It is unlikely that Margaret Thatcher, taking the sculptor in London, suspected that Madame Helen was a Soviet intelligence officer in the past. "Iron Lady" was kind and thanked for the gift - the bust, which she placed on the desktop.
She gained world fame as a sculptor. Her works are now in the best museums of Europe - twelve in Hungary, three in France, eight in museums in Russia. Twelve solo exhibitions, about sixty sculptural portraits! She molded Thatcher, Brezhnev, de Gaulle, Kennedy ... It seemed that the life of this charming woman was transparent and well known. But, as often happens, it is not.
The fact that Elena Kosova, a foreign intelligence officer, knew only a limited circle of friends and colleagues, including, of course, her husband Nikolay Kosov, a scout, a brilliant journalist, and vice-president of the Association of Foreign Correspondents at the UN. Together with him, Elena Alexandrovna visited foreign missions in various countries of the world, including in the "field" of the New York residency.
She was the first Soviet woman to work for the UN, and was part of Vladimir Barkovsky’s group, who was involved in scientific and technical intelligence in a project that played a crucial role in creating the nuclear weapons in Russia. Many episodes of the work of E. Kosova are still not declassified. On her account - dozens of successful operations and not a single failure. But who, including her, could have imagined that in many years she would find a different profession - a peaceful one?
As a rule, women scouts combined the “main work” and any creative activity, under the cover of which they performed on the world stage. Of course, with talent. For example, a dancer-agent or a high-class spy actress. There were a lot of them. But in order to become in demand in a completely different field after a successful career, and even succeed in this - there are only one such unips! Zoya Voskresenskaya is involuntarily remembered, but she was known only in the Soviet Union — as a writer. Her books were included in the list of obligatory literature for schoolchildren. And here it is different.
Elena Alexandrovna Kosova lived not one, but several lives
“Hot trenches of the Cold War” taught Elena to memorize faces, the smallest details, to see in a person what is hidden from prying eyes - the skill of officer Kosova was useful to the sculptor Kosova. And the memory among family relics remained letters of the legendary scouts of the Cohen spouses and the prison drawings of Rudolf Abel. Indeed, in her life the professions of intelligence and artist were so closely intertwined - it was always interesting for her to unravel the secrets of her characters' inner world.
WITH OXFORD ACCENT
Elena Alexandrovna was born on June 6 1925 in the family of the commander of the border guard. During the Civil War, her father participated in the famous campaign of the Taman army - from the Taman Peninsula through Tuapse to join the main forces of the Red Army. Subsequently, he graduated from the Military Academy named after MV Frunze, fought on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War, was awarded many awards, including the Order of Suvorov, for military leadership. After the Victory, the general held a number of high posts in the border troops.
After graduation, she entered biennial foreign language courses at the Higher School of the MGB, although her father dissuaded her, they say, not the female path. But persuasion stubborn failed. Elena successfully passed the entrance exams and began to study English.
It was not easy. A group of five people had six English teachers, and almost all were professors. The requirements are huge, and what you wanted, the country needs high professionals! Students listened to American radio, learned to record quickly. Interestingly, for six months they did not explain the meaning of the English words that they memorized: at first they only worked out the pronunciation.
"In those years, immediately after the war, the country needed professional intelligence officers."
English in the group was taught by Jack London and other recognized classics. The control did on economic texts, which study in England only certain types, "kettles". In general, the "British" instilled in young people the right, beautiful, even exquisite, but, alas! obviously not a spoken language - and it’s not far from a failure in a foreign country!
From the memoirs of Elena Alexandrovna: “In those years, immediately after the war, the country needed professional intelligence agents. And especially in women who were recruited into organs, as later in the cosmonaut corps. We were not asked what language we want to learn, looked at external data. I was sent to a group of English, and after two years I spoke with the purest Oxford accent. But in striving for perfect pronunciation, our teachers did not take into account one thing: that they are training intelligence officers, and not highly qualified interpreters. My speech was too literate and so literary that when I came to work with my husband in New York, they simply did not understand me at first. It took some time to switch to colloquial English. ”
By the way, he met her future husband, Nikolai, precisely at the courses - he graduated from them two years earlier, and worked in the First General Directorate of the Ministry of State Security (intelligence abroad) - but did not lose ties with the Higher School and often visited friends. So met. They began to meet, went to the cinema, to the rink, just walked around the city. True, sometimes Kohl mysteriously disappeared, without warning.
After class, one of the teachers proudly said that graduates of the Higher School are already engaged in independent work and many abroad. For example, Kohl Kosov flew to America, will translate to Molotov himself! Nikolay Kosov, really was a translator of Molotov, accompanied on business trips of Khrushchev, Bulganin.
On the day of the last state exam for Elena, the young people decided to get married. History their love as if written by Shakespeare. “... I sometimes did not understand who I was to him - mother, wife, daughter. He was the most dear to me man ... We, probably, from that ancient Greek legend about the androgyne, which was divided into two halves ".
