence in Tehran to the United States. The 
appointment in 1973 of the former Director of Central 
Intelligence, Richard Helms, as US ambassador in Tehran 
seemed to demonstrate that the special relationship 
between the Shah and the CIA had survived disruption by 
KGB active measures. The Soviet ambassador, Vladimir 
Yerofeyev, said sneeringly to Hoveyda, ‘We hear the 
Americans are sending their Number One spy to Iran.’ 
‘The Americans are our friends,’ Hoveyda retorted. ‘At 
least they don’t send us their Number Ten spy!’— 

During the early 1970s the Soviet Union’s most reliable 
major ally in the Middle East increasingly appeared to be 
Iran’s main regional opponent, Iraq. The preoccupation of 
the Ba‘thist regime in Baghdad with plots against it, 
probably even greater than that of the Shah, was skilfully 
exploited by the KGB, which claimed much of the credit 
for alerting President Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr and other 
Iraqi leaders to a conspiracy against them in January 
1970. The Iraqi government declared that the conspirators 
had been acting in collusion with ‘the reactionary 
government in Iran’, with which it had a serious border 
dispute over the Shatt el- Arab waterway, and expelled the 
Iranian ambassador. In December Iran in turn accused 
Iraq of plotting to overthrow the Shah. Diplomatic 
relations between the two states were broken off in the 
following year. The Baghdad residency reported with 

satisfaction that, as a result of its active measures, many 
‘reactionary’ army officers and politicians had been 
arrested and executed - among them a former military 
governor of Baghdad whom it blamed for a massacre of 
Iraqi Communists seven years earlier.— In 1972 another 
active-measures operation, codenamed FEMIDA, 
compromised further Iraqi ‘reactionaries’ who were 
accused of contact with SAVAK and SIS.— 
Simultaneously Moscow put pressure on a somewhat 
reluctant Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) to reach an 
accommodation with the Ba‘th regime.— In April 1972 
the Soviet Union and Iraq signed a fifteen-year Treaty of 
Friendship and Co-operation. A month later two 
Communists entered the Iraqi cabinet. In July 1973 the 
Ba‘th and ICP joined in a Ba‘th-dominated Progressive 
National and Patriotic Front (PNPF).— 

Simultaneously the KGB maintained covert contact in 
northern Iraq with the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic 
Party (KDP), Mullah Mustafa Barzani (codenamed 
RAIS), who had spent over a decade in exile in the Soviet 
Union after the Second World War. From 1968 to 1972 
the KGB carried out twenty-three operations to pass funds 
to Barzani.— In 1973, after a series of clashes with Iraqi 
forces, Barzani publicly accused the Baghdad government 
of duplicity and double-dealing. Forced to choose 
between the Ba‘th regime and the Kurds, Moscow opted 
for the Ba‘th. Betrayed by the Soviet Union, Barzani 

turned instead to Iran, the United States and Israel, who 
provided him with covert support. In 1974 full-scale war 
broke out between the Kurds and the Ba‘th regime. At its 
peak, 45,000 Kurdish guerrillas succeeded in pinning 
down over 80,000 Iraqi troops, 80 per cent of the total. 
According to a UN report, 300,000 people were forced to 
flee their homes. The war ended in victory for Baghdad in 
1975 when Iran and Iraq settled their differences and the 
Shah withdrew support for the Kurds. Barzani was forced 
into exile in the United States, where he died four years 
later. In July 1975 Iraq became the first Middle Eastern 
country to be admitted to Comecon with the status of 

Since 1969, the British embassy in Baghdad had 
correctly identified Saddam Hussein as President Bakr’s 
‘heir apparent’. The embassy found him a ‘presentable 
young man’ with ‘an engaging smile’ who, despite his 
reputation as a ‘Party extremist’, might ‘mellow’ with 
added responsibility. Speaking ‘with great warmth and 
what certainly seemed sincerity’, Saddam assured the 
British ambassador that Iraq’s relationship with the Soviet 
bloc ‘was forced upon it by the central problem of 
Palestine’, and expressed an apparently ‘earnest’ hope for 
improved ties with Britain and the United States. The 
ambassador summed up Saddam as ‘a formidable, single- 
minded and hard-headed member of the Ba‘athist 
hierarchy, but one with whom, if only one could see more 

of him, it would be possible to do business’.— Moscow, 
however, was impressed by a quite different side of the 
Iraqi heir apparent’s devious personality. Saddam 
Hussein’s fascination with the career of Joseph Stalin 
appeared to offer an unusual opportunity to strengthen 
Soviet-Iraqi relations. Saddam’s henchmen had frequently 
to listen to his tedious descriptions of Stalin’s powers of 
dictatorial leadership. A Kurdish politician. Dr Mahmoud 
Othman, who visited his private apartments, was struck 
not merely by the crates of Johnnie Walker whisky but 
also by his bookshelf of works on Stalin translated into 
Arabic. ‘You seem fond of Stalin,’ Othman told him. 
‘Yes,’ replied Saddam, ‘I like the way he governed his 
country.’ The KGB arranged secret visits by Saddam to 
all the villas which had been reserved for Stalin’s private 
use along the Black Sea coast. Stalin’s biographer, Simon 
Sebag Montefiore, has plausibly argued that among the 
qualities which Saddam so admired was Stalin’s sadistic 
pleasure in disposing of his enemies. ‘My greatest 
delight’, Stalin once admitted, ‘is to mark one’s enemy, 
avenge oneself thoroughly, then go to sleep.’ Saddam 
shared a similar mindset.— 

Moscow’s hopes of turning Iraq into its major Middle 
Eastern bridgehead were reflected in its growing military 
investment. From 1974 to 1978 Iraq was the chief 
recipient of Soviet military aid to the Third World. The 
Soviet bridgehead in Baghdad, however, was always 

insecure. With Kurdish resistance apparently broken in 
1975, the brutal Ba‘th regime had less need thereafter of 
Communist support and set about achieving the complete 
subordination of the ICP. Desperate to avoid an open 
breach with Baghdad, Moscow made no public protest at 
the open persecution of Iraqi Communists which began in 
1977. The Iraqi leader most suspicious of the Soviet-ICP 
connection was probably Saddam Hussein, whose 
admiration for Stalin did not extend to sympathy for Iraqi 
Communists. Saddam’s suspicions of a plot to prepare a 
Communist take-over in Iraq were fuelled by Soviet 
support for a coup in Afghanistan in April 1978 which 
brought to power a Marxist regime headed by Nur 
Muhammad Taraki. The Ba‘th regime in Iraq swiftly 
denounced the ICP’s ‘subservience to Moscow’. Twenty- 
one Party members were executed on charges of ‘forming 
secret groups inside the Iraqi armed forces’. ‘The Soviet 
Union’, declared Saddam Hussein, ‘will not be satisfied 
until the whole world becomes Communist. ’— 

With the Party forced into an underground existence, 
an ICP Politburo member, Zaki Khayri (codenamed 
SEDOY, ‘Bald’), asked the KGB resident in Baghdad to 
take the Party archives into safe-keeping. In an elaborate 
operation on 18 August 1978 approved by the Centre, an 
ICP car containing three trunks of Party documents 
followed a pre-arranged route through Baghdad, kept 
under surveillance by KGB officers, to a secret 

rendezvous where the archives were transferred to a 
residency car.— In November, A. A. Barkovsky, the 
Soviet ambassador to Iraq, reported to Moscow that three 
of the seven-man Politburo, including the general 
secretary, Aziz Muhammad (codenamed GLAVNY, 
‘Head’), had gone abroad some months earlier. According 
to the ambassador, their absence had aroused great 
suspicion within the Ba‘th regime, which doubtless 
suspected that a plot was being hatched.— Its suspicions 
would have been all the greater had it known that 
Muhammad was in exile in Moscow and communicating 
with the ICP via the Baghdad residency.— 

Early in 1979 the purge of ICP members intensified. 
Writing in the March issue of the World Marxist Review, 
the Iraqi Communist Nazibah Dulaymi declared that, in 
addition to executions of Party militants, ‘more than 
10,000 persons have been arrested and subjected to 
mental and physical torture’. She naively expressed her 
confidence that ‘fraternal Communist and workers’ 
parties’ would demand ‘an immediate end to the 
repression against Communists and their friends in Iraq’. 
The Soviet Communist Party, however, remained silent. 
At a time when Iraq was at the forefront of the Arab 
campaign to prevent the Carter administration brokering a 
peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, Moscow was 
cravenly anxious not to antagonize Baghdad. The torture 
and execution of Iraqi Communists counted for less in 

Soviet eyes than Iraqi attempts to disrupt the Middle 
Eastern peace process.— 

The brutal persecution of Iraqi Communists in 1978-79 
coincided with the rapid decline and fall of the Shah in 
Iran. Like Western intelligence agencies, the KGB was 
taken by surprise. During Hoveyda’s twelve years as 
Prime Minister (1965-77), the Tehran residency had 
limited success in penetrating the regime. Its two most 
important Iranian agents during this period. General 
Ahmad Mogarebi, codenamed MAN,— and a relative of 
Hoveyda, codenamed ZHAMAN, had both been 
recruited, apparently as ideological agents, in the early 
years of the Cold War. Mogarebi was responsible during 
the final years of the Shah’s rule for arms purchases from 
the United States and other Western states. According to 
Vladimir Kuzichkin, who later defected from the Tehran 
residency, he was ‘regarded as the Residency’s best 
agent’ and had ‘innumerable connections in various 
spheres of Iranian life, including the court of the Shah, the 
government and SAVAK’.— Mogarebi became an 
increasingly mercenary agent whose growing importance 
was reflected in his monthly salary, raised in 1972 from 
150-200 to 330 convertible rubles a month and in 1976 to 
500 rubles. In 1976 he was awarded the Order of the Red 
Banner. Because of the shortage of high-grade 
intelligence from other sources, in 1976-77 the residency 
breached normal security procedures by contacting 

Mogarebi every two weeks.— The habitual method of 
contact was by radio communication from a residency car, 
usually parked within 1,500 metres of his home.— For 
meetings with his controller, Boris Kabanov (remembered 
by Kuzichkin as ‘Everybody’s favourite, with a sense of 
humour, good natured, quiet, always smiling . . .’),— 
Mogarebi would leave his house and rendezvous with the 
nearby car. The fact that a residency car with diplomatic 
number plates was to be seen in the vicinity of 
Mogarebi ’s house every fortnight might well have led to 
his arrest by SAVAK in September 1977.— 

The KGB found ZHAMAN far less reliable than 
Mogarebi. When recruited as an ideological agent in 
1952, he eulogized the Soviet Union as ‘the stronghold of 
progress in the struggle against Imperialism and Anglo- 
American dominance in Iran’. His KGB file, however, 
complains that he was sometimes ‘uncontrollable’. In 
1956 he shocked his controller by condemning the Soviet 
suppression of the Hungarian Uprising. By the time his 
relative Amir Abbas Hoveyda became Prime Minister, 
ZHAMAN’ s ideological commitment to the Soviet cause 
had faded away. Though his file claims that he adopted a 
more pro- Western outlook for careerist reasons, it also 
acknowledges that he became genuinely devoted to the 
Shah, to whom he owed his career in the official 
bureaucracy. The Tehran residency reported that, because 
of his personal wealth, it had no means of putting 

financial pressure on him. In the mid-1970s, ZHAMAN 
none the less took part in KGB active-measures 
operations, passing disinformation prepared by Service A 
to the Shah as well as to American, Egyptian, Pakistani 
and Somali contacts. In 1977 ZHAMAN was presented 
by the KGB with a thousand-dollar pair of cufflinks for 
his assistance in promoting Soviet active measures. — 

In the summer of 1977 economic crisis and growing 
discontent at rising prices and daily power cuts in Tehran 
led to the resignation of Hoveyda as Prime Minister. Over 
the next year the newly arrived Soviet ambassador, 
Vladimir Vinogradov, formerly stationed in Cairo, paid 
regular calls on Hoveyda at home. SAVAK, predictably, 
took a close interest in his movements. On one occasion 
Hoveyda told Vinogradov that he had seen a SAVAK 
report to the Shah complaining that they were having 
Tong political discussions’.— As unrest spilled into the 
Tehran streets, the slogans used by demonstrators were 
mostly religious rather than political: Allahu Akhbar!, 
then increasingly Allahu Akhbar! Khomeini Rakhbar! 
(‘God is Great! Khomeini is Our Leader!’). The 
Mujahidin and Fedayin, left-wing groupings who 
organized demonstrations and strikes, chose the same 
slogans to win popular support. — The KGB residency 
failed to take seriously the religious fervour of the Tehran 
demonstrations and pinned its hopes instead on the 
prospect of a left-wing revolution sweeping the Shah from 

power. The Centre was much less optimistic about the 
prospects of the Iranian left. ‘The most likely alternative 
to the Shah if he were to leave the political stage’, it 
believed, ‘would be the military. The opposition to the 
regime in Iran is weak and uncoordinated. In general the 
opposition in Iran is not a threat to the present regime . . 

It did not yet occur either to the KGB or to most 
Western intelligence services that the seventy- five-year- 
old Shi’ite fundamentalist Ayatollah Khomeini, who had 
lived in exile for the past thirteen years, represented any 
serious threat to the Shah.— Gary Sick, the desk officer 
for Iran in the US National Security Council, noted in 
retrospect, ‘The notion of a popular revolution leading to 
the establishment of a theocratic state seemed so unlikely 
as to be absurd.’ On that point both the White House and 
the Kremlin were agreed. Visiting Tehran at the beginning 
of 1978, President Jimmy Carter declared in a New Year 
toast, ‘Iran is an island of stability in one of the more 
troubled parts of the world.’ Only a year later, the Shah 
was forced to abdicate. — 

The well-publicized arrest of Mogarebi in September 
1977 produced what Kuzichkin described as ‘an 
intelligence vacuum’ in the Tehran residency. As a 
security precaution, it was ordered to suspend agent 
operations and prepare a damage assessment. With 
ZHAMAN abroad, the residency had in any case no other 
agent capable of providing high-grade intelligence during 

this critical period.— The residency’s problems were 
compounded by the Iranian refusal to grant visas for a 
number of FCD officers whom the Centre had intended to 
station in Tehran. During a visit to Hoveyda’s house in 
February 1978, Vinogradov asked if he could intervene 
with the authorities to help obtain the visas. Hoveyda 
declined. ‘I will tell you frankly what is happening,’ he 
replied. ‘The point is that SAVAK does not want to let the 
KGB into Iran.’— By this time, operating conditions in 
Tehran had become so difficult and the surveillance of the 
Soviet embassy so tight that the residency appealed to the 
Centre to retaliate against the Iranian embassy in 
Moscow. Its suggestions for the harassment of Iranian 
embassy personnel included draining the brake fluid from 
their cars and slashing their tyres.— 

Though operations officers under diplomatic cover in 
the Tehran residency were barely able to operate, KGB 
illegals succeeded in 1977 in hiding a secret weapons 
cache of twenty-seven Walther pistols and 2,500 rounds 
of ammunition in a dead letter-box (DLB) in the Tehran 
suburbs.— In accordance with common KGB practice, the 
DLB was probably fitted with a Molniya (‘Lightning’) 
booby-trap which was intended to destroy the contents if 
any attempt was made to open it by non-KGB personnel. 
Since the KGB is unlikely to have taken the risk of trying 
to retrieve the arms later, the cache may still be there and 
in a dangerous condition. (A booby-trapped KGB 

communications equipment cache in Switzerland whose 
location was identified by Mitrokhin exploded when fired 
on by a water cannon. According to the Swiss Federal 
Prosecutor’s Office, ‘Anyone who tried to move the 
container [in the cache] would have been killed.’)— 
Though the purpose of the arms cache is not recorded in 
Mitrokhin’ s brief note on the illegal operation which put 
it in place, the arms were probably intended for use in the 
event of a popular rising against the Shah’s regime. In the 
spring of 1978 a Line PR officer at the Tehran residency 
under diplomatic cover, Viktor Kazakov, confidently told 
an American contact that the Shah would be toppled by 
‘oppressed masses rising to overthrow their shackles’.— 
The still banned Tudeh (Communist) Party, operating 
through front organizations, began to show renewed signs 
of life, distributing anti-Shah leaflets and a news-sheet 
covertly produced with the help of the Tehran residency 
and Tass, the Soviet news agency.— During the summer 
of 1978, however, most Middle Eastern experts in the 
Centre still believed that the Shah’s regime was too strong 
to be overthrown in the foreseeable future.— In July 1978, 
at a meeting in Moscow with the Tehran resident, Ivan 
Anisimovich Fadeykin, Andropov was less concerned by 
the possible consequences of toppling the Shah than by 
the threat posed to the southern borders of the Soviet 
Union by the Shah’s alliance with the United States. 
Andropov instructed Fadeykin to step up active measures 

designed to destabilize the Shah’s regime and to damage 
its relations with the United States and its allies.— 

As the Shah’s position worsened, he increasingly 
resorted to conspiracy theories to account for his 
misfortunes. KGB active measures probably had at least 
some success in strengthening his suspicions of the 
United States. ‘Why do [the Americans] pick on me?’ he 
plaintively asked his advisers in the summer of 1978.— 
The KGB fed disinformation to the Shah that the CIA was 
planning to create disturbances in Tehran and other cities 
to bring him down and that Washington was searching for 
a successor who could stabilize the country after his 
overthrow with the help of the army and SAVAK.— 
There were moments when the Shah did indeed fear that 
Washington intended to abandon him and turn instead to 
Islamic fundamentalism to build a barrier against Soviet 
influence in the Middle East. Not all the Shah’s 
conspiracy theories, however, conformed to those devised 
by Service A. At times he feared that the United States 
and the Soviet Union were jointly conspiring to divide 
Iran between them. Some of the Shah’s family had even 
more bizarre theories. According to his son and heir, 
Reza, the Americans bombarded the Shah with radiation 
which brought on the malignant lymphoma that 
eventually killed him.— 

The Tehran residency remained resolutely hostile to 

Khomeini. He had, it reported, denounced Iranian 
Communists as unpatriotic puppets of Moscow and was 
incensed by the Communist coup in Afghanistan in April 
which he believed had cut short its transformation into an 
Islamic regime. Though noting increasing popular support 
for Khomeini, the residency believed that he did not plan 
to step into the shoes of the Shah himself.— It was badly 
mistaken. Though Khomeini had started his revolt against 
the Shah without political ambitions of his own, fourteen 
years of exile had changed his mind. His aim now was to 
preside over Iran’s transformation into an Islamic republic 
ruled by Shia religious scholars.— The KGB’s failure to 
understand Khomeini’s intentions derived not from any 
lack of secret intelligence but from the fact that it had not 
bothered to study his tape-recorded sermons which drew 
such an emotional response in Iranian mosques. The CIA 
made the same mistake.— The middle-class Iranian 
liberals who had wanted to be rid of the autocracy and 
corruption of the Shah’s regime were equally surprised by 
the consequences of his overthrow. 

On 16 January 1979 the Shah left Iran for Egypt, vainly 
hoping that the military would take control and enable 
him to return. Instead, on I February Khomeini returned 
in triumph from exile in Paris to a delirious welcome from 
3 million supporters who thronged the airport and streets 
of Tehran. Within a week Khomeini’s supporters had 
taken control of the police and administration in a number 

of cities across the country. On 9 February a pro- 
Khomeini mutiny began among air-force technicians and 
spread to other sections of the armed forces. The Tehran 
residency was able to follow the dramatic transfer of 
allegiance to the new Islamic regime by monitoring the 
radio networks of the police and armed services. While on 
duty in the residency’s IMPULS radio interception station 
on 10 February, Kuzichkin listened to government and 
rebel-controlled police stations exchanging sexual insults 
over the air. Next day, it became clear that the rebels had 
won. The government resigned and Khomeini’s nominee, 
Mehdi Bazargan, became acting Prime Minister.— 
Among the most prominent early victims of Khomeini’s 
revolution was Amir Abbas Hoveyda, who was sentenced 
to death by a revolutionary tribunal headed by the 
‘Hanging Ayatollah’, Hojjat al-Islam Khalkhali, in May 
1979. Khalkhali kept the pistol used to execute Hoveyda 
as a souvenir. The front pages of Tehran newspapers 
carried gruesome pictures of his bloodstained corpse.— 
The FCD officer who closed Hoveyda’ s file in the Centre 
wrote on it, ‘A pity for the poor man. He was harmless 
and useful for us.’— 

The Ayatollah Khomeini (codenamed KHATAB by the 
KGB)— was even more prone than the Shah to conspiracy 
theories. All opposition to the Islamic revolution was, he 
believed, the product of conspiracy, and all Iranian 
conspirators were in the service of foreign powers. He 

denounced those Muslims who did not share his radical 
views as ‘American Muslims’ and many left-wingers as 
‘Russian spies’. Since Khomeini claimed to be installing 
‘God’s government’, his opponents were necessarily 
enemies of God Himself: ‘Revolt against God’s 
government is a revolt against God. Revolt against God is 
blasphemy. ’— At least during the early years of the new 
Islamic Republic, the KGB found Iran even more fertile 
ground for active measures than under the Shah. Its chief 
targets included both the US embassy in Tehran and 
members of the new regime who were judged to have 
‘anti-Soviet tendencies’.— KGB operations against the US 
embassy, however, paled into insignificance by 
comparison with those of the new regime. On 4 
November 1979 several thousand officially approved 
militants, claiming to be ‘students following the Imam 
[Khomeini] ’s line’, overran the American embassy, 
declared it a ‘den of spies’, and took hostage over fifty US 
diplomatic personnel. But if the United States was 
denounced as the ‘Great Satan’ by Iran’s fundamentalist 
revolutionaries, the Soviet Union was the ‘Small Satan’. 
After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan at the end of the 
year, Leonid Shebarshin (codenamed SHABROV), who 
had become Tehran resident a few months earlier,— 
feared an attack on the Soviet embassy. A first incursion 
on New Year’s Day 1980 did little damage and was 
repulsed by the local police. By the time a second attack 

took place on the first anniversary of the invasion of 
Afghanistan, so many bars and metal doors had been 
fitted to the embassy that it resembled, in Shebarshin’s 
view, ‘something between a zoo and a prison’. No 
hostages were taken and no documents seized.— The 
world’s attention remained focused on the American 
hostages, who were finally freed in January 1981. 

The large cache of diplomatic and CIA documents 
discovered in the US embassy, many painstakingly 
reassembled by the Iranians from shredded fragments, 
provided further encouragement both for the new 
regime’s many conspiracy theorists and for Service A. 
Among the victims of the conspiracy theorists was the 
relatively moderate first President of the Islamic 
Republic, Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, one of Khomeini’s 
former companions in exile. Captured CIA cables and 
reports showed that the Agency had given him the 
codename SDLURE-1 and tried to ‘cultivate and recruit’ 
him in both Tehran and Paris. Though there was no 
evidence that Bani-Sadr ever had any conscious dealings 
with the CIA, the mere fact of its interest in him damned 
him in the eyes of many militants.— Bani-Sadr was 
simultaneously a target for KGB active-measures 
operations. — Though Mitrokhin’s notes give no details, 
the purpose of the operations was probably to reinforce 
suspicions that he had been a US agent. Bani-Sadr was 
forced to step down as President in June 1981. 

Not content with the compromising documents 
plundered by Iranian militants from the US embassy, the 
KGB conducted a joint operation (codenamed TAYFUN, 
‘Typhoon’) with the Bulgarian intelligence service during 
1980, using a series of far more sensational forgeries 
purporting to come from a (fictitious) underground 
Military Council for Salvation plotting the overthrow of 
Khomeini and the restoration of the monarchy. The 
Centre claimed that the Khomeini regime was taken in by 
the forgeries and blamed the non-existent Military 
Council for a number of attacks on its supporters. Further 
disinformation on plots against the Islamic revolution 
(including an alleged attempt to assassinate Khomeini) by 
the CIA, SIS, Mossad, the French SDECE and the 
German BND was fed by the KGB resident in Beirut, 
codenamed KOLCHIN,— to the leader of the PLO, Yasir 
Arafat. According to KGB reports, Arafat personally 
passed the disinformation on to Khomeini. Service A 
fabricated a report to the CIA from a fictitious Iranian 
agent providing further apparent evidence of an Agency- 
sponsored attempt on Khomeini’s life.— 

Among the chief targets of KGB active measures 
within the Khomeini regime, besides Bani-Sadr, was 
Sadeq Qotbzadeh, who had also been in Khomeini’s inner 
circle during his years in exile and became Foreign 
Minister soon after the occupation of the US embassy. In 

the spring of 1980 Qotbzadeh told Moscow that if it failed 
to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, Iran would give 
military assistance to the Mujahidin. In July he ordered 
the Soviet embassy in Tehran to cut its staff.— Though 
neither of these episodes was mentioned in the Soviet 
press, Moscow took a secret revenge. Service A forged a 
letter to Qotbzadeh from US Senator Harrison Williams, 
who had met him twenty years earlier while Qotbzadeh 
was a student in the United States. The letter advised 
Qotbzadeh not to release the American hostages in the 
immediate future and also contained information intended 
to compromise Qotbzadeh personally. In July 1980 the 
Iranian ambassador in Paris was fed further 
disinformation alleging that Qotbzadeh was plotting with 
the Americans to overthrow Khomeini. Qotbzadeh was 
also said to have received a bribe of $6 million for 
helping to smuggle out of Iran six American diplomats 
who had taken refuge in the Canadian embassy in 
Tehran.— Though proof is lacking, these active measures 
probably helped to bring about Qotbzadeh’ s dismissal in 

The KGB considered Qotbzadeh such an important 
target that its attempt to discredit him continued even after 
he ceased to be Foreign Minister. Fabricated evidence 
purporting to show that he was a CIA agent probably 
contributed to his arrest in April 1982 on a charge of 
plotting to assassinate Khomeini. Service A continued to 

forge documents incriminating him after his arrest. The 
Tehran residency regarded as the ‘final nail in his coffin’ 
a bogus CIA telegram prepared by Service A in an easily 
broken code and addressed to an agent readily identifiable 
as Qotbzadeh.— He and about seventy army officers 
accused of conspiring with him were shot in September. 
Another target of KGB active measures, Grand Ayatollah 
Kazem Shari ’atmadari,— a senior religious scholar seen as 
a rival by Khomeini, was also accused of complicity in 
the plot. Threatened with the execution of his son, 
Shari ’atmadari was forced to humiliate himself on 
television and plead for Khomeini’s forgiveness. 
Subsequently he became the first Ayatollah ever to be 
defrocked, and spent the last four years of his life under 
house arrest.— 

Despite its success in incriminating a number of senior 
figures in the new Islamic Republic, however, the KGB 
had only a minor influence on the bloodletting as a whole. 
The impact of the bogus conspiracies devised by Service 
A was far smaller than that of the actual attempt to 
overthrow the Khomeini regime in June 1981 by the 
Iranian Mujahidi yi Khalq (Holy Warriors), who drew 
their inspiration from both Islam and Marxism. Of the 
2,665 political prisoners executed by the Revolutionary 
Tribunals between June and November 1981, 2,200 were 
Mujahidi and about 400 members of various left-wing 
groups - a total seven times as great as that of the 

monarchists, real and alleged, executed over the previous 
sixteen months. The Mujahidi death toll continued to 
mount over the next few years.— 

The KGB’s intelligence collection in the early years of 
the Khomeini era had less impact than its active measures. 
When Shebarshin became Tehran resident in 1979, he 
criticized some of his operations officers for lack of 
energy in trying to cultivate contacts among the army and 
the mullahs, and for attempting to conceal their lack of 
high-grade sources. Ironically, one of those in whom he 
had most confidence was Vladimir Kuzichkin, who, as he 
later discovered, made secret contact in Tehran with SIS. 
Shebarshin ’s problems were compounded when the head 
of the residency’s Line PR was arrested in 1981 while 
meeting a foreign businessman whom he had targeted for 
recruitment; next day he was expelled from Iran. In the 
residency reorganization which followed, Kuzichkin was 
promoted. After his defection in the following year, 
Shebarshin concluded that the head of Line PR had been 
deliberately compromised by Kuzichkin to assist his own 

Shebarshin also had problems with the special 
commission on Iran set up by the Politburo after the fall 
of the Shah, nominally chaired by Brezhnev but with 
Andropov as its most influential member.— The Tehran 
residency sent what Shebarshin considered valuable 

reports from four non-Russian FCD officers whose ethnic 
origins - Armenian, Azeri, Turkmen and Uzbek - allowed 
them daily to mingle undetected with the local population. 
The Politburo Commission, however, was not satisfied 
with the residency’s lack of high-level sources in the 
Khomeini regime and its coverage of the hostage crisis in 
the American embassy. On 24 April 1980 (a day 
remembered by President Jimmy Carter as ‘one of the 
worst of my life’) a secret US attempt to rescue the 
hostages was aborted after a series of mechanical failures 
and accidents to the helicopters and aircraft involved in 
the rescue mission. At 1 a.m. Washington time on the 
25th, the White House announced the failure of the rescue 
attempt. Shebarshin was severely reprimanded by the 
Centre when he failed to send a report until the following 
day. He reasonably believed that the residency should not 
be expected to compete with the immediacy of the media 
reporting, and that it was better to wait twenty-four hours 
before producing a considered assessment. On several 
occasions Shebarshin also - probably unwittingly - 
committed the politically incorrect error of sending a 
report which contradicted Andropov’s misguided views 
on Iran. He reported correctly that news of the Shah’s 
death in exile in July 1980 had no significant impact on 
the still-fervent popular support for Khomeini, and that 
the monarchist cause was dead. Andropov made clear his 
disapproval of the report. In Shebarshin ’s view, he, like a 
number of others on the Politburo who had met the Shah, 

‘greatly overestimated his significance’.— 

The fall of the Shah and Khomeini’s rise to power in 
Iran were swiftly followed by the triumph of Saddam 
Hussein in Iraq. On 16 July 1979, at the climax of a long- 
prepared coup, Iraq’s Revolutionary Command Council 
relieved President Bakr of all his offices and installed 
Saddam, his former deputy, in his place. Six days later 
Saddam celebrated his conquest of power by arranging a 
filmed conference of senior Ba‘thist officials which might 
have been conceived as a tribute to his role model, Joseph 
Stalin. The proceedings began with the announcement of 
‘a painful and atrocious plot’ and a rehearsed, fabricated 
confession, reminiscent of Stalin’s show trials, by one of 
Saddam’s opponents, Muhi al-Din ‘Abd al-Husain 
Mashhadi, who declared that for the past four years he 
had been part of a Syrian plot aimed at removing Bakr 
and Saddam. Saddam, however, took a more direct role in 
the proceedings than Stalin had ever done. After 
Mashhadi had completed his confession, Saddam read out 
the names of sixty-six supposed traitors, all present at the 
conference, pausing occasionally to light his cigar. As 
those he had named were led away to be executed by their 
Party comrades, the audience erupted into hysterical 
chants of support for Saddam and demands of death for 
traitors. — Much of the energy of Saddam’s intelligence 
services, like those of Stalin, was to be expended on the 
hunting down of ‘traitors’ both at home and abroad. 

Saddam’s admiration for Stalin as a role model, however, 
did not diminish his suspicion of current Soviet policy. 
Among the victims of his first purge were those he 
suspected of favouring close ties with the Soviet Union, 
chief among them Murtada Sa’d ‘Abd al-Baqi, Iraqi 
ambassador to Moscow.— 

By the time Saddam Hussein seized power, the ICP had 
been driven underground. Though Moscow remained 
anxious to avoid an open breach with Baghdad, the 
Politburo agreed on secret support to the Party to enable it 
to organize opposition to Saddam. In April 1979 a 
member of the ICP Politburo codenamed STOGOV had 
two secret meetings in Tehran with the deputy head of the 
FCD Eighth (Iran and the non- Arab Middle East) 
Department, Lev Petrovich Kostromin, to report on the 
measures taken by the Party to prepare for ‘armed 
struggle’.— A camp for 100 partisans had been set up in 
the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan with the help of the 
Marxist-oriented Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) 
headed by Jalal Talabani. STOGOV claimed that three 
more partisan groups were in the process of formation and 
that talks were being held with Talabani in the hope of 
forming a united front against the Iraqi regime.— On 19 
July the Soviet Politburo authorized the KGB to supply 
the ICP with the equipment for a secret radio station at its 
base in Iraqi Kurdistan. Free training for three Iraqis 
chosen to operate the station was provided in the Soviet 

Union.— At a meeting with the deputy head of the FCD 
Eighteenth (Arab states) Department, G. P. Kapustyan, on 
19 October, the ICP leader, Aziz Muhammad, reported 
that calls for resistance to Saddam were being broadcast 
by the two Kurdish movements, the PUK and the 
nationalist Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), headed by 
Mas’ud Barzani (son of the KDP’s founder. Mullah 
Mustafa Barzani). Muhammad asked for ten relay stations 
to extend the station’s broadcasting range.— 

Soviet hostility to Saddam Hussein was reinforced by 
his immediate denunciation of the Soviet invasion of 
Afghanistan in December 1979. The following month 
Czechoslovakia secretly agreed to supply the ICP base in 
Kurdistan with 1,000 anti-tank rockets and several 
thousand Skorpion sub-machine guns with ammunition.— 
Further military supplies followed from the Soviet Union 
and Hungary.— Apart from acting as a conduit for Soviet- 
bloc arms, however, the ICP added little to the strength of 
Kurd resistance. Aziz Muhammad admitted to a KGB 
contact that Party organization inside Iraq had largely 
broken down. His plan to move the ICP Politburo to 
Kurdistan was being resisted by ‘some leading comrades’ 
who preferred to stay in exile in the Soviet bloc. 
Muhammad acknowledged that the Party needed to 
rectify the Tow level of its ideological work’, resolve 
internal differences, reorganize its security and 
intelligence system, and improve central direction.— 

The outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War in September 1980 
reduced Soviet-Iraqi relations to their lowest point since 
the establishment of the Ba‘th regime. Saddam’s invasion 
of Iran, whose immediate pretext was the long-running 
border dispute over the Shatt al-Arab waterway, was 
motivated by a mixture of fear and aggression: fear that 
Khomeini would rouse Iraq’s Shia majority to revolt, 
combined with a desire to take advantage of the confusion 
in the Iranian armed forces brought about by the Islamic 
revolution. Moscow declared its neutrality in the conflict 
and cut off all military supplies to Iraq, including those 
due under existing contracts. Saddam’s delusions of 
grandeur made him confident, none the less, of an easy 
victory. A popular joke put Iraq’s population at 28 
million: 14 million Iraqis and 14 million portraits of 
Saddam Hussein. Oil export revenues, which had risen 
from $1 billion in 1972 to $21 billion in 1979, fed 
Saddam’s ambitions. Traq’, he boasted, ‘is as great as 
China, as great as the Soviet Union and as great as the 
United States.’— Among the greatest of Saddam’s 
delusions was his absurd belief, despite his complete lack 
of military experience, in his own military genius.— His 
inept generalship helped to ensure that, instead of ending 
in a quick victory, the war with Iran was to drag on for 
eight years and end with fighting inside Iraq. 

The Kurds, as well as the Iranians, benefited from 

Saddam’s military incompetence. At the end of 1980 Aziz 
Muhammad sent an optimistic message to the Soviet 
Politburo via the KGB resident in Damascus. War with 
Iran had forced Saddam to reduce his forces in Kurdistan. 
The ICP, Muhammad reported, was making progress in 
bringing together the Kurdish factions into a unified 
military campaign to overthrow Saddam’s dictatorship. 
Armed ICP partisan units in Iraqi Kurdistan, including 
some members of the Central Committee, were ready to 
join the armed struggle. Significantly, however, 
Muhammad spoke not of thousands but only of 
‘hundreds’ of Communist partisans. In reality, though 
Muhammad refused to recognize it, the ICP units had no 
prospect either of posing a significant threat to Saddam 
Hussein or of providing leadership for the much more 
numerous Kurdish detachments. ‘You, dear Comrades’, 
he told the Soviet Politburo, ‘remain our main support and 
hope.’ He asked for $500,000 to support ‘the struggle of 
our partisan detachments and the work of our Party within 
Iraq’ during the coming year.— 

Soviet support for Kurdish partisans in Iraq remained 
secret. During the Twenty-sixth Congress of the CPSU in 
the spring of 1981 Aziz Muhammad denounced the 
campaign of ‘savage repression’ conducted against the 
ICP and the Kurdish people by the Iraqi Ba‘th regime. 
But, at least in the Pravda version of his speech, he was 
allowed to make no reference to the partisan war to 

overthrow Saddam Hussein. Muhammad was permitted 
only to say, vaguely, that the ICP was employing ‘diverse 
methods for the struggle for the establishment of a 
democratic regime and autonomy for the Kurdish 
people’.— In the last resort Moscow was unwilling to give 
large-scale support to the Kurds for fear of helping 
Khomeini achieve victory in the Iran-Iraq War. 

In the summer of 1981, having lost hope of a quick 
victory over Iran, Saddam abandoned his opposition to 
the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union 
responded by inconspicuously ending its arms embargo. 
Soviet arms deliveries during the remainder of the year, 
however, fell far short of Iraqi requirements. In 1982 the 
tide of war shifted in favour of Tehran. During the spring 
Iran recovered almost all the territory lost since the 
beginning of the conflict. In June Iraq announced a 
unilateral withdrawal from Iranian territory. Iran, 
however, failed to respond to Saddam’s peace moves and 
carried the war onto Iraqi territory. Anxious to prevent an 
Iranian victory, Moscow resumed large-scale arms 
exports to Iraq for the first time since the start of the war. 
In return Saddam declared a general amnesty for Iraqi 
Communists and released many from jail.— The Soviet 
Union no longer had any illusions about the prospects of 
turning Iraq into its main Middle Eastern bridgehead. The 
prospect of an Iranian victory over Iraq, however, 
followed by a triumphant Khomeini inciting Soviet 

Muslims to revolt, was totally unacceptable. The scale of 
Soviet military supplies to Baghdad was thus carefully 
calculated to prevent decisive victory by either side. 
Kissinger’s celebrated comment, ‘What a pity they can’t 
both lose!’, probably evoked some sympathy in Moscow. 

The partial mending of bridges between Moscow and 
Baghdad coincided with a Soviet intelligence disaster in 
Tehran. On 5 June 1982 Shebarshin was on holiday at a 
KGB sanatorium re-reading War and Peace when he 
received an urgent summons to Moscow, where he was 
told that Kuzichkin had disappeared from Tehran three 
days earlier. A KGB investigation eventually concluded, 
correctly, that Kuzichkin had been working for SIS and 
had fled across the Turkish border using a British 
passport. The next two months, Shebarshin wrote later, 
were ‘the most difficult, the most bitter period of my life’: 
‘It is painful for me to recall that I had once got on well 
with [Kuzichkin] and facilitated his promotion.’ 
Shebarshin was forced to return to Tehran to close down 
agent networks which Kuzichkin might have 

The final humiliation, so far as Shebarshin was 
concerned, was an order from the Centre to call on the 
head of the British diplomatic mission, Nicholas 
Barrington (later knighted), to ask how a British passport 
had come into Kuzichkin’ s possession: ‘The absurdity of 
this plan was clear to me, but someone in the Centre had 

imagined that the Englishman would reveal the whole 
truth to me. This was one of those stupid orders which I 
was forced to carry out periodically throughout the entire 
course of my service in the KGB.’— 

Shebarshin and Barrington had been on friendly terms 
since they had met while on diplomatic postings in 
Pakistan in the mid-1960s before Shebarshin joined the 
KGB - though Barrington’s wide range of Pakistani 
contacts had led Shebarshin to conclude wrongly that he 
was an SIS officer. On leaving the Soviet embassy in 
Tehran for the appointment made by his secretary with 
Barrington in the summer of 1982, Shebarshin had only to 
cross the road to enter the British embassy. Since the 
beginning of the hostage crisis at the US embassy, 
however, the Swedish, not the Union, flag had flown over 
the embassy. To protect those of its staff who remained in 
Tehran, it had become the British interests section of the 
Swedish embassy. Instead of following the Centre’s 
absurd instructions to ask Barrington about the British 
passport given to Kuzichkin to help him escape across the 
Turkish frontier, a question which no British diplomat 
would have dreamt of answering, Shebarshin merely 
reported that Kuzichkin had disappeared and asked if 
Barrington had any news. The two men then had a general 
discussion on the dangers of diplomatic life in 
Khomeini’s Iran.— ‘Barrington’, Shebarshin later 
recalled, ‘was courteous, even sympathetic, and promised 

to consult London. 

During his debriefing in Britain, Kuzichkin provided 
voluminous information on Soviet intelligence operations 
in Iran, which SIS shared with the CIA. Early in 1983 the 
CIA passed much of it on to Tehran. The Khomeini 
regime reacted swiftly, expelling Shebarshin and 
seventeen other Soviet intelligence officers, and arresting 
200 leading Tudeh militants, including the entire Central 
Committee, on charges of spying for Moscow.— On May 
Day the KGB residency was further embarrassed to see 
both the Tudeh secretary general, Nureddin Kianuri, and 
its leading ideologue, Ehsan Tabari, make grovelling 
televised confessions of ‘treason’, ‘subversion’ and other 
‘horrendous crimes’, later repeated in even greater detail 
at show trials where they obsequiously thanked the 
authorities for their ‘humane treatment’. Though both 
were spared, largely because of the propaganda value of 
their regular acts of public contrition, many other Party 
militants were executed or imprisoned. Tudeh 
disintegrated as a significant force in Iranian politics. 
Tehran newspaper headlines declared, ‘Members of the 
Central Committee Confess to Spying for the KGB’, 
‘Tudeh Created for the Sole Purpose of Espionage’ and 
‘Confessions Unprecedented in World History’.— 

KGB operations in both Iran and Iraq thus ended in 
strategic failure. Their main priority for what remained of 

the Soviet era was damage limitation. In the final stages 
of the Iran-Iraq War, Gorbachev agreed to supply Iraq 
with the Scud-B missiles whose use in rocket attacks on 
Iranian cities helped to persuade Khomeini in 1988 to, as 
he put it, ‘drink poison’ and agree to a cease-fire. Despite 
the loss of perhaps a million lives, the Iran-Iraq border 
remained precisely where it had been when Saddam 
began the war eight years before. 

Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990 - the 
first international crisis of the post-Cold War era - 
produced a sharp division of opinion among Gorbachev’s 
advisers. Next day Eduard Amrosievich Shevardnadze, 
the Soviet Foreign Minister, and James Baker, the US 
Secretary of State, jointly condemned the invasion and 
called on ‘the rest of the international community to join 
with us in an international cut-off of all arms supplies to 
Iraq’. A fortnight later Gorbachev made a televised 
defence of Soviet co-operation with the United States: 
‘For us to have acted in a different way would have been 
unacceptable since the [Iraqi] act of aggression was 
committed with the help of our weapons, which we had 
agreed to sell to Iraq to maintain its defence capability - 
not to seize foreign territories . . . ’ 

On 25 August the United States began a naval blockade 
of Iraq, an implied warning that it was prepared to go to 
war unless Saddam withdrew from Kuwait. The Centre, 
however, was deeply concerned that co-operation with the 

United States would weaken Soviet influence in the 
Middle East. With the support of the KGB Chairman 
Vladimir Kryuchkov and the Defence Minister Dmitri 
Yazov, Yevgeni Primakov, the Middle Eastern expert on 
Gorbachev’s Presidential Council whose links with the 
KGB went back thirty years, persuaded Gorbachev to 
send him on a mission to Baghdad. James Baker was 
impressed by Primakov’s ‘skill and cunning’ as well as 
his knowledge of Arab history, but regarded him as ‘an 
apologist for Saddam Hussein’. Primakov’s declared aim 
was to find a compromise which would leave Saddam 
with two disputed islands and an oil field in return for his 
withdrawal from the rest of Kuwait and the promise of an 
international conference on the Palestinian question. In 
Baker’s view, Primakov’s proposals were ‘more 
capitulation than compromise’. ‘And he had abetted 
Saddam’s strategy to weaken the Arab coalition [against 
him] by linking the Kuwaiti crisis with the larger Arab- 
Israeli conflict.’— Like Baker, the CIA was deeply 
suspicious of Primakov’s ‘game of footsie’ with 
Saddam.— So too was Shevardnadze, who privately 
communicated his suspicions to Baker. In October 
Shevardnadze told Primakov, in the presence of 
Gorbachev and Kryuchkov, that his proposals would be 
disastrous both for the Middle East and for Soviet foreign 
policy. Primakov, as he later acknowledged, lost his 
temper, ridiculing the Foreign Minister’s knowledge of 
Iraq. ‘How dare you,’ he sneered, ‘a graduate of a 

correspondence course from a teachers’ college in 
Kutaisi, lecture me on the Middle East, the region I’ve 
studied since my student days!’ ‘Yevgeni,’ interrupted 
Gorbachev, ‘stop right now!’— ‘Shevardnadze’, writes 
Baker, ‘felt betrayed by Primakov and humiliated by 
Gorbachev, who by allowing Primakov to peddle a peace 
initiative, had permitted him to usurp Shevardnadze’s 
authority as Foreign Minister.’— In December 1990, 
deeply depressed at the increasing power of the Moscow 
hard-liners, whom he rightly suspected of planning a 
coup, Shevardnadze resigned as Foreign Minister, 
publicly declaring his support for Gorbachev but calling 
his resignation ‘my protest against the onset of 

Primakov’s mission to Baghdad, however, achieved 
little. Saddam had become so deeply distrustful of Soviet 
intentions that he failed to show much interest in the 
lifeline which Primakov was trying to throw him. He told 
his advisers that Primakov’s warning that Iraq faced 
attack by a multinational coalition if there was no 
negotiated settlement was simply a Soviet attempt to 
intimidate him. Saddam refused to believe, until the last 
minute, that the US-led air attack would be followed by a 
ground offensive.— His suspicions of Soviet policy also 
led him to disregard intelligence of great importance. Just 
before the beginning of the ground offensive, operation 
DESERT STORM, in February 1991, satellite imagery 

shown by Soviet military experts to the Iraqi leadership 
provided convincing evidence that coalition forces were 
about to launch a flanking attack (the so-called ‘Hail 
Mary’ strategy) instead of - as was widely expected - an 
amphibious operation directly against the occupying army 
in Kuwait. Saddam, however, interpreted this intelligence 
as an attempted Soviet deception agreed with the United 
States, and made no attempt to reinforce his positions 
against the flanking attack.— Partly as a result, his forces 
were routed in only a hundred hours of ground warfare. 


The Making of the Syrian Alliance 

The Ba‘th regime in Syria, dominated by Hafiz al-Asad 
from 1970 until his death thirty years later, emerged 
during the 1970s as the Soviet Union’s only reliable ally 
among the major states of the Middle East. In the 
immediate aftermath of the coup d’etat, masquerading as 
a ‘revolution’, which had brought the Ba‘th party to 
power in March 1963, Moscow had viewed the new 
regime with deep suspicion - despite its declared 
commitment to socialism as well as Arab unity. Syria’s 
new rulers publicly pledged to crush the Communist Party 
and ‘other enemies of the Revolution’. Moscow retaliated 
in kind. The Soviet New Times dismissed the Ba‘th Party 
as ‘a synonym for brutality cloaked by shameless 
demagogy’. By the spring of 1964, however, encouraged 
by the nationalization of the main Syrian textile factories 
and other large industries, Moscow had begun to 
distinguish between ‘progressive’ and right-wing forces in 
the new regime. It was also attracted by the Ba‘th’s 
uncompromisingly anti-Western rhetoric. Despite the 
continuing ban on the Syrian Communist Party, the Soviet 
Union agreed to supply Syria with both arms and military 

The KGB had from the outset significant penetrations 
of the new regime’s foreign service and intelligence 
community. The diplomat and lawyer Tarazi Salah al-Din 
(codenamed IZZAT) had been recruited by the KGB in 
1954 and went on to become one of its longest- serving 
Soviet agents. By the early 1970s he was Director- 
General of the Foreign Ministry.- A further senior official 
in the Foreign Ministry, codenamed KARYAN, was 
recruited in 1967. Files noted by Mitrokhin also identify 
one major penetration of Syrian intelligence: KERIM, 
who had been recruited by the KGB in East Berlin in the 
early 1960s. The Damascus residency claimed the credit 
for helping him obtain a job in the main Syrian civilian 
intelligence agency, the Bureau of National Security 
(BNS), after his return to Syria. In 1964 KERIM played 
the central role in operation RUCHE Y during which the 
KGB successfully bugged some of the BNS offices.- 

Just as KGB active measures in Iran were able to 
exploit memories of CIA and SIS covert action during the 
1953 coup to overthrow Mossadeq and restore the 
authority of the Shah, so they benefited in Syria from the 
deep suspicions left by abortive CIA/SIS attempts during 
1956-57 to promote a coup in Damascus to undermine the 
growing influence of the Ba‘th.- In Damascus, as in other 
Middle Eastern capitals, the prevailing culture of 
conspiracy theory also offered fertile ground for Service 
A’s fabrications. The KGB’s first major disinformation 

success after the Ba‘th ‘revolution’ was operation 
PULYA (‘Bullet’): a series of active measures during 
1964-65 designed to unmask a supposed plot by the CIA, 
in collusion with the West German BND, to undermine 
the Ba‘th regime. In the summer of 1964 the Soviet 
military attache in Damascus visited General Amin al- 
Hafiz, the commander-in-chief of the Syrian army and 
increasingly the dominating figure in the Ba‘th regime, to 
show him a forged BND intelligence report which 
purported to identify Syrian army officers in contact with 
both the BND and the CIA, as well as the CIA officers 
involved in their recruitment. The attache was given strict 
instructions not to leave the report in Hafiz’s possession 
on the pretext of protecting the security of his sources - in 
reality in order to prevent the forgery being exposed. 
However, he allowed Hafiz to write down the names of 
the Syrian officers and CIA personnel mentioned in it. It 
does not seem to have occurred to Hafiz to challenge the 
authenticity of the report. Instead, he assured the attache 
that he would keep the existence of the document secret 
and take ‘effective measures’ against those named in it. 
Soon afterwards the KGB residency sent an anonymous 
letter to the Bureau of National Security, purporting to 
give information on the activities of the CIA Damascus 
station. Posing as an American well-wisher, a residency 
operations officer also made an anonymous telephone call 
to a pro-American Syrian army officer to warn him that 
his links with the United States were about to be exposed. 

