Military Review

At the edge of the nuclear abyss

At the edge of the nuclear abyss

Until recently, a table hung in one of the tables in the hall at the Occidental restaurant in Washington: “In the tense period of the Caribbean crisis in October 1962, the mysterious Russian“ Mr. X ”talked with the correspondent of TV company ABC John Scali around this table. On the basis of this meeting, the threat of nuclear war was averted. ”

This mysterious Russian was Alexander Semenovich Feklisov, a resident of the KGB intelligence in Washington. And a decade and a half before these events, he was directly involved in obtaining the most important information on atomic topics.


Alexander Semenovich Feklisov was born on March 9 in Moscow at the Rogozhskoy gates, in Rabochaya Street, in the family of a railroad switchman, who came from the peasants of the Tula province, in Moscow. In 1914, he graduated from the seven-year railway school, then - the F.E. Dzerzhinsky at the locomotive depot "Moscow-1929" of the Kursk Railway. He worked as an assistant driver on the train. In 1, he graduated from the Radio Faculty of the Moscow Institute of Communication Engineers (MIIS) and was sent to work at the state security agencies with admission to study at the Special Purpose School (SHON) of the NKVD, which trained personnel for foreign intelligence.

The days of intense study, of understanding the basics of intelligence began: special disciplines, a foreign language, and political training. A lot of hours were devoted to teaching telegraph transmission and listening to numeric and alphabetic text in Morse code. From this, Alexander realized that he, apparently, was to work abroad as a reconnaissance radio operator.

After graduating from Shona, Feklisov was enrolled in the US foreign intelligence department of the state security organs. He was announced that he would soon be sent to work in the United States.

In October 1940, the young intelligence officer was sent for an internship in the American department of the NKID USSR. In those days, there was a practice when diplomats leaving for abroad were received by Vyacheslav Molotov, people's commissar for foreign affairs. Alexander was no exception. The People's Commissar began his conversation with Feklisov and two other diplomats who had been assigned to work in England by stressing that their way to their destination was through Japan, as war rages in Europe. Molotov was interested in leaving biographies, marital status and other issues. When the turn came to Alexander and he said that he was not yet married, the reaction of the Commissar was instant:

- How is it you, my dear, at idle? We are not sending unmarried abroad, especially in the United States. There you will immediately pick up a beautiful blonde or brunette - and the provocation is ready!

However, the personnel officer of the NKID intervened in the conversation and noted that "senior workmates" (that is, intelligence management) characterize Alexander Feklisov as a politically and morally stable person, and besides, unmarried girls work in the Soviet embassy and in other Soviet institutions in the US and he can find among them his life partner (by the way, that’s what happened later). Molotov agreed with this opinion, and the question of the business trip was resolved positively.

Addressing diplomats, the people's commissar stressed that they would have to work in the conditions of an impending world war. He asked diplomats to focus in their future work on identifying secret plans and real steps by the United States and Britain, aimed at rapprochement with Germany and the possible conclusion between them of an anti-Soviet alliance. During the conversation, Molotov repeatedly pointed out the need to use all means to identify the secret plans of these countries in relation to the USSR.

Preparation Feklisova to work in the New York residency came to an end. In December, a radio transmitter was made for him on 1940. His tests were carried out in two stages: from the transmitting center in the building of the NKVD at Lubyanka, Feklisov established contact with radio centers in Minsk, Kiev and Ashkhabad. When this task was solved by him, a young intelligence officer was sent to Batumi to organize radio communications with Moscow. It was a dress rehearsal before a trip overseas. In early January, 1941, Feklisov announced that he needed to go to New York as quickly as possible.


The scout went to 17 on January 1941 for the first time. His long journey from Moscow to work overseas lasted more than a month and lay through Vladivostok, and then through Japan. From Yokohama, Alexander departed with the Yavota-Maru steamer to San Francisco, and from there by train to New York. In the business and financial capital of the United States, he arrived only 27 February.

In the consulate general of the USSR in New York, Feklisov served as a trainee post for cover. The cover duties of the intelligence officer included working with dispatched and permanently residing Soviet citizens on the territory of the consular district, as well as with seamen of Soviet merchant ships calling at American ports.

In the first months of his stay in the USA, “Kalistrat” (such was the operational pseudonym of an operative) acquainted with the city, improved language skills, and studied the agent-operational situation in the country.

