Title: Soviet Defectors: The KGB Wanted List
Author: Vladislav Krasnov
Krasnov, Vladislav (1985). Soviet Defectors: The KGB Wanted List. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press
- Civil rights–Soviet Union.
- Human rights–Soviet Union.
- Defectors–Soviet Union.
- Political persecution–Soviet Union.
- Soviet Union–Politics and government–1945-1991.
Date Updated: June 30, 2015
Many of the so-called “World’s Greatest Spies” were really defectors. Purporting to be a comprehensive list of all Soviet defectors since WW II, this book is formatted as a statistical abstract. Krasnov, himself a defector, is head of Russian Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. From this perch, he developed an all-consuming curiosity about his fellow defectors that resulted in this current study.
The first half turns the KGB’s own records against it. Krasnov had found a list issued periodically by the KGB that included all defectors prior to 1969 (he determined its validity by the accuracy of information therein concerning his own case). Following that, he depended upon basic news sources to fill out the list with post-1969 defectors. Krasnov breaks down defectors based upon sex (only 19% are women), age (average age is 28.56), ethnic origin (almost 62% are either Russian or Ukrainian), education (53.3% have no higher than a seventh-grade education), profession (over half held “”low prestige jobs,”” while only 12.6% are intellectuals, even though they get the most attention), and country of defection (57% of all defectors go to West Germany or Austria). While Krasnov claims to be comprehensive, there are some missing names–one that comes to mind is a writer by the name of Lev Navrozov, who several years ago headed a Committee for an Alternative to The New York Times. Krasnov’s purpose in all of this is to combat the government bureaucracy’s seeming lack of concern about defectors, who are viewed by the West, he contends, as embarrassments and liabilities adversely affecting detente. Grist for the academic mill, then, and likely to remain behind university walls.
Defectors are individuals who physically switch sides in a conflict and change their allegiance to an adversary. Defectors are usually self-selected.
Firstly, defectors do not usually have the motivation claimed: A sudden declared interest in democratic values is suspect. Secondly, agencies to which a person defects typically do not believe the defector’s claims, regardless of the “forensic evidence” the agency may claim about the motivation. Third, really good agents recruit themselves. We will sometimes turn them away because they are considered plants, insincere, escapees from criminal activities, or having no useful information.
Sometimes we are overwhelmed with defectors. They are the best sources of information, and the only really good HUMINT comes from defectors. Most realize that going back to Russia, or their home countries, would be a disaster. Still, they may have a hard time selling themselves in the West.
Agencies frequently give serious consideration to giving defectors back, as was the case for the first defector from the USSR in December, 1945 in Ottawa. Igor Gouzenko was a cipher clerk for the Soviets. He knew the Rezident, Pavlov and he had good knowledge of the GRU. He brought with him 109 documents including a diary, telegrams, and the names of 23 Soviet spies.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) recognized a gold mine, but didn’t know how to use it. One of the spies named by Gouzenko was set to go to London (code name ERIC). The Brits were interested but couldn’t move. Washington recognized ERIC was a hot case.
First, it appeared that ERIC was a nuclear physicist from Cambridge, and above suspicion. He had worked at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago. It turned out it could only be Alan Nunn May. He was put under surveillance in London. An MI5 agent, Klop Ustinov (father of the actor Peter Ustinov) was used to meet May. May was tipped off and didn’t show. By February, however, all 23 spies in Canada were arrested. Most of the 23 were convicted, but all but two got their convictions quashed.
Gouzenko alerted the West to huge Soviet espionage efforts. Up till then, nobody had a clue about what the USSR was doing covertly.
In September, 1945 Konstantin Volkov tried to defect in Istanbul. He revealed that Russia was reading the British signals to London. Even better, he offered what was a bombshell. He was a career NKVD officer and knew all NKVD in Turkey, and in virtually all the world. He said there were 9 Soviet spies in London, 3 in the Foreign Office. One, he said, was filling the role as head of the department of British counterintelligence. It was not clear whether he meant SIS or MI5. Volkov would be expensive to take care of but the information he offered was quite valuable.
