How did the KGB train its deep-cover officers to pose, operate and live under the guise of foreign nationalities? Former KGB Chairman Vladimir Efimovich Semichastny (1924-2001) describes how the KGB First Chief Directorate’s elite Directorate S processed, prepared and deployed illegal officers for work abroad in the field – without the protection of the Soviet embassy or Moscow Center.
Our nation’s intelligence was distinguished by one particularity that could be discovered only extremely rarely in the practices of other secret services. This concerns the training and use of so-called “illegals” – Soviet citizens who settled in other countries under assumed names, thereby allowing us to create the consummate agent network. Such a network couldn’t be uncovered by the Western counterintelligence services that were orbiting mainly around our embassies; representations; trade missions; bureaus; and press agencies. Continue reading KGB Directorate S: Training an Illegal→
Major General Yuri Drozdov, the legendary last chief of Directorate S (Illegals) within the KGB’s First Chief Directorate (FCD – Foreign Intelligence) tells of working with KGB Chairman and future General Secretary Yuri Andropov. Andropov was known for his sophisticated approach to intelligence matters, and was a generous patron to Directorate S.
There were many leaders with whom I was to meet and work: Yuri Andropov, Andrei Gromyko, Boris Ponomarev, Viktor Chebrikov, Vladimir Kryuchkov, and others. On these meetings and conversations I could speak much and for a long time. I’ll say just a few words on Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov.
GRU Maj. Gen. Dmitry Polyakov (1921-1988) was a decorated veteran of the Great Patriotic War (World War II) and an old-line Stalinist. Yet beginning in 1959, when on assignment under diplomatic cover at the UN Mission in New York, he was also a US intelligence asset after he volunteered his services to the FBI. Until his arrest in 1986, Polyakov shared the GRU’s most guarded secrets on its international agent networks with Washington, making him the highest-ranking and most damaging mole in the history of Soviet intelligence. Polyakov was finally brought to heel in 1986, when the KGB tracked him down thanks to leads from their own moles – CIA officer Aldrich Ames and FBI special agent Robert Hanssen. The KGB’s Third Chief Directorate, military counterintelligence, swung in to action.
From the last decade of the Soviet Union presented in the FSB Museum’s “Spy Gallery,” it especially follows to turn our attention to a photograph of an elderly man sitting in the dock of the accused in the proceedings hall of the Supreme Court’s Military Collegium.
He knew his punishment beforehand and wasn’t hoping for leniency. Almost 25 years of work for the FBI and CIA could not be atoned for by his candid admissions. On the conscience of former General Dmitry Feodorovich Polyakov was the blood of Soviet secret intelligence officers, the shattered fates of his colleagues in intelligence, and the most important state secrets betrayed to the adversary. Continue reading Washington’s GRU General→
Colonel Aleksei Mikhailovich Kozlov (1934-2015) was a deep-cover intelligence officer in the KGB’s elite Directorate S, the Illegals, during the height of the Cold War. Posing as a traveling German businessman, he was captured by South African counterintelligence in 1980, but not before passing onto Moscow Center shocking information on joint South African-Israeli nuclear weapons tests. This December 20th, 2009 interview with the newspaper Izvestia provides another fascinating inside look at the global-scale operations of KGB Directorate S.
Izvestia: How did you get into Illegal Intelligence?
Kozlov: In 1953 I arrived in Moscow from Vologda to go to the Moscow State Institute for International Relations (MGIMO). My character brought me to humanities, and I very much loved the German language. I had wonderful teacher in school – Zelman Shmulevich Pertsovsky. He was a Polish Jew who in 1939, when the Germans entered Poland, crossed the Bug River and turned up on our side. He was simply in love with the German language and quoted Schiller and Goethe by heart. He called me a “slacker” and helped a lot with preparing for higher education. Continue reading Deep Cover in South Africa→
On radio program Esoteric Hollywood, Jay Dyer and I discuss spy films and how they relate to real-world espionage in the ongoing Great Game. From depictions of KGB Directorate S in the current hit show The Americans to the shadowy backers of 1989’s silly propaganda bomb Red Scorpion, we delve into the lesser-known aspects of spy culture that reflect the realities of intelligence history.
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.
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?
Recently I was fortunate to go on Red Ice Radio with Henrik Palmgren. Henrik and I discussed Soviet intelligence operations, specifically the history of illegals, deep politics and geostrategy, and the course of Russian and Western culture.
Soviet intelligence experts Aleksandr Kolpakidi and Dmitry Prokhorov tell of the Soviet-Yugoslav split in 1948 and its fallout – Stalin’s plans to assassinate Yugoslavia’s Communist leader, Josip Broz Tito.
The establishment of Soviet control over the countries of Eastern Europe in the postwar years took place in a very tense environment. But if Communists of the Stalinist interpretation in Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Albania attained total victory, in Yugoslavia the triumphal march of Stalinism didn’t happen. As a result, at the end of the 1940s relations between the USSR and Yugoslavia were so poisoned that Soviet intelligence received the order from Stalin to liquidate Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito by any means.
Directorate S, also known as the Illegals Directorate, was the elite of the KGB’s First Chief Directorate (Foreign Intelligence). Journalist Konstantin Kapitonov was able to interview one of its chiefs, Lt. Gen. Vadim Alekseevich Kirpichenko (1922-2005) about his time at the head of the Illegals Directorate during the 1970s.
In March of 1974 Kirpichenko was called to Moscow to report to KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov. With discretion Andropov asked about what was happening in Egypt and how Soviet-Egyptian relations would unfold.