It was only in April 1941 of the year that he was announced that, in accordance with the Center’s task, he would have to solve the problem of establishing a secret two-way radio communication between the station and the Center.

We will clarify that in the pre-war years the problem of establishing stable radio communications across the Atlantic was in itself very complex due to the imperfection of the equipment. In addition, according to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, signed in 1815, the use of radio to transmit encrypted messages was not envisaged at all. Each embassy encrypted its dispatches and, in this form, sent them to the international telegraph as ordinary telegrams, paying the appropriate fee. For any message you had to pay a lot of money in hard currency, not to mention the fact that local special services received copies of encrypted messages. Therefore, the use of secret long-distance radio communications for the transmission of encrypted intelligence messages was a very urgent task.

At the same time, the intelligence officer was obliged to translate the information materials received by the agency from the agents into Russian, pick up meeting places with the agents for other station staff, and give visits to foreigners who visited the Soviet consulate and were of possible reconnaissance interest.

Kalistrat began work on the establishment of two-way radio communication with the Center. At first, he was unable to contact Moscow due to the fact that the Soviet consulate, where the equipment was located, was surrounded by skyscrapers. However, he later installed a high antenna, and Moscow began to receive its signals during the day and at night. The New York residency began to use stable radio communication with the Center to transmit urgent telegrams. It should be noted here that the Americans, in circumvention of the Vienna Convention, had in Moscow an unofficial radio contact with Washington.

As we see, the beginning of the active operational activity of “Kalistrat” in New York coincided with the relentless approaching war. Local newspapers openly wrote about the inevitability of the German-Soviet military confrontation. The Soviet ambassador to the US, Konstantin Umansky, speaking at a meeting of the diplomatic staff of the consulate general in New York at the end of April 1941, said bluntly: “Hitler is drunk with success. In Europe, there is no power that could stop the fascists. Hitler is preparing for an attack on the USSR, and apparently, the war with Germany, with all our desire, cannot be avoided. ”

The prediction of the ambassador soon came true. On the morning of June 22, “Kalistrat” was informed of Germany’s treacherous attack on the USSR. Employees of the consulate general were transferred to martial law.

Soon, “Kalistrat” was entrusted with the development of a number of promising foreigners, as well as leading a valuable agency in the area of ​​scientific and technical intelligence. Operator successfully coped with the tasks. He actively worked on the problems of the American atomic weapons. Valuable military information was also received and sent to the Center from its sources. aviation and nascent rocketry and electronics, including the latest at the time various types of sonars, radars, sighting systems, anti-aircraft fuses, computers, secret materials were obtained on the technology for the production of electric vacuum devices.

Kalistrat worked in the USA until September 1946. After returning to Moscow, he was removed "under the roof" at the Foreign Ministry, where he held the position of 3 Secretary for the UN Affairs Department.


At the beginning of August 1947, it was decided to send Feklisov to England to the position of deputy resident in the area of ​​scientific and technical intelligence. And already in the middle of September he was to meet in London with the agent “Charles” - nuclear scientist Klaus Fuchs.

After the famous Fulton speech of the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who announced the introduction of the Iron Curtain against the USSR (5 March performance 1946, in Westminster College of the American city of Fulton, Missouri), the West began a long period of confrontation with our country, known as “cold” war". London residency was faced with the task of identifying the secret plans of the United States and Britain for preparing for a real war with the Soviet Union, as well as obtaining reliable secret information on the progress of work in these countries on the creation of nuclear weapons.

The first meeting of the scout with Klaus Fuchs took place in a pub in a remote area from central London. Having exchanged a password and recall, “Kalistrat” and Fuchs left the bar and continued to meet on the street. A foreigner brought important materials on the plutonium production technology to the operator, which he received at the British Atomic Research Center in Harwell. “Kalistrat” gave the agent a task for the next meeting. After reviewing the questions of the assignment, Fuchs noted that according to their content, he could conclude that in two years in the Soviet Union an atomic bomb would be created. His prediction came true: the first atomic bomb, created in the USSR by the efforts of Soviet scientists with the tremendous help of Klaus Fuchs and other reliable foreign intelligence assistants, was detonated at the Semipalatinsk test site 29 August 1949 of the year, finally burying the US monopoly in this area.