The British called in Kim Philby to find who the mole could be. He determined to handle it himself. Bu the time Volkov was to meet Philby, there was no sign of Volkov. Apparently he was kidnapped and taken back to Russia. Philby blamed lax security on the British consulate in Istanbul. It is known that Volkov returned to the Soviet Consulate, from whence he quickly disappeared. The last seen of him was a heavily bandaged figure being hustled aboard a Soviet transport plane bound for Moscow.
Volkov’s revelation haunted MI5 and SIS for years. The hunt went on. In 1947 a GRU defector, and by 1954 the flood gates opened. This provided the information for the first time to really understand Soviet Intelligence network. After Stalin died, Beria’s coup attempt failed. Those in NKVD who were close allies of Stalin became worried they would be purged and sought asylum.
Yuri Rastvorov defected to the British but opted to go the U.S. to the CIA. He had learned British intelligence had been penetrated. He provided a wealth of information. Then Nicolai Khokhlov, a hit man for the KGB, and a Ukranian who killed with an ingenious gas gun containing prussic acid defected. Prussic acid left no trace within 15 minutes. Khokhlov could identify people in SMERSH. He had a German girlfriend, very devout, who convinced him to quit.
Another defector, Peter S. Deriabin, described by the Central Intelligence Agency as the highest ranking Soviet intelligence officer to have defected to the West up until 1954, provided huge information. He had been a bodyguard for Stalin. He provided information on decision making in the Kremlin. He was the only defector to become a CIA officer. The so-called Penkovsky Papers were actually the material obtained from Deriabin.
There were two more crucially important defectors in Australia, this being the Petrov case. The Petrovs – Vladimir and Evodokia – came to Australia in February 1951 to work in the Soviet Embassy in Canberra. Vladimir was rezident and Evodokia was a cipher clerk. Vladimir wanted to defect and told everyone. He was concern he was about to be recalled. His dentist was glad to help him out since he was a full-time Australian agent. All Petrov really wanted, he said, was a chicken farm. Of course when he defected all hell broke loose. His wife was taken by Soviet thugs and frog-marched onto a plane bound for Moscow.
An Australian agent arranged for her to get a phone call a Darwin when the plane landed for refueling. She was separated from the thugs in the airport. She was able to talk to her husband. As a result she too defected.
The two of them supplied terrific information. Everyone concerned with the affair seems to have written a book. They were resettled on a chicken farm and never left Australia again.
MI5 interviewed them in Australia in 1954. There was concern about moles in SIS, and also the possibility of fabrication of agents to keep interest up. The Soviet defector in Canada, Igor Gouzenko, had said MI5 knew all the time about moles. MI5 had heard that there was a mole, ELLI, a leading Soviet spy that Sonia aka Ursula Hamburger, Beurton, and Ruth Kuczynski were running in Oxford until 1943. After the British defections it was clear there had been spy penetration. What would Petrov have to say? After the defections in 1951 no one knew where Burgess and Maclean were. Petrov said he knew they were in Moscow. He said they were recruited at university and that there were plenty others.
Suspicion to this point was only on Philby, Burgess, and Maclean, assuming it could never be at the top, only mid-level people of little interest. Now that it was apparent there was much more to be said was truly troubling.
Nigel West mentioned the Walker case, and his talk is expanded here by including some of the details of that notorious defection by a family of Americans. For over 17 years, John Walker, an ex-Navy warrant officer, led a spy ring that ruptured military security so gravely that the final repercussions were felt for many years.
In an era when the notion of patriotism gets batted about like a ping-pong ball, it’s interesting to take a look back on how the actual face of treasonous activities rears its head. Walker provided the then Soviet Union with the most sensitive of naval intelligence concerning U.S. nuclear submarine communications and deployment. Moreover, the strategic advantage the U.S. enjoys with its ability to monitor the exact whereabouts of each sub in the Russian fleet was also compromised when they were given the secrets to our tracking methods. The leaks forced the U.S. to spend $100 million dollars to rebuild secure communications. The shrinking and aging of their fleet may have ultimately been the best counter to the Walker’s actions or at least made them moot by now.
So who was John Walker? How and why did he convince his friend, his brother and his own son to commit treason against their country? Why did his estranged wife turn him in and where did the security process fail in the first place?