Shocked by the warning, the officer asked whether he 
should go into hiding or visit the US embassy to seek 
political asylum. As the KGB had expected, the whole 
telephone conversation was monitored by the BNS. The 
officer was removed from the staff of a Syrian military 
delegation which was about to visit Moscow.- His 
subsequent fate, however, is not recorded in Mitrokhin’s 

The KGB claimed the credit for the announcement by 
the Ba‘th regime in February 1965 of the discovery of ‘an 
American spy organization . . . whose assignment was to 
gather information on the Syrian army and several kinds 
of military equipment’. Soon afterwards, against the 
background of furious denunciations of American policy 
by the Syrian media and angry demonstrations outside the 
US embassy, two Syrians were tried and executed on 
charges of spying for the CIA. A State Department protest 
was rejected by the Ba‘th regime on the grounds that 
‘American policy in Syria is based on espionage and the 
creation of conspiracy and sabotage networks in the 
country’.- The KGB also believed that its active measures 
convinced the regime in 1966 that the US ambassador 
was preparing a coup, and led it to make over 200 arrests 
in mid-September.- 

On 23 February 1967 a military coup, publicly praised 
by Moscow as the work of ‘patriotic forces’, brought to 

power a left-wing Ba‘th regime headed by the austere 
Salah Jadid, who rarely appeared in public. High on the 
list of Soviet aid sought by the new regime was finance 
for the construction of the Euphrates Dam. Moscow 
appears to have set three conditions, all quickly accepted 
by Damascus: the return to Syria of the exiled Communist 
leader Khalid Bakdash; the inclusion of a Communist in 
the cabinet; and permission for the Syrian Communist 
Party to publish a daily newspaper. - With the Party once 
again able to function, though not yet formally legalized, 
the Damascus residency made arrangements for regular 
clandestine contact with it. The Communist intermediary, 
codenamed RASUL, selected by the Party leadership was 
sent for training in Moscow, where he was taught various 
forms of secret communication, radio transmission, 
document photography, use of dead letter-boxes, how to 
signal danger and arrange emergency meetings with the 
Damascus residency. He was given a small radio signal 
transmitter, codenamed ISKUL-2, concealed in a 
briefcase, which enabled him to send secret signals to the 
residency from up to 500 metres away. From 1968 until at 
least the early 1980s a residency operations officer met 
RASUL once or twice a month.- 

The humiliation of the Six-Day War in June 1967,— 
less than four months after the February coup, dealt a 
shattering blow to the prestige of the Jadid regime. Amid 
the recriminations which followed, the Defence Minister 

and future Syrian leader, Hafiz al-Asad, kept his portfolio 
only because he had the support of the brutal and much- 
feared head of the BNS, ‘Abd al-Karim al-Jundi.— A 
serious rift followed between Asad and Jadid. Jadid’s 
main concern remained the internal Ba‘th ‘revolution’. 
For Asad, by contrast, the overwhelming priority was the 
conflict with Israel and the recovery of the Golan Heights, 
lost in the Six-Day War. Syria had entered the war with 
poorly trained forces equipped with out-of-date weaponry 
being phased out of the Red Army. It had no air-defence 
missiles to protect it against the crack Israeli air force and 
only half its 500 tanks were operational. Asad was well 
aware that, to take on Israel, Syria required not merely far 
better-trained troops but also massive arms supplies from 
the Soviet Union.— 

During the clash between Jadid and Asad, KERIM 
continued to operate as a KGB agent inside the BNS. 
Among the operations recorded in KGB files in which 
KERIM took part was a secret nighttime entry into the 
West German embassy in Damascus to abstract (and 
presumably photograph) classified documents. The 
operation, which began at 10 p.m. on 20 April 1968 and 
was concluded at 4 a.m. the following day, was assisted 
by a Syrian BNS agent inside the embassy. On 24 April 
the German embassy was burgled again in a similar 
operation probably also involving KERIM.— 

In November 1970, with the support of both the army 
and security forces, Asad deposed Salah Jadid and seized 
power. ‘I am the head of the country, not of the 
government,’ Asad used to claim. In reality, the fear of 
taking any decision which might displease him meant that 
even the most trivial issues were frequently referred to 
President Asad for a decision. The KGB seems to have 
found his immediate entourage difficult to penetrate. 
Within the inner circle of his authoritarian regime Asad 
placed a premium on personal loyalty. Even the clerks 
and coffee makers on his presidential staff were rarely 
changed. The key members of his regime - his foreign and 
defence ministers, chief of the general staff and 
intelligence chief - remained in power for a quarter of a 
century or more.— During the early 1970s Muhammad al- 
Khuly, previously head of air-force intelligence, built up 
what was in effect a presidential intelligence service 
answerable only to Asad, who began each day with 
security and intelligence briefings.— The fact that Asad, 
like a majority of his high command and intelligence 
chiefs, came from the ‘Alawi sect (whose beliefs fused 
Shi’ite doctrine with elements of nature worship), in 
defiance of the tradition that power was held by Sunni 
Muslims, strengthened his anxiety for regular intelligence 
reports on the mood in the country. (Even Jadid, an 
‘Alawi like Asad, had chosen a Sunni to act as nominal 
President.) Asad eventually had fifteen different security 
and intelligence agencies, all relatively independent of 

each other, with a total personnel of over 50,000 (one 
Syrian in 240) and an even larger number of informers. 
Each agency reported to the President alone and was 
instructed by the deeply suspicious Asad to keep watch on 
what the others were up to. Though brutal and above the 
law, routinely abusing, imprisoning and torturing its 
victims, Asad’s security system was also cumbersome. A 
Human Rights Watch investigation concluded: 

A casual visitor to Damascus cannot fail to notice the 
confusion at airport immigration, the piles of untouched 
official forms, and the dusty, unused computer terminal. 
Local security offices convey the same disorderly 
impression with their yellowing stacks of forms piled on 
tables and officials chatting on the phone while 
supplicants wait anxiously to be heard. The atmosphere is 
one of chaos mixed with petty corruption and the exercise 
of bureaucratic power, not of a ruthlessly efficient police 

The disorderly appearance of Syrian security offices was, 
however, somewhat misleading. Very few dissidents 
escaped their huge network of surveillance. Obsessed 
with his own personal security, Asad was protected by a 
presidential guard of over 12,000 men. Though his image 
was ubiquitous - on the walls of public buildings, on 
trucks, trains and buses, in offices, shops and schools - 

Asad’s leadership style became increasingly remote. By 
the 1980s most cabinet ministers met him only at their 
swearing in.— Only a handful of key figures had the right 
to telephone him directly. Foremost among them were his 
security chiefs. As British ambassador in Damascus in the 
mid-1980s, Sir Roger Tomkys once had occasion to ring 
up the head of one of the Syrian intelligence agencies, 
who replied half an hour later, having just spoken to 

During the early 1970s the KGB residency in 
Damascus succeeded in establishing what it claimed was 
‘semi-official contact’ with Asad’s youngest brother, 
Rifat, codenamed MUNZIR, who was a member of his 
inner circle until the early 1980s. Rifat’s importance in 
the KGB’s view, according to a report of 1974, was that 
he commanded Asad’s elite ‘Defence Brigades’, the best 
armed and trained units in the Syrian army, as well as - it 
believed - having a leading role in the intelligence 
community.— Unlike his relatively reclusive and austere 
elder brother, Rifat al-Asad acquired a taste for foreign 
travel and Western luxuries, acting with little regard for 
the law and using his position to accumulate private 
wealth. Under his command the Defence Brigades held a 
weekly market in Damascus to sell black-market goods 
smuggled in from Lebanon. Rifat was sometimes 
referred to by the Lebanese as ‘King of the Oriental 
Carpets’ because of the frequent confiscation of these 

prized objects by his personal Lebanese militia, popularly 
known as the ‘Pink Panthers’ Access to the corrupt, 
high-living Rifat was thus very much easier than to the 
reclusive Asad. The KGB claimed in 1974 that, through 
its active measures, it succeeded in using Rifat 
‘unconsciously’, but Mitrokhin’s brief note on the report 
does not indicate how it did so.— A further KGB report of 
1974 also identifies as a confidential contact a relative of 
Asad (codenamed KARIB) with Communist sympathies 
who was a senior official in the Syrian Council of 
Ministers. According to KARIB ’s file, he provided 
‘valuable and reliable’ intelligence on Asad’s entourage 
as well as on his policies.— KGB files also claim that 
SAKR, a department head in military intelligence 
recruited in 1974, was used to channel disinformation to 
Asad and the Syrian high command.— 

Other KGB contacts in, or close to, the Syrian 
government during the early years of the Asad regime 
continued to include the long-standing agent IZZAT, 
Tarazi Salah al-Din, director-general of the Syrian foreign 
ministry and later a member of the International Tribunal 
in The Hague.— Other KGB contacts included two 
generals in the Syrian army, OFITSER and REMIZ;— 
SARKIS, an air- force general;— PREYER and NIK, both 
Syrian ministers;— PATRIOT, adviser to Asad’s first 
Prime Minister, ‘Abd al-Ra’hman Khulayfawi (1970- 

74);— SHARLE (‘Charles’), adviser to Asad’s second 
Prime Minister, Mahmud al-Ayyubi (1974-76);— 
VATAR, who provided copies of cipher telegrams 
obtained by Syrian intelligence from the US embassy in 
Beirut;— BRAT, an intelligence operations officer;— 
FARES and GARGANYUA, both proprietors and 
editors-in-chief of Syrian newspapers;— VALID, a senior 
official in the Central Statistical Directorate;— and 
TAGIR, a leading official of the Syrian Arab Socialist 
Union.— There is no indication, however, that any had 
significant direct access to Asad. Mitrokhin’s brief notes 
on them also give very little indication of the intelligence 
which they supplied and whether most were agents or 
confidential contacts. — 

The KGB’s best opportunities to penetrate Asad’s 
entourage almost certainly came during his travels to the 
Soviet Union, which he visited six times during his first 
three years as Syrian leader. ‘He might look slightly 
ineffectual’, Andrei Gromyko later recalled, ‘but in fact 
he was highly self-controlled with a spring-like inner 
tension. ’— While in Moscow, Asad was housed in 
luxurious apartments in the Kremlin which were 
inevitably bugged - ‘with a view’, according to a report to 
Andropov by Grigori Fyodorovich Grigorenko, head of 
the KGB Second Chief Directorate, ‘to obtaining 
information about the plans and reactions of Hafiz Asad 

and his entourage’. — The information of most interest to 
the KGB probably concerned Asad’s response to the 
pressure put on him to sign a Friendship Treaty. Though 
anxious for Soviet arms, Asad wished to avoid the 
appearance of becoming a Soviet client. It may well have 
been from bugging Asad’s Kremlin apartment during his 
visit in July 1972 that the KGB discovered that he was so 
annoyed by Brezhnev’s pressure for a Friendship Treaty 
that he had ordered his delegation to pack their bags. 
Alerted to his imminent departure, Brezhnev visited Asad 
in his apartment and assured him that there would be no 
further mention of the treaty during their talks. On the last 
day of Asad’s visit, Brezhnev admitted that, despite the 
Soviet-Egyptian Friendship Treaty, Egypt had just 
expelled all Soviet advisers: ‘I know you will tell me that 
our treaty with Egypt has not saved us from 
embarrassment there.’ Asad resisted pressure from Sadat 
to expel Soviet advisers from Syria also, declaring 
publicly, ‘They are here for our own good.’— 

Though unwilling to sign a Friendship Treaty, Asad 
had given the still-illegal Syrian Communist Party two 
posts in his cabinet. In March 1972 the Party was allowed 
to join the Ba‘th-dominated National Progressive Front, 
thus giving it de facto legality, and permitted to publish a 
fortnightly newspaper, Nidal al-Sha'b (‘The People’s 
Struggle’). Membership of the Front, however, 
strengthened the growing breach between Khalid Bakdash 

(codenamed BESHIR by the KGB), a dogmatic Soviet 
loyalist who had been Party leader for the past forty years, 
and the majority of the Party Politburo who resented both 
Bakdash’s autocratic leadership and Moscow’s support 
for Asad. In April 1972 Bakdash’s critics within the Party 
leadership took advantage of his temporary absence in 
Moscow for medical treatment to pass resolutions 
accusing him of Stalinist methods. In July pro- and anti- 
Bakdash factions were summoned to Moscow to resolve 
their differences at a meeting hosted by senior officials of 
the CPSU International Department. Though one of 
Bakdash’s critics complained that he had created a 
personality cult and suffered from ‘ideological sclerosis’ 
which made him ‘unable to identify the new phenomena 
in our Arab Syrian society’, Pravda announced that the 
meeting had taken place in ‘a warm, friendly atmosphere’ 
and had agreed on the importance of ‘the ideological, 
political and organizational unity of the Syrian 
Communist Party’. Bakdash outmanoeuvred his 
opponents by playing the role of a loyal supporter both of 
the Soviet Union and of the Asad regime. The ‘Moscow 
Agreement’ papered over the cracks within the Party, and 
lauded both Soviet- Arab friendship and Syria’s 
achievements under Asad’s leadership. For the remainder 
of the Soviet era, however, the conflict between Bakdash 
and his Party critics continued to complicate Soviet policy 
towards Syria.— 

The most successful KGB penetration during the Asad 

era recorded in the files noted by Mitrokhin was of the 

Syrian embassy in Moscow. As well as bugging the 

ambassador’s office and several other parts of the 

embassy, the KGB regularly intercepted diplomatic bags 

in transit between the embassy and Damascus, and 

opened, among other official correspondence, personal 

letters from Asad’s first ambassador in Moscow, Jamil 

Shay a, to the Foreign Minister, ‘Abd al-Halim Khaddam, 


usual, the KGB’s letter-openers paid meticulous attention 

to replicating the glues, adhesive tapes and seals used on 

the envelopes and packets in the diplomatic bag. Though 

Shaya asked for all his envelopes to be returned to him so 

that he could check personally for signs that they had 

been tampered with, he seems to have detected nothing 


Mitrokhin ’s notes from KGB files include the 
codenames (and a few real names) of thirty-four agents 
and confidential contacts used in the penetration of the 
Syrian embassy. Though this total may well be 
incomplete, it is sufficient to indicate the considerable 
scale of KGB operations. The majority of the agents used 
were Soviet citizens; only six can be clearly identified as 
Syrian. The operational methods were similar to those 
employed against many other Moscow embassies. As in 
the case of other embassy penetrations, the agents were 

tasked to report on the personalities as well as the 
opinions of the diplomats. Ambassador Shaya’s file, for 
example, recorded that he was somewhat lax in his 
Islamic observance and contained such trivial details as a 
report from Agent MARIYA that he was planning to send 
a piano he had purchased in Moscow back to Damascus. 
Soviet female employees of the embassy from interpreters 
to maids were expected to assess the vulnerability of 
Syrian diplomats to sexual seduction. Agent 
SOKOLOVA, who worked in the chancery, reported that 
the ambassador was showing interest in her. 
VASILYEVA was planted on Shaya at a reception in the 
Egyptian embassy in the hope, according to a KGB 
report, that she would ‘be of interest to the ambassador as 
a woman’. Though there is no evidence in the files noted 
by Mitrokhin that any Syrian ambassador (unlike a 
number of his Moscow colleagues) fell for the KGB’s 
‘honey trap’, one KGB ‘swallow’ so successfully seduced 
another Syrian diplomat that they began living together. 
Unofficial currency exchange was another common 
method of compromising foreign diplomats. NASHIT 
reported that an official of the Syrian military 
procurement office in Moscow had illegally changed 
$300 for Shaya on the black market. The KGB drew up 
plans to arrest and expel the official, probably as a means 
of putting pressure on the ambassador. 

One of the KGB officers involved in operations against 

the Syrian embassy had the responsibility of organizing 
hunting expeditions for the ambassador and other senior 
diplomats. The KGB’s hospitality was elaborate. On one 
expedition to the Bezborodovsky State Hunting Ground, 
Shaya had the opportunity to shoot elk, wild boar and 
hares. The entertainment concluded with a visit to a dacha 
and sauna situated in an orchard on the Volga. The 
purpose of these expeditions was two-fold: both to ensure 
that the ambassador was away from the embassy during 
‘special operations’ such as the photography of classified 
documents and to encourage confidential discussions with 
his hunting companions. One undercover KGB officer 
codenamed OSIPOV, who accompanied Shaya on 
hunting expeditions, reported that on 12 September 1973 
the ambassador had confided in him that the Arab states 
had no prospect of destroying the state of Israel for at 
least ten, perhaps fifteen years. However, within the next 
few years they would launch an attack on Israel with the 
more limited aim of destroying the myth of Israeli 
invincibility and deterring both foreign investment and 
Jewish immigrants. The KGB subsequently concluded 
that Shaya had had advance knowledge of the outbreak of 
the Yom Kippur War less than a month later on 6 

Asad was deeply dissatisfied with the performance of 
Syria’s MiG- 19s and MiG-2 Is during the Yom Kippur 
War, and angry that the Soviet Union had refused to 

supply the more advanced MiG-23. He showed his 
displeasure by declining to send the usual congratulations 
to Moscow on the anniversary of the October 
Revolution.— A visit to Syria in February 1974 by Air 
Marshal A. Pokryshkin to assess Syria’s military needs 
failed to resolve the friction with Moscow. An official 
communique after Asad’s visit to Moscow in April 
described the atmosphere as one of ‘frankness’ (a 
codeword for serious argument) as well as, less 
convincingly, ‘mutual understanding’. Moscow’s desire 
to settle the dispute with Asad, however, was greatly 
increased by Sadat’s apostasy and turn towards the United 
States. A week after Asad’s April visit. Marshal Viktor 
Kulikov, chief-of-staff of the Soviet armed forces, flew to 
Damascus to carry out a fresh assessment of Syrian needs. 
In the course of 1974 Syria was supplied with over 300 
Soviet fighter aircraft, including 45 MiG-23 s with Cuban 
and North Korean pilots, over 1,000 tanks, 30 Scud 
missiles (with a range of up to 300 kilometres), 100 
shorter-range Frog missiles and other military equipment. 
By the end of the year 3,000 Soviet military advisers had 
been despatched to Syria and training had begun in the 
Soviet Union for Syrian pilots of MiG-23 s.— 

In June 1975 the head of the International Department 
of the CPSU, Boris Ponomarev, told a Ba‘th delegation in 
Moscow ‘how much the Soviet people and its Party 
valued the existence in Syria of a progressive national 

front with the participation of the Syrian Communist 
Party’.— Simultaneously, however, without Asad’s 
knowledge, the KGB was using the Bakdash wing of the 
Party leadership to recruit illegals. At a meeting in 
Moscow with P. D. Sheyin, a senior officer in the FCD 
Illegals Directorate S on 19 March 1975, Bakdash and a 
close associate (codenamed FARID) agreed to begin the 
search for suitable candidates as soon as they returned to 
Damascus.— They were given the following criteria to 
guide their selection: 

[Candidates] were to be dedicated and reliable members 
of the Communist Party, firmly holding Marxist-Leninist 
Internationalist positions, with experience of illegal Party 
work, not widely known within the country as belonging 
to the Communist Party, bold, determined, resourceful, 
with organizational aptitude, highly disciplined and 
industrious, in good physical health, preferably 
unmarried, aged between 25 and 45. They were to have a 
good understanding of international affairs, and be 
capable of analysing and summarizing political 

These candidates were intended for work in Saudi 
Arabia and Iran. Besides a native command of English or 
Persian (for Iran), they had to have a real possibility of 
obtaining an entry visa for Saudi Arabia or Iran on their 

own, for the purpose of working and long-term 
settlement; they had to have a qualification which was 
needed in the above countries (such as engineer, or 
technician in the petro-chemical field, in civil engineering 
related to road construction or housing construction, water 
and gas supply, electronics, civil aviation, or service 

It was desirable that the candidates should have 
relatives or personal contacts who could help them to 
enter the country and settle by finding a job or starting 
their own trading or production businesses; or that they 
should have the possibility of getting a job in their own 
country or in a third country with a company or enterprise 
which was represented in or had a branch in Saudi Arabia 
or Iran, and could thus go out to work there. Only the 
[Party] General Secretary or a trusted assistant of his 
should be aware of the use to which these people were 
being put. 

Bakdash probably welcomed the KGB’s request as a 
reaffirmation of the special relationship with the Soviet 
leadership which his rivals within the Syrian Communist 
Party leadership lacked.— 

In his keynote address to the Twenty-fifth CPSU 
Congress in February 1976, Brezhnev singled out Syria as 
the Soviet Union’s closest Middle Eastern ally and 

declared that the two countries ‘act in concert in many 
international problems, above all in the Middle East’.— 
Asad was unaware that ‘through agent channels’ the KGB 
was simultaneously planting on him Service A forgeries 
designed to reinforce his suspicion of Sadat and the 
United States. Among them was a bogus despatch from 
the French Foreign Ministry to its embassies in Arab 
capitals in 1976 reporting that Sadat’s decision to 
terminate the Soviet-Egyptian Friendship Treaty had been 
taken under US pressure and was part of his strategy to 
solicit American investment and turn Egypt into a conduit 
for US influence in the oil-producing countries of the 
Middle East.— 

The public celebration of Soviet- Syrian amity suffered 
a serious setback in June 1976 when Syria intervened in 
the Lebanese civil war in favour of the Maronite 
Christians against their PLO and left-wing opponents, 
with some of whom the KGB had close contacts. The left- 
wing leader, Kamal Jumblatt, was one of only a handful 
of Arabs to have been awarded the Lenin Peace Prize. 
Talks in Moscow in July between Khaddam, the Syrian 
Foreign Minister, and his Soviet counterpart, Gromyko, 
ended in such disarray that no joint communique was 
issued. Pravda declared that Syria was plunging ‘a knife 
into the back’ of the Palestinian movement.— Asad would 
have been further outraged had he known that the KGB 
residency in Damascus was secretly providing funds to 

support the Lebanese Communist Party which opposed 
Syrian intervention. On 26 July a KGB Buick Apollo 
motor car with diplomatic number plates set out from 
Damascus to the Lebanese border ostensibly to collect 
correspondence and foodstuffs sent by the Soviet embassy 
in Beirut. In reality it was carrying $50,000 concealed 
between a tyre-wall and inner tube for transmission to the 
Lebanese Communist Party.— Two months later a further 
$100,000 was handed over.— 

The main practical effect of the Soviet-Syrian quarrel 
during the second half of 1976 was an apparently drastic 
cutback in Soviet arms supplies. Asad retaliated by 
refusing an invitation to visit Moscow and by expelling 
about half the Soviet military advisers (then more 
numerous in Syria than anywhere else in the world). In 
January 1977 he instructed the Soviet navy to remove its 
submarines and support craft from the port of Tartus. 
Over the next few months, however, the winding down of 
Syrian involvement in the Lebanese civil war made 
possible the mending of the rift with Moscow. After the 
assassination of Kamal Jumblatt in March 1977, his son 
and successor Walid called on Asad at the end of the 
forty-day period of mourning - despite widespread and 
apparently well-founded suspicions that Asad had ordered 
his father’s death. In April Asad decided to mend his 
fences with the Soviet Union and flew to Moscow where 
he was greeted personally at the airport by Brezhnev. At a 

banquet in the Kremlin, Asad declared that Soviet- Syrian 
relations had ‘overcome all the difficulties in their way’: 
‘We have always been convinced that the relations 
between our two countries are based on identity of 
principled outlook and on friendship and common 
interests . . During 1977 Soviet arms exports to Syria 
totalled $825 million. In the following year they exceeded 
$1 billion for the first time.— 

Asad’s extreme hostility to both Sadat’s visit to 
Jerusalem in November 1977 (a day of national mourning 
in Syria) and the Camp David Agreement of September 
1978— reinforced his desire for Soviet support, and even 
produced a short-lived reconciliation between Syria and 
Iraq. Asad later admitted that, when Sadat visited him in 
Damascus shortly before his visit to Jerusalem, he thought 
briefly of locking him up to prevent him going to Israel.— 
KGB files reveal that in December 1977 Asad authorized 
a secret meeting in Damascus between his intelligence 
chiefs and the Popular Front for the Liberation of 
Palestine (PFLP) which discussed plans for assassinating 

In the later 1970s, Moscow once again made the 
mistake of trying to force the pace in strengthening its 
alliance with Asad. In an obvious reference to renewed 
Soviet proposals for a Treaty of Friendship and Co- 
operation, Brezhnev told him during a Moscow banquet 

in his honour in October 1978 that the Soviet Union was 
prepared to expand co-operation with Syria still further, 
‘particularly in the field of politics’. A month later, during 
a visit to Moscow by the Chief of the Syrian General 
Staff, General Hikmat Shihabi, there was an attempt to 
pressure him to conclude a trilateral pact with the Soviet 
Union and Iraq. He was also told that, to avoid the risk of 
exposing further Syrian MiG-27s to Israeli surprise attack, 
they would be better stationed in Iraq. Shihabi took deep 
offence and returned home two days ahead of schedule. 
Soon afterwards the Syrian ambassador in Moscow was 
recalled to Damascus.— 

Once again, however, the rift was mended, due chiefly 
to the common Soviet and Syrian opposition to both 
Camp David and Israeli support for the Maronite 
Phalangists in southern Lebanon. Encouraged by KGB 
active measures— which played on his own penchant for 
conspiracy theory, Asad saw the Camp David agreements 
as part of a gigantic US-Israeli conspiracy. In March 1980 
Asad publicly accused the CIA of encouraging ‘sabotage 
and subversion’ in Syria in order to bring ‘the entire Arab 
world under joint US-Israeli domination’.— Asad 
repeatedly claimed and almost certainly believed that a 
central part of the plan for the subjection of ‘the entire 
Arab world’ was a secret Zionist conspiracy, with 
American support, to create a greater Israel. His close 
friend and Defence Minister, Mustafa Talas, later claimed 

absurdly that, ‘Had it not been for Hafiz al-Asad, Greater 
Israel would have been established from the Nile to the 

During 1979 Moscow supplied more MiG-27s and 
other advanced weaponry, as well as writing off 25 per 
cent of Syria’s estimated $2 billion military debt. After 
the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December, Asad 
was one of the very few leaders outside the Soviet bloc 
not to join the world-wide chorus of condemnation. His 
Foreign Minister, Khaddam, told an interviewer: ‘We 
have studied the situation and have come to the 
conclusion that the fuss about Afghanistan is meaningless 
theatrics, designed to reshuffle the cards in the Arab 
region, to end Sadat’s isolation, and to assist in bringing 
success to the Camp David agreements.’ 

In January 1980, in a further attempt to please Moscow, 
Asad included two members of the Bakdash faction of the 
Syrian Communist Party in his new government. He also 
allowed the exiled leader of the Iraqi Communist Party, 
Aziz Muhammad,— to base himself in Syria. In October, 
Asad finally agreed to sign a twenty-year Treaty of 
Friendship and Co-operation with the Soviet Union. 
During 1980 Syrian arms imports from the Soviet bloc 
exceeded $3 billion.— 

While reinforcing its alliance with Asad, Moscow 
secretly strengthened its covert relationship with Bakdash. 

In 1978 Bakdash had assured one of his KGB contacts 
that, while he remained Party leader, ‘there would never 
be a Carrillo or even a Marchais’ - in other words, that the 
Party would remain uncompromisingly loyal to Moscow 
and ideologically orthodox.— He told the Party Congress 
in 1980: ‘I firmly believe that it is not enough [merely] to 
declare friendship for the Soviet Union. Rather, we must 
support every action in Soviet foreign policy which has 
always been, still is, and always will be in harmony with 
the interests of all people.’— 

Bakdash also benefited from the support of Asad. 
Immediately after the signature of the Friendship Treaty 
in October 1980, Asad began a campaign of intimidation 
and terror against a Communist breakaway group, led by 
Bakdash’ s opponent, Riyadh al-Turk. Most of al-Turk’s 
supporters were jailed, forced to leave the Party, driven 
underground or went into exile. Some were tortured. 
According to reports by Amnesty International and 
human rights groups during the 1980s, al-Turk was 
systematically tortured throughout the decade, and was 
rushed to hospital at least six times on the verge of death 
to be resuscitated for further abuse, which included 
breaking bones in all his limbs.— 

During 1978 108 Syrian Communists went on training 
courses (doubtless at Soviet expense) in the Soviet Union. 
The KGB noted that most were the friends or relatives of 

Party leaders.— During 1979 the KGB Damascus 
residency made five payments to the Party leadership 
totalling $275,000.— Bakdash informed the residency that 
over $50,000 had been spent on setting up an 
underground printing press and requested an additional 
allocation.— Payments in 1980 amounted to at least 
$329,000 and were probably higher.— Far more 
substantial sums, however, were paid to the Party as a 
result of lucrative Soviet contracts with trading companies 
controlled by the Party. In 1982, for example, the 
Damascus residency reported that one of the companies 
set up with Party funds would contribute during the year 
1,200,000 Syrian pounds to the Party.— At Bakdash’ s 
personal request, the Damascus residency also secretly 
supplied the Party with arms: 150 Makarov pistols and 
ammunition were handed over in June 1980. As a security 
precaution, in case the arms were subsequently 
discovered, they were wrapped in Syrian packaging 
obtained by the KGB on the black market.— A further 
consignment of seventy-five Makarov pistols with 
ammunition was handed over in March 1981. Bakdash 
thanked the KGB for ‘their fraternal assistance and 
constant concern for the needs of the Syrian Communist 
Party’.— At a meeting in a safe apartment a year later with 
two operations officers from the Damascus residency, 
Bakdash enumerated one by one the residents with whom 
he had established close and friendly collaboration over 

the quarter of a century since he had returned from exile. 
He ended by eulogizing the KGB: ‘You are the only 
Soviet authority with which we have always enjoyed, and 
still enjoy, full mutual understanding on the most varied 
issues. Please convey to Comrade Andropov the profound 
gratitude of our Party.’— 

The KGB, however, was increasingly concerned by the 
growing divisions within the Syrian Communist Party. 
Late in 1982 Nikolai Fyodorovich Vetrov of the 
Damascus residency had a series of meetings with 
Bakdash, then seventy years old, who had been Party 
leader for half a century. Bakdash complained that ‘not all 
Party members were totally dedicated to the Marxist- 
Leninist cause’, and that his age and poor health made it 
increasingly difficult for him to keep full control over all 
Party activities. Bakdash was also becoming increasingly 
suspicious of his associate FARID. He told Vetrov that, 
though a good Party official, FARID ‘had been unable to 
break finally with the petit-bourgeois environment from 
which he came’. Bakdash’s real objection to FARID, 
however, was fear that he was plotting against him. He 
told Vetrov that, as well as ‘promoting people who were 
personally loyal to him’, FARID had become corrupt, 
borrowing 50,000 Syrian pounds (which he had not 
repaid) to buy a house in Damascus from a businessman 
who had made a fortune from Soviet contracts but had 
ceased to support the Party.— By the mid-1980s, however. 

Bakdash caused the Centre greater concern than FARID. 
For all his past protestations of Soviet loyalism, Bakdash 
was unable to adapt to the new era of glasnost and 
perestroika. As the Soviet Union fell apart, Bakdash 
defended Stalin and denounced Gorbachev.— 

Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in June 1982 in an 
unsuccessful attempt to destroy the PLO and strengthen 
its Maronite allies caused a new crisis in Syrian-Soviet 
relations. From 9 to 1 1 June Israel and Syria fought one of 
the largest air battles of the twentieth century over the 
Biqa’ valley. The Israeli air force destroyed all Syria’s 
SAM-6 missile sites on both sides of the Syrian-Lebanese 
border and shot down twenty-three Syrian MiGs without 
losing a single aircraft.— When further SAM sites were 
installed in the course of the summer the Israelis 
demolished those too. Behind the scenes the Syrians 
blamed their defeat on the shortcomings of Soviet 
equipment, while the Russians blamed Syrian 
incompetence in using it. Both sides, however, needed 
each other. ‘Asad needed arms’, writes Patrick Seale, 
‘while the Russians needed to restore the reputation of 
their high-performance weapons as well as their overall 
political position in the Arab world.’ Asad’s visit to 
Moscow for Brezhnev’s funeral in November 1982 
provided an opportunity to mend fences with the new 
Soviet leader, Yuri Andropov. Despite opposition from 
both Gromyko and Ustinov, the Defence Minister, 

Andropov agreed to provide Syria with advanced 
weapons systems which were supplied to no other Third 
World country, some of them operated by Soviet 

The memoirs of Vadim Kirpichenko, one of the 
Centre’s leading Middle Eastern experts, contain a 
curiously fulsome tribute to Asad. During two meetings 
and five hours of discussions on security and intelligence 
matters, in the course of which Asad asked many detailed 
questions about the structure and functions of the KGB,— 
Kirpichenko claims to have found him ‘a good-natured, 
mild, proper and attentive person. No neurosis 
whatsoever, no haste, no posing whatsoever.’ Asad 
strongly reminded Kirpichenko of the legendary KGB 
officer Ivan Ivanovich Agayants, who had been wartime 
resident in Tehran and post-war resident in Paris: ‘Old 
intelligence hands still remember this good-natured and 
wise man.’ (Kirpichenko does not mention that Agayants 
was a specialist in deception, also a strong interest of 

Kirpichenko ’s rose-tinted recollections give some sense 
of the cosmetically enhanced view of Asad’s Syria passed 
on to the Soviet leadership at the time of the conclusion of 
the Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation. In reality, 
Asad was, by any standards, an unattractive ally. The 
signing of the treaty coincided with the beginning of the 

most homicidal period of Asad’s rule. During the early 
1980s his regime killed at least 10,000 of its own citizens 
and jailed thousands more in usually atrocious conditions. 
Most of the Sunni stronghold of Hama, Syria’s most 
beautiful city and a centre of opposition to the ‘Alawi 
regime, was destroyed, its magnificent Great Mosque 
reduced to rubble. Many Lebanese from Syrian-controlled 
areas of Lebanon disappeared into Syrian prisons never to 
re-emerge. — Like Saddam Hussein and Muammar al- 
Qaddafi, Asad also used his intelligence agencies to hunt 
down his enemies abroad. As well as becoming notorious 
for providing safe haven for some of the Middle East’s 
most ruthless terrorists, his regime also failed to cover its 
tracks when carrying out its own terrorist operations 
against emigre dissidents and other Arab critics. Early in 
1981 a Syrian hit squad, operating on the orders of Asad’s 
brother Rifat, whom the KGB had once claimed to be 
able to influence,— entered Jordan with instructions to 
assassinate the Jordanian Prime Minister, Mudar Badran, 
whom Asad had publicly condemned for being in league 
with Americans, Zionists and Syrian dissidents. The 
entire group was caught and made a humiliating three- 
hour public confession on Jordanian television, which 
could be seen by many Syrian viewers. Despite this 
embarrassment, Rifat declared publicly that ‘enemies’ 
who had fled abroad would be dealt with. In March 1982 
there were reports in the British press, based on briefings 
by ‘Western diplomatic sources in Damascus’, that six 

well-armed ‘hit squads’ had been despatched to Europe to 
assassinate dissidents. One such three-man squad arrested 
in Stuttgart, Germany, was found to be carrying sub- 
machine guns and explosives. A month later a bomb 
attack on the Paris offices of an Arab newspaper well 
known for its hostility to the Asad regime killed a 
pregnant woman passing by and injured sixty-three 
others, twelve seriously. The French government, which 
made little secret of its belief that the Asad regime was 
responsible, promptly expelled two Syrian ‘diplomats’ for 
‘unacceptable activities’.— It is highly unlikely that 
Brezhnev’s final years were disturbed by reports of such 
embarrassing bad behaviour by a regime with which he 
had just signed, after years of persuasion, a Friendship 

Unattractive though Syria had become as an ally, all 
other Soviet options for alliance with a major Middle 
Eastern power had disappeared. Syria’s attempt over the 
next few years to achieve strategic parity with Israel made 
it more dependent than ever before on advanced Soviet 
weaponry, among them fighter planes, surface-to-air and 
surface-to-surface missiles, and electronic and air-control 
battle systems. General Dmitri Volkogonov, then of the 
GRU, later recalled: ‘No country ever had as many 
Russian-speaking advisers as Syria . . . Everyone lived in 
a state of half-war, half-peace. The Soviet Union and its 
ideology were not wanted by anyone there, but its tanks. 

guns and technicians were highly valued. 

By the end of 1985 the Syrian economy was collapsing 
under the weight of a military budget which accounted for 
half the gross national product. With Gorbachev unwilling 
to bail him out, Asad reluctantly accepted in 1986 that 
strategic parity with Israel was beyond Syria’s reach. The 
British ambassador in Damascus, Sir Roger Tomkys, 
found Asad brutally realistic about the changed balance of 
power in the Middle East. ‘If I were Prime Minister of 
Israel,’ Asad told him, ‘with its present military 
superiority and the support of the world’s number one 
power, I would not make a single concession.’— 

During the later 1980s, Moscow rejected most Syrian 
requests for advanced weaponry. Asad none the less 
regarded the disintegration of the Soviet bloc and the 
Soviet Union as a disaster. Despite all his disputes with 
Moscow over the previous two decades, he had come to 
regard the Soviet alliance as essential to Syria’s security. 
A senior Damascus official said mournfully as power in 
the Kremlin passed from Gorbachev to Yeltsin at the end 
of 1991, ‘We regret the Soviet collapse more than the 
Russians do.’— 


The People’s Democratic Republic of 


The Soviet Union’s closest ideological ally in the Arab 
world was the People’s Democratic Republic of [South] 
Yemen (PDRY), founded in 1970, three years after 
gaining independence from Britain. As in Cuba, the ruling 
National Liberation Front (NLF) gained power as the 
result of a guerrilla campaign and thereafter declared 
itself a Marxist-Leninist party. As the Soviet presence in 
the Indian Ocean expanded during the 1970s, the Soviet 
fleet also made increasing use of port facilities at Aden 
and Socotra Island.- According to the Soviet ambassador 
to the PDRY, O. G. Peresypkin: 

We proceeded from the assumption that scientific 
socialism was a universal theory and we wanted to prove 
that a small underdeveloped Arab country, a former 
British colony, would advance with seven-league strides 
towards the bright future provided it was armed with the 
slogans of scientific socialism. 

The slogans failed. The Soviet advisers seconded to 

Yemeni ministries imbued them with the cumbersome 
inefficiency of the command economy in which they had 
been trained. Aleksandr Vassiliev, one of the Soviet 
officials who visited the PDRY, noted later: ‘When I 
visited Aden before collectivization . . . the Aden market 
and all the waterfronts were full of fish and fish products. 
When the fishermen were subjected to [collectivization], 
the fish immediately disappeared. ’ In retrospect, 
Peresypkin was ‘inclined to forgive the South Yemeni 
leaders who brought their country to deadlock. They were 
simply following blindly along behind their “elder 
brothers” who had “built socialism” . . . ’- 

Despite its early hopes of turning the PDRY into an 
Arab beacon of ‘scientific socialism’, Moscow found 
South Yemen an almost constant headache. One of the 
main tasks of the Aden residency was to monitor the 
nearly continuous intrigues and power struggles which 
rent the NLF and its successor (from October 1978), the 
Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP). It could do little to control 
them. From 1969 to 1978 there was a prolonged power 
struggle between ‘Abd al-Fattah Isma’il, the staunchly 
pro-Soviet leader of the NLF, and Salim Rubai’ Ali, the 
more pro-Chinese head of state. In June 1978, with Soviet 
and Cuban assistance, Isma’il led a successful coup 
against Rubai’ Ali, who was executed on charges of 
plotting an armed coup of his own with the support of the 
West and Saudi Arabia.- 

The main supporters of the PDRY within the Centre 
during the mid-1970s were Nikolai Leonov and Service 1 
(Intelligence Analysis). In 1975 Leonov submitted a 
report to Andropov arguing that the Soviet Union was 
getting a poor return for its vast investment in the Middle 
East. Egypt, Syria and Iraq had no intention of paying 
their huge debts. Egypt had ceased to be a reliable ally, 
the Iraqi connection was insecure and Syria was then 
unwilling to commit itself to a Friendship Treaty. Service 
1 therefore proposed concentrating on the PDRY, which 
did not require large amounts of aid. Its regime was The 
most Marxist-Leninist’, Aden was of major strategic 
significance, and its oil distillery could meet the needs of 
both the Soviet navy and the air force. The report cited the 
way in which the British Empire had used Aden as one of 
the key points in its global strategy. The PDRY was also 
well away from the main Middle Eastern conflict zones. 
Its only - achievable - strategic need was to make peace 
with North Yemen. Service Us revival of the idea of 
turning the PDRY into an Arab beacon of ‘scientific 
socialism’ found little favour with Andropov. After 
keeping the report for several days, he returned it with a 
request for it to be shortened. Then he returned the 
shortened version asking for all the proposals to be 
deleted, leaving only the information it contained on the 
current position in the PDRY. In Leonov’s view, all that 
was of interest in the original document had now been 

removed from it. He had no doubt that Andropov’s 
demands for cuts derived from his personal discussions of 
its proposals with Politburo members who disliked the 
idea of increasing contact with a regime cursed with 
apparently ineradicable internecine warfare.- 

From 1972 onwards, however, the Centre maintained 
close links with the PDRY intelligence service, which 
proudly called its officers ‘Chekists’ in honour of its 
Soviet allies.- On 12 May 1972 Andropov had a meeting 
in Moscow with the Yemeni Interior Minister, 
Muhammad Salih Mutiya, during which the KGB agreed 
to provide free training for PDRY intelligence officers 
and cipher personnel. The fact that Mutiya also accepted 
an offer of free Soviet ciphers presumably enabled the 
FCD Sixteenth Directorate to decrypt PDRY intelligence 
radio traffic.- From July 1973 a KGB liaison officer was 
stationed in Aden (in addition to the undeclared staff of 
the Aden residency). In May 1974 the KGB and PDRY 
intelligence agency signed a secret agreement on 
collaboration in intelligence operations against the United 
States, United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia. As part of the 
agreement the PDRY was supplied with ‘special 
equipment’, probably for use in bugging and surveillance 
operations. In 1976 the two agencies collaborated in 
operation KHAMSIN to bug the Saudi Arabian embassy 
in Aden.- 

Just as the Politburo disliked dealing with the divided 
Yemeni regime, however, so the KGB despised some of 
its PDRY intelligence allies. A prime example was a 
senior Yemeni intelligence officer codenamed AREF,- 
who was given a free holiday in 1978 at the Dubovaya 
Roscha Sanatorium at Zheleznovodsk, where he was 
diagnosed as suffering from cardiac insufficiency, 
diabetes, insomnia, nervous and physical exhaustion, as 
well as from excessive alcohol consumption. These 
ailments were not AREF’s main concern. His first 
priorities were treatment for incipient baldness and plastic 
surgery to improve his appearance. His Soviet doctor 
concluded that many of his problems stemmed from 
obsessive masturbation and a ‘passive’ homosexual 
relationship with a senior Yemeni minister which had 
produced nervous and sexual debility. AREF, however, 
turned out to be bisexual and pestered his interpreter, V. 
Konavalov, a KGB operations officer, to persuade a 
woman he had met at the clinic to have sexual relations 
with him. When Konavalov refused, saying that his duties 
were limited to providing translation and arranging 
medical treatment, AREF replied, ‘Comrade 
“Aleksandrov” [Kryuchkov, the head of the FCD] paid 
for the tickets, gave me a free pass to the Sanatorium, and 
I am convinced that he would not object to my having 
women.’ When Konavalov still refused, AREF accused 
him of being a racist. Konavalov also reported that, 
though AREF had brought with him some of the works of 

Marx and Lenin, he did not read them and used them only 
for display purposes. - 

In Kirpichenko’s view, the PDRY ‘Chekists’ also 
became increasingly demanding: 

[They] were often aggressive in their conduct of 
negotiations, especially when they needed to hammer out 
various kinds of material-technological assistance from 
us. ‘Since we’re in the same boat (the beloved argument 
of our Arab allies), then you must help us.’ We provided, 
of course, the minimum, mostly operational technology, 
and taught the Yemeni free of charge at our short courses 
. . . But the South Yemen partners sometimes 

demonstrated immoderate appetites. In the final years 
they insistently asked us to build them a Ministry for State 
Security building in Aden, buildings for security services 
in all the provincial centres and even a prison.— 

The KGB’s main concern, however, was the [North] 
Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) rather than the PDRY.— In 
July 1972 the YAR became the first member of the Arab 
League to resume the diplomatic relations with the United 
States which had been broken off after the Six-Day War 
five years earlier. Moscow’s anxieties increased when a 
military regime headed by the pro-Saudi Lieutenant 
Colonel Ibrahim al-Hamdi took power in June 1974 and 

sought arms from the United States, paid for by the oil- 
rich Saudis. Al-Hamdi was dissatisfied with the American 
response. As the US military attache in the YAR capital, 
Sana’a, reported to Washington, Saudi Arabia wanted a 
North Yemen that was ‘strong enough but not too strong’. 
The United States, in turn, was anxious not to offend its 
main ally in the region, Saudi Arabia, by meeting all al- 
Hamdi’s requests for military assistance.— The 
relationship of the al-Hamdi regime with Washington and 
Riyadh thus never became as close as the Centre feared. 
The KGB none the less embarked on a prolonged active- 
measures campaign designed to discredit the three men it 
saw as the main pro-American and pro-Saudi influences 
within the YAR government: ‘Abd Allah al-Asnadji, 
Minister of Foreign Affairs, M. Khamis, Minister of 
Internal Affairs and Chief of the Central National Security 
Directorate, and Muhammad Salim Basindawa, Minister 
of Culture and Information. In 1976 the KGB sent an 
anonymous letter to al-Hamdi, accusing Khamis of being 
a CIA agent and enclosing a forged document 
acknowledging his receipt of American money. Khamis, 
however, succeeded in persuading al-Hamdi that the 
receipt was a forgery, though - according to KGB files - 
he blamed the forgery on the Saudis or rebellious sheikhs 
rather than on the KGB.— 

On 12 October 1977 al-Hamdi was assassinated in 
circumstances which still remain obscure.— KGB active 

measures sought to persuade his successor, Ahmad al- 
Gashmi, that Khamis was responsible for al-Hamdi’s 
assassination. Soviet agents informed al-Gashmi that 
Khamis was also plotting his overthrow and conspiring to 
seize power himself— On 24 June 1978 al-Gashmi was 
assassinated, though not by Khamis. The previous day 
President Salim Rubai’ Ali of the PDRY had telephoned 
al-Gashmi to tell him he was despatching a special envoy 
to meet him in Sana’a on the following day. When the 
envoy arrived in al-Gashmi ’s office he opened a briefcase 
which exploded, killing both men. Two days later Salim 
Rubai’ Ali was executed in Aden, ostensibly for 
organizing the assassination of al-Gashmi and plotting a 
coup in the PDRY with the support of the West and Saudi 
Arabia. Rubai’ Ali’s supporters later claimed that the 
explosive had been put in the briefcase on orders from his 
pro-Soviet rival, ‘Abd al-Fattah Isma’il, who later in the 
year succeeded him as President.— Moscow immediately 
began a propaganda offensive in support of Isma’il, 
denouncing an alleged Saudi and American threat to the 
PDRY and flying in Cuban troops from Ethiopia to 
support the new regime while Soviet warships patrolled 
the Gulf of Aden.— 

Al-Gashmi ’s successor as President of the YAR, Ali 
Abdullah Salih, survived an assassination attempt a few 
days after taking power.— One of the objectives of Soviet 
policy was to exploit President Salih’s discontent with 

what he considered was the inadequate level of US arms 
supplies to the YAR. In November 1978 and January 
1979, Salih held well-publicized talks with the Soviet 
ambassador on ‘ways to strengthen relations’ - including 
the supply of Soviet arms.— Soviet attempts to cultivate 
Salih, however, were complicated by an attack on the 
YAR in late February 1979 by the PDRY, which for some 
time had cast envious eyes over its wealthier and more 
populous neighbour. A leading South Yemeni Communist 
told the Soviet ambassador, doubtless to Moscow’s 
displeasure, ‘Yes, it’s us who’ve started the war. If we 
win, we’ll create Great Yemen. If we lose, you’ll 
intervene and save us.’— The war, however, ended 
bizarrely on 27 March with a meeting in Kuwait between 
Presidents Salih and Isma’il which concluded with a 
hopelessly optimistic agreement to produce within four 
months a draft constitution for the unification of North 
and South Yemen.— (Unification did not actually occur 
until 1990.) 

Immediately after his meeting with Isma’il, Salih 
announced the dismissal of his Foreign Minister, al- 
Asnadji, and the Minister of Culture and Information, 
Basindawa. The Centre claimed the credit for both 
dismissals, which - it reported - had been strongly 
opposed by Saudi Arabia. Ever since Salih had become 
President, the KGB had been using its agents and 
confidential contacts to feed him disinformation that a 

pro-Saudi group, led by al-Asnadji and including 
Basindawa, had been plotting his overthrow with Saudi 
and American support and planning his assassination.— 
The KGB’s victory, however, was far from complete. 
Despite his dismissal as Foreign Minister, al-Asnadji 
remained one of Salih’s chief political advisers. In June 
1979 al-Asnadji visited Washington to appeal for ‘a more 
direct US military role in the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf 
Region’ and the despatch of senior US military advisers 
to train YAR armed forces.— 

In April 1980 Soviet policy in Yemen suffered another 
setback when a coup in the PDRY overthrew its staunch 
ally. President Isma’il. Among the causes of the coup was 
dissatisfaction with the amount of Soviet aid - far smaller 
than that given to other ideological allies in the Third 
World. Power cuts in Aden were blamed by Yemenis on 
the Soviet failure to complete the construction of a 
promised power station. Unlike his immediate 
predecessor, Isma’il survived his overthrow. Probably due 
to the intervention of the Soviet ambassador, he was 
allowed to go into exile in Moscow instead of being 
executed or imprisoned as his main opponents had 
intended. The Soviet Union was quick to mend its fences 
with the new regime in the PDRY, inviting Isma’il’s 
successor, Ali Nash Muhammad, on a state visit to 
Moscow only a month after the coup. The visit led to a 
new agreement on Soviet economic aid (including 

construction of the promised power station) and a joint 
communique condemning US policy in the Middle East 
and supporting the pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan.— 

In September 1980 the KGB obtained from agents in 
the YAR intelligence services a copy of a tape recording 
of a confidential discussion between Presidents Salih and 
Muhammad which had been made without their 
knowledge on Khamis’s instructions. The tape was then 
handed to Salih as evidence of Khamis’s treachery. 
Attempts were also made to persuade Salih that Khamis 
had links with the CIA. Khamis was dismissed in October 
and, according to KGB files, ‘physically eliminated’ in 
January 1981. The KGB also passed reports to Salih 
alleging that al-Asnadji was having an affair with a 
woman in the US Peace Corps, had $30 million in a 
London bank account and also owned a hotel and three 
houses in the London suburbs. In March 1981 al-Asnadji 
and some of his supporters were arrested on charges of 
preparing a coup. Salih seems to have been influenced by 
KGB active measures suggesting that the plotters had 
conspired with the CIA. He told his advisory council on 
21 March that ‘if an improper role on the part of the 
Americans in organizing the conspiracy is confirmed, 
then questions will be raised about the American presence 
in Northern Yemen’. The KGB also claimed the credit for 
persuading Salih to order the expulsion of an American 
military adviser on a charge of espionage.— 

The KGB’s tactical successes in the YAR, however, 
had little strategic significance. From 1982 onwards the 
discovery of oil fields in North Yemen led to a series of 
concessions to US companies. In April 1986 President 
Salih and Vice-President George Bush attended the 
ceremonial opening of the YAR’s first oil refinery. 
Collaboration in oil production, Bush declared, meant 
greater US ‘partnership with the Yemeni people’.— The 
PDRY, meanwhile, was in turmoil. On 13 January 1986 
several of President Muhammad’s opponents were 
machine-gunned in the Politburo meeting room. The 
Aden residency appears to have given no advance 
warning of the renewed bloodshed. In the fortnight’s civil 
war which followed thousands of YSP members, militia 
and armed forces were killed. The cost of the damage 
done to buildings and the economic infrastructure in Aden 
was estimated at $140 million. Muhammad lost power 
and was forced to flee with some thousands of his 
supporters to the YAR. — The Soviet Commander- in- 
Chief Ground Forces, General Yevgeni Ivanovsky, who 
was despatched to Aden on a ‘peacemaking’ mission, 
reported that about one third of the Yemeni officers killed 
in the fighting had been trained at Soviet military 
academies.— A few weeks later, representatives of the 
YSP attended the Twenty- seventh Congress of the Soviet 
Communist Party in Moscow. Fidel Castro is said to have 
put to the Yemeni delegation a question which summed 

up much of the frustration of Soviet policy to the PDRY 
over the previous quarter of a century. ‘When’, he 
reportedly asked, ‘are you people going to stop killing 
each other?’— 

In May 1990, after prolonged negotiations, the PDRY 
and YAR finally merged as the Republic of Yemen, 
whose 1 6 million inhabitants accounted for more than half 
the population of the Arabian peninsula. In April 1 994 the 
more powerful Northern leadership launched an attack on 
the South which brought the whole of a still-unstable 
country under Northern control. 


