New Light on Old Spies - A Review of Recent Soviet Intelligence Revelations - part 5 - Dagger and Cloak

Sunday, 15 July 2007

New Light on Old Spies - A Review of Recent Soviet Intelligence Revelations - part 5

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Other Chekists

Few other officials of state security have been honored with biographies. I. V. Viktorov's rather sparse and matter-of-fact biography of Mikhail Sergeyevich Kedrov, an old Bolshevik and associate of Dzerzhinskiy, is unusual in that it covers in part the period of the great purges. According to Viktorov, Kedrov's son Igor and a friend, one Volodya Golubev, both employed by state security, discovered in early 1939 that Beriya and his associates were betraying the USSR in the interest of Hitler. The two young Chekists, after consulting the elder Kedrov, who by then was out of the service, decided to make the facts known to Stalin and the Party Control Commission. When the young men were arrested, as they anticipated being, M S. Kedrov was to approach Stalin, reveal the facts of the matter, and call Stalin's attention to a letter accusing Beriya that he (Kedrov ) had written to Dzerzhinskiy in 1921.

But Igor Kedrov and Golubev were arrested in late February 1939 and shot. The elder Kedrov was arrested several months later. Despite the fact that he succeeded in proving his innocence, he was not freed, and in late 1941 Beriya disposed of him also. This story, which also serves to denigrate Stalin, is reported without details or substantiating facts. Viktorov's book perhaps serves to rehabilitate M. S. Kedrov, but it adds little or nothing to our knowledge of the state security service.

An Estonian official of the Cheka, Viktor E. Kingisepp, has also been honored with a biography. Kingisepp took a prominent part in the investigation of the attempt on Lenin's life in August 1918. Memoirs of old Chekists are rare in Soviet literature. The memoirs of F. T. Fomin, a retired member of state security, were published in 1962 in an original edition of 350,000 copies, certainly a very large printing for a book of this type. A second, revised edition appeared in 1964. Fomin, it is interesting to note; admits that Chekists could misuse their authority for personal goals, citing the activities of a Baltic baron in the Ukrainian Cheka to prove the point. Perhaps it is significant that the miscreant was of noble birth. It is also noteworthy that Fomin presents a highly favorable picture of V. R. Nlenzhinskiy, DzerzhinskiyIs successor as chief of state security, a weak man whose tour at the head of the service is considered an interregnum between Dzerzhinskiy and G. G. Yagoda. Fomin, however, does not mention the much more significant Yagoda, whose role in state security until he was purged by Stalin was considerable.


Histories of the state security service and its operations have been even more rare. When they do appear, such volumes cover the early period of the service, the time of the Cheka. The most significant historical study of the Cheka to appear in recent years is P. G. Sofinov's volume, Historical Sketches, published in 1960.

The Soviets have also seen fit to surface in part the highly successful TRUST operation of the mid-twenties. This counterintelligence operation, which was mounted by state security, was designed to neutralize the anti-regime activities of Russian émigrés and the intelligence operations of European services. Using as decoy a national organization, the "Monarchical Organization of Central Russia," usually called TRUST, Soviet state security was able to deflect and control the attempts of its enemies to overthrow the Soviet regime during the time of its greatest weakness. A new and untested service thus succeeded in misleading the most experienced intelligence services of Western Europe and in almost completely neutralizing the dedicated work of its émigré opponents.

Not the least of its achievements was the enticement into the Soviet Union and seizure in 1925 of Sidney George Reilly, an able British intelligence officer who had operated in Russia with Robert Bruce-Lockhart in 1918. Lev Nikulin has described the enticement and seizure of Reilly in an article in Nedelya. Not unnaturally, Nikulin shows great pride in this achievement of the security service and its young officers. He undertakes to smear the image of Reilly, however, quoting what purports to be Reilly's offer to Dzerzhinskiy to give full information on the organization and staff of the British intelligence service, members of the Russian emigration with whom he had worked, and--significantly--the American intelligence service. Since U.S. intelligence was moribund by the middle twenties, any information thereon supplied by Reilly, if indeed he wrote such a letter to Dzerzhinskiy, would have been historical.

Nikulin's article was described as a chapter from his forthcoming "novel-chronicle" on TRUST. This book, Mertvaya Zyb (The Swell) apparently has not been published up to this time.

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