The intelligence services of the USSR and the USA, 1985, dubbed the year of spies, when Soviet intelligence as a result of the betrayal of a number of KGB employees suffered significant losses among its agents, but at the same time managed to recruit high-ranking US intelligence officers overseas. Viktor Cherkashin, Colonel of the Stock of the K (foreign counterintelligence) Department of the First Main Directorate of the KGB of the USSR, tells about this, as well as about a number of other high-profile spy scandals.
- Viktor Ivanovich, how do you, an eyewitness of the work of the intelligence services of the USSR and the USA of that time, assess the situation of 1985 of the year?
- What was happening in our country was then perceived by many, primarily the United States, as the beginning of a weakening of the power of the USSR. Although no one, including Ronald Reagan, suggested that in only six years a great power would disintegrate. In general, for PSU KGB of the USSR this year was unsuccessful. The FBI arrested several valuable sources of information in various American intelligence services - the family of naval cryptographers fleet US Walkers, Ronald Pelton of the National Security Agency, exposed CIA employee Edward Lee Howard. The leading employee of PSU Vitaly Yurchenko passed to the side of the American special services. However, the intelligence of the KGB of the USSR pretty quickly got the opportunity not only to understand the reasons for the arrest of our agents, but also to identify those responsible for this, moreover, to reveal the CIA’s intelligence penetration into various KGB units, the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“All these data were obtained from Aldrich Ames, head of the Soviet counterintelligence department of the CIA, and a high-ranking FBI official, Robert Hanssen?”
- Yes, it's not a secret for a long time. Thanks to Aldrich Ames, we were able to expose over 20 CIA agents in various government agencies of the Soviet Union. In the same 1985, our counterintelligence officers arrested seven American agents - Valery Martynov, Sergey Motorin, Gennady Smetanin, and later - Dmitry Polyakov and others. People who worked in various state institutions of the USSR, became easy prey for enemy intelligence agencies, not only for selfish motives, but also because of the loss of patriotic convictions and faith in their country.
- What was the motivation for treason between Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, for they were good analysts and saw that the USSR began to lose its position in the world?
- In addition to a purely financial interest, Ames pushed for cooperation that he regarded as a betrayal of America’s national interests by the desire of the US leadership to present a weakened Soviet Union as a source of threat. He perceived this as an attempt to obtain additional funding for the Ministry of Defense and special services, but not as actions dictated by the true vital interests of his state. Believe me, Ames was not a fool. He knew politics and knew where America was going.
“What do you think of Edward Lee Howard?” Many consider him a loser, an alcoholic and a drug addict dismissed because of this from the Eastern European department of the CIA.
- About Lee Howard, I can only judge by the period of my work in the United States. His business is really not quite usual. As an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency, he was preparing for work in the Soviet Union. Moreover, he has already appealed to the USSR Embassy in the United States with a request to grant him a visa to enter our country, where he was supposed to work under diplomatic cover. Arrival did not take place. The FBI recorded the fact of taking narcotic drugs, then the information passed that he had stolen a purse from some lady. In my opinion, perhaps, being in a state of euphoria, he wanted to demonstrate his willingness to work as a spy. This happens even with people with a stable psyche. Nevertheless, Howard's trip to the USSR was canceled.
- Was he prepared to work with Adolf Tolkachev?
- Yes. Tolkachev was listed in the closed bureau of the Radio Engineering Research Institute and had information about the “friend-foe” identification devices designed for Soviet Air Force planes. The information was very important, so to speak top secret. Generally unprecedented itself историяhow Tolkachev tried to make contact with the Americans. At first, he threw a note in the car with the diplomatic number of the American embassy in Moscow that he was a Russian patriot and could contribute to the destruction of the Soviet Communist Party, since it allegedly leads our country to death. This option is not passed. Again, Tolkachev attempted to make contact when he approached a CIA employee’s car at a gas station and offered him cooperation. He just ran away.
- Why did they not go to contact with a potential agent?
- On the territory of the USSR for the work of the CIA was not the best situation at that time. The KGB has just exposed a recruited agent in Colombia named Trianon, an employee of the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs Alexander Ogorodnik, who committed suicide during his arrest. At the same time in Moscow during a secret operation, CIA officer Marta Peterson was captured. It is clear that everyone was afraid of provocations. Nevertheless, the resident of the CIA in Moscow, a resolute and very brave man, ventured to make contact with Tolkachev.
- Who thanks to Lee Howard and was arrested in 1985 ... Viktor Ivanovich, did you personally meet Howard?
- Yes, in 1986, when I returned from a business trip to the USA. Howard, in spite of everything that happened to him, was a very intelligent man and a competent operative. When the American special services in 1985 received information about him from Vitaly Yurchenko, the FBI established an external surveillance of him. Howard and his wife, also a very experienced intelligence officer, noticed this, drove out of the house, at the intersection of Howard jumped out of the car, and his wife put a dummy on the first seat. Outside did not suspect anything, and Howard was able to cross the US border with Mexico, go out to Europe and then to the USSR.
- How closely were you acquainted with Oleg Kalugin, who was one of the first to openly talk about the omnipotence of the Second Main Directorate of the KGB of the USSR?
- I knew Oleg Danilovich very well, we studied with him at the Institute of Foreign Languages of the KGB of the USSR in Leningrad. From the point of view of erudition, he was an outstanding man. A very active and successful operative worker, whose fate was influenced by two circumstances: his relationship with the leadership of the PGU KGB of the USSR, primarily with Vladimir Aleksandrovich Kryuchkov, and the era of the so-called democratization of the Soviet system, when Kalugin on the basis of personal dislike for the leadership of the committee went into politics and began to expose the work of the whole structure of special services, issuing professional secrets.