Later in one of his interviews, referring to the role of intelligence in the creation of the Soviet atomic bomb, Feklisov emphasized:

“And we do not pretend to anything. Intelligence produced valuable top-secret information, and our scientists worked on the problem. Everyone did their own thing. By the way, the most reliable and promising scientific and technical information becomes useful only when it falls on fertile soil, when its significance is understood. It happened with information about atomic weapons.

Our bomb was created by scientists, engineers, workers, not intelligence. In incredibly difficult conditions, they managed in a short time to create an atomic shield for the Motherland. And information obtained by intelligence only accelerated this work. Nevertheless, one of Igor V. Kurchatov’s letters to the leadership of the USSR MGB stressed: “Soviet intelligence provided invaluable assistance in building Soviet nuclear weapons.” Evaluating the merits of our intelligence and scientists in the creation of the Soviet atomic bomb, Academician Kurchatov noted that they are in the ratio of fifty-fifty. "

The test of the first atomic bomb in the USSR caused a shock around the world and shock to the ruling elite of the United States, who believed that our country was behind the US in this area by 10 – 15 years.

In government circles in the United States and England, they came to the conclusion that the secrets of atomic weapons were stolen by Soviet agents who worked at the American Nuclear Research Center in Los Alamos, where the American atomic bomb was created. The FBI has begun a thorough investigation. All individuals who came to Los Alamos, including Klaus Fuchs, have been actively studied. It was found that he adhered to the left, favorably spoke of the USSR. In addition, in one of the documents sent to Canadian intelligence services in September 1945 by the defector encoder of the GRU residency in Ottawa Igor Guzenko, the name of our agent was mentioned.

Resident of the Soviet Foreign Intelligence Alexander Semenovich Feklisov. Washington, 1963 year

British counterintelligence took Klaus Fuchs into intensive development, and on February 3 on 1949, he was arrested and later sentenced to 14 years in prison. Subsequently, the US Atomic Energy Commission came to the conclusion that it passed on to the Soviet Union the secrets of producing the hydrogen bomb, which, as we know, our country created earlier Americans.

Klaus Fuchs was released from an English prison in June 1959, nine and a half years after the sentence. He refused very prestigious proposals to engage in scientific work in the West and flew to East Berlin. In 48 years, the scientist began his life from scratch. He married, worked as deputy director of the Institute of Nuclear Physics, read lectures on physics and philosophy. Later he became a full member of the Academy of Sciences of the GDR, the winner of the State Prize of the first degree.

Since in England 1947 – 1949 there was an extremely difficult counterintelligence regime, each meeting of “Kalistrat” with Klaus Fuchs was thoroughly worked out, and the plan for its conduct was discussed and agreed with the Center. As a result, all meetings with the agent were held in a calm atmosphere. Kalistrat and Fuchs himself did not make any mistakes that could lead to the failure of the source. He was arrested only as a result of betrayal.

In connection with the beginning of the trial of Klaus Fuchs, the Center decided to terminate the Kalistrat official mission. In early April 1950, he returned to Moscow.


From the middle of 1950 to August 1960, Alexander Feklisov held a number of senior positions in the central foreign intelligence apparatus. At the same time, in the period from June 1953 to December 1955, he was in Prague, being the deputy chief adviser of the Ministry of Internal Affairs - the KGB for intelligence at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Czechoslovakia.

In 1959, he was directly involved in organizing and ensuring the security of the visit of the first secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers N.S. Khrushchev in the United States.

In the spring of 1960, the intelligence leadership decided to send Feklisov a KGB resident in the United States. He led the Washington station.

This was the height of the Cold War. January 1 The 1959 of the year Fidel Castro's troops entered Havana. The dictator Batista fled the country in disgrace. In Cuba, the revolution was victorious, which greatly frightened the ruling elite of the United States, which was accustomed to considering the Island of Freedom as its colony. US President Dwight Eisenhower hostile to the Castro regime. Replacing him in 1961 on this post, President John F. Kennedy picked up the baton from Eisenhower. He had plans to invade Cuba to overthrow the revolutionary government of Castro.

The center has set a task for the resident "Kalistrat" ​​to extract secret information about the US plans for Cuba. Sources of information were acquired, and reliable information was sent to the Center, from which it followed that an invasion of Cuba was being prepared on the instructions of John F. Kennedy. The exact date of the landing of mercenaries on the island was established. As a result of the measures taken by the Soviet Union and the Cubans, the American intervention in the area of ​​the Bay of Pigs failed. Detachments of immigrant mercenaries were crushed and thrown from the territory of the Island of Freedom.

