The mystery of Lord Victor Rothschild’s (1910-1990) connections to Soviet intelligence has vexed researchers for over a half century now. As the scion of an ultra-wealthy banking house and confidante to Winston Churchill, Rothschild was an influential figure in Britain’s power elite for decades, occupying key positions in counterintelligence, the energy sector and strategic policy planning. But was he also the notorious Cambridge Spy Ring’s “Fifth Man,” a spy for Moscow who could access the crown jewels of UK secrets?
The Cambridge network – consisting of Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Anthony Blunt, and John Cairncross – has gone down in history as one of Soviet secret service’s most successful penetrations, to the shame of the British establishment. Long after their exposure, Rothschild was well-situated as a grey cardinal of UK politics, seemingly untouchable. Continue reading Victor Rothschild, Soviet Spy→
KGB Colonel Stanislav Lekarev (1935-2010) was an especially apt observer of the interplay between intelligence, culture and deep politics. While we know about the CIA’s extensive ties with Hollywood, the KGB had its own assets in the USSR film industry. Here Lekarev, an officer of the KGB First Chief Directorate, goes undercover as a Soviet film executive in 1970’s London, where he crosses swords with British counterintelligence, MI5.
SovExportFilm wasn’t a cover for everyone – you could crash and burn quickly here. A three-month probation period in State Cinema before my departure gave me little to work with. Moscow negotiations with Western commercial representatives didn’t allow me to delve into the nuances of SovExportFilm’s specifics. Viewing Western productions also didn’t help me any. And it was so obvious their quality was higher. Only on the job do you understand that you have to figure out the details of film production – be able to precisely determine the worthiness of reels from the point of view of mastery by scenarists, directors, cameramen, actors, as well as the quality of the film. It’s additionally useful to know the basics of the Stanislavsky System; this impresses those conversing with you. Along with all of that, you need accounting knowledge and the ability to write reports. If you don’t go the distance, the question of your replacement will be raised. So it happened – people wishing to replace you will always be found.
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.
We’ve analyzed 007 in the past, as well as Howard Hughes in light of Scorcese’s The Aviator, but could there be a connection between the two? What if Ian Fleming was encoding an explosive, real-world conspiracy involving Howard Hughes, JFK, Aristotle Onassis and a legendary kidnapping? Not only is there evidence to suggest this, but the film version of his 1954 novel Diamonds Are Forever subtly suggests much more. We know Fleming was a high-level Royal Navy psychological warfare specialist and involved in numerous covert operations, and as I’ve argued many times, Fleming’s novels and the film versions, in their own respective ways, elucidate these clandestine activities, touching on everything from black-market smuggling networks to actual espionage and assassinations.