Israel and Zionism 

‘Zionist subversion’ was one of the KGB’s most enduring 
conspiracy theories. The Stalinist era bequeathed to the 
KGB a tradition of anti-semitism masquerading as anti- 
Zionism still clearly visible even in the mid-1980s. In 
1948, however, the Soviet Union had been the first to 
recognize the state of Israel, seeing its creation as a blow 
to British imperialism in the Middle East inflicted by 
‘progressive’ Jews of Russian and Polish origin. Moscow 
also counted on Zionist gratitude for the leading role of 
the Red Army in defeating Hitler. The arms supplied to 
the Zionists from Czechoslovakia with Moscow’s 
blessing during the first Arab-Israeli War (known to 
Israelis as the War of Independence and to Arabs as al- 
Nakbah, ‘the Disaster’), as well as Soviet diplomatic 
support, were of crucial importance to the birth of Israel. 
Within the new state the left-wing Mapam (United 
Workers) Party described itself on its foundation in 1948 
as ‘an inseparable part of the world revolutionary camp 
headed by the USSR’. Dr Moshe Sneh, member of the 
Mapam executive committee and head of the Israeli 
League for Friendly Relations with the USSR, said in his 
speech of welcome on the arrival of the Soviet legation in 
Tel Aviv: 

Our people love the Soviet Union and trust the Soviet 
Union, which has supported us and never let us down. For 
our part, we swear that we shall never let the Soviet 
Union down, and shall devote all our energies to 
strengthening the friendship and unbreakable alliance 
with our great friend and the defender of mankind - the 
Soviet Union.- 

Late in 1947 Andrei Mikhailovich Otroshchenko, head of 
the Middle and Far Eastern Department of the Committee 
of Information (KI), which then ran foreign intelligence, 
called an operational conference to announce that Stalin 
had given the KI the task of ensuring that Israel became 
an ally of the Soviet Union. To counter American 
attempts to exploit Israeli links with the Jewish 
community in the United States, the KI was to ensure that 
large numbers of its agents were included in the ranks of 
the Soviet Jews allowed to leave for Israel. The head of 
the Illegals Directorate in the KI (and later in the FCD), 
Aleksandr Mikhailovich ‘Sasha’ Korotkov, who had a 
Jewish wife, was put in charge of the selection of agents. 
His chief assistant, Vladimir Vertiporokh, was appointed 
as the first resident in Israel in 1948 under diplomatic 
cover with the alias ‘Rozhkov’. Vertiporokh told one of 
his colleagues that he was anxious about his new posting - 
partly because he disliked the ‘crafty Jews’, partly 

because he doubted whether he could fulfil the mission 
entrusted to the KI by Stalin of turning Israel into a Soviet 
ally: ‘The work the residency will have to do is so serious 
and important that, quite simply, I am afraid of not being 
able to cope with it, and you know what that would 

Probably the most successful of the first generation of 
Soviet agents infiltrated into Israel was the epidemiologist 
Avraham Marcus Klingberg, who, at the age of thirty, was 
recruited by Israel’s first Prime Minister in April 1948 to 
work on chemical and biological weapons. Klingberg was 
later one of the founders and deputy director of the Israel 
Institute of Biological Research in Ness Ziona, south-east 
of Tel Aviv. He continued to work for Soviet and East 
German intelligence for the remarkable period of thirty- 
five years.- Soviet-bloc intelligence services co-operated 
with the KI in the agent penetration of the new state of 
Israel; thirty-six of the Jews who left Bulgaria for Israel in 
the period 1947-50, for example, were Bulgarian agents. 
Though Mitrokhin’s notes on KGB files give very little 
detail on their activities, it is clear that they achieved at 
least a few significant successes. KHAIMOV, for 
example, obtained a job in the secretariat of Israel’s first 
President, Chaim Weizmann.- Contact with another 
Bulgarian agent, PERETS, whose role is not recorded, 
continued until 1975.- 

Satisfaction in the Centre at the early successes of agent 
penetration in Israel, however, was overshadowed by 
alarm at the enthusiasm of Soviet Jews for the new state 
and at the evidence of Israel’s growing links with the 
United States. Within a year of Israel’s foundation, there 
had been a volte-face in Soviet policy. Henceforth, 
Zionism was officially condemned as part of an 
imperialist plot to subvert the Soviet Union. Much of 
Vertiporokh’s work as resident in Tel Aviv appears to 
have been taken up by the pursuit of anti-Zionist 
conspiracy theories rather than by conventional 
intelligence collection. In 1949 he had three lengthy 
meetings with Yitzhak Rabinovich, formerly a member of 
the Jewish Agency’s Soviet Liaison Committee, to 
discuss in detail the nature of Zionism. A year later 
Rabinovich produced, at Vertiporokh’s request, a fifty- 
page summary of the main points covered in their 
conversations. - 

During the final years of Stalinist rule the anti-semitic 
campaign against imaginary Zionist conspiracies in 
Russia spread throughout the Soviet bloc. In 
Czechoslovakia the trial in 1952 of the ‘Leadership of the 
Anti-State Conspiratorial Centre’, led by a former Party 
leader, Rudolf Slansky, identified eleven of the fourteen 
defendants, including Slansky himself, as ‘of Jewish 
origin’. The simultaneous purge of Jews from the Soviet 
nomenklatura was nowhere more energetically pursued 

than at the Centre. By early 1953 all had been removed 
from the MGB (predecessor of the KGB), save for a small 
number of ‘hidden Jews’: people of partly Jewish origin 
who were registered as members of other ethnic groups. 
In the winter of 1952- 53 the MGB crushed a non-existent 
‘Jewish doctors’ plot’ to murder Stalin and the Soviet 
leadership, denouncing a group of innocent doctors as 
‘monsters and murderers’ working for a ‘corrupt Jewish 
bourgeois nationalist organization’ in the service of 
Anglo-American intelligence. Following the fabrication 
of the doctors’ plot, the Tel Aviv legation complained that 
‘anti-Soviet hysteria’ had reached unprecedented heights. 
Since the legation could not admit the reality of Soviet 
anti-semitism, it absurdly blamed the ‘hysteria’ on the 
Israeli government’s desire both to convince the United 
States that it could count on Israeli support for its 
‘aggressive plans’ and ‘continue to use Israel as a centre 
of espionage in the countries of the socialist camp’, and 
‘to divert the attention of the Israeli population from the 
economic difficulties’ at home.- 

Though the level of anti-Zionist and anti-semitic 
paranoia in the Centre dropped sharply after Stalin’s death 
in March 1953, it did not disappear. None of the Jews 
sacked from the MGB at the height of the anti-semitic 
witch-hunt was reinstated. Over forty years later, at the 
beginning of the Gorbachev era, Jews were still excluded 
(along with a number of other minorities) from the KGB. 

The only exceptions were a handful of recruits with 
Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers, registered as 
members of other ethnic groups. Even the Central 
Committee was less rigid than the KGB about rejecting 
applicants of Jewish origin. 

Despite the anti-semitic paranoia of Stalin’s final years, 
the Israeli security service. Shin Bet, suspected that 
Mapam was passing classified material to the Soviet 
Union and placed a bugging device with a battery- 
operated radio transmitter beneath the desk of the Party’s 
general secretary. In January 1953 two Shin Bet officers 
were caught red-handed breaking into the Mapam 
headquarters to change the radio batteries.- Shin Bet’s 
suspicions were, however, fully justified. The files of the 
Soviet Foreign Ministry show that two leading Mapam 
politicians in the Knesset were providing the Soviet 
embassy with classified material. Yaakov Riftin, who 
served on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security 
Committee and was described by Prime Minister David 
Ben-Gurion as ‘a preacher from the Cominform’, 
regularly supplied the embassy with Committee 
documents, including those from sessions held in camera. 
Moshe Sneh provided a probably smaller amount of 
intelligence on Israeli foreign policy. The material 
furnished by Riftin and Sneh served to reinforce Soviet 
suspicion of Israel’s special relationship with the United 
States. In August 1952, for example, the Tel Aviv 

legation reported to Moscow that, according to Sneh, 
Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett had declared ‘that Israel’s 
situation was such that it must follow the US without any 
preliminary conditions or reservations 

By the mid-1950s, if not earlier, the KGB had an agent 
group inside Mapam, codenamed TREST (one of the 
most prestigious codenames in KGB history, originally 
used in the 1920s for a highly successful deception 
operation against White Russian emigres and Western 
intelligence services—). In 1956 a courier codenamed 
BOKER was recruited to maintain contact with the group. 
The fact that he had three successive controllers over the 
years which followed indicates that the operation was 
considered of some importance. — Though Mitrokhin’s 
notes do not identify the members of the agent group, 
they probably included Aharon Cohen, Mapam’ s main 
expert on Arab affairs. Cohen’s contacts with the Tel 
Aviv residency were discovered after a car with 
diplomatic number plates, registered in the name of a 
known KGB operations officer, Viktor Sokolov, was 
spotted by a policeman outside the main gate of Cohen’s 
kibbutz near Haifa in April 1958. Shin Bet surveillance of 
further meetings between Cohen and KGB officers led to 
his arrest. Though Cohen claimed that his dealings with 
the Russians were limited to academic discussions, he 
was sentenced to five years in jail for unauthorized 
contacts with a foreign agent; he was released after 

serving seventeen months. Isser Harel, the head of Israel’s 
foreign intelligence service, Mossad, declared 
dramatically that Mapam had been ‘bom with a malignant 
growth in its belly - the Soviet Dybbuk [evil spirit]’.— 

Mossad itself, however, suffered one serious Soviet 
penetration in the mid-1950s. Potentially the most 
important KGB agent during Israel’s first decade was 
Ze’ev Avni, bom Wolf Goldstein, a multilingual 
economist and ardent Communist who had spent the 
Second World War in Switzerland where in 1943 he had 
been recmited by the GRU. Avni was a committed 
ideological agent. ‘There was no doubt in my mind’, he 
wrote later, ‘that I belonged not only to the vanguard of 
the revolution, but to its very elite.’ In 1948 he emigrated 
to Israel, joined a kibbutz and contacted the Soviet 
embassy to try to renew his links with the GRU. He was 
disappointed to receive a lukewarm, non-committal 
welcome - possibly because of his lack of security at the 
kibbutz, where he had made no secret of his Communist 
convictions and told a senior Mapam member that he 
would be happy to help the Party establish ‘a direct link to 
Moscow’. In 1950 Avni entered the Israeli Foreign 
Ministry, where he behaved with much greater discretion. 
A later security enquiry ‘had no difficulty finding people 
who had known Avni as a militant Communist’ at his 
kibbutz but found ‘practically universal admiration’ for 
him among his fellow diplomats, who were entirely 

unaware that his real loyalty was to the Soviet Union. 

In 1952 Avni had his first foreign posting as Israeli 
commercial attache in Brussels, where he was also 
appointed security officer and given the keys to the 
legation’s only safe, in which classified documents were 
kept. Having successfully renewed contact with the GRU, 
he began photographing the contents of the safe. After his 
arrest four years later, he admitted to his interrogator, ‘I 
gave them everything I had.’ Remarkably, Avni’s 
enthusiasm for the Soviet Union survived even the 
paranoia of the ‘Jewish doctors’ plot’. He later told his 
interrogator that Stalin had been a ‘genius’ and initially 
refused to believe that Khrushchev’s ‘Secret Speech’ of 
1956 denouncing Stalin was genuine.— 

While in Brussels, Avni also began to be employed by 
Mossad, using his fluent German to pose as a German 
businessman and make contact with former Nazis. Late in 
1953, Avni was offered both a full-time position in 
Mossad and the post of commercial attache in Belgrade 
and Athens. It was agreed that during his next posting he 
would combine espionage for Mossad with work as 
commercial attache, based chiefly in Belgrade, and 
thereafter move to a permanent position in Mossad. Once 
in Belgrade, Avni was assigned a new controller 
operating under diplomatic cover as first secretary at the 
Soviet embassy.— Though he believed himself still to be 

working for the GRU, he had - without his knowledge - 
been transferred to the KGB with the codename CHEKH. 
His KGB file identifies him, while in Belgrade, as acting 
head of Mossad operations in West Germany and 
Greece.— Among the operations which he personally 
conducted for Mossad, using his cover as a German 
businessman, was to penetrate the ranks of the former 
Wehrmacht officers employed by Gamal Abdel Nasser, 
after his 1954 coup, as military advisers in Egypt.— In 
1955-56 Avni supplied the KGB residency in Belgrade 
with the ciphers used by Mossad for communications with 
its Belgrade and Athens stations (probably enabling them 
to be decrypted), as well as details of Mossad personnel 
(probably both officers and agents) in France, Germany, 
Greece, Italy, Switzerland and Yugoslavia.— As in 
Brussels, he gave his controller ‘everything I had’. 

Avni was caught early in 1956 and sentenced to 
fourteen years’ imprisonment. When he finally came to 
terms with the fact that Khrushchev’s ‘Secret Speech’ 
denouncing Stalin was not - as he initially believed - a 
fabrication, he lost the uncompromising Communist faith 
which had inspired him since the age of fifteen. His 
experience, he recalls, closely resembled that memorably 
described by Arthur Koestler: ‘I went to Communism as 
one goes to a spring of fresh water, and I left Communism 
as one clambers out of a poisoned river strewn with the 
wreckage of flooded cities and the corpses of the 


Probably at about the time of Avni’s arrest, the KGB 
made initial contact with Yisrael Beer, Professor of 
Military History at Tel Aviv University as well as a well- 
known military commentator and lieutenant colonel in the 
Israeli Defence Force (IDF) reserves, who was 
subsequently recruited as a Soviet agent. Beer had arrived 
in Palestine from Austria on the eve of the Anschluss in 
1938, claiming to have been a member of the Schutzbund, 
the paramilitary defence organization of the Austrian 
Social Democratic Party, and to have taken part in the 
1934 Viennese workers’ rising against the pro-Nazi 
Chancellor Engelbert Dolfuss. In 1936 the Party had, 
allegedly, sent him to fight in the International Brigades 
in the Spanish Civil War, where he had taken the 
pseudonym Jose Gregorio and risen to the rank of colonel, 
subsequently receiving further military training in 
Moscow at the Frunze Military Academy. Beer claimed 
that early in 1938 he had picked up by chance a biography 
of the founder of modem Zionism, Theodor Herzl: ‘I read 
it the whole night without stopping, and in the morning I . 
. . decided to go to Palestine.’ After his arrest in 1961, 
Beer’s account of his early career turned out to be wholly 
fraudulent. He had never been a member of the 
Schutzbund, fought in the Spanish Civil War or enrolled 
at the Fmnze Military Academy. In reality, before leaving 
for Palestine in 1938 he had been only a clerk in the 

Austrian Zionist Federation.— During Beer’s 
interrogation by Shin Bet, the British embassy in Tel Aviv 
reported to London that there was ‘some doubt about 
whether Beer really is a Jew, since he is uncircumcised, a 
feature uncommon even in assimilated Jewish circles in 

There has since been speculation that Beer’s bogus 
autobiography was a ‘legend’ fabricated for him by Soviet 
intelligence. It is inconceivable, however, that the KGB or 
its predecessors would have devised a cover story which 
could be so easily disproved. Beer’s fantasy career in the 
Schutzbund and the International Brigades was his own, 
rather than Moscow’s, invention. The fact that Beer’s 
claims went unchallenged during the twenty-three years 
between his arrival in Palestine in 1938 and his arrest in 
1961 reflected, as the British embassy told the Foreign 
Office, ‘the perpetual problem of security which Israel by 
its very nature is bound to face’: ‘It is a country of 
immigrants about whose origins and past in many cases 
nothing is known except for what they themselves reveal. 
It has been pointed out that hundreds of people in 
responsible positions in theory offer the same kind of risk 
as Beer.’— 

On his arrival in Palestine in 1938, Beer had succeeded 
in joining the Jewish settlement police. Soon afterwards 
he became a member of the Planning Bureau of the 

Haganah (the forerunner under the British mandate of the 
IDF), distinguishing himself in the first Arab- Israeli War 
and becoming a founder member of Mapam.— The British 
military attache later reported that Beer had become ‘a 
fairly close friend of Shimon Peres’, the ambitious young 
Deputy Minister of Defence.— Among the most important 
intelligence provided by Beer early in his career as a KGB 
agent was information on Peres’s secret attempts in 1957 
to obtain military assistance from West Germany and buy 
reconditioned German submarines. When the news was 
leaked to the press, possibly by Beer, there was such a 
public outcry that the Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, 
with whom Beer had also established a close relationship, 
threatened to resign. Shin Bet burgled Beer’s Tel Aviv 
apartment but failed to find incriminating evidence. 

It has been plausibly suggested that Shin Bet was slow 
to follow up its suspicions about Beer after 1957 because 
of his links with the Prime Minister. Early in 1961, 
however, a surveillance team took up residence opposite 
Beer’s apartment. On 30 March he was observed 
apparently handing over a briefcase to Viktor Sokolov, 
previously identified as one of Aharon Cohen’s case 
officers. By the time a warrant had been obtained and 
Beer had been arrested in the early hours of the following 
morning, the briefcase was back in his possession. Inside, 
doubtless photographed by the Tel Aviv residency, were a 
classified military report and extracts from Ben-Gurion’ s 

diary. It was later discovered that the Prime Minister’s 
diary for the period January to July 1956 was missing. 
The probability is that this had been among the first 
documents supplied by Beer to the KGB.— The British 
embassy informed the Foreign Office that, ‘Not only was 
Beer closely concerned with the Ministry of Defence but 
he was also a friend of many people in high positions in 
the Government. The Police have already interviewed 
over one hundred persons and many of them have 
admitted that they have spoken to him more freely than 
they should have done.’— Beer was sentenced to fifteen 
years’ imprisonment in 1962 and died in jail four years 

None of the Israeli agents recruited in the mid-1960s 
whose files were noted by Mitrokhin appears to have 
compared in importance with either Avni or Beer.— The 
best indication of the KGB’s lack of high-level Israeli 
sources was its complete surprise at the outbreak of the 
Six-Day War in June 1967. Before the war, the Soviet 
embassy had been contemptuous of Israel’s capacity to 
take on its Arab neighbours. In May one of the embassy’s 
leading informants, Moshe Sneh, formerly a Mapam 
politician but now leader of the Israeli Communist Party, 
told the Soviet ambassador, Dmitri Chubakhin, that if 
there was another Arab-Israeli war, Israel would win. 
Chubakhin replied scornfully, ‘Who will fight [for 
Israel]? The espresso boys and the pimps on Dizengoff 

[Tel Aviv’s main] Street?’— The Centre first discovered 
the Israeli surprise attacks on Egyptian, Jordanian and 
Syrian targets early on 5 June not from the Tel Aviv 
residency but from intercepted news reports by 
Associated Press.— In the immediate aftermath of the 
stunning Israeli victory, the residency itself seemed 
stunned. According to a Shin Bet officer responsible for 
the surveillance of residency personnel: 

They were like scared mice. They didn’t understand what 
was going on, had no idea how this attack had fallen on 
them from out of the clear blue sky, or who was up 
against whom. They made a few attempts to leave the 
embassy to meet with their agents and ascertain what 
Israel’s goals were. They didn’t get a thing. This was the 
position until they were pulled out.— 

Moscow’s decision (which it later regretted) to break off 
diplomatic relations with Israel and thus to close the legal 
residency in the legation caused further disruption to 
KGB operations. Since 1964 the Centre had had plans to 
base a group of operations officers at the Russian 
Orthodox Church mission in Jerusalem.— After the 
closure of the Soviet embassy. Shin Bet quickly realized 
that the KGB residency had moved to the mission.— But 
the mission offered a much smaller and less secure base 

for KGB operations than the legation. The fact that its 
budget was only a fraction of those of the major Middle 
Eastern residencies is testimony to the decline of 
intelligence operations inside Israel after 1967.— The 
KGB lost contact with a number of the agents it had 
recruited before the Six-Day War.— 

In the aftermath of the Six-Day War, Markus Wolf, the 
head of the East German HVA, found the KGB, despite 
the decline in its operations inside Israel, ‘fixated on 
Israel as an enemy’.— The Centre, like the Politburo, was 
particularly alarmed by the effect of the war on Jewish 
communities in the Soviet Union. One Russian Jew, 
Anatoli Dekatov, later wrote in an article which he dared 
to send for publication in the Jerusalem Post 

The victory of the tiny Israeli state over the hosts of the 
Arab enemies sent a thrill through the hearts of the Jews 
in Russia, as it did, I suppose, for Jews all over the world. 
The feeling of deep anxiety for the fate of Israel with 
which Soviet Jewry followed the events was succeeded by 
boundless joy and an overpowering pride in our people. 
Many, and especially the young, realized their Jewish 
identity for the first time . . . The anti-Israel campaign in 
the Soviet mass media served only to spread further 
Zionist feeling among the Jews.— 

Immediately following the Six-Day War, Moscow banned 

all emigration to Israel. A year later, however, irritated by 
Western denunciations of the ban as a breach of Jewish 
human rights, Andropov and Gromyko jointly proposed to 
the Politburo a limited resumption of emigration ‘in order 
to contain the slanderous assertions of Western 
propaganda concerning discrimination against the Jews in 
the Soviet Union’. The KGB, they added, would continue 
to use this emigration ‘for operational goals’ - in other 
words to infiltrate agents into Israel.— In 1969 a record 
number of almost 3,000 Jews were allowed to emigrate. 
Though the number fell to little more than 1,000 in 1970, 
it rose sharply to 13,000 in 1971 - more than in the whole 
of the previous decade. In both 1972 and 1973 over 
30,000 Jews were allowed to leave for Israel.— 

The sharp rise in exit visas, however, fell far short of 
keeping pace with demand. The unprecedented surge in 
Jewish applications for permits to emigrate to Israel was 
confronted with bureaucratic obstructionism and official 
persecution. All applicants from technical professions, 
even those employed as clerks, were dismissed from their 
jobs. Students whose families applied for exit visas were 
expelled from their universities and required to perform 
three years’ military service, after which they could not 
apply for visas for another five years. The KGB reviewed 
every application and was usually responsible for 
deciding the outcome. In the case of individuals well 
known either in the Soviet Union or in the West, the 

decision taken always carried Andropov’s personal 
signature. In August 1972 a ‘diploma tax’ was introduced, 
obliging all those emigrants who had received higher 
education to refund the cost. All applicants for exit visas 
were branded in effect as enemies of the Soviet Union.— 

During the early 1970s the ‘refuseniks’, those who had 
been denied exit visas, formed themselves into groups, 
contacted Western journalists and organized a series of 
protests ranging from demonstrations to hunger strikes. 
The KGB sent a stream of reports, often signed personally 
by Andropov, to the Politburo and the Central Committee, 
reporting the resolute action taken to ‘neutralize’ even the 
most minor protests. Every protest was interpreted as part 
of an international Zionist conspiracy against the Soviet 

With the growing aggressiveness of international 
imperialism, the data received indicate that subversive 
activity by foreign Zionist centres against the socialist 
countries has substantially increased. At the present time, 
there are more than 600 Zionist centres and organizations 
in the capitalist states, possessing significant propaganda 
resources. Since Israel’s aggression against the Arab 
countries in June 1967, it has begun a campaign of 
widespread and open provocation against the Soviet 
Union and other socialist countries. 

Zionist circles, in trying to deflect the attention of 
world public opinion away from the aggressive actions of 
the US in Indochina and of Israel in the Middle East, and 
toward the non-existent ‘problem’ of the Jews in the 
USSR, have unleashed on our country a broad campaign 
of slander, and to this end are organizing abroad anti- 
Soviet meetings, assemblies, conferences, marches and 
other hostile acts. 

. . . Along with the cultivation of anti-Soviet world 
opinion, the Zionists are striving to exert ideological 
influence on the Jewish population of the Soviet Union, in 
order to provoke negative manifestations and create a 
nationalist underground in our country. 

. . . The KGB organs have been focusing on operations 
for curtailing hostile and specially organized activity of 
Jewish nationalists, in particular methods of dismantling, 
separating and dividing groups, compromising their 
spiritual leaders and isolating deluded individuals from 

Soviet policy oscillated between the desire to deter Jewish 
emigration to Israel and intermittent anxiety at the impact 
on foreign opinion of the persecution of the refuseniks. 
Brezhnev was in a particularly nervous mood for several 
months before his visit to Washington in June 1973. He 
told the Politburo in March, ‘In the last few months. 

hysteria has been whipped up around the so-called 
education tax on individuals emigrating abroad. I have 
thought a lot about what to do.’ Unusually he criticized 
Andropov by name for failing to implement his 
instructions to end collection of the tax. ‘It was my fault 
that we delayed implementing your instructions for six 
days,’ Andropov confessed. ‘It was simply the 
unwieldiness of our apparatus.’ As Brezhnev carried on 
complaining, his tone became increasingly self-pitying. 
‘On Saturday and Sunday I didn’t even go outside’, he 
told the Politburo, ‘and now I will have to devote even 
more time to these questions.’ He concluded the 
discussion with a bizarre, rambling monologue which 
epitomized the broader confusion of Soviet policy: 

Why not give [the Jews] some little theatre with 500 seats 
for a Jewish variety show that will work under our 
censorship with a repertoire under our supervision? Let 
Auntie Sonya sing Jewish wedding songs there. I’m not 
proposing this. I’m just talking ... I’m speaking freely 
because I still have not raised my hand for anything I’m 
saying. For now. I’m simply keeping my hands at my 
sides and thinking things over, this is the point . . . 
Zionism is making us stupid, and we [even] take money 
from an old lady who has received an education.— 

The outbreak of the Yom Kippur War enabled Andropov 

to recoup some of his personal prestige within the 
Politburo. The simultaneous attack by Egyptian and 
Syrian forces on 6 October 1973 caught Israel and the 
United States, but not the KGB, off guard. Still conscious 
of having been caught out by the beginning of the Six- 
Day War six years earlier, the KGB was able to provide 
advance warning to the Politburo before Yom Kippur - 
probably as a result of intelligence from its penetrations of 
the Egyptian armed forces and intelligence community.— 

The KGB appears to have achieved no similar 
penetration of the Israeli Defence Force and intelligence 
agencies, despite the inclusion of large numbers of agents 
among those allowed to emigrate to Israel. According to 
Oleg Kalugin, head of FCD Counter Intelligence: 

Many promised to work for us abroad, but almost 
invariably forgot their pledges as soon as they crossed the 
Soviet border. A few did help us, keeping the KGB 
informed about the plans and activities of Jewish emigre 
and refusenik groups. Our ultimate goal was to place 
these Jewish emigres, many of whom were scientists, into 
sensitive positions in Western government, science or the 
military-industrial complex. But we enjoyed little success, 
and by the time I stepped down as head of Foreign 
Counter-Intelligence in 1980 I didn’t know of a single 
valuable [Jewish emigre] mole in the West for the KGB 


Other Soviet-bloc intelligence services were probably no 
more successful than the KGB. Markus Wolf later 
acknowledged that during his thirty-three years as head of 
the East German HVA, ‘We never managed to penetrate 
Israeli intelligence.’— 

The KGB found it far easier to infiltrate agents into 
Israel than to control them once they were there. The 
small residency in the Russian Orthodox Church mission 
in Jerusalem, which was kept under close surveillance by 
Shin Bet, could not cope with the demands made of it by 
the Centre. In October 1970 the Centre approved a plan to 
expand intelligence operations in Israel by sending a 
series of illegals on short-term missions as well as 
preparing the establishment of a permanent illegal 
residency.— Among the illegals despatched to Israel in 
1971-72 both to contact existing agents and to cultivate 
potential new recruits were KARSKY, PATRIYA, RUN 
and YORIS, posing as - respectively - Canadian, Spanish, 
Mexican and Finnish nationals.— In 1972 an illegal 
residency in Israel also began operating, run by the thirty- 
four-year-old Yuri Fyodorovich Finov (codenamed 
KRAVCHENKO), posing as the Austrian Karl-Bemd 
Motl. Plans were made to give Finov control of a network 
of five agents:— FEON, a medical researcher with Israeli 

intelligence contacts who had been recruited in 1966 
while on a visit to the Soviet Union;— KIM, a bogus 
Jewish refugee sent to Israel in 1970, where he enrolled at 
the Hebrew University in Jerusalem to penetrate 
organizations such as the Prisoners of Zion Association 
which campaigned for the release of Jewish refuseniks in 
the Soviet Union;— PETRESKU, another KGB Jewish 
agent who arrived in Israel in 1970;— GERDA, an 
employee of the German embassy;— and RON, a foreign 
ambassador in Israel.— 

Linov’s new illegal residency, however, survived for 
only a year. The first danger signal, the significance of 
which was apparently not appreciated by the Centre, was 
KIM’s sudden unauthorized appearance in West Berlin in 
February 1973, where he complained to the KGB that 
Shin Bet was showing an interest in him.— A month later 
Linov was arrested while in the middle of an intelligence 
operation. The Centre concluded that he had been 
betrayed by LEON, who may well have been a double 
agent controlled by Shin Bet.— PETRESKU was also 
suspected of having been turned by Israeli intelligence.— 
Though contact with RON (and probably GERDA) 
continued, the Centre noted that RON was ‘inclined to be 
extortionate’ in his financial demands.— 

Following Linov’s arrest, the Centre shelved plans for 
an illegal residency and cancelled all visits by illegals to 

Israel.— Plans by the Hungarian AVH to send their illegal 
YASAI to Israel posing as a French-bom Jew were also 
shelved after he refused to be circumcised. — Two FCD 
officers, V. N. Okhulov and I. F. Khokhlov, took part in 
protracted secret negotiations with Israeli intelligence 
officers to secure Linov’s release. Throughout the 
negotiations he was referred to by his Austrian alias 
‘MotF. The Israelis requested in exchange the release of 
Heinrich Speter, a Bulgarian Jew sentenced to death on a 
probably spurious charge of espionage, and of sixteen 
Soviet Jews imprisoned for an alleged attempt to hijack a 
Soviet aircraft. The KGB insisted at first on a straight 
swap of Linov for Speter, claiming that both men had 
been found guilty on similar charges of espionage. In the 
end, however, the Centre also agreed to free Silva 
Zalmonson, one of the alleged hijackers, and to allow two 
of her companions to emigrate to Israel at the end of their 
prison sentences. As a condition of the exchange, the 
Israeli negotiators insisted that no mention be made in 
public of the release of ‘MotF - probably to avoid the 
impression that Israel was willing to exchange captured 
Soviet spies for persecuted Jews in the Soviet bloc. 

The arrival in Israel of Speter and Zalmonson in 
September 1974 was thus interpreted by some Western 
observers as evidence that the Kremlin had decided on a 
more conciliatory policy towards Jewish emigration. Time 
magazine’s Moscow correspondent saw their release as a 

Soviet attempt to influence the US Congress by making a 
humanitarian gesture. Andropov appeared delighted with 
the outcome of the negotiations for Linov’s release and 
presented Okhulov and Khokhlov with formal letters of 
congratulation.— The Centre was less pleased with Linov. 
Officers in the FCD Illegals Directorate believed that he 
had given away more than he should have done under 
Israeli interrogation.— 

During the mid-1970s Soviet policy towards Jewish 
emigration hardened once again. The immediate cause 
was the passage through Congress in 1974 of the Jackson- 
Vanik and Stevenson amendments to the 1972 US/Soviet 
Trade Agreement, making most-favoured-nation status 
dependent on the relaxation of curbs on emigration. The 
numbers of exit visas given in the mid-1970s declined 
from the record numbers of over 30,000 a year in 1972-73 
to 20,000 in 1974 and less than 15,000 a year in 1975-76. 
Andropov continued to take a close, even obsessive, 
personal interest in the surveillance of would-be Jewish 
emigrants and all contacts between Soviet Jews and their 
foreign supporters.— He regarded even the sending of 
matsos (unleavened bread) from the West to Soviet Jews 
for the seder (the Passover meal) as an issue of such grave 
importance that it needed to be brought to the attention of 
the Politburo, writing in March 1975: 

From the experience of previous years, it is clear that the 
delivery of such parcels [of matsos] to the addressees 
gives rise to negative processes among the Jewish 
population of the USSR, and reinforces nationalist and 
pro-emigration feelings. 

In view of this, and in view of the fact that at the 
present time Jewish communities are fully supplied with 
locally baked matsos, the Committee of State Security 
considers it essential for parcels containing matsos sent 
from abroad to be confiscated . . 

The claim that Soviet Jews were already well supplied 
with Passover matsos was disinformation designed to pre- 
empt opposition to Andropov’s proposal from those 
Politburo members who, like Brezhnev, occasionally 
grasped that the obsession with Zionist conspiracy was 
‘making us stupid’. Andropov regarded foreign telephone 
calls as an even greater danger than imported matsos, in 
view of the politically incorrect tendency of Soviet Jews 
to complain to foreigners about the various forms of 
persecution to which they were subject. In June 1975 he 
reported personally to the Politburo on the success of 
KGB measures ‘to prevent the use of international 
communications channels for the transfer abroad of 
tendentious and slanderous information’ by Soviet Jews. 
During the previous two years over a hundred telephone 
lines used by ‘Jewish nationalists’ to make phone calls 

abroad had been disconnected, ‘thereby inflicting a 
noticeable blow on foreign Zionist organizations’. More 
recently, however, Jews had taken to using telephone 
booths in telegraph offices, giving the staff non-Jewish 
names in order not to arouse suspicion, and direct-dial 
international telephone lines where there was no operator 
to keep track of them.— 

Zionism was second only to the United States (‘the 
Main Adversary’) as a target for KGB active measures. 
For some conspiracy theorists in the Centre and elsewhere 
in Moscow, the two targets were in any case closely 
linked. Arkadi Shevchenko, the Soviet Under Secretary- 
General of the United Nations in the mid-1970s, was 
struck by the puzzlement in Moscow at how the United 
States functioned with such technological efficiency 
despite so little apparent regulation: ‘Many are inclined 
towards the fantastic notion that there must be a secret 
control centre somewhere in the United States.’— The 
power behind the scenes, they believed, was monopoly 
capital which, in turn, was largely identified in some 
Soviet imaginations with the Jewish lobby. 

The Centre devoted enormous energy to anti-Zionist 
active measures within the United States which, it was 
hoped, would also discredit the Jewish lobby. Probably 
the Centre’s most successful tactic was to exploit the 
activities of the extremist Jewish Defense League (JDL), 

founded by a Brooklyn rabbi, Meir Kahane, whose 
inflammatory rhetoric declared the need for Jews to 
protect themselves by ‘all necessary means’ - including 
violence. The JDL so perfectly fitted the violent, racist 
image of Zionism which the KGB wished to project that, 
had it not existed. Service A might well have sought to 
invent a similarly extremist US-based underground 
movement. In September 1969, six Arab missions at the 
UN received threatening telegrams from the League, 
claiming that they were ‘legitimate targets’ for revenge 
attacks for terrorist acts committed by Arabs.— A year 
later, on 4 October 1970, KGB officers in New York 
posted forged letters containing similar threats, purporting 
to come from the JDL and other Zionist extremists, to the 
heads of Arab missions. The Centre calculated that these 
letters would provoke protests by the missions to both U 
Thant, the UN Secretary-General, and the US 

In the early hours of 25 November 1970 there was a 
bomb attack on the Manhattan offices of the Soviet airline 
Aeroflot, followed by an anonymous phone call to 
Associated Press by a caller who claimed responsibility 
for the bombing and used the JDL slogan, ‘Never again!’ 
Another bomb attack on 8 January 1971, this time outside 
a Soviet cultural centre in Washington, was followed by a 
similar phone call and the use of the same slogan. A 
spokesman for the JDL denied the League’s involvement 

in the bombing but refused to condemn it. Once again, the 
Centre decided to imitate the example of the League. On 
25 July the head of the FCD First (North American) 
Department, Anatoli Tikhonovich Kireyev, instructed the 
New York residency to implement operation PANDORA: 
the planting of a delayed-action explosive device in ‘the 
Negro section of New York’, preferably ‘one of the Negro 
colleges’. After the explosion, the residency was ordered 
to make anonymous phone calls to black organizations, 
claiming responsibility on behalf of the JDL. PANDORA 
was merely the most dramatic in a series of active 
measures designed to stir up racial hostility between the 
black and Jewish communities. Simultaneously Andropov 
approved the distribution of bogus JDL leaflets fabricated 
by Service A, which denounced the crimes perpetrated by 
‘black mongrels’. Sixty letters were sent to black student 
and youth groups giving lurid accounts of fictitious JDL 
atrocities and demanding vengeance. Other anti- Semitic 
pamphlets, circulated in the name of a non-existent ‘Party 
of National Rebirth’, called on whites to save America 
from the Jews.— 

The main data base used by Service A in its active- 
measures campaigns against Zionist targets from 1973 
onwards was obtained during operation SIMON, carried 
out by an agent of the Viennese residency codenamed 
CHUB (‘Forelock’) against the Paris headquarters of the 
World Jewish Congress (WJC). Preliminary 

reconnaissance by CHUB established that the premises 
were unguarded at night and had no burglar alarm. Using 
a duplicate key to the main entrance, he entered the WJC 
Paris offices on the night of 12- 13 February 1972 and 
removed the entire card index listing names and addresses 
of the WJC’s 20,000 French supporters together with 
details of their financial contributions, address plates 
giving the 30,000 addresses in fifty-five countries to 
which the WJC French-language periodical Information 
Juive was despatched, finance files relating to the 
activities of the WJC European Executive and details of 
the financing of a book on anti-semitism in Poland. At 1 1 
a.m. on 14 June CHUB delivered ah this material, which 
filled two suitcases and a shopping bag, to the Soviet 
consulate in Paris, then returned to Vienna using a false 
passport. — 

Service A spent much of the next year planning the 
production of forgeries based on the format of the stolen 
documents which were designed to discredit the WJC and 
Zionism. On 4 January 1973, N. A. Kosov, the head of 
Service A, submitted a large-scale plan for active 
measures based on the forgeries which was approved by 
Andropov on the following day. Many of the fabricated 
documents were posted to addresses in Europe and North 
America over the next few years in the name of a 
fictitious ‘Union of Young Zionists’: among them a letter 
from one of the leaders of the French branch of the WJC 

containing compromising information on the World 
Zionist Organization (WZO), which, through its executive 
arm, the Jewish Agency, was responsible for Jewish 
emigration to Israel; financial documents purporting to 
show that WJC leaders had embezzled large sums of 
money which had been collected to provide aid for Israel; 
evidence that a series of newspapers had been bribed to 
publish pro-Israeli propaganda; and material designed to 
show that the WJC had links with Jewish extremists who 
were secretly trying to provoke outbreaks of anti- 
semitism in order to encourage emigration to Israel.— 
There is no evidence, however, that this elaborate 
disinformation exercise had any significant impact. No 
KGB active-measures campaign was capable of 
countering the adverse publicity generated by the 
persecution of the refuseniks. The Centre’s obsession with 
the menace of Zionist subversion also introduced into the 
campaign an element of sometimes absurd exaggeration. 
It decided, for example, to exploit the murder in October 
1973 of a female relative of the future French President, 
Valery Giscard d’Estaing, by distributing in the name of a 
fictitious French Israeli support group a ludicrous 
fabrication declaring that she had been killed by Zionists 
in revenge for Giscard’ s part in the prosecution some 
years earlier of a group of Jewish financiers. So far from 
grasping the pointlessness of this dismal active measure, 
the Centre was unaccountably proud of it.— 

Though estimating the impact of KGB anti-Zionist and 
anti-Israeli active measures in Europe is inevitably 
difficult, they appear to have achieved no more than 
marginal successes. Among these marginal successes was 
the visit to the Soviet Union of the British Chief Rabbi, 
Immanuel (later Lord) Jakobovits, in December 1975. On 
his return he was greeted by the headline in the Jerusalem 
Post. ‘Jakobovits “Duped” by Soviets, Say Those Who 
Have Lived There’. Though the headline was 
exaggerated, the Chief Rabbi had shown a degree of 
naivety when subjected during his visit to a succession of 
carefully prepared active measures. Even when he wrote 
an account of his visit in his memoirs nine years later, it 
seems not to have occurred to him that the Russian Jews 
with whom he had lengthy discussions during his visit 
inevitably included a series of well-trained KGB agents.— 
Mitrokhin’s notes contain the codenames of eleven of 
them; their task included ‘conveying slanted information 
about the situation in the Soviet Union’.— 

Though Jakobovits met dissidents as well as official 
representatives during his visit, he returned with an 
inadequate grasp of the numbers who wished to emigrate, 
telling a packed audience in the St John’s Wood 
Synagogue: ‘Even if the doors of the Soviet Union were 
freely opened to emigration, the most optimistic estimate 
is that only about half a million Jews would avail 
themselves of the opportunity, while some believe that the 

figure would not be much above 100,000.’ 

The fact that Jakobovits even mentioned the highly 
implausible hypothesis that as few as 100,000 Soviet Jews 
might wish to emigrate strongly suggests that he had been 
influenced by the ‘slanted information’ passed on to him 
by KGB agents. In fact, within twenty years of his visit 
the total number of emigrants had risen to over a million. 
Convinced that ‘the bulk of Soviet Jewry’ did not wish to 
emigrate, the Chief Rabbi placed as much emphasis on 
improving the conditions of Jewish life in the Soviet 
Union as on supporting the refuseniks.— But if Jakobovits 
showed a degree of naivety, so too did the KGB. Agent 
SHCHERBAKOV was given the impossible task of 
cultivating the executive director of the Chief Rabbi’s 
office, Moshe Davis, with a view to his recruitment by the 

Probably the greatest success of the Soviet anti-Zionist 
campaign was its role in promoting the passage in the UN 
General Assembly by sixty-seven to fifty-five votes (with 
fifteen abstentions) of Resolution 3379, denouncing 
Zionism as a form of racism, in November 1975. In 
Jakobovits ’s view, ‘UN resolutions hostile to Israel had 
been commonplace, but none could compare in virulence 
to this one. Its impact on Jews everywhere was 
devastating . . . ’— The anti-Western majority which 
voted for Resolution 3379, however, was achieved as 

much by the lobbying of the Arab states as by the Soviet 
bloc. Though the KGB officers operating under 
diplomatic cover in New York and elsewhere doubtless 
played their part in the lobbying, there is no indication in 
any of the files noted by Mitrokhin that the KGB made a 
substantial contribution to the success of the vote. Soviet 
diplomacy appears to have contributed far more than 
Soviet intelligence to the passage of Resolution 3379. 

In 1977 the Soviet Union began a gradual increase in 
the number of exit visas granted to would-be Jewish 
emigrants in an attempt to demonstrate its compliance 
with the human rights provisions of the Helsinki Accords 
of 1975.— Almost 29,000 Jews emigrated in 1978, 
followed by a record 51,000 in 1979.— KGB pressure on 
the refuseniks, however, was unrelenting. In March 1977 
the leading refusenik, Anatoli (Natan) Shcharansky, was 
arrested. For the next year he resisted all the attempts of 
his KGB interrogators to bully and cajole him into co- 
operating in his own show trial by admitting working for 
the CIA. Andropov refused to admit defeat. In June 1978 
he falsely informed the Politburo that, ‘Shcharansky 
admits his guilt; we have caught him in his espionage 
activities and can present the appropriate materials.’ How 
long a sentence Shcharansky received, Andropov added, 
would ‘depend on how he behave [d] himself in court. — 
The trial, though almost unpublicized inside the Soviet 
Union, ended in a moral victory for Shcharansky, who 

made a movingly defiant final address: 

For two thousand years the Jewish people, my people, 
have been dispersed all over the world and seemingly 
deprived of any hope of returning. But still, each year 
Jews have stubbornly, and apparently without reason, said 
to each other, ‘Next year in Jerusalem!’ And today, when 
I am further than ever from my dream, from my people 
and from my [wife] Avital, and when many difficult years 
of prisons and camps lie ahead of me, I say to my wife 
and to my people, ‘Next year in Jerusalem!’ 

And to the court, which has only to read a sentence that 
was prepared long ago - to you I have nothing to say.— 

Shcharansky was sentenced to thirteen years in prison and 
camps on trumped-up charges of espionage and betrayal 
of the motherland. There is little doubt that Andropov was 
personally responsible for his persecution. Despite their 
conspiracy theories about Zionism, some - perhaps most - 
other members of the Politburo barely knew the name 
either of Shcharansky or of any other refusenik. In 
September President Jimmy Carter raised the 
Shcharansky case at a meeting with Gromyko in the 
White House. Gromyko replied that he had never heard of 
Shcharansky. Dobrynin, who was present at the meeting, 
believed at the time that Gromyko ‘had shown great 

diplomatic skill in handling such a sensitive subject by 
feigning ignorance of it’. After the meeting, however, 
Dobrynin discovered to his surprise that Gromyko’s 
ignorance was genuine: ‘He had instructed his 
subordinates in Moscow not to bother him with what he 
called such “absurd” matters.’— 

With the breakdown in East- West relations which 
followed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 
1979, there was a sharp cut-back in the number of exit 
visas given to Jewish emigrants. Emigrants fell from 
51,000 in 1979 to 25,000 in 1980 - many probably on 
visas issued before the change in Soviet policy. In 1981 
there were fewer than 10,000, in 1982 under 5,000, and 
for each of the next four years fewer than 2,000.— During 
the first half of the 1980s the refuseniks, like the rest of 
the dissident movements within the Soviet Union, seemed 
at their lowest ebb since their emergence in the late 1960s. 
Those who remained at liberty were under constant KGB 
surveillance. Andropov and his successors as KGB 
Chairman, Fedorchuk and Chebrikov, took pride in 
reporting to the Politburo and Central Committee on the 
success of their efforts to disrupt the refuseniks’ ‘anti- 
Soviet’ activities. On a number of occasions, the KGB 
exploited popular anti-semitism in order to intimidate the 
refuseniks. Andropov reported in May 1981, for example, 
that an attempt by ‘Jewish nationalists’ to hold a meeting 
in a forest near Moscow to commemorate the Holocaust 

and protest against the refusal of exit visas had been 
prevented ‘with the active participation of the Soviet 

Andropov’s term as Soviet leader from 1982 to 1984 
witnessed the tensest period in Soviet- American relations 
since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. — The Centre’s 
conspiracy theories about Zionist- American collaboration 
to subvert the Soviet bloc gave added impetus to KGB 
operations against Zionist targets. In 1982 the KGB held a 
high-level in-house conference in Leningrad devoted to 
‘The main tendencies of the subversive activity of Zionist 
centres abroad and Jewish nationalists within the country, 
and topical questions relating to increasing the 
effectiveness of KGB agencies in combating this 
[activity] in present-day conditions.’ Meeting soon after 
the suppression of the Polish Solidarity movement (whose 
minority of Jewish leaders attracted disproportionate 
interest in the Centre), the conference agreed that 
‘virtually no major negative incidents took place in the 
socialist countries of Europe without the involvement of 
Zionists’. A number of speakers claimed that the Zionists’ 
penetration of the political leadership of much of the West 
had given them a major influence over Western policy 
which was exacerbating both East- West tension and 
‘treasonable tendencies’ among Soviet Jews.— In the 
summer of 1982, probably as a result of this conference, 
residents were sent a detailed four-year ‘Plan for Work 

against Zionism in 1982-1986’, warning them that the 
Soviet bloc was threatened by ‘all kinds of subversive 
operations’ organized by Zionists in league with Israel 
and ‘imperialist intelligence services’, especially the CIA. 
These had to be countered by a major increase in 
intelligence collection on ‘the plans, forms and methods 
of Zionist subversion’ as well as by a wide range of active 
measures designed to weaken and divide the Zionist 

In a review of foreign operations early in 1984, 
Vladimir Kryuchkov, the head of the FCD, claimed that 
during the previous two years, ‘The subversive activity of 
emigre, nationalist and Zionist organizations and 
associations abroad has shown a marked increase. ’— The 
FCD ‘Plan of Work’ for 1984 put first on its list of 
counter-intelligence targets: ‘Plans for subversive action 
or secret operations by the adversary’s special services 
and by centres for ideological diversion and nationalists, 
especially Zionists and other anti-Soviet organizations, 
against the USSR and other countries of the socialist 

At the beginning of the Gorbachev era, there were still 
many in the Centre who believed that the American 
‘military-industrial complex’ was dominated by the 
Jewish lobby. Proponents of even more extreme Zionist 
conspiracy theories included L. P. Zamoysky, deputy 

head of the FCD Directorate of Intelligence Information. 
Despite his reputation as one of the Centre’s ablest 
analysts, Zamoysky maintained that Zionism had behind 
it not merely Jewish finance capital but also the occult 
power of Freemasonry whose rites, he maintained, were 
of Jewish origin. It was, he insisted, a ‘fact’ that 
Freemasons were an integral part of the Jewish 

During his early career, Mikhail Gorbachev absorbed at 
least some of the anti-Zionist prejudices which were part 
of the mindset of the CPSU. Those prejudices were 
clearly apparent at a Politburo meeting on 29 August 
1985 which discussed the case of the leading dissident, 
Andrei Sakharov, and his Jewish wife, Elena Bonner, 
both of whom had been banished to Gorky five years 
earlier. Chebrikov, the KGB Chairman, declared 
(inaccurately) that Bonner had ‘one hundred per cent 
influence’ over her husband and dictated his actions. 
‘That’s what Zionism does for you!’ joked Gorbachev. It 
was Gorbachev, none the less, who over the next four 
years played the leading role in resolving the problem of 
the refuseniks. Gorbachev realized that neither democratic 
reform nor the normalization of East- West relations could 
continue so long as Sakharov’s exile and the persecution 
of other dissidents continued. Because of the opposition 
of the KGB and the old guard within the Politburo, 
however, he was forced to proceed cautiously. It was not 

till December 1986, twenty-one months after he became 
General Secretary, that he judged that the Politburo was 
ready to accept Sakharov’s and Bonner’s return from 
internal exile.— The rearguard action against ending the 
persecution of the refuseniks was even stronger than in 
the case of non- Jewish dissidents. The release of Natan 
Shcharansky from the gulag in 1986 and his departure for 
Israel, where he arrived to a hero’s welcome, none the 
less marked a turning point in the struggle for Jewish 

In August 1987, at the request of the KGB leadership, 
the Politburo agreed to a propaganda campaign designed 
to deter would-be Jewish emigrants to Israel, as well as 
measures such as the foundation of Jewish cultural 
associations which would provide positive incentives to 
remain in the Soviet Union.— By this time, Gorbachev’s 
own policy was to remove the obstacles to the emigration 
of the refuseniks while encouraging as many other Soviet 
Jews as possible to remain. Though he saw the departure 
of Jewish professionals as ‘a brain drain’ which 
threatened to slow the progress of perestroika, he 
abandoned the attempt to hold on to those who were 
determined to depart. Of the 8,000 Jewish emigrants in 
1987, 77 per cent had previously been denied exit visas.— 

The new Jewish cultural associations were subjected to 
a series of anti-semitic attacks. In 1988, for example, the 

refusenik Judith Lurye arrived for a meeting of one of the 
associations to find the door of the meeting hall 
padlocked and guarded by two KGB officers. A notice 
nailed to the door declared: ‘Why do we - the great, 
intelligent, beautiful Slavs - consider it a normal 
phenomenon to live with Yids among us? How can these 
dirty stinking Jews call themselves by such a proud and 
heroic name as “Russians”?’— 

In 1989, with the campaign to deter Jewish emigration 
in visible disarray, the floodgates were opened at last. 
That year 71,000 Jews left the Soviet Union, followed 
over the next two years by another 400,000.— To the old 
guard in the KGB, bitterness at the collapse of the Soviet 
Union was compounded by what they saw as the triumph 
of Zionist subversion. 


