All posts by Mark Hackard

BA in Russian Language (Georgetown University), MA in Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies (Stanford University). I study the intersection of political culture, religion and strategic issues, which I approach from a traditionalist-conservative position. Some of my major intellectual influences are Joseph de Maistre, Juan Donoso Cortes, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Rene Guenon and Fr. Seraphim Rose. I translate classic Russian political and religious texts.

The Demise of Enver Pasha

Turkish warlord Enver Pasha (1881-1922) was not only the architect of the Armenian genocide, but also a key player in the early twentieth-century Great Game. A consummate intriguer, Enver attempted forging a Pan-Turkic empire in Central Asia, where he would meet his death at the hands of the Red Army.


The assassination of Enver Pasha cannot be called a special operation in the full sense of the word. It was sooner a special military operation carried out by the forces of the army and special services. But we can form a conception of how Soviet power was established in Central Asia, and by what methods, on its example.

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Ivan Ilyin vs. the NKVD

The great Russian White emigre philosopher Ivan Aleksandrovich Ilyin (1883-1954) was not just an erudite thinker, but also a practitioner of espionage and underground political work. Before he was exiled in 1922, Ilyin was active in the anti-Bolshevik resistance. This article, written at some point during the 1930s or 1940s, addresses Soviet NKVD provocations and subversion in the Russian White emigration abroad.


The word “tradecraft” signifies a conspiracy. The art of tradecraft is in the ability to run “conspiracies” secretly and bring them to a successful completion. This art has its own inviolable rules: whoever doesn’t observe them dooms his undertaking, and possibly himself and all like-minded men far and near. Here amateurism is tantamount to failure and death.

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Operation Scorpion

From the memoirs of legendary Soviet intelligence officer Maj. Gen. Yuri Ivanovich Drozdov comes the incredible story of a false-flag recruitment operation by the KGB’s Directorate S (Illegals) against West Germany’s own intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) during the height of the Cold War. The following 1995 article from German Focus magazine tells the tale:


Former KGB General Yuri Drozdov admits: “Our valued agent in the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) has still not been uncovered.” 

Firm handshakes, pats on the shoulder – the old guard in its narrow circle.

The men, in a predominant majority over 70 years old, are dressed strictly according to protocol. On this hot summer day they’re wearing austere coats and shirts with ties. Guests are received by Yuri Drozdov, general of the KGB, the former Soviet secret service, who just a short time later, over a glass of vodka, would allow himself to loosen his tie.

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The Great Game in Tibet

From the archives of the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service, comes a fascinating story of the early-twentieth-century Great Game between Imperial Russia and the British Empire, as the two sides intrigue and maneuver for geopolitical advantage in the mysterious mountain kingdom of Tibet. 


His Imperial Majesty’s Minister of the Court, Baron Fredericks, was clearly irritated. Only at the last moment was he informed that the program for visits to the Tsar for January 14th, 1904, had to be changed, since the Russian Army’s General Staff requested Nicholas II to immediately receive two Don Cossacks on a secret mission to Tibet for a “confidential audience.” The Tsar agreed, and Baron Fredericks had no other option but to relay to the organizers of the Tsar’s hunt in the Ropsha pheasant preserve that His Majesty could not arrive today and would delay the hunt for several days, about which would be additionally reported.

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The KGB in Africa

Africa has long been a geopolitical battleground among the great powers, with the Cold War representing an especially intense round of this struggle. From the archives of Russia’s SVR comes an overview of the KGB First Chief Directorate’s intelligence, covert action, and political influence operations in Africa during the 1960s and 1970s.  


In the postwar period, Soviet foreign intelligence had to work on an African continent almost unknown to it up to that time. In the 1950s, Soviet intelligence’s interest in Africa was conditioned mainly by the acquisition of information on the plans and intentions of Western countries. At that time many air and naval bases of NATO member nations were situated in Africa. Their interest in the continent was rooted not only in strategic reasoning: Africa was rich in food and mineral resources, and her depths preserved deposits of materials necessary for modern industry, such as uranium, cobalt, wolfram, copper, nickel, oil, and many others.