Jack Kneece, a former Associated Press reporter, attempted to answer these questions with usually fascinating (but at times frustrating) results.
A story like this works best when we get under the skin of the main character. We want to know why he sold out his country. Kneece’s approach to explaining Walker’s behavior and influences are sometimes heavy-handed. For example, in describing Walker’s high school days as a movie usher he says: “The steady diet of movies fed his impressionable ego Johnny began to live in a dream world of heroic and daring accomplishments, the daring-do he saw on the silver screen.”
There is also a seemingly endless stream of tales relating Walker’s penchant for practical jokes and drunken exploits. Some of these stories have attribution, others do not. And that’s the problem; one doesn’t know if one’s getting second-hand braggadocio or revealing insight into a man’s behavior.
Aside from this, however, the book makes interesting reading when describing submarine life and the machinations of espionage and the difficult battle to stop it.
The objective of every counterintelligence organization is to identify, penetrate and then control or neutralize its adversary, and during the Cold War the opportunities afforded by intelligence defectors provided the principal protagonists with the most effective means of achieving their goals.
By way of definition, a defector is an individual who is either an intelligence officer, or has worked as a co-optee for an intelligence agency, or has sufficient knowledge of intelligence significance to be a valued asset and merit political asylum. Thus Arkadi Shevchenko, although a regular diplomat at the United Nations, should be counted as a defector, partly because he had acted as a spy for the CIA for several months prior to his defection, but also because his knowledge included information concerning the KGB’s rezidentura in New York, and its operations. Equally, the Soviet pilot Viktor Belenko qualifies for inclusion as his MiG-25, which he flew to Japan, amounted to an impressive technical intelligence coup.
Similarly, George Blake and Edward Lee Howard, who were not intelligence officers at the time of their defections, deserve the description, even if their settlement in Moscow was as a consequence of a fear of imminent arrest.
The physical act of seeking political asylum in an adversary’s country is known as defection and the perpetrators may have been motivated by self-preservation, ideology, resentment, a personal or professional crisis, or some other psychological factor. Defectors to Moscow were invariably driven by the need to escape the imminent consequences of their espionage, and this category includes Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Glen Souther and Ed Howard. Defectors to the United States were more numerous and most were prompted by a fear of recall to Moscow (Igor Gouzenko, Piotr Deriabin, Yuri Rastvovor, Vladimir Petrov, Anatoli Golitsyn, Vladimir Kuzichkin, Sergi Bokhan, Arkadi Shevchenko), or by the need to terminate a period of active espionage (Michael Goleniewski, Oleg Lyalin, Oleg Gordievsky). Although almost all subsequently espoused political or ideological motivations for the defections, their personal circumstances were invariably complicated by adverse personal, family or professional factors which could be remedied or improved by the lure of exchanging valuable information for resettlement.
Defectors have been proved to be an exceptionally important source of information and also act as good indicators of the integrity of a particular counter-intelligence agency. The statistics demonstrate that few spies are caught as a result of the “vigilance of colleagues” or routine security screening. Overwhelmingly, they are arrested because they have been identified to molehunters, either by an active source or, most likely, by a defector.
While the Czech, Romanian, Bulgarian, Cuban, East German, and Polish services proved resilient to penetration by western agencies, they all suffered from very damaging defections. In contrast, neither the FBI, CIA, MI5, DST, DGSE, nor SIS ever endured the loss of a serving officer to physical defection, although the BND and BfV experienced long-term penetration and frequent defections throughout the Cold War.
Defectors have changed the course of history, and the way history has been interpreted. The defection of Igor Gouzenko in September 1945 may be taken as a useful starting-point for the Cold War, but his decision to switch sides predated similar choices taken by Louis Budenz, Whittaker Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley, all of whom supplied valuable information about Soviet espionage in the United States. Bentley, though widely disparaged in the media at the time, was responsible for initiating over a hundred investigations conducted by the FBI.