However, John Kennedy did not calm down. He began to prepare a new intervention, codenamed Mongoose. Responsible for the operation was appointed by his brother, Justice Secretary Edward Kennedy. In the early spring of 1961, two fishermen from the southernmost part of Florida, where the invading detachments were concentrated, came to the consular section of the USSR Embassy in Washington. They brought a map and showed on it routes through which the Americans throw weapons, explosives, and various technical means to Cuba. In a conversation with a representative of the Soviet intelligence, they expressed the opinion that the United States was preparing a new invasion of Cuba and asked to inform the government of Fidel Castro about this.

A corresponding telegram was sent to Moscow with a request to inform the Cuban government. This request has been completed. At the same time, the station headed by Kalistrata, through its secret channels, brought to the attention of the State Department information that the Cuban counterintelligence monitors the routes of people and weapons to be brought to the island by American intelligence. There was also an event to "leak" directional information. In accordance with her, the Cuban counterintelligence agency allegedly turned over several counter-revolutionaries who had been abandoned to Cuba and were playing with the CIA with their help in order to get as much money and weapons as possible.

US Secretary of State Dean Rusk was furious. He had a serious conversation with John Kennedy, as a result of which the CIA was forced to significantly reduce the transfer of its agents to Cuba. However, this did not lead to the cancellation of Operation Mongoose. John Kennedy was still preparing the overthrow of Fidel Castro. The Soviet government, at the request of Cuba, began to provide massive economic and military assistance to this country. Knowing about the plans of the United States, Nikita Khrushchev decided to place in Cuba Soviet nuclear warheads capable of striking the territory of the United States, including Washington and New York. October 14 1962, the American reconnaissance aircraft "U-2" recorded the construction of missile launchers in Cuba.

John Kennedy immediately created a “crisis headquarters” - the Executive Committee of the National Security Council, which included the vice-president, secretary of state, secretary of defense, director of the CIA and others. Strict measures have been taken to prevent information leakage. Representatives of the military and the CIA were in favor of an immediate invasion of Cuba, but the American president hesitated. He shared the opinion of the Minister of Defense Robert McNamara that in the event of a bombardment of missile launchers, Soviet specialists could be killed, which would inevitably lead to the Soviet Union being drawn into the conflict.

The fact that the USSR placed nuclear missiles in Cuba capable of hitting the United States, the US administration did not dare to declare publicly for a long time, and only the threat of the opposition independently informing the population about this forced John Kennedy to make a radio address to the nation. This news caused a panic in the US. Over a million Americans urgently left the United States and took refuge in Mexico and Canada. Kennedy decided to establish a blockade of Cuba. Thus arose the Caribbean crisis, which put the world on the brink of a nuclear catastrophe. The KGB residency in Washington worked around the clock, gathering current operational information about US plans for Cuba.

October 22 1962, at the height of the Caribbean crisis, Kalistrata was invited to breakfast by renowned American journalist John Scali, with whom the operative periodically maintained official contact. They met in the restaurant of the hotel "Occidental". Scali looked worried. Without prefaces, he began to accuse Khrushchev of aggression. The scout parried the journalist's attacks with examples from US policy that surrounded the USSR with a network of military bases equipped with nuclear weapons. He also mentioned the flight of the U2 spy plane, the aggression against Cuba. At the end of the conversation, Scaly said that on the evening of the same day, John F. Kennedy would address the people in which he would announce measures taken against Cuba.

The situation is heating up every day. October 26 "Kalistrat" ​​invited Scali for lunch. The journalist, in turn, reported on the upcoming meeting with the Soviet representative, Secretary of State Dean Rasku, who reported to President John F. Kennedy about it. Apparently, the Americans understood that “Kalistrat” was not just the first secretary of the USSR Embassy, ​​but also represented some other Soviet service - the GRU or the KGB. John Kennedy instructed to inform the Soviet diplomat that time does not suffer, therefore the Kremlin must urgently make a statement about his unconditional consent to withdraw the missiles from Cuba.