Middle Eastern Terrorism and the 


The precedent set by the KGB’s use of Sandinista 
guerrillas against US targets in Central and North 
America during the later 1960s- encouraged the Centre to 
consider the use of Palestinian terrorists as proxies in the 
Middle East and Europe. The man chiefly responsible for 
exporting Palestinian terrorism to Europe was Dr Wadi 
Haddad, deputy leader and head of foreign operations of 
the Marxist-Leninist Popular Front for the Liberation of 
Palestine (PEEP), codenamed KHUTOR,- headed by Dr 
George Habash. On the day Israeli forces destroyed his 
family home in Galilee, Haddad had sworn that he would 
pursue the Israelis for the rest of his life. 

Convinced of the futility of attacking Israeli military 
targets after the humiliation of the Six-Day War, Haddad 
devised a new strategy of aircraft hijacking and terrorist 
attacks on ‘Zionist’ targets in Europe which made front- 
page news across the world and attracted the favourable 
attention of the Centre. ‘To kill a Jew far from the 
battlefield’, he declared, ‘has more effect than killing 
hundreds of Jews in battle.’ The first hijack organized by 
Haddad was in July 1968 on board an El A1 Boeing 707 

bound for Tel Aviv which two PFLP hijackers renamed 
‘Palestinian Liberation 007’ and forced to land in Algiers. 
Though Israel had publicly declared that it would never 
negotiate with terrorists, Haddad forced it to do just that. 
After more than a month’s negotiations, the Israeli 
passengers on board were exchanged for sixteen 
Palestinians in Israeli jails.- It was probably in the 
aftermath of the hijack that the KGB made its first contact 
with Haddad.- The KGB remained in touch with him 
during the spate of PFLP hijackings and attacks on Jewish 
targets in European capitals over the next few years. 

In 1970 Haddad was recruited by the KGB as Agent 
NATSIONALIST. Andropov reported to Brezhnev in 

The nature of our relations with W. Haddad enables us to 
control the external operations of the PFLP to a certain 
degree, to exert influence in a manner favourable to the 
Soviet Union, and also to carry out active measures in 
support of our interests through the organization’s assets 
while observing the necessary conspiratorial secrecy .- 

Haddad’s career as a KGB agent very nearly ended only a 
few months after it began. On the evening of 1 1 July, he 
had a meeting in his Beirut apartment with one of the 
PFLP hijackers, the twenty- four-year-old Laila Khalid, 
whose photogenic appearance had caught the attention of 

the media and helped to make her the world’s best-known 
female terrorist. While they were talking, six Soviet-made 
Katyushka rockets - launched, almost certainly by 
Mossad, from the flat opposite - hit his apartment. 
Amazingly, Haddad and Khalid suffered only minor 
injuries. - 

One of Haddad’s reasons for becoming a KGB agent 
was probably to obtain Soviet arms for the PFLP. With 
Brezhnev’s approval, an initial delivery of five RPG-7 
hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers in July was 
followed by the elaborately planned operation VOSTOK 
(‘East’), during which a large consignment of arms and 
ammunition were handed over to the PFLP at sea near 
Aden under cover of darkness. To prevent any of the arms 
and ammunition being traced back to the KGB if they 
were captured, the shipment consisted of fifty West 
German pistols (ten with silencers) with 5,000 rounds of 
ammunition; fifty captured MG-ZI machine guns with 

10.000 rounds of ammunition; five British-made Sterling 
automatics with silencers and 36,000 rounds of 
ammunition; fifty American AR-16 automatics with 

30.000 rounds of ammunition; fifteen booby-trap mines 
manufactured from foreign materials; and five radio- 
activated ‘SNOP’ mines, also assembled from foreign 
materials. The two varieties of mine were among the most 
advanced small weapons in the extensive Soviet arsenal, 
and, like some of the silencers, had never been previously 

supplied even to other members of the Warsaw Pact.- 

The first use of Haddad as a KGB proxy was in 
operation VINT: the attempt, personally approved by 
Brezhnev, to kidnap the deputy head of the CIA station in 
Lebanon, codenamed VIR, and ‘have him taken to the 
Soviet Union’. Andropov assured Brezhnev that no 
suspicion would attach to the KGB: 

Bearing in mind that the Palestinian guerrilla 
organizations have recently stepped up their activities in 
Lebanon against American intelligence and its agents, the 
Lebanese authorities and the Americans would suspect 
Palestinian guerrillas of carrying out the [VINT] 
operation. The ultimate purpose of the operation would 
only be known to NATSIONALIST [Haddad], on the 
foreign side, and to the KGB officers directly involved in 
planning the operation and carrying it out, on the Soviet 

Despite elaborate preparations, operation VINT failed. 
VIR varied his daily routine and Haddad’s gunmen found 
it impossible to abduct him. A later KGB plan for the 
gunmen to assassinate him also failed.- 

A number of other PFLP operations against Mossad 
and CIA targets succeeded. In 1970 an individual 
codenamed SOLIST, who was being cultivated by the 

KGB residency in Beirut, came under suspicion of 
working for the Israelis after his brother was arrested in 
Cairo, charged with being a Mossad agent. SOLIST was 
kidnapped by a PFLP snatch squad, headed by Ahmad 
Yunis (also known as Abu Ahmad), chief of the PFLP 
security service in Lebanon, and brought to the Beirut 
residency for interrogation. Soon afterwards Yunis 
became a KGB confidential contact (though not, like 
Haddad, a fully recruited agent) with the codename 

The KGB was complicit in a number of other 
abductions by Yunis. In August 1970 his security service 
kidnapped a US academic. Professor Hani Korda, whom 
it, and apparently the KGB, believed - quite possibly 
wrongly - to be a deep-cover CIA officer operating in 
Lebanon against Palestinian targets. In his Beirut 
apartment they found a notebook with the names and 
addresses of his contacts in Arab countries. Korda was 
smuggled across the Lebanese border to a PFLP base in 
Jordan, but, though brutally interrogated, refused to 
confess and succeeded in committing suicide.— In 
October the PFLP kidnapped Aredis Derounian, an 
Armenian-bom American journalist in Beirut suspected of 
having links with the CIA. Though Derounian was best 
known for his attacks on US fascist sympathizers written 
under the pseudonym John Roy Carlson, the PFLP 
considered his work pro-Zionist and anti- Arab. In his 

apartment the PFLP found two passports and a mass of 
documents which it passed on to the KGB. Derounian was 
more fortunate than Korda. After being held prisoner for 
several days in a refugee camp in Tripoli, he managed to 
escape and take refuge in the US embassy.— 

KGB collaboration with Haddad was even closer than 
with Yunis. To conceal his contacts with the Beirut 
residency from his colleagues, Haddad would send his 
secretary by car to rendezvous with a KGB operations 
officer who followed him, also by car, to a location 
chosen by Haddad, which was never the same from one 
meeting to the next.— The main purpose of these 
meetings for the KGB was to encourage Haddad to 
undertake ‘special actions’ proposed or approved by the 
KGB and to prevent PFLP operations which ran counter 
to Soviet interests.— Thanks to Haddad, the KGB almost 
certainly had advance notice of all the main PFLP terrorist 

The most dramatic operation organized by Haddad in 
1970 was a plan for the almost simultaneous hijack of 
four airliners bound for New York on 6 September and 
their diversion to a remote former RAF airbase in Jordan 
known as Dawson’s Field. The most difficult assignment 
was given to Laila Khalid, still photogenic despite plastic 
surgery to change her appearance since her previous 
hijack, and the Nicaraguan- American Patrick Arguello. 

The pair posed as a newly married couple. Their aircraft, 
an El A1 Boeing 707 departing from Tel Aviv, was the 
only one of the four which, as a result of previous PFLP 
hijacks, carried an armed air marshal. Though Khalid and 
Arguello succeeded in smuggling both handguns and 
grenades aboard, the hijack failed. Arguello was shot by 
the air marshal and Khalid, who was prevented by other 
passengers from removing the grenades hidden in her bra, 
was arrested after the plane made an emergency landing at 
Heathrow. The hijackers aboard a TWA Boeing 707 and a 
Swissair DCS, however, successfully diverted them to 
Dawson’s Field, which they promptly renamed 
Revolution Airstrip. A hijacked Pan Am Boeing 747, 
which was discovered to be too large to land at the 
airstrip, landed instead at Cairo where passengers and 
crew were hastily evacuated and the aircraft blown up. A 
fifth plane, a BOAC VC 10, was hijacked three days later 
and flown to Revolution Airstrip to provide British 
hostages to barter for Khalid. There the passengers were 
eventually exchanged for Khalid and Palestinian terrorists 
imprisoned in West Germany and Switzerland, and the 
aircraft were destroyed by the hijackers.— 

Mitrokhin’s material gives no indication of what advice 
FCD ‘special actions’ experts gave Haddad about the 
PFFP hijacks. Proof that they did advise him on terrorist 
attacks, however, is provided by the file on operation 
NASOS: an attack on the Israeli tanker Coral Sea while it 

was carrying Iranian crude oil under a Liberian flag of 
convenience to Eilat. The KGB advised Haddad on both 
the method and location of the attack in the straits of Bab 
al-Mandab close to the island of Mandaran. On 13 June 
1971 two PFLP terrorists, codenamed CHUK and GEK 
by the KGB, boarded a speed-boat on the coast of South 
Yemen and launched an attack on the tanker using three 
of the RPG-7 hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers 
supplied by the KGB in the previous year. According to 
the KGB post-operation report, between seven and nine 
rockets were fired, of which five hit their target. Though 
the Coral Sea was set on fire, however, it did not sink. 
CHUK and GEK made their escape to the coast of North 
Yemen. The head of the FCD, Fyodor Mortin, was 
sufficiently encouraged by the partial success of operation 
NASOS to recommend to Andropov afterwards that the 
KGB ‘make more active use of NATSIONALIST and his 
gunmen to carry out aggressive operations aimed directly 
against Israel’.— Relations with Haddad were complicated 
by turmoil within the PFLP. In 1972, Habash, as leader of 
the PFLP, publicly renounced international terrorism, 
provoking a bitter row with Haddad, who set up a new 
headquarters in Baghdad where he founded a PFLP 
splinter group, the Special Operations Group.— KGB 
support for Haddad, however, continued. 

Moscow showed rather less interest in the Palestine 
Liberation Organization (PLO, codenamed KARUSEL 

),— the umbrella organization for all Palestinian 
movements which was based in Jordan until 1970, than in 
Haddad’s faction of the PFLP. Disguised as an Egyptian 
technician, the PLO chairman, Yasir Arafat (initially 
codenamed AREF),— had accompanied Nasser on a visit 
to the Soviet Union in 1968 and, probably as a result of 
Nasser’s backing, received a promise of weapons.— For 
the next few years, Arafat was cultivated without 
conspicuous success by an FCD officer, Vasili 
Fyodorovich Samoylenko.— Arafat, however, was 
unaware that since 1968 the KGB had had an agent, 
codenamed GIDAR, in the office of his personal 
intelligence chief and most trusted adviser, Hani al- 

In September 1970 King Hussein of Jordan, infuriated 
by the recent PFLP hijacking of aircraft to a Jordanian 
airfield and by the emergence of the PLO as a virtually 
independent state within his kingdom, used his army to 
drive it out. Thousands of Palestinians were killed in what 
became known as Black September. A shadowy terrorist 
organization of that name was set up within Arafat’s 
Fatah movement at the heart of the PLO when it 
regrouped in Lebanon. Among the atrocities committed 
by Black September, for which Arafat disingenuously 
disclaimed responsibility, was an attack on Israeli athletes 
competing in the August 1972 Munich Olympics, in 
which eleven were killed. 

In 1972 Arafat paid his first official visit to Moscow at 
the head of a PLO delegation but failed to impress the 
Centre, which distrusted the ‘slanted’ nature of the 
information he provided and found him anxious to 
maintain contact with ‘reactionary Arab regimes’ as well 
as with the Soviet bloc.— Though Mitrokhin’s notes do 
not mention it, the Centre was also doubtless well aware 
that Arafat’s claims to have been bom in Jemsalem were 
fraudulent; in reality, though his parents were Palestinian 
and he was deeply committed to the Palestinian cause, he 
had been bom in Cairo and had spent his first twenty- 
eight years in Egypt. The Centre also knew that during the 
Suez War of 1956, when Arafat claimed to have been an 
officer in the Egyptian army fighting to defend Port Said, 
he had actually been attending a Communist-sponsored 
student conference in Czechoslovakia.— The fact that 
Arafat had friendly relations with the deviant Communist 
dictator of Romania, Nicolae Ceau§escu, strengthened 
Moscow’s suspicion of him. Arafat was franker with 
Ceau§escu than with the Kremlin. According to the 
Romanian foreign intelligence chief. Ion Pacepa, during a 
visit to Bucharest in October 1972 Arafat claimed that 
Hani al-Hasan, who accompanied him, had been behind 
the Black September attack at the Munich Olympics.— 

Arafat’s visit to Bucharest led to the establishment of a 
close liaison between the PLO and the Romanian foreign 

intelligence service. Probably in response to the Centre’s 
desire not to be upstaged by the Romanians, a Politburo 
resolution of 7 September 1973 instructed the KGB to 
maintain secret liaison with Arafat’s intelligence service 
through the Beirut residency.— Arafat’s international 
prestige, and hence Moscow’s interest in him, increased 
in the following year after he became the first head of a 
non-govemmental organization to be invited to address a 
plenary session of the United Nations. ‘I have come 
bearing an olive branch in one hand and a freedom 
fighter’s gun in the other,’ Arafat declared. ‘Do not let the 
olive branch fall from my hand. ’ During a visit by Arafat 
to Moscow in 1974 an official communique recognized 
the PLO as ‘the sole legitimate representative of the Arab 
people of Palestine’. In the course of the visit, 
Samoylenko, the KGB officer who had been cultivating 
Arafat since the later 1960s, was photographed with him 
at a wreath-laying ceremony.— Moscow officially 
announced that it was authorizing the PLO to establish a 
Moscow office - though it was another two years before it 
allowed the office to open. The only other national 
liberation movement given similar status in the Soviet 
Union was the National Liberation Front of Vietnam.— 

The Centre, however, retained much greater confidence 
in Haddad than in Arafat. Soviet policy remained to 
distance itself from terrorism in public while continuing 
in private to promote Palestinian terrorist attacks. When 

seeking Politburo approval for Haddad’s terrorist 
operations, Andropov misleadingly referred to them 
instead as ‘special’ or ‘sabotage’ operations. ‘W. 
Haddad’, he reported, ‘is clearly aware of our negative 
attitude in principle towards terrorism and he does not 
raise with us matters connected with this particular line of 
PFLP activity.’ There was, however, no coherent dividing 
line between the terrorist attacks which ‘in principle’ the 
Soviet leadership opposed and the ‘sabotage operations’ 
which it was willing in practice to support. On 23 April 
1974 Andropov informed Brezhnev that Haddad had 
requested further ‘special technical devices’ for his future 

At the present time [Haddad’s section of] the PFLP is 
engaged in preparing a number of special operations, 
including strikes against major petroleum reservoirs in 
various parts of the world (Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf, 
Hong Kong and elsewhere); the destruction of tankers and 
supertankers; operations against American and Israeli 
representatives in Iran, Greece, Ethiopia and Kenya; a 
raid on the building of the Tel Aviv diamond centre, 
among other [targets]. 

Andropov repeated his earlier assurances that, through 
Haddad, the KGB retained the ability ‘to control to some 
extent the activities of the PFLP foreign operations 

department, [and] to influence it in ways favourable to the 
Soviet Union’. Three days later Brezhnev authorized the 
supply of ‘special technical devices’ to Haddad.— In June 
1974 Andropov approved detailed arrangements for the 
secret supply of weaponry to Haddad and the training of 
PFLP Special Operations Group instructors in the use of 
mines and sabotage equipment. In September, Haddad 
visited Russia, staying with his wife, son and daughter in 
a KGB dacha (codenamed BARVIKHA-I). During 
discussions on his future operations he agreed to allocate 
two or three of his men to the hunting down of Soviet 
defectors. The weapons supplied to Haddad included 
foreign-manufactured pistols and automatics fitted with 
silencers together with radio-controlled mines constructed 
from foreign materials, at a cost of $50,000, in order to 
conceal their Soviet manufacture.— Further KGB arms 
shipments to Haddad, approved by the Politburo, included 
one in May 1975 of fifty-three foreign-produced 
automatics, fifty pistols (ten with silencers) and 34,000 
rounds of ammunition. Brezhnev was informed that 
Haddad was the only non-Russian who knew the source 
of the arms, which, as in the first weapons delivery to the 
PFLP five years earlier, were handed over at sea near 
Aden under cover of darkness.— Among other assistance 
given by the KGB to Haddad during 1975 was $30,000.— 

Through the Beirut residency the KGB also established 
contact with two other terrorist groups which gained 

publicity after attacks on Israeli civilians in the spring of 
1974: the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine 
(DFLP), led by Nayif Hawatmeh (codenamed 
INZHENER),— a Greek Orthodox Christian; and the 
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General 
Command (PFLP-GC), a breakaway from the PFLP 
headed by a former Syrian army officer, Ahmad Jibril 
(codenamed MAYOROV).— The Beirut residency 
arranged meetings with Hawatmeh two or three times a 
month (for how long is unclear) and planted Service A 
disinformation in the DFLP journal Hurriya at a cost of 
700 Lebanese pounds per page.— Mitrokhin’s notes 
contain no details of KGB contacts with Jibril.— 

The most spectacular terrorist operation of the mid- 
1970s, of which the KGB was almost certainly given 
advance notice by Haddad, was a PFLP Special 
Operations Group raid on a meeting of OPEC oil 
ministers at its Vienna headquarters in December 1975 by 
a group of Palestinian and German gunmen led by Ilich 
Ramirez Sanchez, better known as ‘Carlos the Jackal’.— 
Carlos was the spoiled son of a millionaire Venezuelan 
Communist who had named his three sons Vladimir, Ilich 
and Lenin in honour of the leader of the October 
Revolution. The KGB had first encountered Carlos when 
he was given a place in 1968, with his brother Lenin, at 
the Lumumba University in Moscow for students from the 
Third World. According to a Venezuelan Communist 

leader, Carlos paid little attention to his studies: ‘There 
was no control over him. He received a lot of money, he 
played the guitar, and he ran after young women.’— The 
KGB, it is safe to conclude, did not regard him as a 
suitable recruit.— In 1970 he and his brother were 
expelled from Lumumba University for ‘anti- Soviet 
provocation and indiscipline’. After his expulsion Carlos 
flew to Jordan and joined the PFLP, later becoming one 
of its leading hitmen in London and Paris. Though he 
claimed to be a Marxist revolutionary, his passion for 
terrorism derived chiefly from his own vanity and 
bravado as ‘the great Carlos’. ‘Revolution’, he declared in 
a characteristic transport of self-indulgent rhetoric, ‘is my 
supreme euphoria. ’— 

The early stages of Carlos’s attack on the poorly 
defended Vienna OPEC headquarters in December 1975 
went remarkably smoothly. All the oil ministers were 
taken hostage and the Austrian government gave in to 
Carlos’s demands for a plane to fly them out of the 
country. Haddad had instructed Carlos to fly around the 
world with the hostages, liberating most of the oil 
ministers one by one in their respective capitals in return 
for declarations of support for the Palestinian cause, but 
gave orders that the Saudi Arabian and Iranian ministers 
were to be executed as ‘criminals’. Carlos, however, 
failed to kill either and freed both in exchange for a large 
ransom. An outraged Haddad told Carlos that he had 

disobeyed orders, and dismissed him from his 
‘operational teams’. 

Over the next two years, Haddad suffered two 
humiliating defeats. In July 1976 PFLP Special 
Operations Group terrorists hijacked an Air France Airbus 
with over a hundred Israelis on board to the Ugandan 
airport of Entebbe. The hostages, however, were rescued 
and the terrorists killed in a daring Israeli commando raid. 
In October 1977 a Lufthansa Boeing 737 was hijacked to 
Mogadishu and its eighty- six passengers taken hostage. 
Though the captain was killed by the mentally unstable 
leader of the hijackers during a stop-over in South 
Yemen, the plane was stormed at Mogadishu by West 
German commandos and the remaining hostages freed.— 

Despite these debacles, Haddad remained in close 
contact with the KGB. In 1976 ten of his terrorists were 
sent on a three-month course at the FCD Red Banner 
Institute (later known as the Andropov Institute), which 
included training in intelligence, counter-intelligence, 
interrogation, surveillance and sabotage. Further courses 
were run in 1977-78.— In March 1977 Haddad visited 
Moscow for operational discussions with the head of the 
FCD ‘special tasks’ department, Vladimir Grigory evich 
Krasovsky, and his deputy, A. F. Khlystov. The assistance 
given to Haddad included $10,000 and ten Walther pistols 
fitted with silencers. At the KGB’s request, Haddad 

agreed to act as intermediary in making contact with the 
Provisional IRA representative in Algiers, codenamed 
IGROK (‘Gambler’), who was believed to have useful 
information on British intelligence operations.— From 
1974 the KGB had a second agent within the PFLP 
leadership, Ahmad Mahmud Samman (codenamed 
VASIT), an Arab bom in Jemsalem in 1935. Mitrokhin’s 
brief notes on Samman’ s file record that he supplied the 
KGB with information on PFLP operations, but give no 

In 1978 the Centre lost both its main agents within the 
PFLP. Haddad died of a brain haemorrhage while staying 
in East Germany. His KGB file records that, despite their 
earlier quarrel, the PFLP leader George Habash declared 
in an emotional oration at Haddad’s funeral in Baghdad, 
‘Let our enemies know that he did not die, but is alive; he 
is in our hearts, and his name is in our hands; he is 
organically bound to our people and to our revolution.’— 
Samman, according to Mitrokhin’s note on his file, was 
‘liquidated by the PFLP as the result of internal 
dissension [probably following Haddad’s death] and the 
activities of the Syrian special services’.— The Beimt 
residency also lost probably its most important 
confidential contact in the PFLP, Ahmad Yunis, head of 
the PFLP security service in Lebanon. In 1978 Yunis was 
found guilty by a PFLP tribunal of the murder of one of 
his colleagues and the attempted murder of another, and 


The final entry in Haddad’s file noted by Mitrokhin 
was a decision by the Centre to make contact with his 
successor. — Mitrokhin found no evidence, however, that 
the KGB ever again established links with any major 
Palestinian terrorist as close as those which it had 
maintained with Haddad. Carlos, who had been expelled 
by Haddad from the PFLP Special Operations Group, 
used Haddad’s death as an opportunity to found his own 
terrorist group, the Organization of Arab Armed Struggle, 
composed of Syrian, Lebanese, West German and Swiss 
militants, and to pursue his quest for international stardom 
as the world’s leading revolutionary practitioner of terror. 
He obtained a diplomatic passport from the Marxist- 
Leninist regime of the People’s Democratic Republic of 
[South] Yemen in the name of Ahmad Ali Fawaz, which 
showed his place of birth as Aden, and increased his 
credit with the Yemeni authorities by falsely claiming that 
he was a fully trained KGB officer operating on missions 
approved by the Centre. In February 1979, according to 
his KGB file, Carlos also began regular contact with the 
security agency of the PLO. During the remainder of the 
year he went on an extraordinary tour of the Soviet bloc, 
beginning in the spring in East Berlin, in order to make 
contact with the local intelligence agencies. Though 
Carlos was allowed to set up bases in East Berlin and 
Budapest, however, he was held at arm’s length by the 

KGB. When Erich Mielke, the East German Minister of 
State Security, passed on to Moscow Carlos’s claims, as 
reported to him by his South Yemeni counterpart, that he 
was working for the KGB, he received an official denial 
from Mikhail Andreyevich Usatov, the deputy head of the 
FCD, and Yakov Prokofyevich Medyanik, then head of 
the African Department.— Carlos eventually became an 
embarrassment to his Soviet-bloc hosts. According to 
Markus ‘Mischa’ Wolf, the head of the HVA, the Stasi’s 
foreign intelligence arm, ‘Carlos was a big mouth, an 
uncontrollable adventurer. He spent his nights in bars, 
with a gun hanging at his belt, surrounded by girls and 
drinking like a fish. ’ He was eventually expelled from his 
East Berlin and Budapest bases in 1985 and moved to 
Damascus in Syria, the most steadfast of his Arab allies.— 

Moscow had also become cautious about collaborating 
with the Libyan leader. Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi, 
probably the most active state sponsor of terrorist groups 
ranging from the PEEP to the Provisional IRA. In 1979 a 
secret Soviet-Libyan agreement had been signed on 
intelligence and security, followed by the posting of an 
FCD liaison officer to the Tripoli embassy. The KGB 
provided training for Libyan intelligence officers in 
Moscow, gave advice on security and surveillance inside 
Libya, and supplied intelligence on US activities in the 
eastern Mediterranean. In return, Libya provided 
intelligence on Egypt, North Africa and Israel, as well as 

assisting the KGB in targeting Western diplomatic 
missions in Tripoli. Collaboration, however, steadily 
declined as Moscow became increasingly concerned by 
QaddafTs reputation as the godfather of international 
terrorism. QaddafTs first visit to Moscow in 1981 further 
lowered his reputation. In the Centre his flamboyant 
posturing and extravagant uniforms were interpreted as an 
attempt to contrast his own virility with Brezhnev’s 
visible decrepitude. At a private briefing for Soviet 
diplomats and KGB officers in London in 1984, 
Aleksandr Bovin, chief political commentator of Izvestia, 
denounced Qaddafi as ‘a criminal and a fascist’ .— 

By the early 1980s the Centre seems to have abandoned 
the hopes it had placed a decade earlier in collaboration 
with the PFLP and its breakaway groups. Its contacts with 
the PLO (in particular with Arafat’s dominant Fatah 
group), however, had somewhat improved. In June 1978 
Abu lyad (codenamed KOCHUBEY), a member of the 
Fatah Central Committee and head of Arafat’s 
intelligence service, visited Moscow for talks with the 
KGB and the International Department.— Abu lyad 
complained of the blunt, tactless behaviour of Lev 
Alekseyevich Bausin, the KGB officer under diplomatic 
cover at the Beirut residency who was responsible for 
contacts with the PLO and other Palestinian groups. 
Unusually, the Centre showed its desire for better 
relations by recalling Bausin and replacing him with 

Nikolai Afanasy evich Kuznetsov, who at his first meeting 
with Arafat identified himself as a KGB officer.— 

Moscow welcomed Arafat’s increasing attempts to win 
international respectability. In 1979 he was invited to a 
meeting of the Socialist International in Vienna and began 
a successful European diplomatic offensive. By 1980 the 
countries of the European Community, though not the 
United States, had agreed that the PLO must be party to 
peace negotiations in the Middle East. The British 
Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, declared: ‘The PLO 
as such is not a terrorist organization.’ Arafat’s success in 
driving a wedge between the United States and its 
European allies further enhanced the Centre’s interest in 

The military training courses provided by Moscow for 
the PLO, however, caused some ill feeling on both sides. 
A report on a course in 1981 for 194 officers from ten 
different PLO factions suggests serious deficiencies in 
both Soviet training and the quality of many PLO recruits. 
According to the PLO commander. Colonel Rashad 
Ahmad, ‘The participants in the courses did not correctly 
understand the political aspects of sending military 
delegations abroad. As a result, the upper echelon of the 
delegation, namely the participants in the battalion officer 
courses, refused to study and asked to return, using all 
sorts of illogical excuses.’ Ahmad reported that he had 

been forced to expel thirteen officers from the training 
course for offences which included alcoholism, passing 
counterfeit money and sexual ‘perversion’. Had he 
enforced the code of conduct strictly, he would, he 
claimed, have been forced to send home more than half 
the officers. Ahmad appealed for a higher standard of 
recruits for future courses in the Soviet Union.— East 
Germany provided additional training for the PLO in the 
use of explosives, mines and firearms with silencers.— 

In 1981 Brezhnev at last gave the PLO formal 
diplomatic recognition. The limitations of Soviet support, 
however, were graphically illustrated in the following 
year when Israel invaded Lebanon in an attempt to 
destroy the PLO as an effective force and establish a new 
political order headed by its Maronite Christian allies. 
Moscow, complained Abu lyad, responded with ‘pretty 
words’ but no practical assistance.— In the early stages of 
the Israeli assault, the Soviet embassy and the Beirut 
residency were almost unable to function. According to 
Markus Wolf: 

With Beirut in ruins, there was an interval during which 
Moscow lost contact with its embassy and its KGB 
officers in the Lebanese capital. Our officers were the 
only ones able to maintain radio and personal contact with 
the leaders of the PLO and, acting as Moscow’s proxies. 

our men were instructed to pass on the PLO’s reaction to 
events. They ventured forth, risking their lives among the 
shooting and the bombings to meet their Palestinian 
partners. — 

There were no clear winners in the war. After seventy- 
five days of savage fighting, the PLO was forced to leave 
Lebanon and establish a new base in Tunisia on the 
periphery of the Arab world. Israel, however, failed to 
achieve its aim of establishing a new pro-Israeli political 
order in Lebanon. By the time its troops withdrew in the 
summer of 1983, the war had weakened Israel’s 
government, divided its people, and lowered its 
international standing. An official Israeli commission 
concluded that Israel bore indirect responsibility for the 
massacre of Palestinians by Christian militia in the 
Lebanese refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. Far from 
relegating the Palestinian problem to the sidelines, as 
Israel had intended, the war focused international 
attention on the need to find a solution. — 

Finding a solution, however, ranked low in the Soviet 
order of priorities. Moscow’s difficulties in dealing with 
the PLO were compounded by the homicidal feud which 
broke out in 1983 between its main Middle Eastern ally, 
Asad, and Arafat. Asad expelled Arafat from Damascus, 
backed an unsuccessful armed rebellion within Fatah 

against his leadership, and actively supported the 
assassination campaign against Arafat’s lieutenants being 
conducted by his sworn Palestinian enemy, Abu Nidal, an 
unstable terrorist who habitually referred to Arafat as ‘the 
Jewess’s son’.— Arafat, the great survivor, kept his 
position as leader of the PLO but failed to recover the 
confidence of Moscow. For Soviet as for many Western 
diplomats, his credibility was undermined by a 
deviousness bom of ceaseless manoeuvring between the 
different factions within the PLO.— During the remainder 
of the Soviet era, Moscow was only peripherally involved 
in the search for a Palestinian settlement. Though Arafat 
eventually succeeded in gaining an invitation to Moscow 
in 1988, Gorbachev was reluctant to receive him. ‘So 
what’s the point in my meeting with him?’ Gorbachev 
asked his aides. When persuaded to agree to a meeting, he 
told Arafat bluntly that the Arab-Israeli dispute was no 
longer linked to Soviet- American rivalry, and that armed 
conflict would do terrible damage to the Palestinian cause. 
The communique at the end of the meeting made no 
reference to the founding of a Palestinian state. ‘The 
talks’, wrote Gorbachev’s aide, Anatoli Chemyaev, 
‘didn’t really yield any results ... It just gave Arafat the 
chance to stmt all the more.’— 



Asia: Introduction 

By far the greatest advances of Communism during the 
Cold War were in Asia, where it conquered the world’s 
most populous state, China, its neighbour North Korea, 
the whole of former French Indo-China (Vietnam north 
and south, Laos and Cambodia) and Afghanistan. 
Ironically, however, it was the heartland of Asian 
Communism which from the early 1960s onwards became 
the hardest target for Soviet foreign intelligence 
operations. Mao Zedong and Kim II Sung turned their 
brutalized countries into security-obsessed societies where 
the KGB found it as difficult to operate as Western 
intelligence agencies had done in Stalin’s Soviet Union. 

Even the ‘sickly suspicious’ Stalin (as Khrushchev 
correctly called him) seems never to have imagined that 
Mao and Kim would one day dare to reject Moscow’s 
leadership of world Communism.- When Mao visited 
Moscow late in 1949 after the declaration of the Chinese 
People’s Republic (PRC), he won a standing ovation for 
delivering a deferential eulogy at Stalin’s seventieth- 
birthday celebrations in the Bolshoi.- Kim II Sung, though 
impatient to invade South Korea, did not launch his attack 
until Stalin gave him permission. Stalin allowed the 

Korean War to begin in June 1950 largely because he had 
misjudged US policy. Intelligence from the United States, 
following its failure to intervene to prevent the 
Communist victory in China, indicated, he believed, that 
‘the prevailing mood is not to interfere’ in Korea. That 
erroneous conclusion seems to have been based on his 
misinterpretation of a US National Security Council 
document (probably supplied by the KGB agent Donald 
Maclean), which excluded the Asian mainland from the 
American defence perimeter. Having thus misinterpreted 
US policy, Stalin was prepared for the first time to allow 
Kim to attack the South.- 

The Sino-Soviet split in the early 1960s brought to an 
acrimonious end the deference from the PRC which Stalin 
had taken for granted. The first public attack on Moscow 
was made by Mao’s veteran security chief, Kang Sheng, 
whose ferocious purges during Mao’s Great Leap 
Forward were largely modelled on techniques he had 
learned in Moscow during the Great Terror.- On the 
Soviet side, the ideological dispute with China was 
compounded by personal loathing for Mao - the ‘Great 
Helmsman’ - and a more general dislike of the Chinese 
population as a whole. Khrushchev ‘repeatedly’ told a 
Romanian delegation shortly before his overthrow in 
1964 that ‘Mao Zedong is sick, crazy, that he should be 
taken to an asylum, etc.’- An assessment of Chinese 
national character circulated to KGB residencies by the 

Centre twelve years later claimed that the Chinese were 
‘noted for their spitefulness 

What most outraged both the Kremlin and the Centre 
was Beijing’s impudence in setting itself up as a rival 
capital of world Communism, attempting to seduce other 
Communist parties from their rightful allegiance to the 
Soviet Union. Moscow blamed the horrors of Pol Pot’s 
regime (on which it preferred not to dwell in detail) on the 
take-over of the Cambodian Communist Party by an ‘anti- 
popular, pro-Beijing clique’.- The decision by Asia’s 
largest non-ruling Communist party in Japan to side with 
the PRC deprived the KGB of what had previously been 
an important intelligence asset and turned it into a hostile 
target. The Japanese Communist Party complained that its 
minority pro-Moscow faction was being assisted by 
Soviet spies and informants.- The Centre was so put out 
by the number of portraits of Mao appearing on public 
display in some African capitals that it ordered counter- 
measures such as the fly-posting of pictures of the Great 
Helmsman defaced with hostile graffiti on the walls of 
Brazzaville. - 

To most Western observers, the least problematic of the 
Soviet Union’s relations with the Asian Communist 
regimes appeared to be with the Democratic Republic of 
[North] Vietnam. As well as providing Hanoi with a 
majority of its arms during the Vietnam War,— Moscow 

was lavish in public praise for its ‘heroic resistance’ to 
American imperialism and support for the Vietcong 
guerrillas in the south: ‘With determined military support 
from the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the patriots in 
South Vietnam struck at the Saigon regime of generals, 
bureaucrats and landowners with such force that it could 
not be saved by the deep involvement in the war of the 
strongest imperial power.’ 

Even more than American attempts to topple Fidel 
Castro, the Vietnam War united most of the Third World 
as well as what Moscow called ‘progressives in all 
nations’, the United States included, in vocal opposition 
to US imperialism.— Both Presidents Kennedy and 
Johnson made the mistake of seeing the mainspring of the 
Vietnam War less in Hanoi than in Moscow. Johnson’s 
conspiracy theories of manipulation by Moscow extended 
even to the US Senate. He claimed absurdly that Senators 
William Fulbright and Wayne Morse, two of the leading 
opponents of his Vietnam policy, were ‘definitely under 
the control of the Soviet embassy’ - by which he 
undoubtedly meant the KGB’s Washington residency.— 

In reality, the strongly nationalist Ho Chi-Minh (whose 
name was chanted in anti-American demonstrations 
around the world) and the North Vietnamese regime were 
determined not to be dictated to by either Moscow or 
Beijing. Despite paying lip service to fraternal co- 

operation with its Soviet ally, the North Vietnamese 
intelligence service held the KGB somewhat at arm’s 
length. As KGB chairman in the mid-1960s, Vladimir 
Semichastny was never satisfied with the opportunities 
given to his officers to question American PoWs. On 
several occasions, interrogations were curtailed just as 
they seemed to be producing useful results. Semichastny 
was also frustrated by the reluctance of the North 
Vietnamese to allow Soviet weapons experts access to 
captured US military technology. On several occasions he 
raised the ‘ticklish issue’ of access to American prisoners 
and weaponry when the North Vietnamese Interior 
Minister (who was responsible for intelligence) came to 
visit his daughter who was studying in Moscow. Hanoi’s 
only response was to present him with a couple of war 
souvenirs, one of which was a comb made from a 
fragment of a shot-down American bomber.— 

The Kremlin was acutely aware of its lack of influence 
on North Vietnamese policy. In 1968 an Izvestia 
correspondent in Hanoi sent a report to the CPSU Central 
Committee on a conversation with a Vietnamese 
journalist, who had mockingly asked him: ‘Do you know 
what is the Soviet Union’s share of the total assistance 
received by Vietnam and what is the share of Soviet 
political influence there (if the latter can be measured in 
percentages)? The figures are, respectively, 75-80 per cent 
[for the former] and 4-8 per cent [for the latter].’ The 

Izvestia correspondent thought the first figure was 
probably 15-20 per cent too high but that the estimate of 
Soviet influence in North Vietnam was about right.— As 
well as conducting fraternal liaison, the KGB residency in 
Hanoi carried out much the same hostile operations as in a 
Western capital. In 1975 it was running a network of 
twenty-five agents and sixty confidential contacts tasked 
to collect intelligence on Vietnamese military 
installations, the internal situation and the frontier with 
China.— As in Western capitals, the residency contained 
an IMPULS radio station which monitored the 
movements of Vietnamese security personnel and their 
systems of surveillance in an attempt to ensure that these 
did not interfere with its KGB contacts or its agent 
network.— Though far less hostile than Beijing and 
Pyongyang, Hanoi was none the less a difficult operating 
environment. The highest-level Vietnamese source 
identified by Mitrokhin, ISAYEYEV, a senior 
intelligence officer probably recruited while he was 
stationed in Moscow, provided classified information on 
his intelligence colleagues in return for payment but 
refused to make any contact while in Hanoi for fear of 

The Asian intelligence successes of which the Centre 
was most proud were in India, the world’s second most 
populous state and largest democracy. It was deeply 
ironic that the KGB should find democratic India so much 

more congenial an environment than Communist China, 
North Korea and Vietnam. Oleg Kalugin, who in 1973 
became the youngest general in the FCD, remembers 
India as both a prestige target and ‘a model of KGB 
infiltration of a Third World government’. The openness 
of India’s democracy combined with the streak of 
corruption which ran through its media and political 
system provided numerous opportunities for Soviet 
intelligence. In addition to what Kalugin termed ‘scores of 
sources throughout the Indian government - in 
Intelligence, Counterintelligence, the Defence and 
Foreign Ministries, and the police’, successful 
penetrations of Indian embassies (replicated in operations 
against Japan, Pakistan and other Asian countries) 
assisted the decryption of probably substantial - though as 
yet unquantifiable - amounts of Indian diplomatic 

The Soviet leadership regarded a special relationship 
with India as the foundation of its South Asian policy. 
Growing concern in both Moscow and New Delhi with 
the threat from China gave that relationship added 
significance. Gromyko and Ponomarev jointly declared: 
‘The Soviet Union and India march side by side in the 
struggle for detente, for peace and world security . . . 
India has always relied on Soviet assistance on the 
international scene in safeguarding its rights against 
colonial schemes.’— 

The primary purpose of KGB active measures in India 
was to encourage support for the special relationship and 
strengthen suspicion of the United States. According to 
Leonid Shebarshin, who served in the New Delhi 
residency in the mid-1970s, ‘The CIA’s hand could be 
detected in material published in certain Indian 
newspapers. We, of course, paid them back in the same 
coin . . . Like us, [the CIA] diligently and not always 
successfully did what they had to do. They were 
instruments of their government’s policy; we carried out 
the policy of our State. Both sides were right to do so.’— 

Though the KGB tended to exaggerate the success of 
its active measures, they appear to have been on a larger 
scale than those of the CIA. By the early 1980s there were 
about 1,500 Indo-Soviet Friendship Societies as compared 
with only two Indo- American Friendship Societies.— The 
Soviet leadership seems to have drawn the wrong 
conclusions from this apparently spectacular, but in 
reality somewhat hollow, success. American popular 
culture had no need of friendship societies to secure its 
dominance over that of the Soviet bloc. No subsidized 
film evening in an Indo-Soviet Friendship Society could 
hope to compete with the appeal of either Hollywood or 
Bollywood. Similarly, few Indian students, despite their 
widespread disapproval of US foreign policy, were more 
anxious to win scholarships to universities in the Soviet 

bloc than in the United States. 

In India, as elsewhere in the Third World, KGB active 
measures were intended partly for Soviet domestic 
consumption - to give the Soviet people, and in particular 
their leaders, an exaggerated notion of the international 
esteem in which the USSR was held. The New Delhi 
residency went to considerable lengths to give the Soviet 
political leadership an inflated sense of its own popularity 
in India. Before Brezhnev’s official visit in 1973, recalls 

Together with the Embassy, the ‘Novosti’ [news agency] 
representatives and the Union of Soviet Friendship 
Societies, the Residency took steps to create a favourable 
public atmosphere in the country immediately before and 
during the visit, and to forestall possible hostile incidents 
by the opposition and the secret allies of our long- 
standing Main Adversary. 

We had extensive contacts within political parties, 
among journalists and public organizations. All were 
enthusiastically brought into play.— 

The priority given to KGB operations in India is indicated 
by the subsequent promotion of some of the leading 
officers in the New Delhi residency. A decade after 
Shebarshin left India, he became head of the FCD. 

Vyacheslav Trubnikov, who also served in New Delhi in 
the 1970s,— went on to become head of the post-Soviet 
foreign intelligence service, the SVR, with direct access 
to President Yeltsin.— He later also became a confidant of 
President Putin, serving successively as Deputy Foreign 
Minister and, from August 2004, as Russian ambassador 
in New Delhi. Trubnikov’ s return to India was attributed 
by Russian press commentators to the mutual desire of 
Russia and India ‘to upgrade their strategic partnership’.— 

Within the Muslim areas of Asia, the KGB’s chief 
priority before the Afghan War was to monitor the loyalty 
to Moscow of the Soviet republics with predominantly 
Muslim populations. From the Second World War 
onwards the cornerstone of Soviet policy to its Muslim 
peoples, as to the Russian Orthodox Church,— was the 
creation of a subservient religious hierarchy. Despite the 
KGB’s extensive penetration of and influence over the 
official hierarchy of Soviet Islam, however, the greater 
part of Muslim life remained outside the Centre’s control. 
Islam was less dependent than Christianity and Judaism 
on official clergy. Any Muslim who could read the Quran 
and follow Islamic rites could officiate at ceremonies such 
as marriage and burial. Soviet rule in the Muslim 
republics was a politically correct facade which concealed 
the reality of a population which looked far more to 
Mecca than to Moscow, ruled by a corrupt political elite 
whose Marxism-Leninism was often little more than skin- 

deep. Even the local KGB headquarters were, in varying 
degree, infected by the corruption. The war in 
Afghanistan, as well as turning world-wide Muslim 
opinion against the Soviet Union, also undermined 
Moscow’s confidence in the loyalty of its Muslim 
subjects. The Central Asian press switched from 
propaganda celebration of the supposed ‘friendship’ 
between Soviet Muslims and their Russian ‘Elder 
Brother’ to emphasizing the ability of the ‘Elder Brother’ 
to eliminate ‘traitors’ and maintain law and order.— 

The decision to invade Afghanistan in December 1979 
to ensure the survival of the Communist regime there was 
essentially taken by the four-man Afghanistan 
Commission - Andropov, Gromyko, Ponomarev and the 
Defence Minister, Marshal Ustinov - which obtained the 
consent of the ailing Brezhnev at a private meeting in his 
Kremlin office. Gromyko’s influence on the decision, 
however, was clearly inferior to that of Andropov and 
Ustinov. KGB special forces played a more important role 
in the invasion than in any previous conflict and were 
charged with the assassination of the supposedly 
traitorous President Hafizullah Amin.— ‘The Kremlin 
fantasy’, recalls one senior KGB officer, ‘was that a great 
breakthrough [in Afghanistan] would demonstrate 
[Soviet] effectiveness, showing the world that 
communism was the ascendant political system.’— The 
fantasy, however, originated with Andropov rather than 

with Brezhnev. 

Andropov’s emergence as the most influential member 
of the Politburo was demonstrated by his election as Party 
leader in 1982 after Brezhnev’s death. By then, however, 
Afghanistan had become, in the words of one KGB 
general, ‘our Vietnam’: ‘We are bogged down in a war we 
cannot win and cannot abandon.’— In the end, as 
Gorbachev recognized, abandonment was the only 
solution. But, whereas the US defeat in Vietnam had 
resulted in only a temporary loss of American self- 
confidence in world affairs, the Afghan war helped to 
undermine the foundations of the Soviet system. Many 
Soviet citizens took to referring to Afghanistan as ‘Af- 
gavni-stan’ ( ‘ Af- shit- s tan’).— Disastrous though the war 
was, it demonstrated, once again, the central role of the 
KGB in Soviet Third World policy. Just as the KGB’s 
enthusiasm a generation earlier for Fidel Castro had 
helped to launch the Soviet forward policy in the Third 
World, so the disastrous military intervention in 
Afghanistan, for which the KGB leadership bore much of 
the responsibility, brought it to a halt. 


The People’s Republic of China From 
‘Eternal Friendship ’ to ‘Eternal Enmity ’ 

Collaboration between Soviet intelligence and the 
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) went back to the 1920s. 
A police raid on the Soviet consulate at Beijing in 1927 
uncovered a mass of documents on Soviet espionage in 
China, the involvement of the CCP and instructions to it 
from Moscow ‘not to shrink from any measures, even 
including looting and massacres’ when promoting clashes 
between Westerners and the local population.- The arrest 
in 1931 of the Comintern representative in Shanghai, 
Jakov Rudnik (alias ‘Hilaire Noulens’), led to the capture 
of many more files on Soviet intelligence operations and 
the Communist underground. A British intelligence report 
concluded that the files ‘afforded a unique opportunity of 
seeing from the inside, and on unimpeachable 
documentary evidence, the working of a highly developed 
Communist organization of the illegal order’. Among the 
documents which attracted particular attention were a 
large number of letters from ‘the notorious Annamite 
Communist, Nguyen Ai Quae’, later better known as Ho 
Chi-Minh. But the ‘most outstanding’ document, in the 
view of British intelligence, was a CCP report on the 

killing of members of the family of an alleged Communist 
traitor, Ku Shun-chang, carried out under the direction of 
Mao Zedong’s future Prime Minister, Zhou Enlai.- In 
1933 Mao’s security chief, Kang Sheng, arrived in 
Moscow as deputy head of the Chinese delegation to the 
Comintern and spent the next four years learning from the 
example of the NKVD during its most paranoid phase. 
Kang proved an apt pupil. During the Great Terror, he 
founded an Office for the Elimination of Counter- 
Revolutionaries and purged the emigre Chinese 
Communist community with exemplary zeal for its 
mostly imaginary crimes. Late in 1937 he returned on a 
Soviet plane to the base established by Mao after the 
Long March in Yan’an, where he continued the witch- 
hunt he had started in Moscow and began the creation of 
China’s gulag, the laogai (an abbreviation of laodong 
gaizao, ‘reform through labour’). To his subordinates he 
became the ‘Venerable Kang’; to others he was ‘China’s 
Beria’. Though a connoisseur of traditional Chinese art 
and a skilful, ambidextrous calligrapher, Kang surpassed 
even Beria in personal depravity, taking sadistic pleasure 
in supervising the torture of supposed counter- 
revolutionaries.- As well as helping Mao polish his poetry 
and prose, Kang also contributed to his personal 
collection of erotica.- 

Nikolai Leonov later claimed that during the 1930s and 
1940s Soviet intelligence had built up ‘a very extensive 

and well-formed information network on Chinese soil’.- 
In the summer of 1949, however, on the eve of the victory 
of Mao’s forces over the Nationalist Kuomintang, led by 
Chiang Kai-shek, a high-level CCP delegation in Moscow 
complained, probably with considerable exaggeration, 
that a large part of that network had been penetrated by 
Chiang and the Americans. Due at least in part to his 
addiction to conspiracy theory, Stalin took the complaint 
seriously. ‘The situation’, he declared, ‘requires us to 
unify the efforts of our intelligence bodies, and we are 
ready to start this immediately . . . Let us act as a united 
front.’- On Stalin’s instructions, the names of all those in 
the Soviet intelligence network in China were given to the 
CCP leadership.- Simultaneously the CCP demanded that 
all Chinese who had worked for Soviet intelligence 
should declare themselves to the Party.- 

Yuri Tavrosky, a leading Sinologist in the International 
Department of the CPSU Central Committee, later 
described Sino- Soviet relations during the generation after 
the foundation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) 
in October 1949 as falling into two starkly contrasting 
phases: a decade of ‘eternal friendship’ between the 
world’s two largest socialist states, followed from the 
early 1960s by the era of ‘eternal enmity’.- For most of 
the decade of ‘eternal friendship’ there was close 
collaboration between Soviet and Chinese intelligence. 
On Khrushchev’s instructions, the KGB continued to 

provide its Chinese allies with details of its Chinese 
intelligence networks.— Until 1957 a series of KGB 
illegals of Chinese, Mongolian, Turkic and Korean ethnic 
origin were given false identities in the PRC, mostly with 
the co-operation of the Chinese Ministry of Public 
Security, before being sent on their first foreign 
missions.— Khrushchev’s visit to Beijing in 1958, 
however, witnessed a visible chill in the ‘eternal 
friendship’. Though Mao had to a degree been prepared to 
defer to Stalin, he was not in awe of Khrushchev, whose 
revolutionary experience he regarded as inferior to his 
own. As his Chinese hosts were doubtless aware, 
Khrushchev was a non-swimmer and he was made to look 
foolish during ‘photo opportunities’ in Mao’s swimming 
pool. More importantly, Khrushchev’s proposals for a 
joint Russian-Chinese fleet under a Russian admiral and 
for Russian listening posts on Chinese soil were angrily 
rejected.— The future KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov, 
then responsible for relations with foreign Communist 
parties, later complained to the Chinese that they had 
failed to warn Khrushchev during his visit that they had 
decided to begin shelling two off-shore islands in the 
Taiwan Straits still held by Chiang Kai-shek almost as 
soon as he left Beijing.— 

By the later 1950s Kang Sheng, who had suffered a 
temporary eclipse during the earlier part of the decade, 
apparently due to mental illness, had re-emerged as a 

close adviser of (and procurer of teenage girls for) Mao. 
The purge of ‘right deviationists’ during the ‘Great Leap 
Forward’ begun in 1958 replicated many of the horrors of 
the Great Terror in which Kang had enthusiastically 
participated in Moscow two decades earlier. According to 
Mao’s doctor, ‘Kang Sheng’s job was to depose and 
destroy his fellow party members, and his continuing 
“investigations” in the early 1960s laid the groundwork 
for the attacks of the Cultural Revolution to come.’— 
Between 1958 and 1962 perhaps as many as 10 million 
‘ideological reactionaries’, real and imagined, were 
imprisoned in the laogai; millions more Chinese citizens 
died as a result of famine. — 

Kang was the first to bring the Sino- Soviet quarrel out 
into the open. At a Warsaw Pact conference in February 
1960, he made a speech attacking Soviet policy, then had 
a heated exchange with Khrushchev. ‘You don’t have the 
qualifications to debate with me,’ Khrushchev shouted at 
Kang. ‘I am General Secretary of the Communist Party of 
the Soviet Union . . .’ ‘Your credentials are much more 
shallow than mine!’ Kang retorted in ungrammatical 
Russian. According to one of the Soviet participants, 
‘[Kang] could freeze you with his stare. Everyone was 
afraid of him. On the Soviet side we compared him to 
Beria. You could see at first glance that he was a very evil 
and ruthless person.’ Though Kang’s speech was not 
published in Moscow, it appeared in full in Beijing.— In 

April a series of articles in the Chinese People's Daily 
and Red Flag on the ninetieth anniversary of Lenin’s birth 
effectively accused Moscow of ‘revising, emasculating 
and betraying’ Lenin’s teaching. Khrushchev replied in 
June by publicly denouncing Mao as ‘an ultra-leftist, an 
ultradogmatist and a left revisionist’.— 

A month later all Soviet experts in China were 
withdrawn. Over the next few years many of the China 
specialists in the KGB and the Soviet Foreign Ministry 
tried to transfer to other work for fear that a continuing 
reputation as Sinologists would blight their careers.— 
Moscow, however, still hoped to prevent the quarrel with 
Beijing turning into a major schism which would divide 
the Communist world. During the early 1960s the USSR 
and PRC usually limited themselves to attacking each 
other by proxy. While Moscow denounced Albanian hard- 
liners, Beijing condemned Yugoslav revisionists. Moscow 
made a final attempt to paper over the Sino- Soviet cracks 
by proposing a meeting between senior Party delegations 
in July 1963. The CCP delegation, led by the future 
Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, showed no interest in 
reaching a settlement. The most vitriolic attacks on the 
Soviet leadership came once again from Kang Sheng, 
who made an impassioned defence of Stalin against the 
‘curses and swear words’ with which he claimed that 
Khrushchev had defamed his memory: 

Can it really be that the CPSU, which for a long time had 
the love and respect of the revolutionary peoples of the 
whole world, had a ‘bandit’ as its great leader for several 
decades? From what you have said it appears as if the 
ranks of the international Communist movement which 
grew and became stronger from year to year were under 
the leadership of some sort of ‘shit’. 