After graduating from school, Elena Kosova worked in the department “B” of the Information Committee (as foreign intelligence was then called) and led the American direction. Two years later, in 1949, Senior Lieutenant E. Kosova and her husband went on a business trip to the USA, both as Russian TASS correspondents. The young woman received a new name, the operational pseudonym - Anna.
THREE LIVES OF ANNA
Once, Elena Aleksandrovna was surprised to state that she had lived not one, but several lives. How did you have enough time and energy? After all, not one job, but several. Not one person - a string. Not just one legend - but a “collected works”, and how important it is not to confuse anything, not to forget, not to get lost, not to break, finally, from fatigue and constant tension!
According to the “legend,” the spouses were TASS employees, but due to circumstances, Elena first had to work as a translator at the USSR Mission to the UN. That was “life first,” official. The fact is that the state, according to the chief, turned out to be crowded, and in order to make room for Helen, he would have to fire an American, who, by the way, has three children. Kosovo, of course, refused such a reshuffle.
Then she was transferred to the promotion, appointing a "political officer of the second stage." For the first time, a Soviet woman was entrusted with such a high post at the United Nations. “I was assigned an African station on non-self-governing territories,” she later recalled, “and I gave reports, did analysis and generally performed my official work in such a way that nobody could complain. When they gave me a separate room, the door did not close there. Everyone went endlessly, like in a zoo, to gawk at me. ”
Bust of a scout and writer Zoya Voskresenskaya (Rybkina) by Elena Kosova
English has long been its own for her, it was interesting to work, people from different countries worked in the section - England, Austria, Poland, even China. At the end of the work, they went home, Elena said goodbye to them until tomorrow, and “Anna” appeared, which was to have a daily “voyage” to the residency. There has always been a lot of work.
In addition to "Anna" in the New York office of the UN, several other operational staff members of the station worked with whom she was able to communicate freely in the off-duty setting of the restaurant or club. However, in the UN, stuffed with special services equipment, free communication was excluded.
Since the car was only with her (she had learned to drive her secretly from her father once), after the end of the working day she put some of her colleagues, the operational staff of the station, into her Buick, and together they went to the Soviet consulate, where Anna "began the second working day. By the way, for Soviet citizens working at the embassy, it was also “closed”, officially responsible for the archive of the economic department there.
A priori, it is believed that a woman in intelligence plays the role of "seductress", bait, a kind of charmer, whom her lover will immediately tell all her big and small secrets. But this is not always the case. And although Elena Aleksandrovna was simply irresistible in her youth, she didn’t have to enchant anyone. Especially, with a large selection of informers - as in the case of "Anna".
She had to perform complex and risky tasks - in intelligence, she is risky every day with varying degrees. In particular, to liaise with two agents - a woman from the delegation of one of the European countries to the UN, as well as an American woman who worked in an important state institution.
Her informants in the “second, secret life” were, at first glance, ordinary women. The meeting of two ladies, their casual meetings in a cafe, a hairdresser, a pastry shop or a shop, as a rule, did not arouse suspicion among American counterintelligence. One hug or handshake - and a small film-like capsule in your pocket! However, one must be extremely collected: after all, any misstep could cost dearly both to Elena and her counterpart.
Thanks to this connection, the Center regularly received from “Anna” valuable information concerning the positions of NATO countries on global world problems. A copy of the secret American developments went to the table Kurchatov. Of course, Kosovo’s senior lieutenant did not know the whole picture of the battle for Los Alamos, but a very colorful mosaic was made up of small glasses.
From Elena Alexandrovna’s memoirs: “An atomic war was being prepared, and we knew for certain that around April, the US wanted to throw 1949 into Russia. And our task was to save our homeland as much as we could, so we could not think of anything else. American counterintelligence lyutovala. Every man from the Union was relentlessly watched. Draconian measures were introduced to relocate Soviet diplomats, the number of which was reduced to a minimum — even the rest were forbidden to leave the city.
In New York, I did not work in technical work, but in operational work. He was a binder in the Barkovsky group (he was just engaged in the atomic bomb). He gave me instructions — say, to print a letter in gloves, to drop it in another area in a certain place, to meet someone. It happened as needed. In addition, I remember, something happened to the operational secretary of our residency. She was hurriedly sent home. And I was assigned to perform its functions. For this, I had to learn to type on ... "
It happened, even with her husband, at home, she could not talk about work and “about anything at all”. Happened, he returned from the assignment, and Nikolay was worried, he needed to know if everything had gone well - she would nod to her husband, and that’s all. They learned to understand each other without words, from half a glance.
The center regularly received valuable information from Anna. However, it is only now that the general public found out about the heroine of national intelligence.