During the conversation with an American journalist, the intelligence officer emphasized that the US invasion of Cuba would give Khrushchev freedom of action in another part of the world, for example, in West Berlin. These words excited the American, and he immediately passed them on to John F. Kennedy. The reaction of the President of the United States was instantaneous. In the afternoon of the same day, Scali called the Soviet embassy and asked Kalistrat to meet him urgently. At this meeting, Scali handed the reconnaissance proposals of the US President to the head of the Soviet Union, Khrushchev, on resolving the crisis. Their essence boiled down to the following: the USSR immediately dismantles and removes its rocket launchers from Cuba under UN control; The United States lifts the blockade of Cuba and undertakes a public promise not to invade Liberty Island.

Scali added that this agreement could be formalized within the UN. The Soviet representative stressed that he would immediately transfer these proposals to Kennedy to the Soviet ambassador. However, Anatoly Dobrynin refused to send a telegram through the embassy. Then "Kalistrat" ​​transferred it to the Center by encrypting the residency.

October 27 Scaly called "Kalistrat" ​​to the meeting. He began to blame the diplomat for the lack of reaction of the Soviet side to Kennedy’s proposals. The scout replied that the lines of communication were overloaded, but Khrushchev’s answer would surely follow. And indeed, the response of the Soviet leader arrived on Sunday 28 October. The Soviet Union accepted the US proposal to dismantle missiles in Cuba. In exchange, the United States pledged to withdraw its Jupiter missiles from Turkey and not to attack Cuba. The Caribbean crisis was successfully resolved. The resident of the KGB in Washington “Kalistrat” also contributed to this matter.

In 1964, the reconnaissance business trip to the United States ended.

Returning to Moscow, Alexander Feklisov worked in senior positions at the PGU of the KGB of the USSR. Since 1969, he was in teaching: he was the deputy head of the KGB Institute for the Red Banner (now the Foreign Intelligence Academy) and at the same time the head of one of its faculties. Candidate historical sciences. He devoted a lot of strength and energy to the education of future scouts.

In 1974, Colonel Feklisov retired by age. For services in intelligence work, he was awarded two Orders of the Red Banner of Labor, the Order of the Patriotic War of the 1 degree, two Orders of the Red Star, the Order of the Badge of Honor, many medals, and the badges “Honorary State Security Officer” and “For serving in intelligence. "

Being retired, Feklisov took an active part in the education of the young generation of foreign intelligence officers, was engaged in research and journalistic activities. In 1994, his memoir book “Overseas and on the Island” was published, and in 1999, the “Recognition of a Scout”. In them, Alexander Feklisov spoke in an accessible form about his intelligence activities abroad.

15 June 1996, by the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation, Alexander Semenovich Feklisov was awarded the title Hero of Russia for his outstanding contribution to ensuring the security of our country.

Alexander Semenovich died on October 26 2007 of the year.
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  1. erased
    erased April 1 2014 10: 22
    There were times - the USSR, even with the bastard Khrushchev, dictated his will to the world. This still cannot be forgiven by sworn friends!
    1. platitsyn70
      platitsyn70 April 1 2014 10: 54
      There were times - the USSR, even with the bastard Khrushchev, dictated his will to the world. This still cannot be forgiven by sworn friends!
      years have passed, and Kuzkina’s mother lives.
  2. Lumumba
    Lumumba April 1 2014 10: 41
    Exactly. With all due disrespect to Khrushchev, it is worth recognizing the fact that he did give the states a big deal about ***.
  3. VNP1958PVN
    VNP1958PVN April 1 2014 10: 52
    Oh, there were people nowadays!
  4. zao74
    zao74 April 1 2014 11: 09
    The destiny of man is to serve the Fatherland ... It is impossible to imagine the best.
  5. navy1301
    navy1301 April 1 2014 11: 12
    Now whose time is it? not ours?
  6. Mareman Vasilich
    Mareman Vasilich April 1 2014 11: 22
    Yes, it was a force. Eternal glory to the Russian, Soviet soldiers! The soldiers of the visible and invisible front.
  7. alex47russ
    alex47russ April 1 2014 11: 31
    It is necessary to re-gain lost superiority !!! I hope Putin and his policy will again make us a super power !!!
  8. San_aa
    San_aa April 1 2014 12: 04
    Yes, earlier it was possible to meet in coffee, in the park. It's harder now. I think now we are holding the United States for the "priests".
  9. pvli74
    pvli74 April 2 2014 16: 03
    This man rightfully deserves respect, awards and the eternal memory of the people he served, I think now there are not a few people in the security service, the truth of which we will not know soon.