Napoleon Bonaparte’s fateful invasion of Russia, known as the Fatherland War, was not only a titanic military clash, but also an espionage duel between Russian and French intelligence. The archives of the Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) reveal a classic true spy story set in Napoleon’s Paris, one filled with intrigue, adventure, and stolen secrets.
Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon I of France were the two main protagonists and antipodes of a military-political drama that played out on the battlefields of Europe at the very beginning of the 19th century. Both the Russians and French were watching each other vigilantly, understanding well that confrontation and military conflict were inevitable. In these conditions the acquisition of timely, reliable, and secret information on the designs and actions of the potential adversary took on a significance of the first degree.
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The following is a chapter from Russian author Eduard Makarevich’s book on espionage and subversion, Sekretnaya Agentura. Translation by Mark Hackard.
The great Russian writer Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky couldn’t avoid the temptation of revolution. He was already famous as the author of the short story “Poor Folk” when he had a meeting with a certain Mikhail Petrashevsky. The liberal views of the bureaucrat from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made an impression on the young Dostoevsky. He was only 26 years old at the time – an age of great hopes and desires for changing the world. It was with such intentions that the writer began to visit Petrashevsky’s secret club. Various people gathered there: intellectuals of non-noble birth, representatives of officialdom with liberal views, officers carried away with socialist ideas, etc.
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