The theory and practice of Soviet intelligence - part 6 - Dagger and Cloak

Thursday, 12 July 2007

The theory and practice of Soviet intelligence - part 6

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Political Action

The sixth line of Soviet intelligence is to influence the decisions of foreign governments through secret agents occupying important positions within them. In the last two decades there have been quite a few instances in which highly placed Soviet secret agents were able to tip the scales of policy in favor of the Soviet Union. Some of these agents started out as junior diplomats in the foreign offices of the West and climbed with the help of their socially prominent families to high government positions. Others were already mature politicians and statesmen when they were seduced by money and other base considerations. One of the leading members of Mussolini's cabinet and the Fascist Grand Council succumbed to an offer of money and agreed to collaborate with Soviet Russia.

A leading member of the parliament of a mid-European country, who was not thought to be a friend of the Soviet Union, would meet secretly with the Soviet ambassador and take his instructions concerning the position he should assume in certain matters affecting Soviet interests. In another European country an inspector of the national secret police, who had become a Soviet informant, reported the police had documentary proof that an influential member of the cabinet was a partner in a big narcotics ring and owned, together with a famous racketeer, a luxury brothel a few blocks away from the presidential palace in the center of the capital. This minister was so powerful in the councils of the government, as well as in the underworld. that the head of the secret police was afraid to tangle with him. MoEcow ordered the residentura to steal all the incriminating documents, and photographs of them were shown to the minister at the Soviet embassy, as a "friendly gesture," by the soviet ambassador himself, who happened to be a former chief of the Foreign Department of the OGPU, i.e. of Soviet intelligence. The friendly gesture was well understood, and it inaugurated a period of close collaboration between the minister and Soviet intelligence. His task was not merely to provide information but to influence the policies of his government as directed by the Soviet Foreign Commissariat.

Another type of KGB political action is to pave the way in ticklish international matters for later negotiations between the Soviet Foreign Office and other governments. If exploratory talks conducted, directly or through go-betweens, by Soviet intelligence agents with representatives of a foreign government produce results satisfactory to both sides, the official diplomats of both countries can then take over. If not, the Kremlin remains free to disclaim any knowledge of them. A Russian intelligence officer by the name of Ostrovsky who had secretly negotiated the establishment of diplomatic relations with Roumania became the first Soviet ambassador to that country.

Another activity along this line consists of clandestine attempts to induce leaders of a political opposition to stage a coup d'etat and take over the government. The inducement would be a promise of political and financial support and, if the state happened to border on Soviet territory, military aid as well. In 1937, for instance, one of the chiefs of intelligence was commissioned by Stalin personally to enter into secret negotiations with former Roumanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Titulesku, who lived at that time in Menton, on the FrancoItalian border, and persuade him to overthrow the reactionary regime of Prime Minister Maniu. Stalin offered financial and military aid against a promise by Titulesku that upon assumption of power he would sign a mutual assistance pact with the Soviet Union.

Industrial Intelligence

Although intelligence activity is as old as society, this seventh line of Soviet operation is something new, first begun in 1929. Its purpose was to assist in the industrialization of the Soviet Union by stealing production secrets-new inventions, secret technological processes, etc.-from the advanced countries of Europe and America. Soviet intelligence organizations abroad began to recruit engineers, scientists, and inventors working in the laboratories and plants of the big industrial concerns of the world.

At this time the Soviet Union, besides buying big quantities of machinery and even whole plants from the industrial companies of the West, negotiated with them for the purchase of patents and the know-how for production processes. A number of such purchases were made and foreign engineers came to instruct the Russians in the application of the new methods. But often, when the price demanded by foreign concerns for their "technical aid" was too high-it always ran into many millions of dollars-the head of the Soviet government would challenge the Foreign Department of the NKVD to steal the secrets in question from them. The response to these challenges was invariably enthusiastic, and after a number of them had been successfully met the new Division for Industrial Intelligence was created within the NKVD Foreign Department.

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