Kang then dared to say what perhaps no meeting of senior 
Communists in Moscow had ever heard said aloud since 
Khrushchev’s ‘Secret Speech’ of 1956. He taunted 
Khrushchev by quoting some of his numerous past 
eulogies of Stalin as ‘a very great genius, teacher, great 
leader of humanity’, and recalled Khrushchev’s active 
participation (along with Kang) in the attempt during the 
Great Terror ‘to wipe all the Trotskyist-rightist carrion 
from the face of the earth’.— The impact of Kang’s 
extraordinary speech on his shocked Soviet listeners was 
heightened by the fact that he delivered it through 
ferociously clenched teeth.— 

The acrimonious collapse of the Moscow talks in the 
summer of 1963 was followed by the most strident 
polemics in the history of the international Communist 
movement. In April 1964 a senior Soviet official even 
accused Beijing of a racist attempt to set yellow and black 
races ‘against the whites’ - a policy which, he claimed. 

was ‘no different from Nazism’. The PRC was also 
accused of selling drugs to finance the Great Leap 
Forward. The virulence of Soviet attacks reflected the 
deep indignation generated in Moscow by the Sino- Soviet 
schism. For almost half a century after the Bolshevik 
Revolution the Soviet Union had been able to depend on 
the unconditional loyalty of other Communist parties 
around the world. Now it stood accused of heresy by the 
Communist rulers of the world’s most populous state. 
Moscow’s alarm was heightened by Beijing’s charm 
offensive in the Third World. In Asia the PRC established 
close links with Pakistan, Burma and Indonesia. During 
1964 Beijing established diplomatic relations with 
fourteen African states, all of whom ceased to recognize 
the Chinese Nationalist regime on Taiwan, to which the 
PRC laid claim.— The Centre was outraged by reports 
that in some of these states pictures of Soviet-bloc leaders 
had been displaced or overshadowed by huge portraits of 
Mao, and demanded that a record be kept of when and 
where every such portrait appeared. Markus Wolf, the 
long-serving head of the East German HVA, complained 
that, at the request of the KGB, he was forced to conduct 
the ‘senseless exercise’ of counting the number of 
portraits of the Great Helmsman on public display in each 
of the African countries where his service operated.— The 
successful test of China’s first atomic bomb in October 
1964 both enhanced its international prestige in the Third 
World and dramatically increased the threat which China 

posed to the Soviet Union. 

Once ‘eternal friendship’ had given way to ‘eternal 
enmity’, residencies in many parts of the world were told 
to regard Line K (K for Kitay, the Russian word for 
China) as a major operational priority, second only to 
operations against the ‘Main Adversary’ and its leading 
allies. Within China itself, however, Stalin’s earlier 
decision to reveal the identities of the entire Soviet 
intelligence network to the CCP leadership had crippled 
KGB intelligence collection. Throughout the remainder of 
the Soviet era the Centre was left with what Nikolai 
Leonov called ‘an unbridgeable gap in our information 
sources on China’.— Most of the KGB’s former Chinese 
agents whose names had been given to the Ministry of 
State Security were executed or left to rot in the laogai.— 
The fact that the Beijing Ministry of Public Security knew 
the real names of the illegals given false Chinese 
identities in the PRC during the 1950s made it impossible 
to use them against Chinese targets. As a result most Line 
K operations were conducted outside the PRC. Chinese 
officials stationed abroad, however, were under strict 
instructions to go out only in groups of two or more. As a 
result, recalls one retired Western intelligence officer, 
‘You could never meet any of them alone.’ Line K thus 
spent much of its time trying to recruit non-Chinese 
citizens with access to PRC officials. Among its leading 
agents during the 1960s was the Finnish businessman 

Harri Ilmari Hartvig (codenamed UNTO), who was on the 
committee of the Finnish-Chinese Friendship Society and 
had frequent meetings with the Chinese ambassador and 
other PRC diplomats. Meetings between the Friendship 
Society committee and PRC diplomats took place in 
Hartvig ’s department, which, without his knowledge, had 
been bugged by a KGB listening device concealed in his 
sideboard. Extracts from the transcript of at least one 
meeting attended by the Chinese ambassador which 
discussed Sino-Soviet relations and PRC policy to 
Scandinavia and Yugoslavia were passed to the 
Politburo.— The fact that the intelligence obtained 
through Hartvig was accorded such importance, despite 
the fact that it appears to have included no classified 
documents, is further evidence of the general weakness of 
KGB intelligence collection on the PRC. 

The ‘Cultural Revolution’ (officially ‘A Full-Scale 
Revolution to Establish a Working-Class Culture’) 
launched by Mao in 1966 made China a more difficult 
and dangerous place for the KGB to operate than 
anywhere else on earth. In an extraordinary attempt to re- 
fashion Chinese society on a utopian revolutionary model, 
Mao unleashed a general Terror. Millions of youthful, 
fanatical Red Guards were urged to root out revisionist 
and bourgeois tendencies wherever they found them - and 
they found them almost everywhere. Veteran Communist 
officials and intellectuals were paraded in dunces’ hats. 

abused, imprisoned and in some cases driven to suicide. 
The leadership of the Soviet Union were denounced as 
‘the biggest traitors and renegades in history’. As during 
the Stalinist Great Terror thirty years earlier, most of the 
enemies of the people unmasked and persecuted by the 
Red Guards had committed only imagined crimes. And, 
as in Stalin’s Russia, the bloodletting was accompanied 
by a repellent form of Emperor-worship. Mao was hailed 
as the ‘Great Helmsman’, ‘the Reddest Red Sun in Our 
Hearts’. Each day began with a ‘loyalty dance’: ‘You put 
your hand to your head and then to your heart, and you 
danced a jig - to show that your heart and mind were 
filled with boundless love for Chairman Mao.’ Rival 
factions outdid themselves in terrorizing the Great 
Helmsman’s imagined enemies, each claiming to be more 
Maoist than the others.— 

Agent recruitment within China during the Cultural 
Revolution was, as KGB Chairman Semichastny later 
acknowledged, ‘an impossible task’. In Beijing, ‘Every 
one of our men, from diplomats to drivers, was as 
conspicuous as an albino crow.’— A September 1967 
directive by Aleksandr Sakharovsky, the head of the FCD, 
noted that the Beijing residency was being forced to 
operate under siege conditions.— Soviet contact with 
Chinese officials was minimal and closely supervised. 
The spy-mania and xenophobia of the Red Guards made it 
difficult for diplomats even to walk round Beijing. 

Owners of foreign books were forced to crawl on their 
knees through the streets in shame; those caught listening 
to foreign broadcasts were sent to prison. As an official 
Chinese report later acknowledged, ‘The ability to speak a 
foreign language or a past visit to a foreign country 
became “evidence” of being a “secret agent” for that 
country.’ The road leading to the beleaguered Soviet 
embassy was renamed ‘Anti-Revisionist Lane’. The 
families of Soviet diplomats and KGB officers were 
manhandled as they left Beijing airport for Moscow in 

The best first-hand reporting to reach the Centre from 
Beijing during the Cultural Revolution came from KGB 
officers of Mongolian or Central Asian extraction who 
could pass as Chinese citizens and were smuggled out of 
the Soviet embassy compound after dark in the boots of 
diplomatic cars. Let out unobserved when the opportunity 
arose, they mingled with the vast crowds roaming through 
a city festooned with slogans, read the day’s wall posters 
(which were declared off-limits for foreigners), attended 
political rallies and purchased ‘little newspapers’ with 
news from across China. Late in 1967 they saw the first 
wall posters denouncing the Head of State, Liu Shaoqi, as 
the ‘Number One person in authority taking the capitalist 
road’. After Liu was jailed in the following year, more 
than 22,000 people were arrested as his alleged 
sympathizers. Even a night-soil collector, who had been 

photographed being congratulated by Liu at a model 
workers’ conference, was paraded through the streets with 
an accusing placard around his neck and maltreated until 
he lost his reason. Acting on the principle that 
‘Revolutionaries’ children are heroes, reactionaries’ 
children are lice’. Red Guards killed one of Liu’s children 
by laying him in the path of an oncoming train. Brutally 
ill-treated and suffering from pneumonia and diabetes for 
which he was denied medical treatment, Liu himself died 
naked on a prison floor in 1969. 

Deng Xiaoping, Party General Secretary and ‘Number 

Two person in authority taking the capitalist road’, was 

dismissed and sent to do manual labour but - probably on 

Mao’s personal instructions - allowed to survive. The Red 

Guards took revenge on his eldest son, a physics student, 

by throwing him from a second-floor window at Peking 

University.— No fellow student dared to come to his aid, 

and no doctor was willing to operate on him. He was left 

paralysed from the waist down. Fed with a relentless 

series of reports of chaos and atrocity, the Centre 

interpreted the Cultural Revolution not as a convulsion in 

the life of a one-party state but as a peculiarly Chinese 

descent into oriental barbarism. Though perhaps 30 

million Chinese were persecuted during the Cultural 

Revolution, however, the numbers killed (about a million) 

were fewer than the victims of the Stalinist Great Terror. 

The FCD plan for intelligence operations in the PRC 
and Hong Kong during 1966-67, approved by 
Semichastny as KGB Chairman in April 1966, made no 
reference to the hopeless task of recruiting agents in most 
of mainland China. Instead it concentrated on proposals 
for the use of illegals and agent infiltration across China’s 
northern frontiers with the Soviet Union and the Soviet- 
dominated Mongolian People’s Republic. Plans were 
made for the establishment of an illegal residency in 
Hong Kong and for short-term visits by illegals to the 
PRC (some of them in collaboration with the Mongolian 
intelligence agency), but it was recognized that planning 
for an illegal KGB residency in the PRC could not go 
beyond a preliminary stage. The most ambitious part of 
the plan for 1966-67 concerned preparations for cross- 
border operations in collaboration with KGB units in 
frontier regions and the Mongolian security service.— 

The most vulnerable area for KGB penetration was the 
remote, sparsely populated Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous 
Region (XUAR) in north-west China, a vast expanse of 
mountain and desert on the borders of the Kazakh and 
Kyrgyz republics and Mongolia, with which it had far 
closer ethnic, cultural and religious ties than with the rest 
of the PRC. Though covering one-sixth of China’s 
territory (an area the size of western Europe), the XUAR 
still accounts for only 1.4 per cent of the Chinese 
population (17 million out of 1.2 billion). Even today over 

half its population is composed of non-Chinese Muslim 
ethnic groups, by far the largest of which are the Muslim 
Uighurs. Before the foundation of the PRC the proportion 
was much larger. In 1944 a Uighur-led movement in 
northern Xinjiang had established the independent state of 
East Turkestan. Though its independence ended when it 
was forcibly incorporated by the PRC in 1950, Beijing 
remained concerned by the threat of XUAR separatism 
for the remainder of the century. Han Chinese 
immigration, promoted by Beijing and deeply resented by 
the Uighurs, increased their numbers from only 6 per cent 
of the population in 1949 to 40 per cent thirty years later. 
The leading Communist Party officials at almost all levels 
in the XUAR were, and remain, Chinese.— The horrors of 
the Cultural Revolution were arguably even worse for the 
non-Chinese minorities in the XUAR, Inner (Chinese) 
Mongolia and Tibet, whose whole way of life was 
threatened, than for the Han Chinese who constituted 94 
per cent of the PRC population. The deputy director of 
religious affairs in Kashgar, one of the most devoutly 
Muslim cities of the XUAR, later admitted: 

During the Cultural Revolution, I saw with my own eyes, 
before the Great Mosque in Kashgar, piles of Korans and 
other books being burnt. Some people ordered the 
Muslims to bum these copies themselves ... I also saw 
people trying to pull down the minarets beside the Great 

Mosque. The masses were very indignant, but they could 
do nothing. 

Mosques in most of the XUAR were closed. Some were 
used as pork warehouses and Uighur families were forced 
to rear pigs.— The suffering of Tibetan Buddhists was 
even greater than that of Muslims in the XUAR, but Tibet 
was too remote and difficult of access for significant KGB 
operations (though the Centre investigated the possibility 
of penetrating the entourage of the exiled Dalai Lama).— 
The XUAR, by contrast, had a 1,000-mile frontier with 
Kazakhstan and one of 600 miles with Mongolia. 

In 1968 the Kazakhstan KGB was instructed to set up 
an illegal residency in Urumqi, the capital of the XUAR, 
and agent groups in a number of other areas, including the 
Lop Nor nuclear test site.— The Politburo also authorized 
the KGB to provide arms and training in Kazakhstan for 
the underground resistance to Chinese rule in the XUAR, 
which in Russian took the politically correct name of the 
Voenno-Trudovaya Narodnaya Revolyutsionnaya Partly a 
(Military-Labour People’s Revolutionary Party) or 
VTNRP, codenamed PATRIOTY. The Kazakhstan KGB 
was instructed to print anti-Chinese newspapers in 
Uighur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Dungan and the other XUAR 
languages to be smuggled across the border.— Sherki 
Turkestan Evasi (‘The Voice of Eastern Turkestan’), 

published in Alma Ata, the capital of Kazakhstan, called 
on Uighurs ‘to unite against Chinese chauvinism and to 
proclaim the establishment of “an independent free state” 
based on the principles of self-determination and the 
constitutional law of the United Nations’. Broadcasts by 
Radio Alma Ata and Radio Tashkent sought to convince 
XUAR Uighurs that living conditions for Soviet Uighurs 
were vastly superior to their own.— 

In April 1968 the Politburo also approved a further 
reinforcement of Soviet forces along its 4,000-mile 
frontier with China, the longest armed border in the 
world.— About one third of Soviet military power was 
eventually deployed against the PRC.— Mao, Moscow 
feared, was intent on regaining large tracts of territory 
ceded to Tsarist Russia under the ‘unequal treaties’ of the 
nineteenth century. — During 1969 there were a series of 
armed clashes along the border. The first, on a remote 
stretch of the Ussuri river 250 miles from Vladivostok, 
does not seem to have been planned by either Beijing or 
Moscow. The trouble began when soldiers on the Chinese 
side of the river, offended by the allegedly aggressive 
behaviour of a Soviet lieutenant on the opposite bank, 
turned their backs, dropped their trousers and ‘mooned’ at 
the Soviet border guards. During the next ‘mooning’ 
episode, the Soviet soldiers held up pictures of Mao, thus 
leading the Chinese troops inadvertently to show grave 
disrespect to the sacred image of the Great Helmsman. 

These and other episodes led on 2 March to the Chinese 
ambush of a Soviet patrol on the small, disputed island of 
Damansky in the Ussuri river.— Twenty-three of the 
patrol were killed. Both Moscow and Beijing responded 
with a furious denunciation of the other. This was the first 
occasion on which either side had reported an armed clash 
along the border. On 7 March a reported 100,000 
Muscovites attacked the Chinese embassy and smashed 
its windows. Not to be outdone, Beijing Radio claimed 
that 400 million Chinese, half the country’s population, 
had taken part in protest demonstrations.— 

In mid- April 1969 there was fighting 2,500 miles 
farther west on the Kazakh-XUAR border, followed by 
further sporadic clashes in the same area over the next 
four months. Henry Kissinger, recently appointed as 
President Nixon’s National Security Advisor, was 
originally inclined to accept Soviet claims that these 
clashes were started by the Chinese. When he looked at a 
detailed map of the frontier region, however, he changed 
his mind. Since the clashes occurred close to Soviet 
railheads and several hundred miles from any Chinese 
railway, Kissinger concluded that ‘Chinese leaders would 
not have picked such an unpropitious spot to attack’.— 
His conclusion that Soviet forces were the aggressors is 
strengthened by the evidence in KGB files. On 4 June two 
KGB agents in the VTNRP, codenamed NARIMAN and 
TALAN, both based in Kazakhstan, crossed secretly into 

the XUAR to make contact with the underground Party 
leadership. On their return on 9 July, they reported, 
probably with considerable exaggeration, that the VTNRP 
had 70,000 members and a Presidium of forty-one (ten of 
whom were ‘candidate’, non- voting members). But it had 
not been a wholly successful mission. Within a few days 
of their arrival in the XUAR, the agents’ automatic 
weapons and radio telephones had been stolen by 
TALAN’s relatives. NARIMAN and TALAN also 
explained that they had been unable to set up a dead 
letter-box in an agreed location because of the presence of 
nomadic herdsmen. They reported that many former 
members of the VTNRP Presidium were in prison. The 
Mongolian security service concluded that the VTNRP 
was not ready for ‘active operations’ but should 
concentrate instead on strengthening its underground 
organization. Though Mitrokhin’s notes do not record the 
Centre’s assessment, it must surely have reached the same 

In August and September Moscow began sounding out 
both Washington and European Communist parties on 
their reaction to the possibility of a Soviet pre-emptive 
strike against Chinese nuclear installations before they 
were able to threaten the Soviet Union. A series of articles 
in the Western press by a journalist co-opted by the KGB, 
Victor Louis (bom Vitali Yevgenyevich Lui), mentioned 
the possibility of a Soviet air strike against the Lop Nor 

nuclear test site in the XUAR. Louis claimed that a 
clandestine radio station in the PRC had revealed the 
existence of anti-Mao forces (probably a reference to the 
XUAR) which might ask other socialist countries for 
‘fraternal help’. Even the KGB officers who spread such 
rumours were uncertain whether they were engaged 
simply in an active measure designed to intimidate the 
Chinese or warning the West of proposals under serious 
consideration by the Soviet general staff. In retrospect, the 
whole exercise looks more like an active-measures 
campaign.— Though the Soviet Defence Minister, 
Marshal Andrei Grechko, appears to have proposed a plan 
to ‘get rid of the Chinese threat once and for all’, most of 
his Politburo colleagues were not prepared to take the 

As a result of the lack of any high-level Soviet 
intelligence source in Beijing, Moscow seems to have 
been unaware of the dramatic secret response by Mao to 
its campaign of intimidation after the border clashes. Mao 
set up a study group of four marshals whom he instructed 
to undertake a radical review of Chinese relations with the 
Soviet Union and the United States. Marshals Chen Yi 
and Ye Jianying made the unprecedented proposal that the 
PRC respond to the Soviet threat by playing ‘the United 
States card’ .— Fear of a pre-emptive Soviet strike seems 
to have been a major reason for the Chinese decision to 
enter the secret talks with the United States which led to 

Nixon’s visit to Beijing in 1972 and a Sino-American 
rapprochement which only a few years earlier would have 
seemed inconceivable.— During Nixon’s visit, Kissinger 
gave Marshal Ye Jianying an intelligence briefing on 
Soviet force deployments at the Chinese border which, he 
told him, was so highly classified that even many senior 
US intelligence officials had not had access to it.— 

There was prolonged discussion in the Centre in the 
early 1970s as to whether the PRC now qualified for the 
title ‘Main Adversary’, hitherto applied exclusively to the 
United States. In the end it was relegated in official KGB 
jargon to the status of ‘Major Adversary’, with the United 
States retaining its unique ‘Main Adversary’ status.— For 
China, by contrast, it was clear that the Soviet Union had 
become the Main Adversary. Mao’s suspicions of 
Moscow deepened as reports began to reach him of a plot 
by his heir apparent, Lin Biao. By the summer of 1970, 
according to his doctor, Li Zhisui, ‘Mao’s paranoia was in 
full bloom.’ Li was afraid even to tell Mao that he had 
pneumonia for fear of being accused of being part of Lin 
Biao’s conspiracy. ‘Lin Biao wants my lungs to rot,’ Mao 
told him. In August 1971 Mao was told that Lin’s son had 
set up a ‘secret spy organization in the air force’ to 
prepare a coup. On the evening of 12 September Mao was 
informed that Lin Biao had fled by air from Shanhaiguan 
airport. Li noted that ‘Mao’s face collapsed at the news.’ 
Lin’s plane had taken off with such haste that it had not 

been properly fuelled and had no navigator, radio operator 
or co-pilot on board. It was also clear, since the aircraft 
had struck a fuel truck during the take-off and lost part of 
its landing gear, that it would have difficulty landing. As 
Chinese radar tracked Lin’s plane, it first flew west across 
Inner Mongolia, then turned abruptly north across the 
frontier of the Mongolian People’s Republic in the 
direction of the Soviet Union. Next day Mao received 
news that the plane had crashed before it reached the 
Soviet border, killing all on board.— Had the aircraft 
reached the Soviet Union, the public quarrel between 
Beijing and Moscow would doubtless have scaled new 
heights of hysteria. Even after the crash, there were 
Chinese charges of Soviet complicity in Lin Biao’s 
treason.— Mao never admitted that the Cultural 
Revolution had been a disastrous mistake. ‘But’, 
according to Li, ‘Lin Biao’s perfidy convinced him that 
he needed to change his strategy. He put Zhou Enlai in 
charge of rehabilitating many of the leaders who had been 

For the remainder of the Soviet era the KGB sought, 
without much apparent success, to compensate for its 
inability to penetrate the government in Beijing by two 
other strategies: cross-border agent infiltration, 
particularly from Kazakhstan to the XUAR, and the 
penetration of PRC groups outside China. In 1969 the 
Kazakhstan KGB was given an additional fifty-five 

operations officers, followed by another eighty-one in 
1970.— To assemble an appropriate wardrobe for KGB 
agents, clothes were taken from Chinese refugees crossing 
the Kazakhstan border.— In 1970 operation ALGA, 
mounted by the Kazakhstan KGB in collaboration with 
‘special actions’ officers from the Centre, set out to create 
a sabotage base in the XUAR with caches to conceal arms 
and explosives. After a preliminary cross-border 
expedition by two agents ran into difficulty, however, the 
operation was suspended as premature and plans to 
infiltrate an armed group of seven or eight refugees back 
into the XUAR were cancelled.— 

Over the next few years there were a series of other 
failed penetrations. Among them was the Chinese refugee 
MITOU, former head of the Department of Chinese 
Literature at a technical institute, who had fled to the 
Soviet Union in 1968 at the height of the Cultural 
Revolution when centres of higher education were closed 
for several years. After being recruited as a KGB agent 
and trained in the use of dead letter-boxes (DLBs), radio 
communication, ciphers and photography, he was 
smuggled into the XUAR across the Mongolian frontier in 
August 1971. Though MITOU collected money and food 
coupons which had been left for him in a DLB, no more 
was heard from him. His file concludes that he was 
probably too frightened to carry on working as an agent.— 
LIVENTSOV was another Chinese agent infiltrated into 

the XUAR through Mongolia. In 1972 he was used for 
operation STRELA which was intended to carry out 
visual reconnaissance of nuclear and defence industry 
plants. He was taught to distinguish different kinds of 
smoke and effluents from factory chimneys, take soil and 
water samples and make careful notes of what he 
observed. As in the case of MITOU, however, 
LIVENTSOV’s deployment ended in complete failure.— 

Probably because of the high failure rate among 
Chinese agents infiltrated over the border, the KGB 
devised an unusual method of testing their reliability 
under operational conditions. In operation ZENIT the 
agents being tested were told they would be crossing the 
Chinese border in an area near the Ussuri river first to 
locate a DEB and replace a malfunctioning radio which 
had been left in it with a working model, then to meet an 
agent operating inside China at a pre-arranged location in 
order to pass on instructions. The agents being tested, 
however, were unaware that the area where they were 
carrying out these operations was actually inside the 
Soviet Union and that they were being closely observed 
from surveillance posts equipped with night-vision 
equipment and tape recorders. ZENIT was one of five 
border zones in which similar tests took place. In 1974 
sixty-six agents were put through their paces; in 1975 
their number rose to 107.— In addition to sending agents 
on foot across remote areas of China’s northern borders. 

the KGB also investigated two other methods of 
infiltration: by sea using inflatable dinghies which could 
be hidden after landing and, more ingeniously, by 
concealing an agent in the ventilation pipe of the mail 
carriages of trains crossing the Chinese border. The latter 
method was thought to be practicable only in summer 
because of the danger in winter that the agent would 
freeze to death.— The files seen by Mitrokhin do not 
make clear whether either of these methods was actually 

Operational conditions in the PRC were simply too 
difficult for cross-border infiltration by any route to 
achieve significant success. As Jung Chang was later to 
write in Wild Swans, ‘The whole of China was like a 
prison. Every house, every street was watched by the 
people themselves. In this vast land there was nowhere to 
hide.’— Strangers and strange behaviour quickly aroused 
suspicion. A Chinese agent smuggled across the Amur 
river in the Soviet Far East after a ten-year absence from 
the PRC discovered that the cigarettes he had been given 
to take with him were now available only in hard- 
currency shops reserved for foreigners. He made the 
further mistake, when out of cigarettes, of asking 
strangers for a smoke - a habit he had picked up in the 
Soviet Union which immediately attracted attention in the 
PRC. Having become accustomed to the metric system, 
the agent also ran into difficulties with Chinese weights 

and measures and found himself hesitating in mid- 
sentence while he attempted the necessary mental 
arithmetic. Even asking for directions caused problems. In 
Russia he had learned to think in terms of ‘left’ and 
‘right’, instead of referring to points of the compass as 
was usual in China. On one occasion, when told that the 
entrance to an eating place was the south door, he asked 
where the south door was - only to be informed that it was 
opposite the north door.— 

Probably late in 1973 the Centre sent a directive to 
residencies around the world entitled ‘Measures designed 
to improve work against China from third countries’ 
during the period 1974-78. Residencies were instructed to 
cultivate PRC citizens living abroad, as well as members 
of the Chinese diaspora, Taiwanese citizens and 
foreigners with contacts in the PRC. They were also told 
to penetrate Maoist groups and centres of Chinese studies, 
to plant ‘operational devices’ (bugs) on appropriate 
cultivation targets, identify active-measures channels and 
report on agents who could be sent on missions to the 
PRC.— The KGB residency in Prague reported in 1975 
that it was using thirty agents to cultivate the Chinese 
embassy. Of seventy-two Czechoslovak citizens who 
attended a reception at the embassy in October 1975 to 
mark the anniversary of the foundation of the PR C, 
twenty-three were agents of the KGB or the Czechoslovak 
StB.— There is no evidence in any of the files noted by 

Mitrokhin that either this or any similar cultivation 
achieved any significant results. Most Chinese embassies 
appear to have proved as difficult targets as the PRC 

Unsurprisingly, the files seen by Mitrokhin do not 
identify a single KGB agent in Beijing with access to 
classified Chinese documents. The Beijing residency did, 
however, obtain some material from a senior disaffected 
North Korean diplomat codenamed FENIKS, who was 
privately critical of the Mao cult (and, no doubt, the even 
more preposterous cult of Kim II Sung in North Korea). A 
Line PR officer under diplomatic cover, A. A. 
Zhemchugov, began cultivating FENIKS at diplomatic 
receptions and in the course of other routine diplomatic 
contacts. On several occasions Zhemchugov arranged for 
them to meet in his apartment. The residency reported that 
FENIKS showed great skill in disguising the purpose of 
his contacts with Zhemchugov, maintained careful 
security and appeared confident and calm during their 
meetings, which gradually increased in frequency. Due to 
the close relations between the Beijing and Pyongyang 
regimes in the mid-1970s, the North Korean embassy was 
given copies of a series of secret Chinese Central 
Committee documents, some of which were passed on by 
FENIKS. Among other material which he provided was a 
letter from the Politburo member Yao Wenyuan, later to 
become infamous after Mao’s death as one of the 

disgraced ‘Gang of Four’. Though documents supplied by 
FENIKS were cited in a number of KGB reports to the 
Politburo, he made clear to Zhemchugov that he wished to 
preserve his freedom of action and was not prepared to 
become a KGB agent. None the less, because of his 
willingness to supply classified material and from 1976 to 
have clandestine contact with a case officer, FENIKS was 
classed from that year as a confidential contact. From 
November 1976 he passed material to Zhemchugov 
during brush contacts in a Beijing department store. — 

In the summer of 1976, with Mao’s death correctly 
judged to be imminent, the Politburo set up a high-level 
commission to assess the future of Sino- Soviet relations. 
Chaired by the chief Party ideologist, Mikhail Suslov 
(then considered Brezhnev’s most likely successor), the 
commission also included Gromyko, the Foreign 
Minister, Ustinov, the Defence Minister, Andropov, the 
KGB Chairman, and Konstantin Chernenko, then head of 
the Central Committee General Department which, 
despite its innocuous name, controlled the Party’s secret 
archives. Following Mao’s death on 9 September, Soviet 
press attacks on China were suspended until the policy of 
his successors had been clarified. KGB residencies around 
the world were instructed to report any sign of changed 
attitudes towards the Soviet Union by Chinese officials— 
and sent a lengthy brief ‘On certain national- 
psychological characteristics of the Chinese and their 

evaluation in the context of intelligence work’ which was 
intended to improve the dismal level of agent recruitment: 

Experience has shown that success in agent-operational 
work with persons of Chinese nationality depends to a 
large extent on the possession by intelligence personnel of 
a sound knowledge of their national-psychological 
peculiarities. A sound appreciation of the traits of the 
Chinese national character is essential for the study of 
potentially interesting sources of information, for progress 
towards a satisfactory recruitment, and for agent running. 

Though emphasizing the importance of ‘establishing a 
solid, friendly relationship with the Chinese based on 
respect for the individual and Chinese culture’, the brief 
simultaneously made clear the Centre’s loathing for the 
citizens of the PRC. They were, the brief reported, deeply 
imbued with an egocentric view of the world; became 
‘uncontrollable’ when their pride was hurt; were 
‘distinguished by their hot temper, great excitability, and 
a tendency to sudden changes from one extreme to 
another’; possessed an innate ability to dissemble which 
made them ‘a nation of actors’; had characters in which, 
in most cases, ‘the negative qualities of perfidiousness, 
cruelty and anger are inherent’; were ‘noted for their 
spitefulness’; and were indifferent to the misery and 
misfortunes of other people. Because of the obsession 

with ‘loss of face’, however, ‘the use of compromising 
material is a strong lever to make a Chinese 
collaborate’.— Similar views, enlivened by the swear 
words in which the Russian language is unusually rich, 
were common in conversations about China at the Centre. 
Underlying the KGB’s attitude to the PRC was thinly 
disguised racial loathing as well as ideological and 
strategic rivalry. 

Less than a month after Mao’s death, his widow Jiang 
Qing and her main radical associates, the so-called ‘Gang 
of Four’, were arrested and denounced as traitors in the 
service of the Chinese Nationalists. KGB officers must 
privately have recalled the equally absurd claim in 
Moscow after Beria’s arrest and execution that he had 
been a British agent. Over the next few years, as the 
Cultural Revolution was finally brought to a conclusion, 
the Gang of Four became convenient if improbable 
scapegoats for all the horrors of the Mao regime which 
could be publicly acknowledged. As the BBC 
correspondent, Philip Short, noted: 

Every Chinese official knew that the ‘Gang of Four’ had 
been Mao’s closest followers; and every Chinese official 
without exception depicted them as Mao’s most vicious 
enemies . . . Every official conversation began with the 
words, ‘Because of the interference and sabotage of the 
Gang of Four . . .’ - followed by a litany of the sins they 

were alleged to have committed.— 

Service A attempted to cause confusion among Maoist 
parties outside China by fabricating a final testament from 
Mao to Jiang Qing calling on her to ‘continue the work I 
had started’. The forgery was circulated in the name of 
supporters of the Gang of Four, calling on Marxist- 
Leninists everywhere to condemn the betrayal of Mao’s 
legacy by the current regime.— 

Though Moscow welcomed the disgrace of the Gang of 
Four, it remained pessimistic about the prospects for 
reconciliation with Mao’s successors. The Centre’s list of 
intelligence requirements for 1977 concluded that ‘the 
ruling circle in China remains, as before, nationalistic, 
hegemonistic and anti-Soviet’. China, it admitted, 
remained a ‘conundrum’. The FCD wanted intelligence 
on power struggles within the Party leadership and the 
People’s Liberation Army, the future prospects of Deng 
Xiaoping (the most senior survivor of those purged in the 
Cultural Revolution) and policy changes in the post-Mao 
era. While it saw no prospect of major improvements in 
Sino-Soviet relations, it hoped for a ‘gradual overhaul of 
Maoism and for a partial abstention from its more odious 
aspects’, leading to ‘a more sober approach’ to China’s 
dealings with the Soviet Union. — 

In July 1977 a red wall poster sixty feet long with black 

characters two feet high placed on an official building 
announced that the Central Committee had reinstated 
Deng Xiaoping. The broadcast of an official communique 
confirming his reinstatement was followed by the sound 
of firecrackers across Beijing and jubilant flag-waving, 
gong-banging, drum-beating demonstrations in 
Tiananmen Square. Though the demonstrations were 
orchestrated, the jubilation was genuine. To the 
demonstrators the diminutive figure of Deng, the shortest 
of the major world leaders, represented the hope of a 
better life after the horrors of the past.— Deng’s 
rehabilitation and subsequent emergence as the dominant 
Chinese leader caused mixed feelings in the Centre. 
Though he was believed to be a pragmatist rather than an 
ideological fanatic, his past record suggested that he was 
also strongly anti-Soviet. The FCD concluded that Deng 
had two main foreign objectives: first, to gain concessions 
from the United States; second, to make a show of 
improving relations with the Soviet Union in order to 
blame Moscow for the lack of real progress. His 
economic modernization programme, with its initially 
heavy reliance on Western technology, capital and 
expertise, caused further distrust in Moscow. 

In January 1978 KGB residents were informed by a 
circular from the Centre that the Deng regime was on ‘a 
collision course with the USSR’, and that the 
modernization of Chinese armed forces with Western help 

represented ‘a particular danger’. Intelligence operations 
against the PRC, however, were seriously hampered by 
‘the continuous intensification of the counter-intelligence 
measures in Beijing’. It was therefore urgently necessary 
to compensate for the weakness of intelligence collection 
within the PRC by stepping up operations against Chinese 
targets abroad. Though some ‘residencies in third 
countries’ were said to have achieved ‘positive’ results, 
the ‘lack of the essential agent apparatus’ remained a 
severe handicap. Residents were admonished for their 
lack of energy in Line K work and ordered to redouble 
their efforts. — 

The Centre gave particular emphasis to increasing 
operations against PRC targets in Hong Kong. In April 
1978 residents were sent a detailed target list: 

There has been a marked increase in the number of PRC 
official missions in Hong Kong over the past few years 
and, equally, of various local organizations and 
undertakings which are under the control of Beijing. 
Thus, the PRC controls more than forty Hong Kong 
banks, a large number of trading and industrial firms, 
together with a number of local newspapers. Chinese 
influence is also strong in the Hong Kong trades unions. 

Additional targets included foreign missions in Hong 

Kong, British and American intelligence posts, and 
scientific institutions whose students were regarded as 
potential Line X agents. Though some of the potential 
targets were shrewdly chosen, there were also some 
curious omissions which suggested significant gaps in the 
KGB’s information on Hong Kong. Its references to the 
Hong Kong newspapers ‘best informed on the Chinese 
scene’, for example, made no mention of the Ming Pao, 
which was considered by some Western Sinologists to be 
the best informed of all.— 

Active measures as well as intelligence collection 
proved more difficult against Chinese than against 
Western targets. The KGB’s failure to recruit agents able 
to provide authentic documents from the Chinese 
Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Public 
Security, for example, made it impossible for Service A to 
produce plausible fabrications of material from these 
ministries comparable to its forgeries of CIA, State 
Department and Pentagon documents. The Centre 
complained in January 1978 that, ‘The future 
improvement of the level and efficiency of active 
measures on China is adversely affected by the lack of 
essential agent apparatus.’— The Party documents 
provided by FENIKS (and perhaps by others), however, 
enabled Service A to imitate the format of speeches by 
Deng Xiaoping and other Chinese leaders at closed Party 
meetings. In operation AUT transcripts of speeches 

supposedly made by Deng and a Deputy Foreign Minister 
in Beijing on 29 September 1977 to leading supporters of 
the PRC among the Chinese diaspora, which emphasized 
their role as the ‘connecting link of world revolution’ in 
undermining the ‘reactionary regimes’ of South-East 
Asia, were sent to the embassies of Indonesia, Thailand 
and Malaysia in Singapore.— To compensate for its lack 
of official Chinese documents to use as templates for 
forgeries. Service A also frequently fabricated hostile 
reports on the PRC from those foreign intelligence 
agencies and foreign ministries of which it had sample 
documents on file. In August 1978, for example, a bogus 
Malaysian intelligence report, purporting to contain 
details of the subversive activities of Chinese agents sent 
to Malaysia and Thailand by Beijing, was given to the 
ambassador of Thailand in Kuala Lumpur.— A month 
later further disinformation was fed to President Asad of 
Syria (apparently in the form of an Iranian report on talks 
with a Chinese delegation), supposedly revealing a secret 
meeting between the Chinese Foreign Minister, Huang 
Hua, and an emissary of the Israeli Prime Minister, 
Menachem Begin. Asad was reported to have been 
completely deceived. ‘I always treat the Chinese with 
suspicion’, he told his Soviet informant, ‘but, even so, I 
didn’t expect this of them.’— 

The Centre also used active measures in an attempt to 
disrupt China’s relations with Communist regimes outside 

the Soviet bloc. In 1967 it devised an operation to channel 
to the Romanian leader, Nicolae Ceau§escu, a bogus 
version of Zhou Enlai’s private comments after his return 
from a visit to Bucharest in the previous year. Zhou was 
said to have praised the ability of the Romanian Prime 
Minister, Ion Gheorge Maurer, ‘the real leader of the 
Party and government’, his deputy Emil Bodnara§, who 
‘hates Ceau§escu’, and several other members of the 
Romanian Presidium. He dismissed Ceau§escu, by 
contrast, as ‘an uncultured upstart’ who, despite his 
notorious vanity, ranked only fifth in influence in the 
Presidium. The Centre had no doubt that Ceau§escu 
would be so outraged at this personal insult that there 
would be a ‘sharp change in [Romanian] relations with 
the Chinese People’s Republic’.— 

Service A also attempted to drive a wedge between 
China and North Korea. In 1978, during the visit of 
General Zia ul-Haq to Beijing, the North Korean embassy 
in Islamabad was sent a forged Pakistani document 
produced by Service A reporting that he had been told 
that the Chinese leadership had informed the US 
Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, that they accepted the 
need for American troops to remain in South Korea.— As 
the Centre had hoped, Chinese-North Korean relations 
deteriorated sharply at the end of the decade. The reasons, 
however, had far less to do with KGB active measures 
than with North Korean distrust of the Sino-American 

rapprochement. On 1 January 1979 the United States and 
the PRC commenced full diplomatic relations. In 
February Chinese forces invaded the Soviet Union’s ally, 
Vietnam, and for the next month waged the world’s first 
war between ‘socialist’ states. Soviet arms supplies to 
North Korea, which had been suspended in 1973, resumed 
during 1979. On Red Army Day in February 1980, 
Pyongyang celebrated anew the ‘militant friendship’ 
between Soviet and North Korean forces. 

The agent of influence who carried most authority in 
the KGB active-measures campaign in the West against 
the PRC during the later 1970s was probably Jean 
Pasqualini, also known as Bao Ruowang. The son of a 
Corsican father and a Chinese mother, Pasqualini was 
arrested in 1957, charged with imaginary ‘counter- 
revolutionary activities’ as ‘an agent of the imperialists 
and a loyal running dog of the Americans’, and spent the 
next seven years in the laogai. He first came to the 
attention of the Paris residency in the early 1970s while 
writing, in collaboration with an American journalist, a 
memoir of his harrowing experiences in labour camp. 
Prisoner of Mao. ‘Over the years’, wrote Pasqualini, 
‘Mao’s police have perfected their interrogation methods 
to such a fine point that I would defy any man, Chinese or 
not, to hold out against them. ’ Though he later recovered 
from his brainwashing, at the time he was sentenced he 
felt that he ‘truly loved Mao, his police and the People’s 

Courts’. The KGB was doubtless impressed by the fact 
that, despite being ‘employed as slave labour’, Pasqualini 
did not emerge from the laogai as an anti-Communist. 
Though hostile to Mao’s regime, he admired ‘the honesty 
and dedication of most of the Communist cadres’ and 
insisted that his book was not intended to give aid and 
comfort to the CIA.— First published in the United States 
in 1973, Prisoner of Mao was published in Britain two 
years later and translated into Chinese, French, German, 
Spanish and other languages. It remains a classic and is 
still listed prominently on the booklists of campaigners 
against the laogai. Pasqualini was first contacted by the 
Paris residency in 1972 and became a KGB agent in 1975 
with the codename CHAN, paid 1,500 francs a month. As 
well as teaching at the Paris Ecole des Langues 
Orientates, he was invited to give a series of lectures at 
Oxford University in 1978 on the abuse of human rights 
in the PRC. As in his Oxford lectures, Pasqualini proved 
willing to add to his authentic experience of the laogai 
information passed to him by the KGB, which included - 
according to his file - a number of Service A fabrications. 
Between June 1977 and December 1978 he had forty- 
eight meetings with his case officer, who was convinced 
of his ‘sincerity’. In 1979, however, the KGB discovered 
that Pasqualini was under surveillance by the DST, the 
French security service.— The breach of security which 
led to the surveillance was probably the fault of the Paris 
residency. In June 1979 the residency’s most important 

agent of influence, Pierre-Charles Pathe, was arrested 
while meeting his case officer, who had been tailed by the 
DST.— Mitrokhin’s notes on Pasqualini’s file end in 
1979, and it is unclear whether his contact with the KGB 
was later resumed.— 

For the Chinese people the most dramatic indications of 
the new era which followed Deng’s victory in the 
succession struggle after Mao’s death were the 
posthumous rehabilitation of the most celebrated victim 
of the Cultural Revolution, Liu Shaoqi, in February 1980, 
followed in November by the beginning of the two-month 
trial of the Gang of Four. Liu was declared the victim of 
the ‘biggest frame-up in the history of our Party’ and 
given a belated state funeral. At their trial, to preserve the 
memory of Mao as unsullied as possible, the Gang of 
Four were made responsible for this and all other 
atrocities of the Cultural Revolution. It is probably a sign 
of the lack of high-grade Soviet intelligence on these 
political convulsions that a French Foreign Ministry 
report on President Giscard d’Estaing’s visit to the PRC 
in October 1980, provided by Agent SEN in Paris, was 
forwarded to the Politburo as a document of special 

In a report early in 1984 on KGB operations during the 
previous two years, Vladimir Kryuchkov, the head of the 
FCD, claimed that: ‘Beijing is blocking normalization of 

Sino-Soviet relations . . . Beijing is counting on deriving 
political advantages for itself by manoeuvring between 
the West and the socialist countries, and trying to 
blackmail the West with the prospect of an improvement 
of relations with the Soviet Union. ’ 

In general, Kryuchkov was dissatisfied with the 
performance of Line K: 

The [FCD] has achieved some useful results over the past 
two years in its work against China, but the successes 
have been in general in the nature of isolated episodes. 
Many residencies are still slow in dealing with the 
specific tasks posed by [agent] recruitment. Insufficient 
attention is being given to promising categories of 
Chinese nationals abroad such as specialists, students and 
trainees. Little effort is being made to select agents for 
prolonged periods in the PRC or in Hong Kong or 

Residencies must step up their endeavour to achieve 
solid results in recruiting Chinese nationals. The most 
highly trained officers and experienced agents must be 
directed into this work. We must not let slip the 
opportunities created by the changeover in personnel in 
the Chinese state administration, the process of 
discrediting Maoist ideology and the purge carried out in 
the Party. 

Nowhere more than in working against China do we 
require circumspection, patience, endurance and accurate 
appreciation of the particular characteristics of the 

The FCD Plan for 1984 ordered active-measures 
operations to ‘counter the military and political 
rapprochement between the PRC and the USA and other 
imperialist countries on an anti-Soviet basis’.— Among 
them were active measures intended to disrupt Anglo- 
Chinese relations over the future of Hong Kong. In the 
‘Joint Declaration’ signed in December 1984, Britain and 
the PRC agreed that Hong Kong would return to full 
Chinese sovereignty after the expiry of the British lease 
on the bulk of the colony in 1997 but that for the next 
half-century the capitalist system would continue in Hong 
Kong under the formula, ‘One Country, Two Systems’. 
The KGB sought, without striking success, to disseminate 
through the media the ‘thesis’ that weak-kneed Britain 
had suffered a major humiliation at the hands of the 
Chinese. — 

At the beginning of the Gorbachev era the KGB 
continued to find the PRC the most difficult of its major 
targets to penetrate. In April 1985 a review of operations 
against China by Directorate T (Scientific and 
Technological Espionage), one of the FCD’s most 

successful sections, disclosed serious and persistent 
‘shortcomings’. Of the S&T collected by residencies only 
1 per cent related to China and its quality was considered 
‘low’. Residents were informed of these findings during 
May in a circular which berated them for ‘a number of 
negligences’ - chief among them their lack of Chinese 
contacts, which was described as ‘a source of extreme 
anxiety’.— This anxiety extended to all aspects of 
intelligence collection against Chinese targets. As Nikolai 
Leonov acknowledged after the collapse of the Soviet 
Union, ‘We had an unbridgeable gap in our information 
sources on China. ’— 

One conundrum, however, remains. Mitrokhin had no 
access to the SIGINT archives of the KGB Eighth and 
Sixteenth Directorates, which house diplomatic 
decrypts.— The files noted by him contain few clues 
about the KGB’s ability to intercept and decrypt PRC 
communications. As in other major capitals, the Beijing 
residency contained a SIGINT station, codenamed 
KRAB. Its budget for 1979, a fraction of that for the US 
residencies and significantly lower than that for the main 
European capitals, does not suggest, by KGB standards, a 
high level of activity.— Probably in the early to mid- 
1970s operation ALPHA succeeded in ‘the technical 
penetration of the People’s Republic of China embassy 
and other Chinese establishments in Ulan Bator’, but 
Mitrokhin’ s notes give no indication of the intelligence 

which this generated.— Viktor Makarov, a former KGB 
officer who worked in the Sixteenth Directorate from 
1980 to 1986, believes that the significance of Chinese 
SIGINT declined in the early 1980s. From 1981 he was 
permitted to enter the office used by Chinese 
cryptanalysts, which had hitherto been out of bounds. 
Makarov deduced, probably correctly, that its current 
success rate no longer merited the unusually high level of 
security previously accorded to the office within the 
directorate.— Though Chinese communications were also 
intercepted by other sections of the vast KGB and GRU 
SIGINT network, on present evidence it seems unlikely 
that cryptanalysis was able to compensate adequately for 
the relative failure of agent recruitment. 