- As far as Kalugin is right, saying that the work of counterintelligence was easy and amounted to arresting and detaining both intelligence officers of different countries and citizens of the USSR? Or is still the search for a mole - is not easy?
- Before moving to intelligence, I worked for seven years at the Second Main Directorate of the KGB of the USSR, in a department engaged in counteracting British intelligence in our country. I am well aware of the methods used to expose the enemy agents. And I know very well how difficult it is to uncover a person working for foreign intelligence, especially among his fellow soldiers. For several decades, counterintelligence of the KGB found on the basis of miscalculations in the organization of espionage activities only one agent - the GRU colonel Oleg Penkovsky. The wife of the consular officer of the British Embassy met with Penkovsky in some shops and other crowded places during the daytime. For intelligence work this is primitive. In general, scenes where an employee intersects with an agent and passes him a briefcase with money, and he quietly puts an envelope with secret data into someone else’s pocket - from feature films. Personal contact, as a rule, does not happen - the materials are put in a cache, the place of which is chosen so that no outsider can fix the bookmark. And in the same careful way it is removed. I'm not talking about electronic communication methods, in which the intelligence officer does not need to meet with his agent. Exposing is a difficult, painstaking and long business. As a rule, the agent is exposed only by another agent.
- What happened after receiving data that such a citizen of the USSR is an agent of the CIA of the USA?
- The information provided to us, say, by Ames, did not carry any details, he simply reported that the person is a CIA agent. To bring this citizen to criminal liability for treason, it was required to obtain supporting data. And it already belongs to the category of "hellish work."
“How did it happen that GRU General Dmitry Polyakov was able to work for the CIA for more than 15 for years, even after he retired, when he began teaching in the intelligence school?”
- With Polyakov the question is complicated. The general, the resident of the USSR intelligence services in India ... The first data about him appeared in the 70s, when Edward Epstein published the Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald in the United States, which mentioned the names of CIA agents in the USSR intelligence services - Tophead ( Polyakov) and Fedor (an employee of the New York residency of the PGU of the USSR KGB Alexei Kulak). James Angleton, who headed the CIA's counterintelligence department at the time, considered those who, in good faith, wanted to cooperate with the special services, were “bases”. For him, Fedor and Tophead were provocateurs, so he gave information about them to Epstein. Even Deputy Chief of the First Division of the Second Main Directorate of the KGB of the SSR, Major Yuri Nosenko, who escaped from Switzerland in 1964 in the USA, Angleton was kept in solitary confinement, subjecting him to strict and intensive interrogations. For several years, Angleton did not believe that Nosenko was not a “setup” for the KGB.
- Do you agree with the opinion of your colleague, Viktor Ivanovich Andrianov, that in 70 and 80, the Directorate K and all the residency of the PGU of the KGB of the USSR simply physically could not keep the Soviet colony in New York around the clock?
- Yes, such total control was impossible and simply meaningless. Take, for example, the USSR Embassy in Washington. Construction of a residential complex for Soviet diplomatic workers was completed only in 1979 year. Prior to that, about a hundred official embassy staff with their families were resettled in different parts of this big city. Establish surveillance of each - an incredible thing.
The Soviet colony was controlled by the Fifth Division of the Foreign Counterintelligence Directorate. Non-standard behavior of employees, if one of them, for example, came to work drunk, cursed with his wife or traveled to the city for unknown purposes, the security officer watched.
- To what extent was the son of a Soviet diplomat and defector Arkady Shevchenko, Gennady, right, stating that if his father had arrived in Moscow in 1978 to receive a comment from Andrei Gromyko for alcohol abuse, then he would have the resident of the PGU of the KGB of the USSR in New York Yuri Drozdov there was no evidence of treason?
- Drozdov did not have documentary evidence for that period because the evidence of recruitment by the US special services of UN Under-Secretary-General Arkady Shevchenko could only be obtained from the FBI. The rest of the information was operational.
Shevchenko remained in plain view throughout his stay in the United States. His hobbies and passions of a certain kind were known to our employees. Workers of Soviet intelligence in New York knew about the interest in Shevchenko from the US special services. Of course, nobody knew about the fact of his recruitment and meetings with representatives of the American special services in safe houses when he passed on information to them.
- Please explain, Viktor Ivanovich, how could the meetings of Shevchenko with his curators from the FBI take place?
- Meetings in safe houses were arranged so that they were known as little as possible to outsiders. But information that Arkady Shevchenko had something unfavorable and that perhaps the intelligence services of the United States were actively working around him, Soviet intelligence officers had, and Yury Ivanovich Drozdov, a resident of the PGU of the USSR KGB, had it.
In order to understand everything that was happening around Shevchenko, a special worker of the KGB of the USSR came to the USA from Moscow. Apparently, his arrival was not very well organized and was able to guard not only Arkady Shevchenko himself, but also the FBI employees who gave the command to leave.
Only in 1985, the PGU of the KGB of the USSR had the opportunity to receive reliable documentary information on how Arkady Shevchenko voluntarily began to cooperate with the US special services. As I recall, Aldrich Ames worked with the CIA from Shevchenko.
- How do you comment on the words of Gennady Shevchenko that because of Ames, twelve Soviet citizens were shot, and because of his father, not one person was physically injured - neither in the USA nor in the USSR?
- The consequences of the betrayal of their country by individuals may be different. Different depending on the severity of these consequences can be punished for treason. But the essence of the deed does not change: the activity to the detriment of the interests of his country is a betrayal.