High post at the UN, work in residency and “eye-catching” in the archive ... what else? In such a multi-layered structure there is not enough “cherry on the cake”. And found the same! In her free time (was it?), The young woman reincarnated into a mass media trickler for diplomats. Organized amateur singing, dancing. She herself admitted that she had enough strength for everything - “the feeling of patriotism always gave great energy.” Perhaps someone will consider the phrase pompous, but for many generations of Soviet people the concept of “patriotism” was not something abstract or abstract.
In the USA, “Anna” and “Jan” spent seven long years filled with operational tasks, numerous meetings, trips and daily risk.
“MOM IS A COOK? WHAT SUCH? ”
It is believed that the former intelligence does not happen, even if they officially leave the profession.
“When I was thirty, I found out that I was expecting a child,” Elena Alexandrovna recalled. - It all changed. I decided to devote myself to him. My mom was sick, to help no one. And in general, I would not have entrusted my son to anyone ... I came and asked me to let me go for three years. And I was offered a resignation at the Center, and then, if I want, to return when it pleases ... ”But she never returned, however, intelligence remained in her life forever, because she was the wife of an intelligence officer. And twelve years of service is not so easy to forget.
The next trip to Holland, Elena accompanied Nicholas exclusively as a wife. But this is only at first glance. And although she was not directly involved in operational work, she helped her husband, a resident of Soviet foreign intelligence, to the best of her ability and capabilities. He then instructed her to “get to know” closer with the wife of a foreigner, to carry out an initial study, then at the reception to “talk” to a married couple, or even to “insure” himself when conducting complex operational activities. After all, it is not always possible to do everything yourself - Nikolai was closely watched. Who is this Russian? In the States he was a correspondent, in the Netherlands already as a diplomat! ..
A little son once asked his mother who she was working for. Elena Alexandrovna paused for a moment: "I am a cook, son." She really enjoyed cooking for her husband and son. And only after some time, the grown-up Nicholas Jr. found some documents in the "American Chest" that shed light on his mother's profession. He did not disclose a secret to anyone, but confessed to his parents that he was surprised and proud of his father and mother. However, the reason to be surprised was not the only one.
“The junction of the roads”, “intersection”, “moment of truth”, even “accident” - everyone calls it differently. However, they say, nothing happens by chance. Back in Holland, Nikolai Antonovich somehow introduced Elena to the wife of a Bulgarian diplomat, who at that time attended the Dutch Academy of Arts. The diplomat's wife persuaded Elena to go with her to classes and try herself in modeling, it's so interesting, especially since today an unusual model is a sitting black!
“When I fashioned him,” E. Kosova said, “the teacher immediately informed me of the decision: I was adopted for the second year. They even issued a document that I was a second year student at the Academy of Arts. Alas, I didn’t have to get there again, at first my son fell ill, then something else happened, and the sculpture left me for a long time. But for myself, I learned that I can. "
However, the "that it can," it was clear before. Once having arrived with a small son in a holiday home near Moscow, she molded a snowman with a surprisingly “live” face in the courtyard. Local police, seeing this masterpiece, carefully moved the “sculpture” to the courtyard of their department and admired it until the end of winter ...
The following experience brought Elena Alexandrovna a stunning success. It was in Budapest, where Nikolay Kosov was appointed the official representative of the KGB of the USSR in Hungary. At fifty, she found a second vocation, just picking up a piece of clay. It all began with love - to Shandor Petofi.
SECRET OF HER YOUTH
At her own risk, Elena created a sculptural portrait of S. Petofi - a poet, a rebel and incomparable lyrics. He was followed by a sculpture of Oranya János, donated to a local museum. The artistic public was delighted. Art critics and journalists praised the work of an unknown Russian master. From that moment on, she finally believed in her own strength — experience, impressions, thoughts, feelings, in short, everything that had accumulated over many years — she began to embody in people with interesting sculptural portraits. She was led by the joyous power of imagination.
For contemporaries, Elena Kosova was only a sculptor
And there was a lot of things. And the secret of youth, which she opened to journalists, turned out to be surprisingly simple (“you just need to cut off all unnecessary!”). And a portrait of Vladimir Mayakovsky, his American daughter, Patricia Thompson, moved to tears. And the lessons of sculpture from the famous Hungarian master Olchai-Kish Zoltan - four years of training only technical skills! Six solo exhibitions in Hungary. Recognition at home - since 1984, she is a full member of the Union of Artists of Russia ... And - portraits, portraits. Maybe the time will come, and her portrait will remain for the good memory of descendants? ..
Elena Alexandrovna outlived her husband for five years, and not a single day passed so that she did not remember Nikolay. The only thing that supported her all these lonely years was the idea that they did everything they could for their country. Jan and Anna were inseparable from her destiny - they knew, “Where the Motherland begins.”
Elena Kosova passed away on 21 on February 2014 of the year after a short illness. She was buried in Moscow at the Troyekurovsky cemetery, where many legendary scouts rest.