With the exception of Kim Philby, the most celebrated of 
all Soviet spies was the German GRU illegal Richard 
Sorge, who was stationed in Tokyo in 1933, posing so 
successfully as a Nazi newspaper correspondent for the 
next eight years that a Japanese journalist described him 
as ‘a typical, swashbuckling arrogant Nazi . . . quick- 
tempered, hard-drinking’. He was also, according to the 
female Soviet agent Hede Massing, ‘startlingly good- 
looking’. As well as penetrating the German embassy in 
Tokyo and seducing the ambassador’s wife, Sorge also 
ran a Japanese spy ring headed by an idealistic young 
Marxist from a wealthy family, Hotsumi Osaki, a member 
of the brains trust of the leading statesman. Prince 
Konoye. Sorge correctly forecast both the Japanese 
invasion of China in 1937 and the German invasion of the 
Soviet Union in 1941, sending crucial reassurance on both 
occasions that the Japanese did not intend to invade 
Siberia. Until the Wehrmacht began its attack on 22 June 
1941, Stalin refused to believe all intelligence warnings of 
the German invasion, dismissing Sorge as a lying ‘shit 
who has set himself up with some small factories and 
brothels in Japan’. Shortly before his arrest in October 
1941, however, Sorge received a belated message of 

thanks from Moscow. In 1964, twenty years after his 
execution by the Japanese, he was made a Hero of the 
Soviet Union, honoured by a series of officially approved 
hagiographies and - most unusually for a foreign agent - a 
special issue of postage stamps. Though Sorge had 
worked for the rival GRU, the Centre regarded him as the 
ideal role model to inspire a new generation of KGB 
illegals. At the Twenty-fourth CPSU Congress in Moscow 
in 1971, senior KGB officers approached a series of 
Western Communist Party leaders to seek help in 
recruiting illegals from their countries. In each case, as an 
indication of the kind of recruit they were looking for, 
they gave the example of Richard Sorge.- At that very 
moment, however, a series of agents in the Tokyo Foreign 
Ministry were providing a greater volume of classified 
documents on Japanese foreign policy (albeit at a less 
critical time in Soviet- Japanese relations) than Sorge ’s 
spy ring had obtained a generation earlier. Their names, 
unlike that of Sorge, have never been made public. - 

Japan’s defeat in the Pacific War in August 1945 was 
followed by an American military occupation which 
imposed on it a new democratic constitution. In 
September 1951 a peace treaty signed in the improbable 
setting of the San Francisco Opera House provided for the 
occupation to end in the following April. A US -Japanese 
Security Treaty signed on the same day, however, 
approved the maintenance of American military bases not 

merely to defend Japan from foreign attack and assist in 
maintaining the peace and security of the Far East but 
also, if requested by the Japanese government, to help 
‘put down large-scale internal riots and disturbances in 
Japan, caused through instigation or intervention of an 
outside Power or Powers’.- The Soviet Union refused to 
sign the San Francisco peace treaty and condemned the 
security treaty. Its refusal to give up the four islands in the 
southern chain of the Kuriles north of Hokkaido (known 
in Japan as the ‘Northern Territories’), which it had 
occupied at the end of the war, made it impossible for the 
remainder of the century to conclude a peace treaty with 
Japan. A Soviet offer in 1956 to return the two 
southernmost islands (Shikotan and the Habomais-) in 
return for a peace treaty on its own terms failed to break 
the deadlock and was later withdrawn. 

Throughout the Cold War one of the main priorities of 
the Tokyo residency’s active measures was to drive a 
wedge between Japan and the United States. Its first 
major opportunity came with the negotiation of a revised 
security treaty in January I960.- A campaign against 
ratification of the treaty begun by the Japanese Socialist 
Party (JSP), the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), the 
Trades Union General Council (Sohyo) and the Student 
Federation (Zengakuren) turned into the biggest mass 
movement in Japanese political history. At the height of 
the protest in May and June 1960, several million people 

in Tokyo and the main cities took part in street 
demonstrations and work stoppages, attended meetings 
and signed petitions. There were brawls in the Diet and 
riots in the streets, during which a female Tokyo 
University student was trampled to death.- As usually 
happened with protest movements of which it approved, 
the KGB claimed excessive credit for it.- The Tokyo 
residency, however, at least partly inspired a number of 
anti-American incidents - among them an airport 
demonstration by Communist students in the Zengakuren 
against the arrival of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 
press secretary, James Hagerty. In June the Liberal 
Democratic Party (LDP) government of Nobusuke Kishi 
suffered the humiliation of having to cancel a forthcoming 
visit by Eisenhower himself on the grounds that his 
personal safety could not be guaranteed. ‘Viewed from 
any angle’, wrote Eisenhower later, ‘this was a 
Communist victory.’- The Centre, predictably, claimed 
the ‘victory’ for itself.- The Tokyo residency also 
succeeded in publicizing bogus secret annexes to the 
security treaty concocted by Service A, which purported 
to continue the 1951 agreement on the use of US troops to 
quell civil unrest and to extend US- Japanese military co- 
operation throughout the Far East from the Soviet Pacific 
to the Chinese coast.— 

The KGB’s tactical successes, however, had little 
strategic significance. A few days after the cancellation of 

Eisenhower’s visit, the US- Japanese Security Treaty was 
ratified by the Japanese Diet. The resignation of the Kishi 
government shortly afterwards took the steam out of the 
protest movement. The left failed to make the treaty a 
major issue in the November elections at which the ruling 
LDP, which dominated Japanese politics from 1955 until 
1993, gained another comfortable majority. The JCP 
received less than 3 per cent of the vote and won only 
three seats.— 

The degree to which Japan was seen by the Centre as 
effectively a NATO member is indicated by the extensive 
activity during the 1960s by Line F (‘special actions’) at 
the Tokyo residency. In the event of war with NATO, 
Moscow planned a massive campaign of sabotage and 
disruption behind enemy lines. Each year residencies in 
NATO and some neutral European countries were 
expected to draw up detailed plans for the sabotage of 
four to six major targets.— The same applied in Japan, 
where both Japanese and US installations were targeted. 
In 1962, for example. Line F made preparations for the 
sabotage of four major oil refineries in different areas of 
Japan— as well as of US bases on Okinawa.— As in 
NATO countries. Line F in Tokyo was also instructed to 
reconnoitre possible wartime bases in remote parts of 
Japan for Soviet sabotage and intelligence groups 
(DRGs). In 1970, for example. Line F identified four 
possible DRG landing sites on the north-west coast of the 

island of Hokkaido.— As well as containing precise map 
references and detailed descriptions of the terrain, each 
file on a possible DRG base used a standardized coded 
jargon. Each DRG landing area was known as a 
DOROZHKA (‘runway’); each site for a DRG base was 
termed a ULEY (‘beehive’). 

The Tokyo residency also made plans for peacetime 
acts of sabotage intended to damage US- Japanese 
relations. In Line F jargon each act of sabotage was 
termed a ‘lily’ {lily a), the explosive device a ‘bouquet’ 
(buket), the detonator a ‘little flower’ (tsvetok), the 
explosion of the device a ‘splash’ (zaplyv), and the 
saboteur the ‘gardener’ (sadovnik).— Among the sabotage 
plans devised by Line F was operation VULKAN, an 
attack on the library of the American Cultural Center in 
Tokyo which was planned to coincide with 
demonstrations against the Vietnam War in October 1965. 
The illegal agent NOMOTO was to place a book bomb in 
a bookcase in the library shortly before it closed one 
evening, together with a detonator concealed in a pack of 
American cigarettes which was timed to go off in the 
early hours of the morning. In order to conceal the KGB’s 
hand in the operation. Service A was to prepare leaflets 
purporting to come from Japanese nationalist extremists 
calling for attacks on US property.— The most dramatic 
scheme devised by Line F to cause a major crisis in US- 
Japanese relations was a 1969 plan to scatter radioactive 

material in Tokyo Bay in the expectation that it would be 
blamed on US nuclear submarines using the Yokosuka 
naval base and cause a national outcry. Though supported 
by the Tokyo resident, the plan was turned down by the 
Centre because of the difficulty of obtaining suitable 
radioactive material from the United States and the danger 
that the source of Soviet material might be detected.— 
Two years later KGB plans for ‘special actions’ were 
drastically scaled down after some of them were 
compromised by the defection in London of the Line F 
officer, Oleg Lyalin.— 

The main problem encountered by Line PR during the 
1960s was the loss of what had hitherto been its main 
intelligence asset, the assistance of the JCP, Asia’s largest 
non-ruling Communist party. As the Sino-Soviet split 
developed, the Japanese Communist leadership sided 
more with Beijing than with Moscow. In 1964 Moscow, 
already engaged with Beijing in the most vitriolic 
polemics in the history of international Communism, 
accused the JCP of kowtowing to the Chinese Communist 
Party and declaring war on the CPSU. The JCP retaliated 
by denouncing the CPSU’s ‘brazen and unpardonable’ 
attempts to dictate to its Japanese comrades: ‘The chief 
cause for the disunity in the international Communist 
movement and the socialist camp today is precisely your 
self-conceit and the flagrant interference with, and attacks 
on, the fraternal parties unleashed brazenly by you as a 

result of this self-conceit. ’ 

The JCP also complained of ‘the destructive activities 
against our Party of Soviet Embassy staff members and 
special correspondents’ - doubtless with the activities of 
the Tokyo residency particularly in mind. It correctly 
accused Moscow of using spies and informants to 
maintain contact with, and promote the interests of, those 
Japanese Communists pursuing ‘anti-party [pro-Moscow] 
activities’.— The Chairman of the JCP Central 
Committee, Hakamadi Satomi, boasted of burning CPSU 
literature to heat his ofuro (Japanese bath).— In the space 
of a few years the JCP had changed from an important 
KGB intelligence asset into a hostile target.— 

The Centre’s Japanese operations suffered another 
major blow in 1963 with the loss of what seems to have 
been the main illegal KGB residency in Tokyo run by a 
veteran pro- Soviet Chinese Communist, JIMMY, who, 
with assistance from Communist Chinese intelligence, 
had succeeded in setting up an export-import company 
based in Hong Kong and Tokyo and in procuring bogus 
Hong Kong identity papers for other KGB illegals. When 
JIMMY failed to return from a visit to China to see his 
relatives after the Sino-Soviet split, the Centre decided to 
wind up his residency, probably fearing that it had been 
compromised.— The Tokyo residency’s lack of major 
Japanese intelligence sources during the mid-1960s was 

reflected in the fact that its most productive agent from 
1962 to 1967 was a journalist on the Tokyo Shimbun, 
codenamed KOCHI, who appears to have had access to 
high-level gossip from the cabinet and Foreign Ministry 
but probably not to classified documents.— 

Line PR’s main strategy after the breach with the JCP 
was to recruit leading members from the left wing of the 
main opposition party, the Japanese Socialist Party (JSP), 
which it codenamed KOOPERATIVA,— and to use them 
as agents of influence. On 26 February 1970 the Politburo 
approved the payment by the KGB of a total of 100,000 
convertible rubles (35,714,000 yen) to a number of 
leading figures in the JSP and to subsidize the party 
newspaper.— Similar subsidies seem to have been paid 
each year.— Probably by the time the Politburo approved 
secret subsidies to the JSP, five influential party members 
had already been recruited as KGB agents: Seiichi 
Katsumata (codenamed GAVR), runner-up in the 1966 
election for the post of JSP General Secretary, who in 
1974 was given 4 million yen to strengthen his position in 
the party;— Tamotsu Sato (transparently codenamed 
ATOS), leader of a Marxist faction in the JSP, who was 
used to place active-measures material in four party 
periodicals;— ALFONS, who was paid 2.5 million yen in 
1972, and used to place articles in the JSP daily Shakai 
Shimpo;— DUG, a JSP official close to the Party 
Chairman, who was given 390,000 yen in 1972 for his 

election campaign;— and DIK, paid 200,000 yen in 1972 
to publish election leaflets and posters.— Other recruits in 
the 1970s included JACK, a JSP deputy and prominent 
trade unionist;— Shigero Ito (codenamed GRACE), also a 
deputy and a member of the party’s Central Committee,— 
and DENIS, who had been a close aide of the former JSP 
Chairman Saburo Eda.— KGB confidential contacts 
included a former Communist codenamed KING, who 
had become one of the leading figures in the JSP,— and 
KERK, a member of Katsumata’s JSP faction in the 
Diet.— Mitrokhin’s notes on the files of DENIS and 
GRACE record that their motivation was both ideological 
and financial.— The same was probably true of most of 
the KGB’s other agents in the JSP. The KGB’s influence 
operations in the Diet were also assisted by the academic 
YAMAMOTO, who was described in his file as being 
‘ideologically close’ to Moscow. After being recruited as 
an agent in 1977, he successfully prompted at least two 
parliamentary questions in each session of the Diet, 
which, according to the residency’s possibly optimistic 
assessment, had a significant impact.— 

Of the politicians recruited by the KGB outside the 
JSP, the most important was Hirohide Ishida (codenamed 
HOOVER), a prominent parliamentary deputy of the 
ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), formerly Minister 
of Labour. In February 1973 Ishida became Chairman of 

the newly founded Parliamentary Japanese- Soviet 
Friendship Association (codenamed LOBBY),— and led a 
delegation to the Soviet Union from 27 August to 6 
September, shortly before the visit of Kakuei Tanaka, the 
first by a Japanese Prime Minister for seventeen years. On 
this and subsequent visits to Moscow, Ishida was publicly 
feted at the request of the Centre by Brezhnev, President 
Nikolai Podgomy, Prime Minister Aleksei Kosygin and 
other notables.— The KGB also went to great pains to 
flatter Ishida and assure him of the high regard in which 
he was held by the Soviet leadership. The leading 
Japanese newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, on which the KGB 
had at least one well-placed agent, reported after Ishida’ s 
visit to Moscow in the summer of 1973: ‘The Soviet 
Union today said it would immediately release all forty- 
nine Japanese fishermen detained on charges of violating 
Soviet territorial waters. The announcement was made by 
the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet 
during his meeting with Hirohide Ishida, head of a 
visiting Japanese parliamentary delegation.’ 

According to Stanislav Levchenko, then working on the 
FCD Japanese desk, the Japanese fishermen released in 
honour of Ishida were among those ‘routinely shanghaied 
and held for use as bargaining chips’. Ishida was also co- 
opted into the network of global flattery which the KGB 
used to service Brezhnev’s voracious appetite for world- 
wide recognition. He was persuaded by Vladimir 

Pronnikov, head of Line PR at the Tokyo residency, to 
show his appreciation for the liberation of the fishermen 
by presenting Brezhnev with a maroon Nissan limousine 
to add to his considerable collection of luxury foreign 
cars. Levchenko, who suspected - probably correctly - 
that the Nissan had been purchased with KGB funds, was 
put in personal charge of the car, which was delivered in a 
crate to FCD headquarters, in order to prevent parts being 
stolen before its formal presentation to Brezhnev.— In 
1974, already a KGB confidential contact, Ishida was 
recruited as an agent by Pronnikov, who was rewarded 
with the Order of the Red Banner.— Ishida became one of 
the Tokyo residency’s leading agents of influence. 

The priority attached by the Centre to operations in 
Japan in the early 1970s was reflected in the fact that the 
budget for them in 1973 was almost as large as for India 
and almost three times as large as for any of the eleven 
other Asian states which were then the responsibility of 
the FCD Seventh Department.— KGB active measures 
before and during Tanaka’s visit to Moscow in 1973 were 
intended to promote a peace treaty and agreement on 
Japanese- Soviet relations on the lines agreed by the 
Politburo on 16 August. If progress was made during the 
negotiations, Tanaka was to be offered the return of the 
Habomais and Shikotan as well as concessions on fishing 
rights in return for the abrogation of the US- Japanese 
Security Treaty and the closure of US military bases.— 

Though Tanaka was not expected to accept these terms, it 
was hoped to increase Japanese public support for an 
agreement on these lines.— The visit, however, achieved 
little. Tanaka insisted that return of all the Northern 
Territories was the pre-requisite for economic cooperation 
and other forms of improved relations with the Soviet 

During the remainder of the 1970s, Ishida continued to 
be used as an agent of influence within both the LDP and 
the Parliamentary Japanese-Soviet Friendship 
Association. In 1977, at the request of the KGB, he 
complained personally to the LDP Prime Minister, Takeo 
Fukuda, that the Japanese ambassador in Moscow and his 
wife had made themselves unwelcome by their contacts 
with dissidents and to hint that it was time for him to be 
recalled.— During the 1970s there were at least two 
further recruitments within the LDP: FEN, a confidant of 
Kakuei Tanaka,— and KANI, a deputy whose career the 
Tokyo residency claimed to be actively promoting. — The 
key to the KGB’s penetration of conservative politics was 
the corruption endemic in some factions of the LDP and 
other parts of Japanese society. Tanaka owed much of his 
phenomenal success in rising through the ranks to become 
a cabinet minister at the age of only thirty-nine, despite 
never having finished secondary school, to the 
consummate mastery of the politics of the pork barrel 
which helped to raise his remote prefecture of Niigata 

‘from rural obscurity to contemporary affluence’. All 
those who won contracts for the numerous public works 
in Niigata were expected to contribute handsomely to 
Tanaka’s political war chest. In December 1974 he was 
forced to resign, allegedly on health grounds, after some 
details of his corruption appeared in the press. In 1976 
much more damning evidence emerged that the US 
aircraft company Lockheed had paid Tanaka and other 
prominent LDP politicians large bribes to win a contract 
to supply its Tri-star planes to All Nippon Airways. 
Lockheed followed in an already long tradition of bribery 
by foreign firms.— The KGB, though able to exploit that 
tradition, was never able to compete financially with the 
kick-backs on offer from such major players as Lockheed 
and, partly for that reason, never truly penetrated the 
commanding heights of Japanese conservative politics. 

Most KGB agents in the media probably also had 
mainly mercenary motives. Files noted by Mitrokhin 
identify at least five senior Japanese journalists (other 
than those on JSP publications) who were KGB agents 
during the 1970s: BLYUM on the Asahi Shimbun,— 
SEMYON on the Yomiuri Shimbun,— KARL, (or 
KARLOV) on the Sankei Shimbun,— FUDZIE on the 
Tokyo Shimbun— and ODEKI, identified only as a senior 
political correspondent on a major Japanese newspaper.— 
The journalist ROY, who, according to his file, regarded 
his work for the KGB simply as ‘a commercial 

transaction’, was valuable chiefly for his intelligence 
contacts and was instrumental in the recruitment of 
KHUN, a senior Japanese counter-intelligence officer 
who provided intelligence on China. — Not all the paid 
agents in the Japanese media, however, were willing 
recruits. Mitrokhin’s summary of SEMYON ’s file notes 
that, during a visit to Moscow in the early 1970s, ‘He was 
recruited on the basis of compromising material’: 
changing currency on the black market (probably in an 
ambush prepared for him by the SCD) and ‘immoral’ 
behaviour (doubtless one of the many variants of the 
KGB ‘honey trap’). During his six years as a Soviet agent, 
SEMYON tried frequently to persuade the KGB to release 
him. The Centre eventually broke contact with him after 
he had been caught passing disinformation. — 

Stanislav Levchenko later identified several other 
journalists used for KGB active measures,— of whom the 
most important seems to have been Takuji Yamane 
(codenamed KANT), assistant managing editor and 
personal adviser to the publisher of the conservative daily 
Sankei Shimbun. According to Levchenko, one of his 
controllers, Yamane skilfully concealed his pro-Soviet 
sympathies beneath a veneer of anti-Soviet and anti- 
Chinese nationalism and became one of the Tokyo 
residency’s leading agents of influence. Among the 
Service A forgeries which he publicized was a bogus 
‘Last Will and Testament’ of Zhou Enlai concocted soon 

after his death in 1976, which contained numerous 
references to the in-fighting and untrustworthiness of the 
rest of the Chinese leadership and was intended to disrupt 
negotiations for a Sino-Japanese peace treaty. The Centre 
doubtless calculated that the forgery would make more 
impact if published in a conservative rather than a JSP 
paper. It believed that even Beijing, which tried 
frantically to discover the origin of the document, was not 
at first sure whether or not the document was genuine.— 
After a detailed investigation, however, the Japanese 
intelligence community correctly identified Zhou’s will as 
a forgery. — This and other active measures failed to 
prevent the signing on 12 August 1978 of a Sino-Japanese 
peace treaty which, to the fury of Moscow, contained a 
clause committing both signatories to opposing attempts 
by any power to achieve hegemony (a phrase intended by 
Beijing as a coded reference to Soviet policy).— 

By the autumn of 1979 Line PR at the Tokyo residency 
had a total of thirty-one agents and twenty-four 
confidential contacts.— These statistics and examples of 
KGB disinformation planted in the media were doubtless 
used by the Centre to impress the Soviet political 
leadership - especially since the Japanese were the 
world’s most avid newspaper readers.— The evidence of 
opinion polls demonstrates, however, that the KGB 
active-measures offensives in Japan against both the 
United States and China, though achieving a series of 

tactical successes, ended in strategic defeat. During the 
1960s around 4 per cent of Japanese identified the Soviet 
Union as the foreign country they liked most. Despite the 
combined efforts of Service A, Line PR in Tokyo and a 
substantial network of agents of influence in both the JSP 
and the media, Soviet popularity actually declined during 
the 1970s, dipping below 1 per cent after the invasion of 
Afghanistan and never rising significantly above 2 per 
cent even during the Gorbachev era. By contrast, the 
percentage naming the United States as their favourite 
nation was usually over 40 per cent, save for a dip in the 
early 1970s due to the Vietnam War. After the 
normalization of Tokyo’s relations with Beijing in 1972, 
China too, though never rivalling the appeal of the United 
States, was far more popular than the Soviet Union.— 

Intelligence collection in Japan had much greater 
success than active measures. The Tokyo residency’s 
most successful penetration was probably of the Foreign 
Ministry. From the late 1960s at least until (and perhaps 
after) Levchenko’s defection in 1979, two Japanese 
diplomats, codenamed RENGO and EMMA, provided 
large amounts of classified material in both Tokyo and 
their foreign postings. Their files describe both as 
‘valuable agents’. Early in her career EMMA’s controller 
gave her a handbag fitted with a concealed Minox camera 
which she regularly took to work to photograph 
diplomatic documents. RENGO also acted as a talent 

spotter.— The diplomat OVOD, who was the victim of 
two honey traps during postings in Moscow six years 
apart, was a far more reluctant recruit. On the second 
occasion, after he had been seduced by Agent 
MARIANA, who was employed as his language teacher, 
and - following usual KGB practice - had probably been 
confronted with photographs of their sexual encounter, 
OVOD gloomily told his case officer, ‘Now I shall never 
be rid of the KGB for the rest of my diplomatic career.’— 

The KGB’s most successful diplomatic honey trap 
involving a Japanese target recruitment was almost 
certainly the seduction of the cipher clerk MISHA by the 
KGB ‘swallow’ LANDYSH while he was stationed in 
Moscow during the early 1970s.— MISHA is probably 
identical with the cipher clerk who in the late 1970s was 
working at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo under the new 
KGB codename NAZAR.— NAZAR’ s intelligence was 
considered so important that his case officers in Tokyo, 
first Valeri Ivanovich Umansky, then Valentin 
Nikolayevich Belov, were taken off all other duties. For 
security reasons NAZAR rarely met either case officer, 
leaving his material in a dead letter-box or passing it on 
by brush contact. Whenever he was due to make a 
delivery, operations officers ringed the DLB or brush- 
contact location to ensure that it was not under 
surveillance and, if necessary, act as decoys if any 
suspicious intruder approached the area. The diplomatic 

telegrams supplied by NAZAR, which included traffic 
between Tokyo and its Washington embassy, were 
sometimes so voluminous that the residency found it 
difficult to translate them all before forwarding to the 
Centre. The assistance given to the Centre’s codebreakers 
by NAZAR’ s cipher material was probably rated even 
more highly than his copies of Japanese diplomatic 
traffic.— There must have been moments when, thanks to 
NAZAR and Soviet codebreakers, the Japanese Foreign 
Ministry was, without knowing it, practising something 
akin to open diplomacy in its dealings with the Soviet 

The other most striking success of the Tokyo residency 
during the 1970s was the increased collection of scientific 
and technological intelligence (S&T) by Line X which 
reported in the Centre to FCD Directorate T. During the 
1960s Japan’s annual growth rate had averaged over 10 
per cent. The value of exports increased from $4. 1 billion 
in 1960 to $19.3 billion a decade later. By 1970 Japan had 
the largest ship-building, radio and television industries in 
the world. Its consumer industries far outstripped those of 
the Soviet Union. In less than a decade Japan had passed 
from the era of the ‘Three Sacred Treasures’ (washing 
machine, refrigerator, black and white TV) to that of the 
‘Three C’s’ (car, cooler, colour TV).— In 1971 the 
Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) set 
out a new high-tech agenda for the Japanese economy. 

based on a shift to ‘knowledge-intensive’ industries such 
as semi-conductors and integrated circuits.— 

In June 1971 Agent TONDA, the head of a high-tech 
company in the Tokyo region, supplied the residency with 
two volumes of secret documents on a new micro- 
electronic computer system intended for US air and 
missile forces.— Among the most highly rated of the 
agents who provided intelligence on, and samples of, 
Japanese and US semi-conductors was TANI, the owner 
of a company which specialized in semi-conductor 
design. TANI told his case officer that he regarded 
himself not as working for the KGB but as simply 
engaging in industrial espionage which, he seemed to 
imply, was a fact of modern business life.— Some, if not 
most. Line X agents probably took a similarly cynical 
view. Among the other agents who provided intelligence 
on state-of-the-art semi-conductor production was 
LEDAL, director of semi-conductor research in a 
Japanese university.— Mitrokhin’s notes on KGB files 
identify a total of sixteen agents with senior positions in 
Japanese high-tech industry and research institutes during 
the 1970s.— This list, which does not include confidential 
contacts, is doubtless far from comprehensive. Even the 
equipment used by the KGB residency to monitor the 
communications exchanged between Tokyo police 
surveillance teams and their headquarters was based on 
technology stolen from Japan.— 

According to Levchenko, it was not unusual for the 
fortnightly consignments sent by Line X to Moscow via 
diplomatic couriers ‘to weigh as much as a ton’. They 
were transported to Aeroflot flights leaving Tokyo airport 
in an embassy minibus.— The statistics for S&T 
collection in 1980, provided by a French agent in 
Directorate T, tell a less dramatic story. Though Japan 
was the fifth most important source of S&T, it came far 
behind the United States.— In 1980 61.5 per cent of S&T 
came from American sources (not all in the US), 10.5 per 
cent from West Germany, 8 per cent from France, 7.5 per 
cent from Britain and 3 per cent from Japan. Though 
producing advanced technology used for military 
purposes, Japan did not possess the large defence 
industries which were the chief target of Directorate T. 
Even 3 per cent of the vast global volume of Soviet S&T, 
however, indicates that Japanese material benefited 
approximately 100 Soviet R&D projects during 1980.— 
That statistic understates the significance of S&T 
operations in Japan. Japan was a major source for US as 
well as Japanese S&T. The Directorate T ‘work plan’ for 
1978-80 instructed Line X officers: 

• to cultivate and recruit American citizens in Japan; 

• to cultivate and recruit Japanese working in 
American establishments in Japan, and in American 
organizations involved in Japanese/ American co- 
operation in the scientific, technical and economic fields; 

• to cultivate Japanese and individuals of other 
nationalities engaged in industrial espionage in the USA 
on behalf of Japanese monopolies; 

• to train agent-recruiters and agent talent- spotters 
capable of working on American citizens in Japan and in 
the USA; 

• to penetrate the Japanese colony in the USA; 

• to obtain information of American origin; 

• systematically to seek out, cultivate and recruit 
Japanese with the object of deploying them to the USA, 
and also to act as support agents.— 

Line X also devised ways of evading the Co-ordinating 
Committee for East-West Trade (COCOM) embargo 
maintained by NATO and Japan on the export to the 
Soviet Union of technology with military applications. 
Directorate T regarded as a major coup the successful 
negotiation in 1977 of a major contract with a Japanese 
shipbuilder, Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries, for a 
floating dock with a capacity of over 80,000 tonnes, 
supposedly for the exclusive use of the Soviet fishing 
fleet. Levchenko found it difficult to ‘believe the Japanese 
were so naive as to accept those assurances as the literal 
truth’. It is possible that MITI, which approved the 
contract, simply turned a blind eye to the military 
significance of the floating dock in order not to lose a 
large export order. The Japanese Defence Ministry, which 

would doubtless have taken a different view, did not learn 
of the contract until after it was signed. Within a few 
months of its delivery in November 1978 to Vladivostok, 
the main base of the Soviet Pacific Fleet, the dry dock 
was being used to carry out repairs to nuclear submarines 
and the aircraft carrier Minsk.— 

The Tokyo resident, Oleg Aleksandrovich Guryanov, 
told his staff in the late 1970s: ‘The proceeds from the 
operations these [Line X] officers carry out each year 
would cover the expenses of our entire Tokyo residency 
with money still left over. In fact, worldwide, technical 
intelligence all by itself covers all the expenses of the 
whole KGB foreign intelligence service.’— 

The dynamic and ambitious head of Directorate T, 
Leonid Sergeyevich Zaitsev, made similar claims and 
campaigned unsuccessfully for his directorate to become 
independent of the FCD.— Though S&T was of crucial 
importance in preventing Soviet military technology 
falling seriously behind the West, however, it made a 
much smaller contribution to the Soviet economy as a 
whole. The real economic benefit of Western and 
Japanese scientific and technological secrets, though put 
by Directorate T at billions of dollars, was severely 
restricted by the incurable structural failings of the 
command economy. Hence the great economic paradox of 
the 1970s and 1980s that, despite possessing large 

numbers of well-qualified scientists and engineers and a 
huge volume of S&T, Soviet technology fell steadily 
further behind that of the West and Japan.— 

The defection of Stanislav Levchenko in the autumn of 
1979 did major damage to KGB operations in Japan, 
particularly those of Line PR. Soon after 8 p.m. on the 
evening of 24 October, Levchenko approached a US 
naval commander in the Hotel Sanno near the US 
embassy in Tokyo and asked him to arrange an urgent 
meeting with a CIA officer. By dawn the next day 
Levchenko had a US visa in his passport and a first-class 
ticket on a Pan Am flight to Washington. After 
Levchenko refused to meet representatives of the Soviet 
embassy, he and his CIA escort, surrounded by Japanese 
policemen, made their way across the tarmac at Narita 
airport to a waiting aircraft.— The Centre, meanwhile, 
embarked on an immediate damage limitation exercise. 
Contact with a series of the Tokyo residency’s agents was 
suspended— and planning begun for the creation of a new 
Line PR network.— The most important of the agents 
compromised by the defection was probably NAZAR. He 
and the other agents put on ice by the residency must have 
spent the next few years nervously wondering if they 
would be publicly exposed. The difficulties encountered 
by the Tokyo residency in finding replacements for the 
Line PR agents compromised by Levchenko was reflected 
in the directives sent in 1980 to residencies in twelve 

other countries instructing them to cultivate likely 
Japanese recruits.— 

The disruption of the political intelligence network 
coincided with a worsening of Soviet-Japanese relations 
following an increase in the numbers of Soviet SS-20 
medium-range missiles stationed in the Far East, the 
construction of new military bases on the Kuriles 
(‘Northern Territories’) and the beginning of the war in 
Afghanistan. Prime Minister Kenko Suzuki declared in 
1980, ‘If the Soviet Union wants to improve its relations 
with Japan, it must fulfil Japan’s two requests for a 
withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan and the 
reversion of the Northern Territories.’ He later added a 
third request for the removal of Soviet SS-20s from the 
Soviet Far East.— On 7 February 1981 the Suzuki 
government inaugurated an annual Northern Territories 
Day to promote public support for the return of the four 

When Suzuki and his Foreign Minister, Yoshio 
Sakurauchi, visited Moscow to attend Brezhnev’s funeral 
in November 1982, they invited Gromyko to visit Tokyo 
for talks aimed at improving relations but were firmly 
rebuffed. The Kuriles, Gromyko declared, were Soviet 
territory and ‘the timing and atmosphere’ were not right 
for a visit.— The atmosphere was further damaged in 
December by Levchenko’s first public revelations of 

KGB operations in Japan since his defection three years 
earlier, among them the sensational disclosure that 
‘Among the most efficient [KGB] agents were a former 
member of the Japanese government, several leading 
functionaries of the Socialist Party of Japan, one of the 
most eminent Sinologists with close contacts with 
government officers, and several members of the Japanese 
Parliament.’— Though the Centre had doubtless been 
expecting such revelations, they were none the less a 
public relations disaster which undermined much of its 
active-measures offensive. 

Given the US military bases in Japan, it was inevitable 
that Soviet relations with Tokyo in the early 1980s should 
suffer from the fear of both the Centre and the Kremlin 
that the Reagan administration was making preparations 
for a nuclear first strike. The main priority of the Tokyo 
residency, as of residencies in the West, was to collect 
intelligence on these non-existent preparations as part of 
operation RYAN.— Meanwhile, even the JSP, which only 
a few years earlier had been regarded by the Centre as an 
important vehicle for active measures, had become 
alarmed by the Soviet arms buildup in the Far East. In 
1983 the JSP leadership officially informed the CPSU that 
the SS-20 missile bases in Soviet Asia were ‘the cause of 
great concern to the Japanese people and to those in other 
regions of Asia’.— According to opinion polls the 
proportion of Japanese people concerned by ‘a military 

threat coming from the Soviet Union’ grew from 55 per 
cent in 1981 to 80 per cent in 1983.— 

The foreign intelligence ‘work plan’ for 1984, 
circulated to Tokyo and other residencies in November 
1983 at the height of operation RYAN, declared, ‘The 
threat of an outbreak of nuclear war is reaching an 
extremely dangerous position. The United States is 
involving its NATO allies and Japan in pursuing its 
aggressive designs.’ Japan was elevated, along with the 
United States, its NATO allies and China, to the status of 
one of the ‘main targets’ for KGB agent penetrations. 
Residencies were instructed to embark on an active- 
measures offensive ‘exacerbating contradictions between 
the USA, Western Europe and Japan’.— 

While the dawn of the Gorbachev era dissipated the 
dangerous tension of the early 1980s, it did little to bring 
closer the long-delayed peace treaty with Japan. As 
Gorbachev embarked on ‘new thinking’ in foreign policy, 
Georgi Arbatov, the Director of the US-Canada Institute, 
tried to persuade him that the Soviet Union ‘should give 
back two or even all four of the [Kurile] islands to the 
Japanese, otherwise we’d never get anywhere with 
them’.— Gorbachev did not listen. In April 1991, eight 
months before the collapse of the Soviet Union, he 
complained during a speech in the Soviet Far East, on the 
eve of his first visit to Tokyo, ‘Everybody keeps asking 

me . . . how many islands I am planning to give away.’ 
When voices in the audience shouted, ‘Don’t give away a 
single one!’ Gorbachev replied, ‘I feel the same as 

Despite the damage to the Line PR agent network as a 
result of Levchenko’s defection. Line X appears to have 
been little affected and may well have expanded its 
activities at least until the spring of 1987. In May of that 
year, it was revealed that a Toshiba subsidiary had joined 
with a Swedish firm to sell to the Soviet Union 
sophisticated machine tools and computers which made it 
possible to manufacture submarine propellers whose low 
noise emissions made them difficult to detect. Almost 
simultaneously a Japanese spy ring working for Soviet 
intelligence was discovered to have supplied secret 
documents on AW ACS technology to Soviet intelligence. 
The Japanese government responded by expelling an 
officer from the Tokyo residency. Moscow retaliated by 
expelling the Japanese naval attache and a Mitsubishi 

Though the KGB offensive in Japan generated many 
tactical operational successes, it ended in strategic failure. 
The enormous quantity of S&T collected by Line X from 
the West and Japan could not save the Soviet system from 
economic collapse. Nor were KGB active measures able 
to persuade Tokyo to sign a peace treaty acceptable to 

Moscow. At the beginning of the twenty-first century 
Russia and Japan were the only major combatants in the 
Second World War that had not yet ‘normalized’ their 


The Special Relationship with India 

Part 1: The Supremacy of the Indian 
National Congress 

The Third World country on which the KGB eventually 
concentrated most operational effort during the Cold War 
was India. Under Stalin, however, India had been 
regarded as an imperialist puppet. The Great Soviet 
Encyclopedia dismissed Mohandas ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi, 
who led India to independence in 1947, as ‘a reactionary . 

. . who betrayed the people and helped the imperialists 
against them; aped the ascetics; pretended in a demagogic 
way to be a supporter of Indian independence and an 
enemy of the British; and widely exploited religious 
prejudice’.- Despite his distaste for Stalinist attacks 
Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent 
India, ‘had no doubt that the Soviet revolution had 
advanced human society by a great leap and had lit a 
bright flame which could not be smothered’ . Though later 
eulogized by Soviet writers as ‘a leader of international 
magnitude’ who ranked ‘among the best minds of the 
twentieth century’,- Nehru was well aware that until 

Stalin’s death in 1953 he, like Gandhi, was regarded as a 
reactionary. During the early years of Indian 
independence, secret correspondence from Moscow to the 
Communist Party of India (CPI) was frequently 
intercepted by the Intelligence Branch (IB) in New Delhi 
(as it had been when the IB was working for the British 
Raj). According to the head of the IB, B. N. Mullik, until 
the early 1950s ‘every instruction that had issued from 
Moscow had expressed the necessity and importance [for] 
the Indian Communist Party to overthrow the 
“reactionary” Nehru Government’.- Early in 1951 Mullik 
gave Nehru a copy of the latest exhortations from 
Moscow to the CPI, which contained a warning that they 
must not fall into government hands. Nehru ‘laughed out 
loud and remarked that Moscow apparently did not know 
how smart our Intelligence was’.- 

Neither Nehru nor the IB, however, realized how 
thoroughly the Indian embassy in Moscow was being 
penetrated by the KGB, using its usual varieties of the 
honey trap. The Indian diplomat PROKHOR was 
recruited, probably in the early 1950s, with the help of a 
female swallow, codenamed NE VEROV A, who 
presumably seduced him. The KGB was clearly pleased 
with the material which PROKHOR provided, which 
included on two occasions the embassy codebook and 
reciphering tables, since in 1954 it increased his monthly 
payments from 1,000 to 4,000 rupees.- Another Indian 

diplomat, RADAR, was recruited in 1956, also with the 
assistance of a swallow, who on this occasion claimed 
(probably falsely) to be pregnant.- A third KGB swallow 
persuaded a cipher clerk in the Indian embassy, ARTUR, 
to go heavily into debt in order to make it easier to 
compromise him. He was recruited as an agent in 1957 
after being trapped (probably into illegal currency 
dealing) by a KGB officer posing as a black-marketeer .- 
As a result of these and other penetrations of the embassy, 
Soviet codebreakers were probably able to decrypt 
substantial numbers of Indian diplomatic 
communications .- 

As KGB operations in India expanded during the 1950s 
and 1 960s, the Centre seems to have discovered the extent 
of the IB’s previous penetration of the CPI. According to 
a KGB report, an investigation into Promode Das Gupta, 
who became secretary of the Bengal Communist Party in 
1959, concluded that he had been recruited by the IB in 
1947.- Further significant IB penetrations were 
discovered in the Kerala and Madras parties.— By the 
1960s KGB penetration of the Indian intelligence 
community and other parts of its official bureaucracy had 
enabled it to turn the tables on the IB.— After the KGB 
became the main conduit for both money and secret 
communications from Moscow, high-level IB penetration 
of the CPI became much more difficult. As in other 
Communist parties, this secret channel was known only to 

a small inner circle within the leadership. In 1959 the PCI 
General Secretary, Ajoy Gosh, agreed with the Delhi 
residency on plans to found an import-export business for 
trade with the Soviet bloc, headed by a senior Party 
member codenamed DED, whose profits would be 
creamed off for Party funds. Within little more than a 
decade its annual profits had grown to over 3 million 
rupees.— The Soviet news agency Novosti provided 
further subsidies by routinely paying the CPI publishing 
house at a rate 50 per cent above its normal charges.— 

Moscow’s interest in Nehru was greatly enhanced by 
his emergence (together with Nasser and Tito) as one of 
the leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement, which began 
to take shape at the Bandung Conference in 1955. An 
exchange of official visits in the same year by Nehru and 
Khrushchev opened a new era in Indo-Soviet relations. 
On his return from India in December, Khrushchev 
reported to the Presidium that he had received a warm 
welcome, but criticized the ‘primitive’ portrayal of India 
in Soviet publications and films which demonstrated a 
poor grasp of Indian culture. Khrushchev was, however, 
clearly pleased with the intelligence and personal security 
provided by the KGB during his trip and proposed that the 
officers concerned be decorated and considered for salary 

American reliance on Pakistan as a strategic 

counterweight to Soviet influence in Asia encouraged 
India to turn to the USSR. In 1956 Nehru declared that he 
had never encountered a ‘grosser case of naked 
aggression’ than the Anglo-French invasion of Egypt, but 
failed to condemn the brutal Soviet suppression of the 
Hungarian Uprising in the same year. India voted against 
a UN resolution calling for free elections in Hungary and 
the withdrawal of Soviet forces. The Kremlin increasingly 
valued Indian support as, with growing frequency, the 
Non-Aligned Movement tended to vote in the UN with 
the Soviet bloc rather than the West. During the 1960s 
India and the Soviet Union found further common cause 
against Mao’s China.— 

Within Nehru’s Congress Party government the KGB 
set out to cultivate its leading left-wing firebrand and 
Nehru’s close adviser, Krishna Menon, who became 
Minister of Defence in 1957 after spending most of the 
previous decade as, successively, Indian High 
Commissioner in London and representative at the United 
Nations. To the Soviet Foreign Minister, Andrei 
Gromyko, Tt was . . . plain that [Menon] was personally 
friendly to the Soviet Union. He would say to me 
heatedly: “You cannot imagine the hatred the Indian 
people felt and still feel to the colonialists, the British . . . 
The methods used by American capital to exploit the 
backward countries may be oblique, but they’re just as 

In May 1962 the Soviet Presidium (which under 
Khrushchev replaced the Politburo) authorized the KGB 
residency in New Delhi to conduct active-measures 
operations designed to strengthen Menon’s position in 
India and enhance his personal popularity, probably in the 
hope that he would become Nehru’s successor.— During 
Menon’s tenure of the Defence Ministry, India’s main 
source of arms imports switched from the West to the 
Soviet Union. The Indian decision in the summer of 1962 
to purchase MiG-218 rather than British Lightnings was 
due chiefly to Menon. The British High Commissioner in 
New Delhi reported to London, ‘Krishna Menon has from 
the beginning managed to surround this question with 
almost conspiratorial official and ministerial secrecy 
combined with a skilful putting about of stories in favour 
of the MiG and against Western aircraft.’— Menon’s 
career, however, was disrupted by the Chinese invasion of 
India in October 1962. Having failed to take the prospect 
of invasion seriously until the eve of the attack, Menon 
found himself made the scapegoat for India’s 
unpreparedness. Following the rout of Indian forces by 
the Chinese, Nehru reluctantly dismissed him on 31 
October. A fortnight later, the Presidium authorized active 
measures by the Delhi residency, including secret finance 
for a newspaper which supported Menon, in a forlorn 
attempt to resuscitate his political career.— Though 
similar active measures by the KGB in Menon’s favour 

before the 1967 election— also had little observable 
effect, a secret message to Menon from the CPSU Central 
Committee (probably sent by its International 
Department) expressed appreciation for his positive 
attitude to the Soviet Union.— 

KGB support did little to revive Menon ’s fortunes. 
Before he became Defence Minister, most of his political 
career had been spent outside India - including twenty- 
eight years in Britain, where he had served for more than 
a decade as a Labour councillor in London. As a result, 
despite the personal support of some ardent disciples 
within the Congress Party (at least one of whom received 
substantial KGB funding),— Menon lacked any real 
popular following in India itself. By the time he returned 
to India from foreign exile, the only language he spoke 
was English, he could no longer tolerate spicy Indian food 
and he preferred a tweed jacket and flannel trousers to 
traditional Indian dress. After failing to be renominated by 
Congress in his existing Bombay constituency for the 
1967 election, Menon stood unsuccessfully as an 
independent. Two years later, with Communist support, 
he was elected as an independent in West Bengal. Some 
of the issues on which he campaigned suggest that he had 
been influenced by KGB active measures - as, for 
example, in his demand that American troops in Vietnam 
be tried for genocide and his claim that they were slitting 
open the wombs of pregnant women to expose their 

unborn babies.— Well before his death in 1974, however, 
Menon had ceased to be an influential voice in Indian 

Following Menon’s political eclipse, Moscow’s 
preferred candidate to succeed Nehru after his death in 
May 1964 was Gulzarilal Nanda, Home Minister and 
number two in the cabinet. The Delhi residency was 
ordered to do all it could to further his candidature but to 
switch support to Lai Bahadur Shastri, also a close 
associate of Nehru, if Nanda’ s campaign failed.— There is 
no indication in the files noted by Mitrokhin that the KGB 
was in contact with either Nanda or Shastri. Moscow’s 
main reason for supporting them was, almost certainly, 
negative rather than positive - to prevent the right-wing 
Hindu traditionalist Morarji Desai, who began each day 
by drinking a glass of his own urine (a practice extolled in 
ancient Indian medical treatises), from succeeding Nehru. 
In the event, after Desai had been persuaded to withdraw 
reluctantly from the contest, Shastri became Prime 
Minister with the unanimous backing of Congress. 
Following Shastri ’s sudden death in January 1966, the 
cabal of Congress leaders (the ‘Syndicate’) chose Nehru’s 
daughter, Indira Gandhi (codenamed VANO by the 
KGB), as his successor in the mistaken belief that she 
would prove a popular figurehead whom they could 
manipulate at will.— 

The KGB’s first prolonged contact with Indira Gandhi 
had occurred during her first visit to the Soviet Union a 
few months after Stalin’s death in 1953. As well as 
keeping her under continuous surveillance, the Second 
Chief Directorate also surrounded her with handsome, 
attentive male admirers.— Unaware of the orchestration of 
her welcome by the KGB, Indira was overwhelmed by the 
attentions lavished on her. Though she did not mention 
the male admirers in letters to her father, she wrote to 
him, ‘Everybody - the Russians - have been so sweet to 
me ... I am being treated like everybody’s only daughter 
- 1 shall be horribly spoilt by the time I leave. Nobody has 
ever been so nice to me.’ Indira wrote of a holiday 
arranged for her on the Black Sea, ‘I don’t think I have 
had such a holiday for years.’ Later, in Leningrad, she 
told Nehru that she was ‘wallowing in luxury’.— Two 
years later Indira accompanied her father on his first 
official visit to the Soviet Union. Like Nehru, she was 
visibly impressed by the apparent successes of Soviet 
planning and economic modernization exhibited to them 
in carefully stage-managed visits to Russian factories. 
During her trip, Khrushchev presented her with a mink 
coat which became one of the favourite items in her 
wardrobe - despite the fact that a few years earlier she had 
criticized the female Indian ambassador in Moscow for 
accepting a similar gift.— 

Soviet attempts to cultivate Indira Gandhi during the 

1950s were motivated far more by the desire to influence 
her father than by any awareness of her own political 
potential. Like both the Congress Syndicate and the CPI, 
Moscow still underestimated her when she became Prime 
Minister. During her early appearances in parliament, Mrs 
Gandhi seemed tongue-tied and unable to think on her 
feet. The insulting nickname coined by a socialist MP, 
‘Dumb Doir, began to stick.— Moscow’s strategy during 
1966 for the Indian elections in the following year was 
based on encouraging the CPI and the breakaway 
Communist Party of India, Marxist (CPM) to join 
together in a left-wing alliance to oppose Mrs Gandhi and 
the Congress government.— As well as subsidizing the 
CPI and some other left-wing groups during the 1967 
election campaign, the KGB also funded the campaigns of 
several agents and confidential contacts within Congress. 
The most senior agent identified in the files noted by 
Mitrokhin was a minister codenamed ABAD, who was 
regarded by the KGB as ‘extremely influential’.— 

During the election campaign, the KGB also made 
considerable use of active measures, many of them based 
on forged American documents produced by Service A. 
An agent in the information department of the US 
embassy in New Delhi, codenamed MIKHAIL, provided 
examples of documents and samples of signatures to 
assist in the production of convincing forgeries.— Among 
the operations officers who publicized the forgeries 

produced for the 1967 election campaign was Yuri 
Modin, former controller of the Cambridge ‘Magnificent 
Five’. In an attempt to discredit S. K. Patil, one of the 
leading anti-Communists in the Congress Syndicate, 
Modin circulated a forged letter from the US consul- 
general in Bombay to the American ambassador in New 
Delhi referring to Patil’ s ‘political intrigues with the 
Pakistanis’ and to the large American subsidies 
supposedly given to him. Though Patil was one of the 
most senior Congress politicians defeated at the election, 
it remains difficult to assess how much his defeat owed to 
KGB active measures.— Modin also publicized a bogus 
telegram to London from the British High Commissioner, 
John Freeman, reporting that the United States was giving 
vast sums to right-wing parties and politicians. The fact 
that the KGB appears to have had no agent like 
MIKHAIL in the High Commission, however, led Service 
A on this occasion to make an embarrassing error. Its 
forgery mistakenly described the British High 
Commissioner as Sir John Freeman.— 

Other Service A fabrications had much greater success. 
Among them was a forged letter purporting to come from 
Gordon Goldstein of the US Office of Naval Research 
and revealing the existence of (in reality non-existent) 
American bacteriological warfare weapons in Vietnam 
and Thailand. Originally published in the Bombay Free 
Press Journal, the letter was reported in the London 

Times on 7 March 1968 and used by Moscow Radio in 
broadcasts beamed at Asia as proof that the United States 
had spread epidemics in Vietnam. The Indian weekly Blitz 
headlined a story based on the same forgery, ‘US Admits 
Biological and Nuclear Warfare’. Goldstein’s signature 
and official letterhead were subsequently discovered to 
have been copied from an invitation to an international 

scientific symposium circulated by him the previous 



After the elections of February 1967, the KGB claimed, 
doubtless optimistically, that it was able to influence 30 to 
40 per cent of the new parliament.— Congress lost 21 per 
cent of its seats. The conflict between Indira Gandhi and 
her chief rival Morarji Desai made its forty-four-seat 
majority precarious and obliged her to accept Desai as 
Deputy Prime Minister. By 1968 Desai and Kamaraj, the 
head of the Syndicate, were agreed on the need to replace 
Mrs Gandhi.— Congress was moving inexorably towards 
a split. 