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Moscow’s Master Spy in Japan

In August 2008 the Japanese security service revealed details of a remarkable spy saga with all the makings of a Le Carre novel, if a bit further east. A deep-cover Russian intelligence officer of unspecified “Asian origin” masqueraded as a Japanese man and ran an espionage network in Tokyo over the span of three decades. Japan’s government kept the case under wraps for a number of years, so why did it choose to shed light on this extraordinary intelligence operation only recently?

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The Downfall of Agent Sphere

Lt. Col. Vladimir Nikolaevich Zaitsev, an officer of the KGB’s elite spetsnaz Group A (Alpha), commanded the operation to arrest CIA agent Adolph Tolkachev in 1985. Zaitsev recounts the affair and its strategic significance in the Cold War.


Group A’s very first snatch operation against a “werewolf” was the summer 1985 arrest of Adolph Tolkachev (agent code name [CK] SPHERE), an engineer at a USSR Ministry of Radio Industry scientific research institute – one of the leading specialists in aero-navigational systems.  Continue reading The Downfall of Agent Sphere

Deception & “Active Measures”

KGB Lt. General Vitaly Gregorievich Pavlov (1914-2005), a senior officer of the First Chief Directorate (Foreign Intelligence), responds to charges made by Soviet defectors to the West regarding disinformation campaigns in the Cold War. Pavlov notes that disinformation is a normal tool for ensuring the secrecy of ongoing intelligence operations by any espionage service, and that Anatoly Golitsyn’s claims of a “grand deception” were proven as fantasy by the historical record.


Now I’d like to speak a bit on the so-called active measures of Soviet foreign intelligence – those very active measures over which Anatoly Golitsyn, Stanislav Levchenko, Vladislav Bittman, and still others among the traitors, launched into their hysterics after having left for the West. In their portrayal, such measures represent calculated, wide-scale activity to deceive a world audience and lead it into confusion regarding the true goals and motives of Soviet foreign policy.

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Soviet Intelligence in World War II

From the archives of the SVR comes a broad overview of the Second World War by the chief of Soviet intelligence in World War II, Lt. Gen. Pavel Fitin:

“Pavel Matveevich Fitin headed the Fifth Department of the NKVD GUGB [Chief Directorate for State Security] – the NKGB First Directorate from May of 1939 to 1946. The basis of this material is formed by his memoirs, which were written by the author in 1970 for the 50th anniversary of Soviet foreign intelligence.”


Not claiming to fully shed light on everything, for this would demand special research, I would like to recount certain matters of the multifaceted activity of the intelligence service of the Soviet state security organs during the years of the Great Patriotic War.

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The Death of Trigon

Aleksandr Ogorodnik, known as “Trigon” by his CIA handlers, was a Soviet diplomat who was lured into spying for Washington through sexual compromise – a honey trap. Historian Aleksandr Sever provides the inside story of how the KGB Second Chief Directorate (Counterintelligence) tracked and captured Ogorodnik, as well as speculation on his mysterious demise. 


Among the CIA agents unmasked by the KGB, Aleksandr Ogorodnik occupies a special place. It was this man who became the main antagonist in a ten-part Soviet television series. The story of Aleksandr Ogorodnik, as shown on TV screens, was close to what happened in real life. The plot of the TV movie TASS is Authorized to Announce was written on the basis of investigation materials, and Chekists [KGB officers], active participants in the operation to expose the American spy, functioned as consultants. It’s understandable that in the picture the action occurred in a made-up foreign state and the traitor was a nondescript individual, while the basic attention of the viewers was focused on the main positive and negative personages – KGB and CIA officers. Behind the scenes, there remained a multitude of important details of this “noisy” affair.

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