During 1969 there were major policy reorientations in 
both Moscow and Delhi. The growing threat from China 
persuaded the Kremlin to make a special relationship with 
India the basis of its South Asian policy. Simultaneously, 
Mrs Gandhi set out to secure left-wing support against the 
Syndicate. In July 1969 she nationalized fourteen 
commercial banks. Desai was sacked as Finance Minister 

and resigned as Deputy Prime Minister. Encouraged by 
Moscow, the CPI swung its support behind Mrs Gandhi. 
By infiltrating its members and sympathizers into the left- 
wing Congress Forum for Socialist Action (codenamed 
SECTOR by the KGB), the CPI set out to gain a position 
of influence within the ruling party.— In November the 
Syndicate declared Mrs Gandhi guilty of defiance of the 
Congress leadership and dismissed her from the party, 
which then split in two: Congress (O), which followed the 
Syndicate line, and Congress (R), which supported Mrs 
Gandhi. The Syndicate hinted that Mrs Gandhi intended 
to ‘self India to the Soviet Union and was using her 
principal private secretary, Parmeshwar Narain Haksar, as 
a direct link with Moscow and the Soviet embassy.— 

From 1967 to 1973 Haksar, a former protege of 
Krishna Menon, was Mrs Gandhi’s most trusted adviser. 
One of her biographers, Katherine Frank, describes him as 
‘a magnetic figure’ who became ‘probably the most 
influential and powerful person in the government’ as 
well as ‘the most important civil servant in the country’. 
Haksar set out to turn a civil service which, at least in 
principle, was politically neutral into an ideologically 
‘committed bureaucracy’. His was the hand that guided 
Mrs Gandhi through her turn to the left, the 
nationalization of the banks and the split in the Congress 
Party. It was Haksar also who was behind the transfer of 
control of the intelligence community to the Prime 

Minister’s Secretariat.— His advocacy of the leftward turn 
in Mrs Gandhi’s policies sprang, however, from his 
socialist convictions rather than from manipulation by the 
KGB. But both he and Mrs Gandhi ‘were less fastidious 
than Nehru had been about interfering with the 
democratic system and structure of government to attain 
their ideological ends’.— The journalist Inder Malhotra 
noted the growth of a ‘courtier culture’ in Indira Gandhi’s 
entourage: ‘The power centre in the world’s largest 
democracy was slowly turning into a durbar.'— 

At the elections of February 1971 Mrs Gandhi won a 
landslide victory. With seventy seats more than the 
undivided Congress had won in 1967, her Congress (R) 
had a two-thirds majority. The Congress Forum for 
Socialist Action had the support of about 100 MPs in the 
new parliament. Mrs Gandhi made its most vocal 
spokesman, the former Communist Mohan 
Kumaramangalam, Minister of Mines; one of his first acts 
was the nationalization of the coal industry. 
Kumaramangalam seemed to be implementing a ‘thesis’ 
which he had first argued in 1964: that since the CPI 
could not win power by itself, as many of its members 
and sympathizers as possible should join the Congress, 
make common cause with ‘progressive’ Congressmen and 
compel the party leadership to implement socialist 
policies.— Another leading figure in the Congress Forum 
for Socialist Action was recruited in 1971 as Agent 

RERO and paid about 100,000 rupees a year for what the 
KGB considered important political intelligence as well as 
acting as an agent recruiter. His controllers included the 
future head of the FCD, Leonid Shebarshin (codenamed 

In August 1971 Mrs Gandhi signed a Treaty of Peace, 
Friendship and Co-operation with the Soviet Union. 
According to the Permanent Secretary at the Indian 
Foreign Office, T. N. Kaul, ‘It was one of the few closely 
guarded secret negotiations that India has ever conducted. 
On [the Indian] side, hardly half a dozen people were 
aware of it, including the Prime Minister and the Foreign 
Minister. The media got no scent of it.’— A delighted 
Gromyko declared at the signing ceremony, ‘The 
significance of the Treaty cannot be over-estimated.’ Mrs 
Gandhi’s popularity among the Soviet people, he later 
claimed, was demonstrated by the ‘large number of Soviet 
babies who were given the unusual name Indira’.— The 
Soviet Union seemed to be guaranteed the support of the 
leading power in the Non-Aligned Movement. Both 
countries immediately issued a joint communique calling 
for the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam. India was 
able to rely on Soviet arms supplies and diplomatic 
support in the conflict against Pakistan which was already 
in the offing. According to Leonid Shebarshin, who was 
posted to New Delhi as head of Line PR (political 
intelligence) at a time when ‘Soviet military technology 

was flowing into India in an endless stream’, the Centre - 
unlike many in the Foreign Ministry - concluded that war 
was inevitable. Shebarshin realized that war had begun 
when the lights went out in the middle of a diplomatic 
reception at the Soviet embassy on 2 December. Looking 
out of the window, Shebarshin saw that the power cut 
affected the whole of the capital. Leaving the embassy 
hurriedly, he drove to a phone box some way away to ring 
a member of the residency’s agent network who 
confirmed that hostilities had started. — Another member 
of the network arranged a meeting between Shebarshin 
and a senior Indian military commander: 

It would be an understatement to say that the general’s 
mood was optimistic. He knew precisely when and how 
the war would end: on 16 December with the surrender of 
Dacca [later renamed Dhaka] and capitulation of the 
Pakistani army [in East Pakistan] . . . They were in no 
state to resist and would not defend Dacca, because they 
had no one from whom to expect help. ‘We know the 
Pakistani army’, my interlocutor said. ‘Any professional 
soldiers would behave the same way in their place.’— 

Despite diplomatic support from both the United States 
and China, Pakistan suffered a crushing defeat in the 
fourteen-day war with India. East Pakistan gained 

independence as Bangladesh. West Pakistan, reduced to a 
nation of only 55 million people, could no longer mount a 
credible challenge to India. For most Indians it was Mrs 
Gandhi’s finest hour. A Soviet diplomat at the United 
Nations exulted, ‘This is the first time in history that the 
United States and China have been defeated together!’— 

In the Centre, the Indo-Soviet special relationship was 
also celebrated as a triumph for the KGB. The residency 
in New Delhi was rewarded by being upgraded to the 
status of ‘main residency’. Its head from 1970 to 1975, 
Yakov Prokofyevich Medyanik, was accorded the title of 
‘main resident’, while the heads of Lines PR (political 
intelligence), KR (counter-intelligence) and X (scientific 
and technological intelligence) were each given the rank 
of resident - not, as elsewhere, deputy resident. Medyanik 
also had overall supervision of three other residencies, 
located in the Soviet consulates at Bombay, Calcutta and 
Madras. In the early 1970s, the KGB presence in India 
became one of the largest in the world outside the Soviet 
bloc. Indira Gandhi placed no limit on the number of 
Soviet diplomats and trade officials, thus allowing the 
KGB and GRU as many cover positions as they wished. 
Nor, like many other states, did India object to admitting 
Soviet intelligence officers who had been expelled by less 
hospitable regimes.— The expansion of KGB operations 
in the Indian subcontinent (and first and foremost in 
India) during the early 1970s led the FCD to create a new 

department. Hitherto operations in India, as in the rest of 
non-Communist South and South-East Asia, had been the 
responsibility of the Seventh Department. In 1974 the 
newly founded Seventeenth Department was given charge 
of the Indian subcontinent.— 

Oleg Kalugin, who became head of FCD Directorate K 
(Counter-Intelligence) in 1973, remembers India as ‘a 
model of KGB infiltration of a Third World government’: 
‘We had scores of sources throughout the Indian 
government - in intelligence, counter-intelligence, the 
Defence and Foreign Ministries, and the police.’— In 
1978 Directorate K, whose responsibilities included the 
penetration of foreign intelligence and security agencies, 
was running, through Fine KR in the Indian residencies, 
over thirty agents - ten of whom were Indian intelligence 
officers.— Kalugin recalls one occasion on which 
Andropov personally turned down an offer from an Indian 
minister to provide information in return for $50,000 on 
the grounds that the KGB was already well supplied with 
material from the Indian Foreign and Defence Ministries: 
Tt seemed like the entire country was for sale; the KGB - 
and the CIA - had deeply penetrated the Indian 
government. After a while neither side entrusted sensitive 
information to the Indians, realizing their enemy would 
know all about it the next day. ’ 

The KGB, in Kalugin’s view, was more successful than 

the CIA, partly because of its skill in exploiting the 
corruption which became endemic under Indira Gandhi’s 
regime.— As Inder Malhotra noted, though corruption was 
not new in India: 

People expected Indira Gandhi’s party, committed to 
bringing socialism to the country, to be more honest and 
cleaner than the old undivided Congress. But this turned 
out to be a vain hope. On the contrary, compared with the 
amassing of wealth by some of her close associates, the 
misdeeds of the discarded Syndicate leaders, once looked 
upon as godfathers of corrupt Congressmen, began to 
appear trivial. 

Suitcases full of banknotes were said to be routinely taken 
to the Prime Minister’s house. Former Syndicate member 
S. K. Patil is reported to have said that Mrs Gandhi did 
not even return the suitcases.— 

The Prime Minister is unlikely to have paid close 
attention to the dubious origins of some of the funds 
which went into Congress’s coffers. That was a matter 
which she left largely to her principal fundraiser, Lalit 
Narayan Mishra, who - though she doubtless did not 
realize it - also accepted Soviet money. — On at least one 
occasion a secret gift of 2 million rupees from the 
Politburo to Congress (R) was personally delivered after 

midnight by the head of Line PR in New Delhi, Leonid 
Shebarshin. Another million rupees were given on the 
same occasion to a newspaper which supported Mrs 
Gandhi.— Short and obese with several chins, Mishra 
looked the part of the corrupt politician he increasingly 
became. Indira Gandhi, despite her own frugal lifestyle, 
depended on the money he collected from a variety of 
sources to finance Congress (R). So did her son and 
anointed heir, Sanjay, whose misguided ambition to build 
an Indian popular car and become India’s Henry Ford 
depended on government favours. When Mishra was 
assassinated in 1975, Mrs Gandhi blamed a plot involving 
‘foreign elements’, a phrase which she doubtless intended 
as a euphemism for the CIA.— The New Delhi main 
residency gave his widow 70,000 rupees from its active- 
measures budget.— 

Though there were some complaints from the CPI 
leadership at the use of Soviet funds to support Mrs 
Gandhi and Congress (R),— covert funding for the CPI 
seems to have been unaffected. By 1972 the import- 
export business founded by the CPI a decade earlier to 
trade with the Soviet Union had contributed more than 10 
million rupees to Party funds. Other secret subsidies, 
totalling at least 1.5 million rupees, had gone to state 
Communist parties, individuals and media associated with 
the CPI.— The funds which were sent from Moscow to 
Party headquarters via the KGB were larger still. In the 

first six months of 1975 alone they amounted to over 2.5 
million rupees.— 

In the mid-1970s Soviet funds for the CPI were passed 
by operations officers of the New Delhi main residency to 
a senior member of the Party’s National Council 
codenamed BANKIR at a number of different locations. 
The simplest transfers of funds occurred when KGB 
officers under diplomatic cover had a pretext to visit 
BANKIR’ s office, such as his briefings for visiting press 
delegations from the Soviet bloc. Other arrangements, 
however, were much more complex. One file noted by 
Mitrokhin records a fishing expedition to a lake not far 
from Delhi arranged to provide cover for a transfer of 
funds to BANKIR. Shebarshin and two operations 
officers from the main residency left the embassy at 6.30 
a.m., arrived at about 8 a.m. and spent two and a half 
hours fishing. At 10.30 a.m. they left the lake and headed 
to an agreed rendezvous point with BANKIR, making 
visual contact with his car at 11.15. As the residency car 
overtook his on a section of the road which could not be 
observed from either side, packages of banknotes were 
passed through the open window of BANKIR’ s car.— 
Rajeshwar Rao, general secretary of the CPI from 1964 to 
1990, subsequently provided receipts for the sums 
received. Further substantial sums went to the 
Communist-led All-India Congress of Trade Unions, 
headed by S. A. Dange.— 

India under Indira Gandhi was also probably the arena 
for more KGB active measures than anywhere else in the 
world, though their significance appears to have been 
considerably exaggerated by the Centre, which 
overestimated its ability to manipulate Indian opinion. 
According to KGB files, by 1973 it had ten Indian 
newspapers on its payroll (which cannot be identified for 
legal reasons) as well as a press agency under its 
‘control’.— During 1972 the KGB claimed to have 
planted 3,789 articles in Indian newspapers - probably 
more than in any other country in the non-Communist 
world. According to its files, the number fell to 2,760 in 
1973 but rose to 4,486 in 1974 and 5,510 in 1975.— In 
some major NATO countries, despite active-measures 
campaigns, the KGB was able to plant little more than 1 
per cent of the articles which it placed in the Indian 

Among the KGB’s leading confidential contacts in the 
press was one of India’s most influential journalists, 
codenamed NOK. Recruited as a confidential contact in 
1976 by A. A. Arkhipov, NOK was subsequently handled 
by two Line PR officers operating under journalistic 
cover: first A. I. Khachaturian, officially a Trud 
correspondent, then V. N. Cherepakhin of the Novosti 
news agency. NOK’s file records that he published 
material favourable to the Soviet Union and provided 

information on the entourage of Indira Gandhi. Contact 
with him ceased in 1980 as a result of his deteriorating 
health Though not apparently aware of the KGB’s 
involvement in the active-measures campaign, P. N. Dhar 
believed that the left was ‘manipulating the press ... to 
keep Mrs Gandhi committed to their ideological line’.— 
India was also one of the most favourable environments 
for Soviet front organizations. From 1966 to 1986 the 
head of the most important of them, the World Peace 
Council (WPC), was the Indian Communist Romesh 
Chandra. In his review of the 1960s at the WPC- 
sponsored World Peace Congress in 1971, Chandra 
denounced ‘the US-dominated NATO’ as ‘the greatest 
threat to peace’ across the world: ‘The fangs of NATO 
can be felt in Asia and Africa as well [as Europe] . . . The 
forces of imperialism and exploitation, particularly NATO 
. . . bear the responsibility for the hunger and poverty of 
hundreds of millions all over the world.’— 

The KGB was also confident of its ability to organize 
mass demonstrations in Delhi and other major cities. In 
1969, for example, Andropov informed the Politburo, 
‘The KGB residency in India has the opportunity to 
organize a protest demonstration of up to 20,000 Muslims 
in front of the US embassy in India. The cost of the 
demonstration would be 5,000 rupees and would be 
covered in the . . . budget for special tasks in India. I 
request consideration.’ Brezhnev wrote ‘Agreed’ on 

Andropov’s request.— In April 1971, two months after 
Mrs Gandhi’s landslide election victory, the Politburo 
approved the establishment of a secret fund of 2.5 million 
convertible rubles (codenamed DEPO) to fund active- 
measures operations in India over the next four years.— 
During that period KGB reports from New Delhi claimed, 
on slender evidence, to have assisted the success of 
Congress (R) in elections to state assemblies.— 

Among the most time-consuming active measures 
implemented by Leonid Shebarshin as head of Line PR 
were the preparations for Brezhnev’s state visit in 1973. 
As usual it was necessary to ensure that the General 
Secretary was received with what appeared to be 
rapturous enthusiasm and to concoct evidence that his 
platitudinous speeches were hailed as ‘major political 
statements of tremendous importance’.— Since Brezhnev 
was probably the dreariest orator among the world’s 
major statesmen this was no easy task, particularly when 
he travelled outside the Soviet bloc. Soviet audiences 
were used to listening respectfully to his long-winded 
utterances and to bursting into regular, unwarranted 
applause. Indian audiences, however, lacked the 
experience of their Soviet counterparts. Brezhnev would 
have been affronted by any suggestion that he deliver 
only a short address, since he believed in a direct 
correlation between the length of a speech and the 
prestige of the speaker. His open-air speech in the great 

square in front of Delhi’s famous Red Fort, where Nehru 
had declared Indian independence twenty- six years 
earlier, thus presented a particular challenge. According to 
possibly inflated KGB estimates, 2 million people were 
present - perhaps the largest audience to whom Brezhnev 
had ever spoken. As Shebarshin later acknowledged, the 
speech was extraordinarily long winded and heavy going. 
The embassy had made matters even worse by translating 
the speech into a form of high Hindi which was 
incomprehensible to most of the audience. As the speech 
droned on and night began to fall, some of the audience 
started to drift away but, according to Shebarshin, were 
turned back by the police for fear of offending the Soviet 
leader. Though even Brezhnev sensed that not all was 
well, he was later reassured by the practised sycophants in 
his entourage. Shebarshin was able to persuade both 
himself and the Centre that the visit as a whole had been a 
great success.— The KGB claimed much of the credit for 
‘creating favourable conditions’ for Brezhnev’s Indian 

Leonid Shebarshin’ s perceived success in active 
measures as head of Line PR almost certainly helps to 
explain his promotion to the post of main resident in 1975 
and launched him on a career which in 1988 took him to 
the leadership of the FCD. In a newspaper interview after 
his retirement from the KGB, Shebarshin spoke 
‘nostalgically about the old days, about disinformation - 

forging documents, creating sensations for the press’. It 
was doubtless his days in India which he had chiefly in 
mind. — Among the KGB’s most successful active 
measures were those which claimed to expose CIA plots 
in the subcontinent. The Centre was probably right to 
claim the credit for persuading Indira Gandhi that the 
Agency was plotting her overthrow. — In November 1973 
she told Fidel Castro at a banquet in New Delhi, ‘What 
they [the CIA] have done to Allende they want to do to 
me also. There are people here, connected with the same 
foreign forces that acted in Chile, who would like to 
eliminate me.’ She did not question Castro’s (and the 
KGB’s) insistence that Allende had been murdered in 
cold blood by Pinochet’s US-backed troops. The belief 
that the Agency had marked her out for the same fate as 
Allende became something of an obsession. In an obvious 
reference to (accurate) American claims that, in reality, 
Allende had turned his gun on himself during the 
storming of his palace, Mrs Gandhi declared, ‘When I am 
murdered, they will say I arranged it myself’— 

Mrs Gandhi was also easily persuaded that the CIA, 
rather than the mistakes of her own administration, was 
responsible for the growing opposition to her government. 
Early in 1974 riots in Gujarat, which killed over 100 
people, led to 8,000 arrests and caused the dissolution of 
the State Assembly, reinforced her belief in an American 
conspiracy against her.— Irritated by a series of speeches 

by Mrs Gandhi denouncing the ever-present menace of 
CIA subversion, the US ambassador in New Delhi, Daniel 
Patrick Moynihan, ordered an investigation which 
uncovered two occasions during her father’s premiership 
when the CIA had secretly provided funds to help the 
Communists’ opponents in state elections, once in Kerala 
and once in West Bengal. According to Moynihan: 

Both times the money was given to the Congress Party 
which had asked for it. Once it was given to Mrs Gandhi 
herself, who was then a party official. 

Still, as we were no longer giving any money to her, it 
was understandable that she should wonder to whom we 
were giving it. It is not a practice to be encouraged.— 

A brief visit to India by Henry Kissinger in October 1974 
provided another opportunity for a KGB active-measures 
campaign. Agents of influence were given further 
fabricated stories about CIA conspiracies to report to the 
Prime Minister and other leading figures in the 
government and parliament. The KGB claimed to have 
planted over seventy stories in the Indian press 
condemning CIA subversion as well as initiating letter- 
writing and poster campaigns. The Delhi main residency 
claimed that, thanks to its campaign, Mrs Gandhi had 
raised the question of CIA operations in India during her 
talks with Kissinger. — 

On 28 April 1975 Andropov approved a further Indian 
active-measures operation to publicize fabricated 
evidence of CIA subversion. Sixteen packets containing 
incriminating material prepared by Service A on three 
CIA officers stationed under diplomatic cover at the US 
embassy were sent anonymously by the Delhi residency 
to the media and gave rise to a series of articles in the 
Indian press. According to KGB files, Mrs Gandhi sent a 
personal letter to the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, 
Sirimavo Bandaranaike, enclosing some of the KGB’s 
forged CIA documents and a series of articles in Indian 
newspapers which had been taken in by them. The same 
files report that Mrs Bandaranaike concluded that CIA 
subversion posed such a serious threat to Sri Lanka that 
she set up a committee of investigation. — 

One of Mrs Gandhi’s critics, Piloo Moody, ridiculed 
her obsession with CIA subversion by wearing around his 
neck a medallion with the slogan, ‘I am a CIA agent’.— 
For Mrs Gandhi, however, the Agency was no laughing 
matter. By the summer of 1975 her suspicions of a vast 
conspiracy by her political opponents, aided and abetted 
by the CIA, had, in the opinion of her biographer 
Katherine Frank, grown to ‘something close to paranoia’. 
Her mood was further darkened on 12 June by a decision 
of the Allahabad High Court, against which she appealed, 
invalidating her election as MP on the grounds of 

irregularities in the 1971 elections. A fortnight later she 
persuaded both the President and the cabinet to agree to 
the declaration of a state of emergency. In a broadcast to 
the nation on India Radio on 26 June, Mrs Gandhi 
declared that a ‘deep and widespread conspiracy’ had 
‘been brewing ever since I began to introduce certain 
progressive measures of benefit to the common man and 
woman of India’. Opposition leaders were jailed or put 
under house arrest and media censorship introduced. In 
the first year of the emergency, according to Amnesty 
International, more than 1 10,000 people were arrested and 
detained without trial.— 

Reports from the New Delhi main residency, headed 
from 1975 to 1977 by Leonid Shebarshin, claimed 
(probably greatly exaggerated) credit for using its agents 
of influence to persuade Mrs Gandhi to declare the 
emergency.— The CPI Central Executive Committee 
voiced its ‘firm opinion that the swift and stem measures 
taken by the Prime Minister and the government of India 
against the right-reactionary and counter-revolutionary 
forces were necessary and justified. Any weakness 
displayed at this critical moment would have been fatal.’ 
Predictably, it accused the CIA of supporting the counter- 
revolutionary conspiracy. — KGB active measures 
adopted the same line.— The assassination of Sheikh 
Mujibur Rahman and much of his family in Bangladesh 
on 14 August further fuelled Mrs Gandhi’s conspiracy 

theories. Behind their murders she saw once again the 
hidden hand of the CIA.— 

According to Shebarshin, both the Centre and the 
Soviet leadership found it difficult to grasp that the 
emergency had not turned Indira Gandhi into a dictator 
and that she still responded to public opinion and had to 
deal with opposition: ‘On the spot, from close up, the 
embassy and our [intelligence] service saw all this, but for 
Moscow Indira became India, and India - Indira.’ Reports 
from the New Delhi residency which were critical of any 
aspect of her policies received a cool reception in the 
Centre. Shebarshin thought it unlikely that any were 
forwarded to Soviet leaders or the Central Committee. 
Though Mrs Gandhi was fond of saying in private that 
states have no constant friends and enemies, only constant 
interests, ‘At times Moscow behaved as though India had 
given a pledge of love and loyalty to her Soviet friends.’ 
Even the slightest hiccup in relations caused 
consternation.— During 1975 a total of 10.6 million rubles 
was spent on active measures in India designed to 
strengthen support for Mrs Gandhi and undermine her 
political opponents.— Soviet backing was public as well 
as covert. In June 1976, at a time when Mrs Gandhi 
suffered from semi-pariah status in most of the West, she 
was given a hero’s welcome during a trip to the Soviet 
Union. On the eve of her arrival a selection of her 
speeches, articles and interviews was published in 

Russian translation.— She attended meetings in her 
honour in cities across the Soviet Union.— The visit 
ended, as it had begun, in a mood of mutual self- 

The Kremlin, however, was worried by reports of the 

dismissive attitude to the Soviet Union of Indira’s son and 

anointed heir, Sanjay, an admirer of Ferdinand Marcos, 

the corrupt anti-Communist President of the Philippines.— 

Reports reached P. N. Dhar (and, almost certainly, the 

New Delhi main residency) that one of Sanjay’ s cronies 

was holding regular meetings with a US embassy official 

‘in a very suspicious manner’. Soon after his mother’s 

return from her triumphal tour of the Soviet Union, 

Sanjay gave an interview in which he praised big 

business, denounced nationalization and poured scorn on 

the Communists. Probably annoyed by complaints of his 

own corruption, he said of the CPI, ‘I don’t think you’d 

find a richer or more corrupt people anywhere.’ By her 

own admission, Indira became ‘quite frantic’ when his 

comments were made public, telling Dhar that her son had 

‘grievously hurt’ the CPI and ‘created serious problems 

with the entire Soviet bloc’. Sanjay was persuaded to 

issue a ‘clarification’ which fell well short of a retraction. 

The emergency ended as suddenly as it had begun. On 
18 January 1977 Mrs Gandhi announced that elections 
would be held in March. Press censorship was suspended 

and opposition leaders released from house arrest. The 
New Delhi main residency, like Mrs Gandhi, was 
overconfident about the outcome of the election. To 
ensure success it mounted a major operation, codenamed 
KASKAD, involving over 120 meetings with agents 
during the election campaign. Nine of the Congress (R) 
candidates at the elections were KGB agents.— Files 
noted by Mitrokhin also identify by name twenty-one of 
the non-Communist politicians (four of them ministers) 
whose election campaigns were subsidized by the KGB 
.— The Soviet media called for ‘unity of action of all the 
democratic forces and particularly the ruling Indian 
National Congress and the Communist Party of India’.— 
Repeated pressure was put on the CPI leadership by both 
the New Delhi main residency and Moscow to ensure its 
support for Mrs Gandhi. The CPI General Secretary, 
Rajeshwar Rao, and the Secretary of the Party’s National 
Council, N. K. Krishna, were summoned to the Soviet 
embassy on 12 February to receive a message of 
exhortation from the CPSU Central Committee. Further 
exhortations were delivered in person on 15 February by a 
three-man Soviet delegation. KGB files report Rao and 
Krishna as saying that they greatly appreciated the advice 
of their Soviet colleagues and were steadfast in their 
support for Mrs Gandhi.— Their appreciation also 
reflected the unusually high level of Soviet subsidies 
during the CPI election campaign - over 3 million rupees 

in the first two months of 1977.— 

Agent reports reinforced the New Delhi main 
residency’s confidence that Indira Gandhi would secure 
another election victory. Reports that she faced the 
possibility of defeat in her constituency were largely 
disregarded.— In the event Mrs Gandhi suffered a 
crushing defeat. Janata, the newly united non-Communist 
opposition, won 40 per cent of the vote to Congress (R)’s 
35 per cent. One of the KGB’s betes noires, Morarji 
Desai, became Prime Minister. When the election result 
was announced, writes Mrs Gandhi’s biographer, 
Katherine Frank, ‘India rejoiced as it had not done since 
the eve of independence from the British thirty years 
before.’ In Delhi, Mrs Gandhi’s downfall was celebrated 
with dancing in the streets. — 


The Special Relationship with India 

Part 2: The Decline and Fall of Congress 

The result of the Indian elections of March 1977 caused 
shock and consternation in both the Centre and the New 
Delhi main residency. Leonid Shebarshin, the main 
resident, was hurriedly recalled to Moscow for 
consultations.- As well as fearing the political 
consequences of Mrs Gandhi’s defeat, the Centre was also 
embarrassed by the way the election demonstrated to the 
Soviet leadership the limitations of its much-vaunted 
active-measures campaigns and its supposed ability to 
manipulate Indian politics. The FCD report on its 
intelligence failure was largely an exercise in self- 
justification. It stressed that an election victory by Mrs 
Gandhi had also been widely predicted by both Western 
and Indian observers (including the Indian intelligence 
community), many of whom had made even greater errors 
than itself. The report went on to explain the FCD’s own 
mistakes by claiming that the extreme diversity of the 
huge Indian electorate and the many divisions along 

family, caste, ethnic, religious, class and party lines made 
accurate prediction of voting behaviour almost 
impossible. This was plainly special pleading. The 
complexities of Indian politics could not provide a 
credible explanation for the failure by the KGB (and other 
observers) to comprehend the collapse of support for Mrs 
Gandhi in the entire Hindi belt, the traditional Congress 
stronghold, where it won only two seats, and its reduction 
to a regional party of South India, where it remained in 

The FCD also argued, in its own defence, that Mrs 
Gandhi’s previous determination to hold on to power had 
made it reasonable to expect that she would refuse to 
surrender it in March 1977, and would be prepared if 
necessary either to fix the election results or to declare 
them null and void (as, it alleged, Sanjay’s cronies were 
urging). Indeed the FCD claimed that on 20 March, when 
the results were announced, Mrs Gandhi had tried to 
prevent the Janata Party taking power but had been 
insufficiently decisive and failed to get the backing of the 
army high command.- There was no substance to these 
claims, which probably originated in the Delhi rumour 
mill, then working overtime, and were passed on to the 
KGB by its large network of agents and confidential 
contacts. Contrary to reports to Moscow from the New 
Delhi main residency, the transfer of power after the 
election was swift and orderly. In the early hours of 21 

March Mrs Gandhi summoned a short and perfunctory 
cabinet meeting, where she read out her letter of 
resignation, which was approved by the cabinet with only 
minor changes. At 4 a.m. she was driven to the home of 
the acting President, B. D. Jatti, and submitted her 
resignation. Jatti was so taken aback that, until prompted 
by Dhar, he forgot to ask Mrs Gandhi to stay on as acting 
Prime Minister until the formation of the next 
government. - 

The tone of the Soviet media changed immediately 
after the Indian election. It blamed the defeat of Mrs 
Gandhi, hitherto virtually free from public criticism, on 
‘mistakes and excesses’ by her government. Seeking to 
exempt the CPI from blame, a commentator in Izvestia 
claimed, ‘It is indicative that Congress Party candidates 
were most successful in places where a pre-election 
arrangement existed between the Congress and the 
Communist Party of India, or where the Communist 
Party, with no official encouragement, actively supported 
progressive candidates of the Congress Party.’ In reality 
the election was a disaster for the CPI as well as for 
Congress. Dragged down by the unpopularity of the 
Indira Gandhi regime, it lost all but seven of the twenty- 
five seats it had won in 1971, while its rival, the 
breakaway Communist Party of India, Marxist (CPM), 
won twenty- two. The Centre responded cautiously to the 
landslide victory of a CPM-led coalition in state elections 

in West Bengal in June 1977. Though Andropov was 
eager to set up covert communications with the new state 
government, he was anxious not to offend the CPI. It was 
therefore agreed after discussions between Shebarshin 
(recently promoted to become deputy head of the FCD 
Seventeenth Department) and a senior CPSU official that, 
though KGB officers could make contact with CPM 
leaders, they must claim to be doing so on a purely 
personal basis. According to FCD files, ‘important 
information’ about CPM policy was obtained by the Delhi 
main residency from its contacts with Party leaders. - 

The KGB’s main priority during the early months of 
the Janata government was damage limitation. In the 
course of the campaign Morarji Desai had charged Mrs 
Gandhi with doing ‘whatever the Soviet Union does’ and 
declared that, under a Janata government, the Indo- Soviet 
treaty might ‘automatically go’.- The Centre feared ‘a 
reinforcement of reactionary anti-Soviet forces’.- On 24 
March the Politburo approved an FCD directive ‘On 
measures in connection with the results of the 
parliamentary elections in India’, whose main objectives 
were to preserve the Friendship Treaty and to deter Janata 
from seeking a rapprochement with the United States and 
China.- Though the Desai government did set out to 
improve relations with the United States and China, the 
Indo-Soviet treaty survived. A joint communique after a 
visit by Gromyko to New Delhi in April committed both 

countries to ‘the further strengthening of equal and 
mutually beneficial co-operation in the spirit of the Indo- 
Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Co-operation’.- In 
August the Politburo approved a directive on KGB active 
measures entitled ‘On measures to influence the ruling 
circles of India in new conditions to the advantage of the 

The ‘new conditions’ of Janata rule made active- 
measures campaigns more difficult than before. Articles 
planted by the KGB in the Indian press declined sharply 
from 1,980 in 1976 to 411 in 1977.— The Centre, 
however, continued to make exaggerated claims for the 
success of its active measures in making the Janata 
government suspicious of American and Chinese policy.— 
The New Delhi main residency also claimed in June 1978 
that it had succeeded in discrediting the Home Minister, 
Charan Singh, Indira Gandhi’s most outspoken opponent 
in the Janata government, and forcing his dismissal. — In 
reality, Singh’s dismissal was due to the fact that he had 
accused Desai and other ministers of being ‘a collection 
of impotent men’ because of their failure to bring Mrs 
Gandhi to trial.— He was later to return to the government 
and briefly succeeded Desai as Prime Minister in the later 
months of 1979. 

The March 1977 KGB directive approved by the 
Politburo had instructed the Delhi main residency to 

‘influence [Mrs] Gandhi to renew the Indian National 
Congress on a democratic [left-wing] basis’. In order not 
to offend the Janata government, the Soviet embassy was 
wary of maintaining official contact with Mrs Gandhi 
after her election defeat.— Instead, the Delhi main 
residency re-established covert contact with her through 
an operations officer, Viktor Nikolayevich Cherepakhin 
(codenamed VLADLEN), operating under cover as a 
Trud correspondent, though there is no evidence that she 
realized he was from the KGB. The residency also set up 
an active-measures fund codenamed DEPO in an attempt 
to buy influence within the Committee for Democratic 
Action founded by Mrs Gandhi and some of her 
supporters in May 1977. Though there is no evidence that 
Mrs Gandhi knew of its existence, the fund had available 
in July 275,000 convertible rubles.— On New Year’s Day 
1978 Mrs Gandhi instigated a second split in the Congress 
Party. She and her followers, the majority of the party, 
reconstituted themselves as Congress (I) - I for Indira. 
Though she eventually admitted that things ‘did get a 
little out of hand’ during the emergency, she continued to 
insist that Janata’ s election victory owed much to ‘foreign 
help’. ‘The movement against us’, she declared, ‘was 
engineered by outside forces.’— As usual, Mrs Gandhi 
doubtless had the CIA in mind. 

Janata’ s fragile unity, which had been made possible 
during the 1977 election campaign only by common 

hostility to Indira Gandhi, failed to survive the experience 
of government. At the general election in January 1980 
Congress (I) won 351 of the 542 seats. ‘It’s Indira All The 
Way’, declared the headline in the Times of India. Soon 
after her election victory, Mrs Gandhi tried to renew 
contact with Cherepakhin, only to discover that he had 
been recalled to Moscow.— While welcoming Mrs 
Gandhi’s return to power, the Centre was apprehensive 
about the future. The power of Sanjay, whom it strongly 
distrusted, was at its zenith, his role as heir apparent 
appeared unassailable, and - despite the presence, 
unknown to Sanjay, of an agent codenamed PURI in his 
entourage— - the KGB seems to have discovered no 
significant means of influence over him. Though Sanjay’s 
death in an air crash in June 1980 left Mrs Gandhi 
distraught, it was doubtless welcomed in the Centre. 

Mrs Gandhi’s relations with Moscow in the early 1980s 
never quite recaptured the warmth of her previous term in 
office. She particularly resented the fact that she could no 
longer count on the support of the CPI. During 
Brezhnev’s state visit to India in December 1980, she said 
pointedly at a reception in his honour, ‘Understandably, 
we face an onslaught from the “right” and, not so 
understandably, from the “left”.’— According to KGB 
reports, some of the CPI attacks were personal. Indian 
Communist leaders spread rumours that Mrs Gandhi was 
taking bribes both from state ministers and from the 

French suppliers of the Mirage fighters which she decided 
to purchase for the Indian air force. During visits to India 
by both Brezhnev and the Soviet Defence Minister, 
Marshal Ustinov, she asked for Soviet pressure to bring 
the CPI into line.— When the pressure failed to 
materialize, Mrs Gandhi took her revenge. In May 1981 
she set up a new Congress (I)-sponsored association, the 
Friends of the Soviet Union, as a rival to the CPI- 
sponsored Indo-Soviet Cultural Society - declaring that 
the time had come to liberate Indo-Soviet friendship from 
those who had set themselves up as its ‘custodians’. It 
was, she said, the ‘professional friends and foes of the 
Soviet Union who created problems for us’. She also set 
up a ‘world peace and solidarity’ organization to break the 
monopoly of the World Peace Council, headed by an 
Indian Communist and much used as a vehicle for Soviet 
active measures.— 

Moscow’s failure to bring the CPI into line, however, 
continued to rankle with Mrs Gandhi. In June 1983 she 
sent a secret letter to the Soviet leader, Yuri Andropov, 
attacking the CPI for having ‘ganged up’ against her with 
right-wing reactionaries. The letter was entrusted to 
Yogendra Sharma, a member of the Party Politburo who 
disagreed with Rajeshwar Rao’s opposition to Mrs 
Gandhi. Once in Moscow, however, Sharma had second 
thoughts and ‘confessed all’ to a Party comrade. When the 
story was made public in India, Indira’s critics accused 

her of ‘inviting Soviet interference in India’s internal 
affairs’. Mrs Gandhi refused to comment.— Though 
somewhat tarnished, however, the Indo- Soviet special 
relationship survived. When Mrs Gandhi visited Moscow 
for Brezhnev’s funeral, she was the first non-Communist 
leader to be received by Yuri Andropov.— 

The KGB continued to make large claims for the 
success of its active measures. When the Indian 
government refused in July 1981 to give an entry visa to 
an American diplomat named Griffin, who was due to 
take up a post as political counsellor at the US embassy, 
the KGB claimed that the decision was due to its success 
over the previous six months in linking him with the CIA. 
Vladimir Kryuchkov, the head of the FCD, reported to the 

According to information received, the initiative in 
making this decision came from I[ndira] Gandhi herself. 
A significant role was also played by anti-American 
articles which we inspired in the Indian and foreign press, 
which cited various sources to expose the dangerous 
nature of the CIA’s subversive operations in India. 
Attempts by representatives of the USA and of the 
American press to justify the methods and to pretend that 
Griffin had been the victim of a Soviet ‘disinformation’ 
campaign were decisively rejected by the Minister for 

Foreign Affairs, N[arasimha] Rao, who stated that ‘this 
action was taken independently and was in no way 
prompted by another country’. — 

The greatest successes of Soviet active measures in India 
remained the exploitation of the susceptibility of Indira 
Gandhi and her advisers to bogus CIA conspiracies 
against them. In March 1980 Home Minister Zail Singh 
blamed the USA and China for fomenting unrest in 
Assam and the tribal areas of the north-east. Shortly 
afterwards Home Ministry officials claimed to have 
‘definite information’ that the CIA was ‘pumping money’ 
into the region through Christian missionaries. Mrs 
Gandhi herself repeatedly referred to the ‘foreign hand’ 
behind this and other outbreaks of domestic unrest. 
Though she rarely identified the ‘foreign hand’ in public, 
it was clear that she meant the CIA.— 

One of the main aims of KGB active measures in the 
early 1980s was to manufacture evidence that the CIA 
and Pakistani intelligence were behind the growth of Sikh 
separatism in the Punjab.— In the autumn of 1981 Service 
A launched operation KONTAKT based on a forged 
document purporting to contain details of the weapons 
and money provided by Pakistani Inter-Services 
Intelligence (ISI) to the militants seeking to bring about 
the creation of an independent Sikh state of Khalistan. In 

November the forgery was passed to a senior Indian 
diplomat in Islamabad. Shortly afterwards the Islamabad 
residency reported to the Centre that, according to 
(possibly optimistic) agents’ reports, the level of anxiety 
in the Indian embassy about Pakistani support for Sikh 
separatists indicated that KONTAKT was having the 
alarmist effect that Service A had hoped for. 

In the spring of 1982 the New Delhi residency reported 
that Agent ‘S’ (apparently a recent recruit) had direct 
access to Mrs Gandhi and had personally presented to her 
another forged ISI document fabricated by Service A, 
which purported to demonstrate Pakistani involvement in 
the Khalistan conspiracy.— Though there is no convincing 
evidence that Agent ‘S’ or the forgeries channelled 
through him had any significant influence on Mrs Gandhi, 
the Centre succumbed to one of its recurrent bouts of 
wishful thinking about its ability to manipulate Indian 
policy. On 5 May it congratulated the recently installed 
main resident, Aleksandr Iosifovich Lysenko (codenamed 
BOGDAN), on the supposed success of Agent ‘S’— and 
informed him that the Centre proposed to use ‘S’ as a 
major channel for feeding future disinformation to Mrs 
Gandhi. Before the agent’s meeting with Mrs Gandhi, the 
Centre sent the following detailed instructions: 

a. During meetings [with ‘S’], acquaint the agent 
with the contents of the [latest forged] document and 
show interest in his opinion regarding the importance and 

relevance of the information contained in it for the Indian 
authorities. Also it should be explained to the agent that 
the document is genuine, obtained by us through secret 

b. Work out a detailed story of how ‘S’ obtained the 
document. (This will involve organizing a short trip to 
Pakistan for the agent.) 

c. Inform ‘S’ that, in accordance with the terms laid 
down by the source [of the document], he must not leave 
the document with VANO [Mrs Gandhi]. Recommend to 
the agent that he acts in the following way in order not to 
arouse a negative reaction in VANO. If VANO insists that 
the document is left with her, then ‘S’ should leave a 
previously prepared copy of the document, without the 
headings which would indicate its origin. Instruct ‘S’ to 
observe VANO’s reaction to the document. 

d. Point out to the agent that it is essential that he 
builds on his conversation with VANO in order that he 
can drop hints on what she can expect from ‘S’ in the 
future and what information would be of special interest 
to her. 

‘S’ reported that he had shown the document to Mrs 
Gandhi on 13 May 1982. The fact that she did not ask for 
a copy suggests that she did not attach much significance 
to it. The KGB, however, preferred to credit the self- 
serving claims made by ‘S’ about his supposed influence 

on the Prime Minister.— 

Shortly after succeeding Brezhnev as Soviet leader in 
November 1982 Yuri Andropov approved a proposal by 
Kryuchkov to fabricate a further Pakistani intelligence 
document detailing ISI plans to foment religious 
disturbances in Punjab and promote the creation of 
Khalistan as an independent Sikh state. The Centre 
believed that the Indian ambassador in Pakistan, to whom 
this forgery was sent, would consider it so important that 
he was bound to forward it to Mrs Gandhi.— The KGB 
appeared by now supremely confident that it could 
continue to deceive her indefinitely with fabricated 
reports of CIA and Pakistani conspiracies against her. 

Mrs Gandhi’s importance as one of the Third World’s 
most influential leaders was further enhanced, in 
Moscow’s eyes, by her election as Chair of the Non- 
Aligned Movement in succession to Fidel Castro. The 
Indian press published photographs of a beaming Castro 
embracing her in a bear hug as he handed over to her in 
March 1983 at the seventh summit of the Movement in 
Delhi. On the eve of the summit the Delhi main residency 
succeeded in planting in the Indian press a forged secret 
memorandum in the name of the US representative at the 
United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick, which gave further 
bogus details of American plans to foster divisions in the 
Third World and undermine Indian influence.— Under 

Mrs Gandhi’s chairmanship, the Non-Aligned summit 
devoted little time to the war in Afghanistan and 
concentrated instead on issues of disarmament and 
economic development, which offered ample scope for 
attacks on the United States. The post-summit 
communique condemned the United States fifteen times; 
the Soviet Union, by contrast, was only once bracketed 
with the United States as sharing responsibility for the 
arms race. Moscow was predictably delighted. Pravda 
declared that ‘the Non-Aligned Movement has displayed 
devotion to its basic principles of struggle against 
imperialism, colonialism, racism and war’.— 

The next stage in the Soviet cultivation of the Gandhi 
dynasty was the visit to Moscow in July 1983 by Indira’s 
elder son, Rajiv, who had reluctantly entered politics at 
his mother’s insistence after Sanjay’s death and was being 
groomed by her for the succession. The high-level 
meetings and glittering receptions laid on for Rajiv 
showed, according to one Indian observer, that he had 
been ‘virtually anointed by the Soviet commissars as the 
unquestioned successor to Mrs Gandhi’. During his visit 
Rajiv was plainly persuaded by his hosts that the CIA was 
engaged in serious subversion in the Punjab, where Sikh 
separatism now posed the most serious challenge to the 
Congress government. He declared on his return that there 
was ‘definite interference from the USA in the Punjab 

In early June 1984 Mrs Gandhi sent troops into the 
Punjab where they stormed the Sikh holy of holies, the 
Golden Temple at Amritsar. The Soviet Union, like the 
CPI, quickly expressed ‘full understanding of the steps 
taken by the Indian government to curb terrorism’. Once 
again, Mrs Gandhi took seriously Soviet claims of secret 
CIA support for the Sikhs.— A KGB active measure also 
fabricated evidence that Pakistani intelligence was 
planning to recruit Afghan refugees to assassinate her.— 
Though Mrs Gandhi, thanks largely to the KGB, 
exaggerated the threat from the United States and 
Pakistan, she tragically underestimated the threat from the 
Sikhs in her own bodyguard, countermanding as a matter 
of principle an order from the head of the IB that they be 
transferred to other duties. India, she bravely insisted, 
‘was secular’. One of the principles by which she had 
lived was soon to cost her her life. On 3 1 October she was 
shot dead by two Sikh guards in the garden of her 
house.— Predictably, some conspiracy theorists were later 
to argue that the guards had been working for the CIA.— 
Though the Centre probably did not originate this 
conspiracy theory, attempting to implicate the Agency in 
the assassination of Mrs Gandhi became one of the chief 
priorities of KGB active measures in India over the next 
few years.— 

Rajiv Gandhi’s first foreign visit after succeeding his 

mother as Prime Minister was to the Soviet Union for the 
fimeral of Konstantin Chernenko in March 1985. He and 
Chernenko’s successor, Mikhail Gorbachev, established 
an immediate rapport, which was reinforced during 
Rajiv’s first official visit two months later. The KGB, 
meanwhile, pursued active-measures operations designed 
to persuade Rajiv that the CIA was plotting against him. 
Its fabrications, however, which included a forged letter 
in 1987 from the DCI, William Casey, on plans for his 
overthrow,— seem to have had little effect. The personal 
friendship between Rajiv and Gorbachev could not 
disguise the declining importance of the Indian special 
relationship for the Soviet Union. Part of Gorbachev’s 
‘new thinking’ in foreign policy was the attempt to 
extricate the Soviet Union from India’s disputes with 
China and Pakistan. At a press conference during his visit 
to India in November 1986, Gorbachev was much more 
equivocal than his predecessors about Soviet support in a 
military conflict between India and China.— 

The winding down of the Cold War also greatly 
decreased the usefulness of India as an arena for KGB 
active measures. One of the most successful active 
measures during Gorbachev’s first two years in power 
was the attempt to blame Aids on American biological 
warfare. The story originated on US Independence Day 
1984 in an article published in the Indian newspaper 
Patriot, alleging that the Aids virus had been 

‘manufactured’ during genetic engineering experiments at 
Fort Detrick, Maryland. In the first six months of 1987 
alone the story received major media coverage in over 
forty Third World countries. Faced with American 
protests and the denunciation of the story by the 
international scientific community, however, Gorbachev 
and his advisers were clearly concerned that exposure of 
Soviet disinformation might damage the new Soviet 
image in the West. In August 1987 US officials were told 
in Moscow that the Aids story was officially disowned. 
Soviet press coverage of the story came to an almost 
complete halt.— In the era of glasnost, Moscow also 
regarded the front organizations as a rapidly declining 
asset. In 1986 Romesh Chandra, the Indian Communist 
President of the most important of them, the World Peace 
Council, felt obliged to indulge in self-criticism. ‘The 
criticisms made of the President’s work’, he 
acknowledged, ‘require to be heeded and necessary 
corrections made.’ The main ‘correction’ which followed 
was his own replacement.— 

Rajiv Gandhi lost power in India at elections late in 
1989 just as the Soviet bloc was beginning to disintegrate. 
New Delhi was wrong-footed by the final collapse of the 
Soviet Union two years later. On the outbreak of the hard- 
line coup in Moscow of August 1991 which attempted to 
overthrow Gorbachev, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao 
declared that it might serve as a warning to those who 

attempted change too rapidly. Following the collapse of 
the coup a few days later, Rao’s statement was held 
against him by both Gorbachev and Yeltsin. When 
Gorbachev rang world leaders after his release from house 
arrest in the Crimea, he made no attempt to contact Rao. 
The Indian ambassador did not attend the briefing given 
by Yeltsin to senior members of the Moscow diplomatic 
corps after the coup collapsed.— The Indo-Soviet special 
relationship, to which the KGB had devoted so much of 
its energies for most of the Cold War, was at an end. 


Pakistan and Bangladesh 

The Soviet Union’s special relationship with India 
drastically limited its influence in Pakistan. Gromyko 
complained of ‘the insidious [Western] web into which 
Pakistan fell almost at the outset of her existence as an 
independent state’.- The KGB also found the authoritarian 
military regimes which governed Pakistan for most of the 
Cold War more difficult to penetrate than India’s ruling 
Congress Party. The Communist Party of Pakistan, 
officially banned in 1951, was of much less significance 
than its large and influential Indian counterpart. 
According to KGB files, about twenty leading Karachi 
and Hyderabad Communists set up a small underground 
party with the cover name ‘Sindh Provincial Committee’ 
(SPC) which maintained secret contact with the KGB 
Karachi residency.- The SPC was kept going by an annual 
Soviet subsidy delivered by the KGB which by the mid- 
1970s amounted to $25-30,000.- Another small 
Communist underground in East Pakistan also received 
covert funding.- In addition, a number of SPC leaders 
made what the KGB considered handsome profits from 
privileged trading contracts with the Soviet Union.- 
Moscow, however, had realistically low expectations of 

the SPC which, it believed, tended to exaggerate its 

Despite the KGB’s apparent inability to penetrate the 
entourage of Pakistan’s first military ruler, Ayub Khan 
(1958-69), it was well informed on his foreign policy, 
chiefly as a result of a series of agents in the Pakistani 
Foreign Ministry and Diplomatic Corps: among them 
GNOM, KURI, GREM and GULYAM. For seven years 
GNOM (‘Gnome’) provided both ciphered and 
deciphered diplomatic cables which he was taught to 
photograph with a miniature camera. He was recruited in 
1960 under a ‘false flag’ by an English-speaking Russian 
KGB agent posing as the representative of a US 
publishing company who claimed to be collecting 
material for a book on international relations. In 1965 he 
was finally told (though he may well have realized this 
much earlier) that he was working for a foreign 
intelligence agency and signed a document 
acknowledging that he had received a monthly salary 
from it for the past five years. When GNOM returned to 
Pakistan in 1967 after a series of foreign postings, 
however, he broke contact with his controller.- Like 
GNOM, the cipher clerk KURI was recruited under a 
false flag. In 1961 the KGB agent SAED, claiming to 
represent a large Pakistani company, persuaded KURI to 
supply Foreign Ministry documents on the pretext that 
these would help its commercial success in foreign 

markets. Again like GNOM, KURI probably realized 
subsequently that he was working for the KGB but 
continued to provide cipher material and other ‘valuable 
documents’ from both Pakistani embassies (including 
Washington) and the Foreign Ministry at least until the 
1970s. His file also notes that he became ‘very 
demanding’ - presumably as regards the payment which 
he expected for his material.- 

The most senior Pakistani diplomat identified in the 
files noted by Mitrokhin was GREM, who was recruited 
in 1965 and later became an ambassador. He is said to 
have provided ‘valuable information’. The fact that, when 
he became ambassador, his controller was the local KGB 
resident is a further indication of his importance.- The 
only KGB agent in the Foreign Ministry whose identity 
can be revealed is Abu Say id Hasan (codenamed 
GULYAM) who was recruited in 1966. At the time of, or 
soon after, his recruitment, he worked in the Soviet 
section of the Ministry. During the 1970s he worked 
successively as Third Secretary in the High Commission 
in Bombay, Second Secretary in Saudi Arabia and section 
chief in the Ministry Administration Department. In 1979, 
a year before his death, he moved to the Ministry of 
Culture, Youth and Sport.— 

As a result of the KGB’s multiple penetrations of the 
Pakistani Foreign Ministry and embassies abroad, the 

codebreakers of the Eighth, and later the Sixteenth, 
Directorate were almost certainly able to decrypt 
substantial amounts of Pakistan’s diplomatic traffic.— 
Thanks in part to the recruitment of ALI, who held a 
senior position in the military communications centre in 
Rawalpindi, Soviet codebreakers were probably also able 
to decrypt some of the traffic of the Pakistani high 
command. ALI was recruited under false flag in 1965 by 
G. M. Yevsafyev, a KGB operations officer masquerading 
as a German radio engineer working for a West German 
company, and provided details of the high command’s 
cipher machines. He later noticed the diplomatic number 
plates on Yevsafyev ’s car and realized that he was 
working for the KGB. The fact that a decade later ALI 
was still working as a Soviet agent, with the Karachi 
resident, S. S. Budnik, as his controller indicates the 
importance attached to his intelligence.— 

The main purpose of KGB active measures in Pakistan 
both during and after the Ayub Khan era was to spread 
suspicion of the United States. At the outbreak of 
Pakistan’s short and disastrous war with India over 
Kashmir in September 1965, the United States suspended 
military assistance to it. The KGB set out to exploit the 
bitterness felt at the American abandonment of Pakistan 
in its hour of need. The main target of its influence 
operations was Ayub Khan’s flamboyant Foreign 
Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Four years earlier, Bhutto, 

then Minister for Natural Resources, had invited the 
Soviet ambassador, Mikhail Stepanovich Kapitsa, and his 
wife to visit his family estate. With the Kapitsas, to act as 
translator, went a young Urdu- speaking diplomat, Leonid 
Shebarshin, who three years later was to transfer to the 
KGB. Bhutto made clear that he saw himself as a future 
foreign minister and that his ultimate ambition (also 
realized) was to become Prime Minister and President. 
Shebarshin found Bhutto’s conversation ‘desperately bold 
and even reckless’. He appeared obsessed with ending 
American influence in Pakistan and wanted Soviet 
assistance in achieving this.— Operation REBUS in the 
spring of 1966 was principally designed to reinforce 
Bhutto’s hostility to the United States by passing to the 
Pakistani government forged documents produced by 
Service A which purported to show that the US 
ambassador, Walter McConaughy, was plotting the 
overthrow of Ayub Khan, Bhutto and other ministers.— 
The operation seems to have had some effect, at least on 
Bhutto, who was convinced for the rest of his life that his 
removal from office in June 1966 was the result of 
American pressure. — 

Operation REBUS was followed in July 1966 by 
operation SPIDER, an active measure designed to 
convince Ayub Khan that the United States was using the 
West German Tarantel press agency to attack his 
government and its close links with China. A bogus 

agency report including an insulting anti-Ayub cartoon, 
prepared by Service A on genuine Tarantel office 
stationery, was posted by the Karachi residency to 
newspapers and opposition figures. To ensure that it came 
to the authorities’ attention. Service A also prepared 
forged letters supposedly written by outraged Pakistanis 
to the police chiefs in Lahore and Karachi, enclosing 
copies of the agency report. The bogus letter from Lahore 
claimed that two named members of the US Information 
Service were distributing the Tarantel material. The 
covering letter sent with the Service A forgeries to the 
Karachi residency on 9 June by the head of the South 
Asian Department, V. 1. Startsev (unusually copied in its 
entirety by Mitrokhin), serves as an illustration both of the 
remarkably detailed instructions sent to residencies 
involved in active measures, even including repeated 
reminders to affix the correct postage, and of the Centre’s 
high expectations of what such operations were likely to 

We hope that the two [forged] letters from well-wishers 
enclosing the Tarantel Press Agency information will 
serve as further proof to Pakistani counter-intelligence 
that the Americans are using this agency to spread anti- 
government material in the country. In order that 
operation SPIDER may be completed, you are requested 
to carry out the following operations: 

1. Packet no. 1 contains envelopes containing 
Tarantel press agency material. They are to be sent to 
addresses of interest to us [newspapers and opposition 
figures]. You must stick on stamps of the correct value 
and post them in various post boxes in Karachi. This is to 
be done on July 21 or 22 this year. We are presuming that 
some of these addresses are watched by the police. We 
took most of them from the list of addresses used by the 
Tarantel press agency. 

2. Packet no. 2 contains a letter from a well-wisher to 
the police headquarters in Karachi. You must stick a 
stamp of the correct value on the envelope and post it on 
July 23 this year. 

3. Packet no. 3 contains a letter from a well-wisher to 
the police headquarters in Lahore. You must stick a stamp 
of the right value on this envelope too and post it in 
Lahore on August 2 or August 3 this year. We chose this 
date so that you would have time to arrange a trip to 

All these requests must be carried out, of course, with the 
utmost care and secrecy as otherwise the action could be 
turned against us. I would like you to inform us when the 
SPIDER actions have been carried out. We would also 
like you to observe the reactions of the Pakistani 
authorities to this action and to inform us accordingly. We 
consider it possible that the Pakistani government may 

make a protest to the West German embassy that anti- 
government material is being distributed by Tarantel press 
agency or that it might take some kind of action against 
the USA. The Pakistanis might even expel the Americans 
mentioned in our material. The local authorities might 
resort to organizing some kind of action against American 
institutions, such as demonstrations, disturbances, fires, 
explosions etc. For your personal information we are 
sending the texts of the SPIDER material in Russian and 
English in Packet no. 4. After reading them, we request 
you to destroy them.— 

What effect, if any, operation SPIDER had on the Ayub 
Khan regime remains unknown. The Centre’s hope that 
Pakistani authorities might bomb American buildings in 
revenge for US involvement in the circulation of ‘anti- 
government material’ was, however, based on little more 
than wishful thinking. 

While operations REBUS and SPIDER were in full 
swing, the Karachi residency was in turmoil as a result of 
the appointment at the beginning of the year of a new and 
incompetent resident, codenamed ANTON, a veteran of 
the South Asian section. ANTON was one of those 
intelligence officers with severe drinking problems who 
were deployed by the FCD from time to time in Third 
World countries. According to Shebarshin, who had the 
misfortune to serve under him, he appeared not to have 

read a book for years, ‘was incapable of focusing on an 
idea, appraising information, or formulating an 
assignment in a literate manner’. He was also frequently 
drunk and persistently foul-mouthed. Residency officers 
tried to avoid him. ANTON’ s one redeeming feature, in 
Shebarshin’s view, was that he rarely interfered in their 
work. Eventually, after he collapsed at an embassy 
reception, the Soviet ambassador, M. V. Degtiar, insisted 
on his recall to Moscow. To the dismay of Shebarshin and 
his colleagues, however, ANTON continued working in 
the FCD. Within the often heavy-drinking culture of the 
Centre, alcoholism rarely led to dismissal.— 

Late in 1967 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took the initiative in 
founding the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) under the 
populist slogan, ‘Islam is our faith, democracy is our 
polity, socialism is our economic policy; all power to the 
people.’ ‘To put it in one sentence’, declared one of the 
PPP’s founding documents, ‘the aim of the Party is the 
transformation of Pakistan into a socialist society.’— 
During the winter of 1968-69, the PPP under Bhutto’s 
charismatic leadership co-ordinated a wave of popular 
protest which in March 1969 finally persuaded Ayub 
Khan to surrender power. He did so, however, not, as the 
1962 constitution required, to the Speaker of the 
Assembly but to the commander-in-chief of the armed 
forces. General Yahya Khan, who promptly abrogated the 
constitution and declared martial law.— 

The Centre immediately embarked on a series of active 
measures designed to make Yahya Khan suspicious of 
both China and the United States. Operation RAVI was 
based on two Service A forgeries: a ‘Directive’ dated 3 
June 1969 supposedly sent from the Central Committee of 
the Chinese Communist Party to the Chinese charge 
d’affaires in India and a Chinese Foreign Ministry 
document outlining plans to turn Kashmir into a pro- 
Chinese independent state. On 28 June copies of both 
forgeries were sent to the Pakistani ambassadors in Delhi 
and Washington, doubtless in the hope that their contents 
would be reported to Yahya Khan.— Simultaneously, 
another active-measures operation, codenamed ZUBR, 
spread reports that Americans had lost faith in Yahya 
Khan’s ability to hold on to power and were afraid that he 
would be replaced by a left-wing government which 
would nationalize the banks and confiscate their deposits. 
The United States embassy was said to have reported to 
Washington that Yahya Khan’s regime was hopelessly 
corrupt and would squander any foreign aid given to it. 
The Karachi residency also claimed the credit for 
organizing a demonstration against the Vietnam War.— 

After RAVI and ZUBR came operation PADMA, 
which was designed to persuade the Yahya Khan regime 
that the Chinese were inciting rebellion in East Pakistan. 
Service A fabricated a Chinese appeal to ‘Bengali 

revolutionaries’, urging them to take up arms against ‘the 
Punjabi landowners and the reactionary regime of Yahya 
Khan’. The original intention was to write the appeal in 
Bengali but, since no KGB officer was sufficiently fluent 
in the language and the operation was considered too 
sensitive to entrust to a Bengali agent, it was written in 
English. A copy was posted to the Indian ambassador in 
November 1969 in the knowledge that it would be opened 
by Pakistani intelligence before arrival and thus come to 
the knowledge of the Pakistani authorities. A further copy 
was sent to the US ambassador in the hope that he too 
would personally bring it to the attention of the 
Pakistanis. Simultaneously, KGB agents in Kabul warned 
Pakistani diplomats of Chinese subversion in East 
Pakistan. The Pakistani representative in the UN was 
reported to be taking similar reports seriously. A post- 
mortem on PADMA concluded that the operation had 
been a success. The supposed Chinese appeal to Bengali 
revolutionaries was said to have become common 
knowledge among foreign diplomats in Pakistan. The 
Centre concluded that even the Americans did not suspect 
that the appeal was a KGB fabrication.— 

New entrants to the FCD South Asian Department were 
often told that, when shown a map of the divided 
Pakistani state after the partition of India in 1947, Stalin 
had commented, ‘Such a state cannot survive for long.’— 
By the late 1960s the Kremlin seems to have come to the 

conclusion that the separation of Pakistan’s western and 
eastern wings would be in Soviet, as well as Indian, 
interests.— The KGB therefore set out to cultivate the 
leader of the autonomist Awami League, Sheik Mujibur 
Rahman (‘Mujib’). Though Mujib was unaware of the 
cultivation, the KGB claimed that it succeeded in 
persuading him that the United States had been 
responsible for his arrest in January 1968, when he had 
been charged with leading the so-called ‘Agartala 
conspiracy’, hatched during meetings with Indian officials 
at the border town of Agartala to bring about the 
secession of East Pakistan with Indian help. Through an 
intermediary, Mujib was told in September 1969 that the 
names of all the conspirators had been personally passed 
to Ayub by the US ambassador. According to a KGB 
report, Mujib was completely taken in by the 
disinformation and concluded that there must have been a 
leak to the Americans from someone in his entourage.— 

Late in 1969 Yahya Khan announced that, though 
martial law remained in force, party politics would be 
allowed to resume on 1 January 1970 in preparation for 
elections at the end of the year. The Centre’s main 
strategy during the election campaign was to ensure the 
victory of Bhutto’s PPP in the West and Mujib ’s Awami 
League in the East.— In June 1970 V. 1. Startsev, head of 
the FCD South Asian Department, jointly devised with N. 
A. Kosov, the head of Service A, an elaborate active- 

measures campaign designed to discredit all the main 
opponents of the PPP and Awami League. The President 
of the Qaiyum Muslim League, Abdul Qaiyum Khan, 
who had been Chief Minister from 1947 to 1953, was to 
be discredited by speeches he had allegedly made before 
1947 opposing the creation of an independent Pakistan. 
The founder and leader of the religious party, Jamaat-i- 
Islami, Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maudidi, was to be 
exposed as a ‘reactionary and CIA agent’. The head of the 
Council Muslim League, Mian Mumtaz Daultana, was to 
be unmasked as a veteran British agent (presumably 
because of his past residence in London) and accomplice 
in political murders. The leader of the Convention 
Muslim League, Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry, was also to be 
implicated in past political murders as well as in plans to 
murder Bhutto. (Ironically, in 1973 he became President 
of Pakistan with Bhutto’s backing.) The President of the 
Pakistan Democratic Party, Nurul Amin, in order to 
discredit him in West Pakistan, was to be unmasked as a 
leading figure in the ‘Agartala conspiracy’.— 

Though the elections of December 1970 produced the 
result for which the KGB had covertly campaigned, there 
is no evidence that active measures had any significant 
impact on the outcome. It would, however, have been out 
of character if the Centre had failed to claim substantial 
credit when reporting on the election to the Politburo. The 
PPP won 81 of the 138 seats allocated to West Pakistan; 

the runner-up in the West, the Qaiyum Muslim League, 
won only nine seats. In the East, the Awami League won 
an even more sweeping victory with 160 of the 162 seats. 
Though Mujib had failed to contest a single seat in West 
Pakistan, he thus won an overall majority in the National 
Assembly and was entitled to become Prime Minister. 
Bhutto colluded with Ayub and the army in refusing to 
allow Mujib to take power. On 25 March 1971 Yahya 
Khan ordered Mujib ’s arrest and began savage military 
repression in East Pakistan. The Centre reported to the 
Central Committee that the end of Pakistani unity was 
imminent.— While Bhutto naively - or cynically - 
declared, ‘Pakistan has been saved’, Bengal was 
overwhelmed by a bloodbath which compared in its 
savagery with the intercommunal butchery which had 
followed Indian independence in 1947. India provided a 
safe haven for Bengali troops resisting the Pakistani army. 
In November the civil war between East and West 
Pakistan turned into an Indo-Pakistani war. On 16 
December Dhaka fell to Indian troops and East Pakistan 
became independent Bangladesh. 

The political transformation of the Indian subcontinent 
caused by the divorce between East and West Pakistan 
suited Moscow’s interests. The Indo-Soviet special 
relationship had been enhanced and Indira Gandhi’s 
personal prestige raised to an all-time high. Pakistan had 
been dramatically weakened by the independence of 

Bangladesh. Moscow’s preferred candidates (given the 
impossibility of Communist regimes) took power in both 
Islamabad and Dhaka. After defeat by India, Yahya Khan 
resigned and handed over the presidency to Bhutto. On 10 
January 1972, Mujib returned from captivity in West 
Pakistan to a hero’s welcome in Dhaka. 

Despite the fact that Bhutto nationalized over thirty 
large firms in ten basic industries in January 1972 and 
visited Moscow in March, the Kremlin had far more 
reservations about him (initially as President, then, after 
the 1973 elections, as Prime Minister) than about Mujib. 
The most constant element in Bhutto’s erratic foreign 
policy was friendship with China, which he visited almost 
as soon as he succeeded Yahya Khan. At his request, 
China vetoed Bangladesh’s admission to the United 
Nations until it had repatriated all Pakistani personnel 
captured after the war (some of whom it was considering 
putting on trial for war crimes). China also helped to set 
up Pakistan’s first heavy-engineering plants as well as 
supplying arms. 

Somewhat incongruously in view of his largely 
Western lifestyle, Bhutto took to imitating Mao Zedong’s 
clothes and cap. In 1976 he even had a book of his own 
sayings published in the various languages spoken in 
Pakistan, much in the manner of Mao’s Little Red Book.— 
Mildly absurd though Bhutto’s neo-Maoist affectations 
were, Moscow was not amused. As one of Bhutto’s 

advisers, Rafi Raza, later acknowledged: ‘The lack of 

importance attached by the Soviet Union to ZAB[hutto] 

was evidenced by the fact that no significant Soviet 

dignitary visited Pakistan during his five and a half years 

in government, despite his own two visits [to Moscow] . . 

So far as Moscow was concerned, Mujib’s relations 
with China, in contrast to Bhutto’s, were reassuringly 
poor. Bangladesh and China did not establish diplomatic 
relations until after Mujib’s death. As in India and 
Pakistan, the KGB was able to exploit the corruption of 
newly independent Bangladesh. For politicians, 
bureaucrats and the military there were numerous 
opportunities to cream off a percentage of the foreign aid 
which flooded into the country.— Mujib once asked 
despairingly: ‘Who takes bribes? Who indulges in 
smuggling? Who becomes a foreign agent? Who transfers 
money abroad? Who resorts to hoarding? It’s being done 
by us - the five per cent of the people who are educated. 
We are the bribe takers, the corrupt elements . . .’— 

Though overwhelmingly the most popular person in 
Bangladesh, Mujib was in some ways curiously isolated. 
Irritated by the personality conflicts within the Awami 
League, he increasingly saw himself as the sole 
personification of Bangladesh - the Bangabandbu. He 
was, it has been rightly observed, ‘a fine Bangabandbu 

but a poor prime minister’.— The Dhaka residency 
acknowledged in its annual report for 1972, after 
Bangladesh’s first year of independence, that it had failed 
to recruit any agent close to Mujib.— Among its successes 
during that year, however, was the recruitment of three 
agents in the Directorate of National Security (codenamed 
KOMBINA T).— The KGB also succeeded in gaining 
control of one daily newspaper (to which it paid the 
equivalent of 300,000 convertible rubles to purchase new 
printing presses) and one weekly.— On 2 February 1973 
the Politburo instructed the KGB to use active measures 
to influence the outcome of Bangladesh’s forthcoming 
first parliamentary elections. — The KGB helped to fund 
the election campaigns of Mujib ’s Awami League as well 
as its allies, the Communist Party and the left-wing 
National Awami Party. Probably with little justification, it 
claimed part of the credit for the predictable landslide 
victory of the Awami League.— 

In June 1975, doubtless to the delight of Moscow, 
Mujib transformed Bangladesh into a one-party state 
whose new ruling party, BAKSAL, incorporated the three 
parties hitherto secretly subsidized by the KGB (Awami 
League, National Awami Party and Communist Party) 
and one other left-wing party.— By this time the Dhaka 
residency had recruited a senior member of Mujib ’s 
secretariat, MITRA, two ministers, SALTAN and KALIF, 
and two senior intelligence officers, MAKHIR and SHEF. 

All were used against US targets.— 

The FCD’s analytical department, Service 1, had 
forecast after the 1973 elections that the Awami League 
would retain power for the full five-year term and that the 
main opposition to it would come from the pro-Chinese 
left (always a bete noire of the KGB). A series of Service 
A forgeries were used in an attempt to persuade both 
Mujib and the Bangladeshi media that the Chinese were 
conspiring with the left-wing opposition.— The real threat 
to Mujib, however, came not from Maoists but from his 
opponents within the armed forces. On 15 August 1975 a 
group of army officers murdered both him and much of 
his family. The KGB immediately began an active- 
measures campaign, predictably inspiring newspaper 
articles in a series of countries claiming that the coup was 
the work of the CIA.— Within twenty- four hours of 
Mujib ’s murder, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became the first to 
recognize the new military regime - deluding himself into 
believing that Bangladesh might now be willing to form a 
federation with Pakistan. Bhutto was later to repent of his 
early enthusiasm as it became clear that Bangladesh’s 
links with New Delhi would remain far closer than those 
with Islamabad. It also dawned upon him that the coup in 
Bangladesh might set a bad example to the Pakistani 
military - as indeed it did.— 

During the mid-1970s the KGB substantially increased 

its influence in the Pakistani media. In 1973, according to 
KGB statistics, it placed thirty-three articles in the 
Pakistani press - little more than 1 per cent of the number 
in India.— By 1977 the number had risen to 440,— and the 
KGB had acquired direct control of at least one 
periodical.— The main aim of active-measures operations 
was, once again, to increase Pakistani distrust of the 
United States. Disinformation fed to Bhutto’s government 
claimed that the United States considered Pakistan too 
unreliable an ally to deserve substantial military aid. 
Washington was, allegedly, increasingly distrustful of 
Bhutto’s government and regarded the Shah of Iran as its 
main regional ally. The Shah was said to be determined to 
become the leader of the Muslim world and to regard 
Bhutto as a rival. He was also reported to be scornful of 
Bhutto’s failure to deal with unrest in Baluchistan and to 
be willing to send in Iranian troops if the situation 
worsened. — 

By 1975 the KGB was confident that active measures 
were having a direct personal influence on Bhutto.— On 
16 November the Soviet ambassador informed him that, 
in view of ‘the friendly and neighbourly relations between 
our two countries’, he had been instructed to warn him 
that the Soviet authorities had information that a terrorist 
group was planning to assassinate him during his 
forthcoming visit to Baluchistan. Bhutto was profuse in 
his thanks for the ambassador’s disinformation: 

I was planning to fly to Baluchistan tonight or tomorrow 
morning for a few days. I shall now cancel the visit to get 
to the bottom of this matter in order not to put my life at 
risk. I am particularly conscious of the genuine and 
friendly relations between our countries at this difficult 
stage in the political life of Pakistan which is also difficult 
for me personally. I am doubly grateful to your country 
and its leaders.— 

The KGB reported that Bhutto had also been successfully 
deceived by disinformation claiming that Iran was 
planning to detach Baluchistan from Pakistan and had 
stated as fact supposed Iranian plans to destabilize 
Pakistan which, in reality, had been fabricated by Service 
A.^ Agent DVIN was reported to have direct access to 
Bhutto to feed him further fabrications.— 

Despite Bhutto’s susceptibility to Soviet 
disinformation, however, Moscow continued to regard 
him as a loose cannon. As one of Bhutto’s ministers and 
closest advisers, Rafi Raza, later acknowledged, ‘Neither 
superpower considered him reliable.’ Among the 
initiatives by Bhutto which annoyed the Kremlin was his 
campaign for a ‘new economic world order ... to redress 
the grave injustice to the poorer nations of the world’. 
Kept out of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) by what 
amounted to an Indian veto, Bhutto appeared to challenge 

its authority. On the eve of the NAM summit in Colombo 
in August 1976, Bhutto published an article entitled 
‘Third World - New Direction’, calling for a Third World 
summit in Islamabad in the spring of 1976 to discuss 
global economic reform.— The Centre feared that, by 
bringing in non-NAM members under Bhutto’s 
chairmanship, such a summit would damage the prestige 
of the NAM, which it regarded as an important vehicle for 
KGB active measures. Following a Politburo resolution 
condemning Bhutto’s proposal,— the Centre devised an 
active-measures operation of almost global dimensions. 
KGB agents were to inform the current Chair of the 
NAM, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, and other Sri Lankan 
politicians that Bhutto’s aim was to undermine her 
personal authority as well as to divide NAM members and 
weaken the movement’s commitment to anti-imperialism. 
Disinformation prepared by Service A designed to 
discredit Bhutto’s initiative was to be forwarded by the 
local KGB residencies to the governments of Somalia, 
Nigeria, Ghana, Cyprus, Yemen, Mexico, Venezuela, 
Iraq, Afghanistan and Nepal. The Centre was also 
confident that its active measures would persuade 
President Boumedienne of Algeria to spread the message 
that an Islamabad conference would weaken the NAM 
and diminish the influence of ‘progressive’ leaders in the 
movement. Delegates attending a NAM planning 
conference in Delhi were to be given statements by Indian 
groups prepared under KGB guidance condemning 

Bhutto’s initiative as a threat to the unity of the NAM.— 

In the event the Islamabad conference failed to 
materialize and on 5 July 1977 Bhutto was overthrown in 
a military coup led by the commander-in-chief of the 
army, General Zia ul-Haq. On 3 September Bhutto was 
charged with conspiracy to murder the father of a 
maverick PPP politician. By now, most of the popular 
enthusiasm which had swept him to power seven years 
earlier had been dissipated by his autocratic manner and 
the corruption of his regime. As one of his most fervent 
supporters noted in December, ‘It was painful to see that 
while Bhutto stood trial for murder in Lahore, the people 
of the city were showing greater interest in the Test match 
being played there.’— Bhutto was sentenced to death on 
18 March 1978 following a trial of dubious legality and 
executed on 4 April 1979 after the sentence had been 
narrowly upheld by the Supreme Court. KGB active 
measures predictably blamed Bhutto’s overthrow and 
execution, like that of Mujib, on a CIA conspiracy.— 

Neither General Ziaur Rahman (better known as Zia), 
who by the end of 1976 had emerged as the dominant 
figure in Bangladesh (initially as Chief Martial Law 
Administrator and from 1977 as President), nor Zia ul- 
Haq (also, confusingly, better known as Zia) was 
favourably regarded in the Kremlin. Both, in the Centre’s 
view, were far better disposed to Washington than to 

Moscow. One of Ziaur Rahman’s first actions was to 
change the constitution by replacing ‘socialism’ as a 
principle of state with a vaguer commitment to ‘economic 
justice and equality’. His economic policy was based on 
encouraging the private sector and privatizing public 
enterprise. The increased foreign aid desperately needed 
by Bangladesh, Zia believed, could only be obtained by 
moving closer to the West (especially the United States), 
the Muslim world and China. Moscow was visibly 
affronted. Izvestia complained in 1977 that right-wing and 
Maoist forces in Bangladesh were conducting a campaign 
of ‘provocation and vilification against the Soviet Union’ 
.— The KGB claimed the credit for organizing a series of 
protest demonstrations in September and October 1978 
against an agreement signed by the Zia regime with 
Washington permitting the US Peace Corps to operate in 

According to KGB statistics, active measures in 
Bangladesh increased from ninety in 1978 to about 200 in 
1979, and involved twenty agents of influence. The KGB 
claimed that in 1979 it planted 101 articles in the press, 
organized forty-four meetings to publicize disinformation 
and on twenty-six occasions arranged for Service A 
forgeries to reach the Bangladesh authorities.— The 
dominant theme of the forgeries was CIA conspiracy 
against the Ziaur Rahman regime. Operation ARSENAL 
in 1978 brought to the attention of the Directorate of 

National Security the supposed plotting of a CIA officer 
(real or alleged) named Young with opposition groups.— 
Service A drew some of the inspiration for its forgeries 
from real plots by the President’s Bangladeshi opponents. 
During Zia’s five and a half years in power he had to deal 
with at least seventeen mutinies and attempted coups. In 
August 1979, for example, a group of officers were 
arrested in Dhaka and accused of plotting to overthrow 
him. Two months later Andropov approved an FCD 
proposal for Service A to fabricate a letter supporting the 
plotters from Air Vice-Marshal Muhammad Ghulam 
Tawab, whom Zia had sacked as head of the air force. 
Other material planted in the Bangladeshi, Indian and Sri 
Lankan press purported to unmask Tawab as a long- 
standing CIA agent.— Service A also forged a letter from 
a CIA officer in Dhaka to the former Deputy Prime 
Minister, Moudud Ahmad, assuring him of US support for 
the right-wing opposition to Zia.— In 1981 another 
disinformation operation purported to show that the 
Reagan administration was plotting Zia’s overthrow and 
had established secret contact with Khondakar Mustaque 
Ahmad, who had briefly become President after the 
assassination of Mujib and had been imprisoned by Zia 
from 1976 to 1980.— There is no evidence that KGB 
active measures had any success in undermining the Zia 
regime. At the 1979 general election, which was generally 
considered to have been fairly conducted, Zia’s 

Bangladesh National Party won 207 of the 300 seats. Zia, 
however, never succeeded in resolving the problems 
posed by unrest in the armed forces. After several narrow 
escapes, he was assassinated while on a visit to 
Chittagong during an attempted coup led by the local 
army commander on 29 May 1981.— 

Whatever successes were achieved by active-measures 
campaigns in Pakistan and Bangladesh during the late 
1970s were more than cancelled out by the hostile 
reaction in both countries to the Soviet invasion of 
Afghanistan in December 1979 and the brutal war which 
followed. Hitherto Zia ul-Haq had been widely 
underestimated in both West and East. In the summer of 
1978 The Economist had dismissed him as a ‘well- 
intentioned but increasingly maladroit military ruler’, 
while the Guardian declared that, ‘Zia’s name has a 
death-rattle sound these days. There’s a feeling he can’t 
last much longer.’ Once war began in Afghanistan, 
however, it seemed to Zia ul-Haq ’s chief of army staff. 
General Khalid Mahmud Arif, that: 

All eyes were focused on Pakistan. Would she buckle 
under pressure and acquiesce in superpower aggression? 
The Western countries quickly changed their tune. The 
arch critics of the autocratic military ruler of Pakistan 
began to woo him. They suddenly discovered Zia’s 
hitherto unknown ‘sterling qualities’ and the special 

importance of Pakistan in the changed circumstances.— 

Zia began pressing the Carter administration to provide 
arms and assistance to the mujahideen insurgents against 
the Communist regime in Afghanistan even before the 
Soviet invasion. The Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence 
Directorate (ISI) made similar approaches to the CIA. In 
February 1980 President Jimmy Carter’s National 
Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, visited Pakistan 
to agree with Zia US covert assistance to the Afghan 
mujahideen across the Pakistan border.— The meeting 
between Zia and Brzezinski inaugurated what was in 
effect a secret US-Pakistani alliance for covert 
intervention in Afghanistan which lasted for the 
remainder of the war. The KGB almost certainly deduced, 
even if they did not obtain detailed intelligence on, the 
purpose of Brzezinski ’s visit. After Brzezinski ’s departure 
from Islamabad, Gromyko declared that Pakistan was 
putting its own security at risk by acting as a ‘springboard 
for further aggression against Afghanistan’. — 

Andropov simultaneously approved an elaborate series 
of active measures designed to deter Zia from providing, 
or allowing the Americans or Chinese to provide, 
assistance to the mujahideen. The head of the Pakistani 
intelligence station in Moscow was to be privately warned 
that if Pakistan was used as a base for ‘armed struggle 

against Afghanistan’, the Oriental Institute (then headed 
by Yevgeni Primakov) would be asked to devise ways of 
assisting Baluchi and Pushtun separatist movements on 
the North-West Frontier in order to seal off the Afghan 
border.— The CIA concluded that there was a serious 
‘possibility of large-scale Soviet aid to the Baluchi’.— 
KGB active measures also sought to persuade Zia that 
some of his own senior officers, who opposed his Afghan 
policy, were plotting against him. Service A prepared 
leaflets in English and Urdu on Pakistani paper purporting 
to come from a secret opposition group to Zia within the 
Pakistani army. On the night of 28 February to 1 March 
1980 KGB officers drove round Islamabad, Rawalpindi 
and Karachi distributing copies of the leaflets from a 
device attached to their cars. According to a KGB report, 
the leaflets were taken seriously by Pakistani security, 
which began an immediate investigation and wrongly 
incriminated the deputy army chief-of-staff, Lieutenant- 
General Muhammad Iqbal Khan (remembered by a 
British diplomat who knew him well as ‘a decent and 
straightforward man’). The KGB claimed that this 
investigation provoked an unsuccessful coup by Iqbal 
Khan on 5 March, which led in turn to the removal or 
retirement of a series of senior officers and to the 
expulsion of two members of the US consulate in Lahore 
who had been in contact with them. On 25 March 
Andropov was informed that operation SARDAR had led 
the Zia regime to believe that the United States was 

conspiring with dissidents in the Pakistani army. 
Andropov approved the continuation of the operation. 
Several similar leaflets were distributed over the next 



Letters fabricated by Service A in the names of various 
informants and bogus conspirators were sent to American 
organizations and other addresses in Pakistan whose mail 
was believed to be intercepted by the local security 
services, as well as to the Pakistani ambassador in 
Washington, in order to spread the fiction of a CIA plot to 
overthrow the Zia regime. Disinformation planted on the 
Pakistani ambassador in Bangkok reported that the State 
Department regarded the regime as an unpopular, 
incompetent dictatorship which should be replaced as 
soon as possible.— Another active-measures operation 
sought to persuade the Pakistani authorities that the CIA 
was plotting with separatists in Baluchistan, promising to 
support their campaign for autonomy in return for help in 
conducting covert cross-border operations against the 
Khomeini regime. Among the more ingenious 
fabrications devised by Service A as part of this operation 
was a wallet containing a compromising document 
allegedly lost by a CIA officer operating under diplomatic 
cover. The wallet, supposedly found by a member of the 
Pakistani public, was handed in at a police station to 
ensure that it came to the attention of the authorities.— 
Simultaneously, the KGB orchestrated a large-scale 

campaign in the Pakistani and foreign press attacking 
Pakistani involvement in Afghanistan.— During the first 
eight months of the war the KGB claimed to have planted 
527 articles in Pakistani newspapers. — 

The Centre also went to elaborate lengths to exacerbate 
popular resentment against the Afghan refugees flooding 
across the border by planting agents in their midst with a 
mission to discredit them.— Its active measures, however, 
had no effect on Zia’s policy. The Afghan refugee camps 
quickly became recruitment centres for the mujahideen. 
The ISI channelled the recruits into seven Islamic 
resistance groups, all with bases in Pakistan which 
directed operations across the Afghan border. The Hizb-i- 
Islami (Islamic Party) led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the 
most important of the fundamentalist mujahideen groups, 
had particularly close links with the Zia ul-Haq regime. In 
1978, in an attempt to bolster support for the regime, Zia 
had taken five members of the Pakistani wing of Hizb-i- 
Islami into his government. With Zia’s support, the ISI 
replaced the Foreign Ministry as the main policy-making 
body on Afghanistan.— 

Zia ul-Haq was well aware, even if he did not know 
many of the details, that the KGB was conducting a major 
active-measures offensive against him. Though the details 
remain classified, from an early stage in the war he 
received intelligence from the CIA as well as from his 

own agencies. — His response to the KGB offensive 
appears to have taken the Centre by surprise. In August 
and September 1980 Pakistan carried out the biggest 
expulsion of Soviet intelligence and other personnel since 
Britain had excluded 105 KGB and GRU officers in 
1971.— Kryuchkov reacted to the expulsion and the 
problems created by the dramatic reduction in the size of 
the Pakistani residencies by setting up an 
interdepartmental working group within the FCD chaired 
by one of his deputies, V. A. Chukhrov, to try to devise 
ways of working with Pakistani opposition forces to 
destabilize and eventually overthrow the Zia regime.— 

The most violent of Zia’s opponents was Murtaza 
Bhutto, elder son of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who founded a 
small terrorist group, initially claiming to be the armed 
wing of the PPP, to avenge his father’s death. While in 
jail, Bhutto senior had famously remarked, ‘My sons are 
not my sons if they do not drink the blood of those who 
dare shed my blood today.’— In May 1979, a month after 
his father’s execution, Murtaza visited Kabul to seek the 
help of the Taraki government in setting up a base in 
Afghanistan from which his guerrillas could launch 
attacks against the Zia regime.— Murtaza was allowed to 
receive a large arms shipment from Yasir Arafat and to 
house a small band of apprentice guerrillas, his so-called 
‘revolutionary army’, in a derelict building which the 
volunteers called ‘Dracula House’. His first attempt to 

smuggle some of his arms cache into Pakistan ended in 
disaster when the man chosen to take them across the 
border turned out to be a Pakistani agent. Murtaza was 
reduced to scouring Pakistani newspapers and claiming to 
his Afghan hosts that accidents and fires reported in them 
were the work of his guerrillas. After the Soviet invasion, 
however, Murtaza established a close relationship with 
Muhammad Najibullah, head of KHAD, the newly 
founded Afghan intelligence service, who as a goodwill 
gesture paid the costs of Murtaza’ s wedding to a young 
Afghan woman.— 

Murtaza and Najibullah had a series of discussions on 
joint covert operations against Pakistan.— Since KHAD 
was operating under KGB direction, there is no doubt that 
their discussions were fully approved by the Centre.— 
Given the risks of operating with the volatile Murtaza, 
however, the Centre preferred to deal with him at one 
remove through KHAD. Murtaza may never have realized 
that, in his dealings with him, KHAD was acting as a 
KGB surrogate.— His first successful operations inside 
Pakistan, agreed with Najibullah, were a bomb attack on 
the Sindh high court and the destruction of a Pakistan 
International Airlines (PIA) DC- 10 aircraft at Karachi 
airport in January 1981. He also planned to disrupt the 
visit of Pope John Paul II to Pakistan in February by 
exploding a bomb during the pontiffs address in a 
Karachi stadium. But the bomb went off prematurely at 

the entrance to the stadium, killing the bomber and a 

In December Murtaza Bhutto and Najibullah decided 
on what was to be their most spectacular joint operation, 
codenamed ALAMGIR (‘Swordbearer’) by the KGB.— It 
was agreed that Murtaza ’s guerrillas would hijack a PI A 
airliner over Pakistan and divert it to Damascus or Tripoli. 
The three novice hijackers who boarded a plane at 
Karachi on 2 March 1981, however, made the mistake of 
choosing an internal flight which had insufficient fuel to 
reach Damascus or Tripoli. The leading hijacker, 
Salamullah Tipu, ordered the pilot to land at Kabul 
instead. As the plane landed, Tipu informed the control 
tower that he was a member of the armed wing of the 
PPP, which was fighting for the restoration of democracy 
in Pakistan, and wished to speak to ‘Dr Salahuddin’, 
Murtaza’ s codename in Kabul. Murtaza, who chose the 
occasion to rename his terrorist group Al-Zulfikar (‘The 
Sword’), came to meet Tipu at the bottom of the aircraft 
steps— and was joined by Najibullah, who was disguised 
in the clothes of an airport worker. Both the KGB mission 
and the Kabul residency advised Najibullah on the best 
methods of using the hijack to discredit the Zia regime.— 
On 4 March Anahita Ratebzad, President of the Afghan- 
Soviet Friendship Association and Minister of Education, 
who was a ‘confidential contact’ of the KGB,— came to 
the airport surrounded by TV cameras, to express support 

for the ‘just demands’ of the hijackers and to ask for the 
release of the women and children on the aircraft to mark 
International Women’s Day. In a pre-arranged gesture, 
Tipu announced that he was happy to accede to 
Ratebzad’s request. On 5 March the Afghan leader and 
long-standing KGB agent, Babrak Karmal, who had just 
returned from Moscow, conducted a live televised phone 
conversation with Tipu from the control tower. Like 
Ratebzad, Karmal gave strong backing to the hijackers’ 
‘just demands’. Tipu replied in an emotional voice that 
Karmal was the greatest man in the whole of Asia.— 

Among the hijackers’ demands was the release of over 
fifty ‘political prisoners’ from Pakistani jails. When Zia 
refused, one of the passengers was beaten, shot and 
thrown onto the tarmac, where he writhed in agony as he 
lay dying. The victim, Tariq Rahim, was a devoted former 
ADC to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, but the paranoid tendencies 
of both Tipu and Murtaza convinced them that Rahim had 
really been in league with Zia.— This gruesome episode 
may well have persuaded the KGB that it was time for the 
aircraft to move on. Before the plane was refuelled for a 
flight to Syria, then the Soviet Union’s closest major ally 
in the Middle East, further arms were taken on board 
unseen by the TV cameras. The three hijackers, who had 
arrived in Kabul armed only with pistols, left equipped 
with Kalashnikovs, grenades, explosives, a timing device 
and $4,500.— After the aircraft landed in Damascus, Zia 

initially continued to refuse to release political prisoners 
but was eventually persuaded to do so by Washington in 
order to save the lives of American hostages on board. 
Murtaza hailed the freeing of fifty-four PPP members 
from Pakistani jails as a triumph for Al-Zulfikar. KHAD 
and the KGB appeared to agree. Al-Zulfikar’s base was 
moved from the derelict ‘Dracula House’ to new palatial 
headquarters, which received a steady stream of refugees 
from Zia’s regime anxious to become guerrillas and fight 
for its overthrow.— 

As well as supporting Al-Zulfikar, KHAD was also 
used by the KGB to channel arms to separatist and 
dissident groups in the Pakistani provinces of Baluchistan 
and Sindh. At the end of 1980 the leader of a Baluchi 
separatist group based in Afghanistan had secret talks 
with Najibullah who promised to provide the separatists 
with arms, 400 military instructors and three training 
camps. After talks between another Baluchi leader and the 
Afghan President, Babrak Karmal, in April 1982, KHAD 
opened two more camps to train Baluchi guerrillas to 
fight the Pakistani and Iranian regimes.— 

The huge influx of Afghan refugees in Pakistan 
(eventually numbering perhaps as many as 3.5 million) 
offered numerous opportunities for agent infiltration. 
Since the agents were usually Afghan, in most instances 
the KGB used KHAD as its surrogate. According to 

statistics in FCD files, acting as a KGB surrogate, in the 
early 1980s KHAD’s foreign intelligence directorate had 
107 agents and 115 ‘trainee’ agents operating inside 
Pakistan, mostly within the Afghan refugee community.— 
The FCD interdepartmental working group headed by 
Chukhrov made penetration of the mujahideen a major 
priority.— Twenty-six KHAD agents were said to have 
access to the headquarters of the rival mujahideen groups; 
fifteen were members of the Pakistani armed forces, 
intelligence community and official bureaucracy.— Their 
main achievement was to increase the existing tension and 
mistrust between the rival groups. Though this 
achievement did not change the course of the war in 
Afghanistan, it significantly diminished the effectiveness 
of mujahideen operations.— 

The Centre also attempted to disrupt the links between 
Zia and the mujahideen groups in Pakistan by active 
measures designed to brand him as a traitor to Islam. On 
18 April 1981 Kryuchkov submitted to Andropov a new 
proposal for disinformation designed ‘to cause a 
deterioration in Pakistani-Iranian relations and to 
exacerbate the political situation in Pakistan’: 

1. Using [Service A’s] samples in the Centre, leaflets 
should be written in Urdu by a fictitious opposition group 
calling for the overthrow of the regime of Zia ul-Haq and 
an Islamic Revolution in Pakistan. A large number of the 
leaflets should be printed and distributed in Pakistan. The 

text of the leaflet must make it clear that the writers are 
under the strong influence of Khomeini. The leaflet 
should quote Khomeini’s criticisms of Zia ul-Haq and the 
present regime in Pakistan. The leaflet should be 
distributed by the residencies in Islamabad and Karachi 
and by our Afghan friends. 

2. The residencies in Bangladesh and India should 
get the press in these countries to publish articles about a 
powerful opposition organization in Pakistan which was 
set up by the Iranian special services and which is actively 
working to overthrow Zia ul-Haq. 

We await your approval. 

Andropov gave his approval on 21 April.— Service A’s 
leaflets attacking Zia as a traitor to Islam (operation 
ZAKHIR) took several forms. Some, such as the 
following example (unusually copied in its entirety by 
Mitrokhin), were intended to appear to be the work of 
Shi’ite groups inspired by Khomeini’s example: 

In the name of Allah, merciful and kind! Glory to Allah 
who made us Muslims and said in his Holy book: ‘Is there 
anyone better than the man who calls on Allah to do good 
and says that he is obedient to him?’ (S.41, A.33) Blessed 
is the prophet, his family and associates. 

Brothers in faith! 

Our enemies are not only those who openly oppose 
Islam, but also those who, under the cover of Islamism, 
do their dirty deeds. For it is written: ‘Do not be afraid of 
your enemies, but of the day when you turn your back on 
Islam and the mosques.’ 

Zia ul-Haq is a hypocrite like the former Shah of Iran. 
He also prayed with Muslims, went on a pilgrimage to the 
Holy places and knew how to talk about the Holy Quran. 

We are calling on the army and the people to rise up 
against the despot Zia ul-Haq, the servant of Satan - the 
United States of America - and to prepare him for the fate 
of the Shah. Satan is frightened that the Islamic 
Revolution, started in Iran, will spread to Pakistan. This is 
why Satan is generously supplying Zia ul-Haq with arms 
with which to kill believers. Zia ul-Haq has flooded our 
country with various unbelieving Americans and impure 
Chinese who are teaching him how to kill pure Muslims. 
He believes in their advice more than in the teachings of 
Allah. Zia ul-Haq is a mercenary dog who is living on 
Satan’s dollars. He has ordered Zia ul-Haq to establish a 
cruel and bloody regime and to crush the Muslim people 
who are now living with no rights. 

At the same time corruption and hypocrisy are eating 
away at our society. Crime is increasing. The reason is not 
only a lack of true belief, but the increasing gap between 
the rich and poor. As All-powerful Allah teaches us: ‘A 

man will only receive when he is zealous.’ Our prophet 
Muhammad, may Allah bless him, called on us Muslims 
to work honestly and hard in respect of the Almighty. 
This means that a Muslim must only receive what he has 
earned by his own labours. But Zia ul-Haq and his clique 
are unlawfully making themselves rich from other 
people’s work. Even the Zekat [obligatory alms to the 
needy - one of the pillars of Islam] has become a thing of 
personal gain to them. Taking advantage of the fact that 
no one can control them, they award a large part of the 
Zekat. But the Most High ordered us that: ‘Charity is for 
the poor and beggars, for the deliverance of slaves, for 
those in debt, for actions in the name of Islam and for 
travellers as declared by Allah. He is knowing and wise.’ 
And our prophet Muhammad, and may He rest in peace, 
taught us that the Zekat must all be used for the needs of 
the poor, orphans and widows. Ask our poor people 
whether they have received much charity from the Zekat. 
Collecting the Zekat by force, Zia ul-Haq and his clique 
are not only insulting true Muslims. They are shamelessly 
ignoring the teachings of Islam. And they manage to hide 
their own money from the Zekat. All Muslims should 
know that Zia ul-Haq recently stole millions. He keeps his 
riches abroad as did the former Shah of Iran, knowing that 
sooner or later he will be forced to flee. He is hoping that 
Satan will protect him from the anger of the people. 
Meanwhile he is serving Satan faithfully by ensuring 
favourable conditions for the dominance of non-believers. 

He knows that this will lead to further theft from 

The clique of Zia ul-Haq has carried out a census of the 
population and its housing. This was also inspired by 
Satan as a way to introduce new taxes and labour 
conditions in contradiction of the teachings of 
Muhammad, may Allah bless him, for he said that anyone 
who oppresses a Muslim is not his follower. 

Zia ul-Haq is leading the country to disaster. He wants 
to ride on the atomic devil and become a despot over all 

But Allah is great and just. Only dust remains from the 
enemies of Islam, but the warriors for the true faith are 
remembered for ever. 

Everyone must join the fight in the name of Islam 
against the bloody dictator Zia ul-Haq. 

Allah is great!— 

Other Service A leaflets purported to come from dissident 
Islamic officers, condemning Zia as a hypocritical traitor 
who, while professing friendship for Iran, was secretly 
plotting with the Americans to bring down the Islamic 
Republic. The Service A forgers threatened Zia with 
assassination. ‘Next time’, they told him, ‘you will pay 

for it as Sadat did.’— 

Murtaza Bhutto, meanwhile, with the assistance of 
Najibullah, acting as a KGB surrogate, was preparing a 
real plot to assassinate Zia. Though the evidence comes 
exclusively from former Al-Zulfikar sources, it appears 
that Zia narrowly escaped two assassination attempts 
early in 1982. The weapon in both cases was a Soviet 
SAM-7 (surface-to-air) missile. On the first occasion, in 
January, two Al-Zulfikar terrorists carried a SAM missile 
in the boot of a car to a deserted hillside in sight of 
Islamabad airport and awaited the arrival of a Falcon jet 
bringing Zia home from a visit to Saudi Arabia. But the 
poorly trained terrorist who fired the SAM did not wait 
for the red signal in his viewfinder to turn green, 
indicating that the missile had locked on to its target, and 
the attack failed. A few weeks later the Pakistani press 
revealed that on the morning of 7 February Zia would be 
arriving at Lahore aboard his personal plane. The two 
terrorists drove to a public park beneath Zia’s flight path 
with another SAM in their boot, waited for the Falcon jet 
to come into view and fired the missile. Once again, 
however, they ignored some of the instructions in the 
SAM-7 manual. This time the terrorist who fired the 
missile waited for the green signal but failed to follow the 
manual’s advice that the aircraft should be watched 
through the viewfinder until it was hit. The missile missed 
its target, though on this occasion the Falcon pilot saw the 

SAM-7 being launched and took what turned out to be 
unnecessary evasive action. The strict censorship imposed 
by Zia’s regime prevented any mention of the 
assassination attempt appearing in the Pakistani press. 
The two terrorists escaped back to Kabul.— Two more 
SAM-7 missiles smuggled into Pakistan for a further 
attempt on Zia’s life later in the year were seized by the 
police before they could be used. As Murtaza’s paranoid 
strain became more pronounced, he suspected a bizarrely 
improbable plot between the Afghan regime and Zia to 
exchange him for the mujahideen leader, Gulbuddin 
Hekmatyar, and moved to New Delhi.— 

Without any credible strategy to bring Zia down, the 
Centre could do little more than continue to publicize 
imaginary plots against him, chiefly from a supposedly 
secret Islamic opposition within the Pakistani armed 
forces. Some of Service A’s fabrications appear to have 
deceived the Indian press. In 1983, for example, the Delhi 
Patriot published a text allegedly prepared by a 
clandestine cell calling itself the Muslim Army 
Brotherhood (Fauji Biradiri), which denounced the Zia 
regime as ‘a despicable gang of corrupt generals . . . more 
interested in lining their own pockets than in defending 
the nation’, who had ‘betrayed the ideas of Pakistan’s 
founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and were leading the 
country to ruin’. A recent history of Pakistan concludes: 
‘Nothing resembling the Muslim Army Brotherhood 

materialized in the more than ten years that Zia remained 
at the helm of state affairs, and it would appear to have 
been the invention of fertile minds in the neighbouring 
state [India].’— 

In all probability, however, the ‘fertile minds’ were 
those not of the Indians but of Service A. Allegations of 
the Zia regime’s corruption were also a regular theme in 
KGB disinformation. Zia was said to have large amounts 
of money in Swiss bank accounts, into which American 
arms manufacturers paid 10 per cent commission on their 
sales to Pakistan. KGB disinformation also claimed that 
Zia had a special plane in continual readiness in case he 
and his family had to flee the country.— 

In Pakistan, as in India, some of the most effective 
active measures were based on fabricated evidence of US 
biological and chemical warfare. — Operation 
TARAKANY (‘Cockroaches’) centred on the claim that 
American specialists in this field had set up a base in the 
US bacteriological laboratory at the Lahore medical 
centre, which was secretly experimenting on Pakistani 
citizens. Outbreaks of bowel disease in the districts of 
Lishin, Surkhab and Muslim Bag and the neighbouring 
areas of Afghanistan, as well as epidemics and cattle 
deaths in Punjab, Haryana, Jammu, Kashmir and 
Rajasthan in western India were alleged to be the result of 
the movement across the Pakistani border of people and 

cattle infected by American germ-warfare specialists. On 
11 February 1982 the Karachi Daily News reported that 
Dr Nellin, the American head of a research group at the 
Lahore medical centre, had been expelled by the Pakistani 
authorities. The Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported on 
23 February: 

Following the expulsion from Pakistan of Dr Nellin for 
dangerous experiments on the spread of infectious 
diseases, an American delegation of doctors is paying an 
urgent visit to Islamabad. Their aim is to hush up the 
scandal over the work of the Lahore medical centre and to 
put pressure on Pakistan not to make known the work 
which was carried out at the centre . . . The fact that a 
group of American doctors has made such an urgent visit 
to Pakistan confirms that Washington is frightened that 
the dangerous experiments on new substances for 
weapons of mass destruction might be revealed. It 
supports the conclusion that Pakistan intends to allow the 
Americans to continue to carry out dangerous 
experiments, probably because these new weapons could 
be used against India, Iran and Afghanistan. 

In May 1982 the KGB succeeded in taking the story a 
stage further by planting reports in the Indian press, 
allegedly based on sources in Islamabad, that the United 
States had stockpiled chemical and bacteriological 

weapons in Pakistan: 

According to information received from local military 
sources, chemical reagents have recently been sent to 
Pakistan from the American chemical weapons arsenals 
on Johnston Island in the Pacific Ocean and in Japan. 
They will be positioned in areas not far from Islamabad, 
Karachi, Lahore, Quetta and Peshawar. According to the 
sources, these reagents are the same as those used by the 
Americans during the Vietnam War. According to the 
same reports, the reserve of American chemical and 
bacteriological weapons in Pakistan is intended for 
possible use by American rapid-deployment forces 
throughout South and South-West Asia. Agreement on the 
stationing of chemical and bacteriological weapons in 
Pakistan was reached between Washington and Islamabad 
as early as August 1980 when the agreement on the 
stationing of the American bacteriological service on 
Pakistani territory was officially prolonged. Point 2 of 
Article 5 of this agreement gives the Americans, in the 
form of the International Development Agency of the 
USA, the right to evaluate periodically the work and make 
suggestions for its improvement. In practice this means 
that the Americans have full control over all aspects of the 
work in Pakistan on new forms of chemical, 
bacteriological and biological weapons. This makes it 
possible for the USA independently to establish how 

chemical reagents must be stored and used in Pakistan. 
Confirmation of this is the well-known work in the 
medical centre in Lahore where American specialists have 
invented new forms of bacteriological and chemical 

Within the Centre, Operation TARAKANY was 
considered such a success that Andropov made a special 
award to the resident in Pakistan.— 

Anti-American black propaganda, however, failed to 
disrupt the increasing co-operation between Zia and 
Washington. Though Zia spumed the offer in 1980 of a 
$400-million economic and military aid package from