The defections of Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean in 1951 certainly changed British culture. Hitherto the concept of the mole, the agent farmed for a long-term return on investment, was almost completely unknown, although subsequent reexamination of the claims made by the prewar defector Walter Kritivsky suggested that when interviewed by MI5 in 1940 he had been the first to provide information about spies who would later turn out to be Donald Maclean, Kim Philby, and John Cairncross. Similarly, the defection of Vladimir and Evdokia Petrov in Canberra in April 1954 was the first example of a rezident switching sides. For a variety of reasons 1954 was definitely the year of the defector, with Piotr Deriabin and Nikolai Khokhlov also line-crossing, all within two months of each other, and the drama played out in Australia.
The Cold War defectors earned their resettlement through a “meal-ticket,” being the information they could trade for a new life, and were regarded highly by counter-intelligence agencies because they generally arrived well equipped, fully aware of the need to provide a meal-ticket of value. Very few, if any, made spontaneous decisions, and most took a long period agonizing over their choice and acquiring information that would guarantee them a good reception.
This material falls into six distinct categories:
- Knowledge of future plans;
- Knowledge of current operations;
- Knowledge of past events;
- Knowledge of order-of-battle data;
- Canteen or corridor gossip;
- The awareness of the recommendations of other candidates for recruitment.
All could prove to be of exceptional importance.
By the nature of their work, defectors tended to be better informed than most of their contemporaries in their restricted societies, perhaps more politically aware, and generally well educated and experience of foreign travel and a grasp of other languages. However, their relative sophistication raised the specter of the dispatched defector as espoused by Anatoli Golitsyn, a phenomenon the existence of which has never been proved. The concept of sending a staff officer to an adversary is a high-stakes game, and there are few purported examples, although Yuri Nosenko received hostile treatment, including lengthy incarceration, because it was suspected he was just such an individual. The best-publicized example is that of Oleg Tumanov, but there is evidence to suggest that his version of events, as described in his autobiography, is a fabrication designed to conceal the truth, that he was a genuine defector who was found by the KGB and persuaded to spy after he had been resettled in Munich. His redefection occurred because he had been warned of his imminent betrayal by another defector Viktor Gundarev, who knew the details of his cooperation with the KGB.
What makes the Tumanov case so piquant is that he gave evidence on the defection phenomenon to Senate Permanent subcommittee on Investigations in October 1987, along with Stanislas Levchenko and Viktor Belenko.
In David Wise’s The Spy that Got Away Donald Jameson, a legendary CIA case officer (and later vice president of the Jamestown Foundation), recalled a false defector in Manila, a trade mission official who was debriefed in Munich in 1983, apparently for the purpose of testing the relationship between the CIA and the Philippine security apparatus. Precisely what happened thereafter is unknown. There are three other examples. In Montreal Anatoli Maximov, codenamed GOLDMINE, appeared to succumb to a pitch from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) but seems to have declared at least a partial part of the recruitment to his resident who authorized a continuing contact. This was a bold and dangerous strategy, but there were compelling reasons at the time to allow the relationship to continue. The KGB wanted to test its own mole already inside the RCMP, whose existence was unknown to Maximov, and believed it had control over the operational game. This was an extraordinarily exceptional Case, requiring a sanction from the very top of the KGB, but it is an illustration of the very controlled environment in which such enterprises could be contemplated.
In one case, a contact was established with a high-value officer in Moscow (codenamed PROLOGUE) who expressed a desire to defect. The skeptics in the CIA were not surprised when, as the moment came for his exfiltration, PROLOGUE made a feeble excuse to break off the contact. Forensic analysis suggests the entire exercise had been undertaken to peddle certain disinformation designed to protect a mole inside the CIA, Aldrich Ames. The acid test had been PROLOGUE’s willingness to take the crucial step and place himself entirely in the hands of the CIA, and when the moment came the KGB understandably backed away. The overwhelming need to provide the CIA molehunters with alternative explanations for obvious leaks and to distract them from their quarry prompted the KGB to take some desperate measures. As well as PROLOGUE, a source in Germany supplied some authentic information about the case officer handling an agent with the codename GT/FITNESS. The source asserted that the leaks had come from the CIA communications center at Warrenton, Virginia. A lengthy investigation suggested the source was a KGB-controlled double agent, but not before the molehunters, then closing in on Aldrich Ames, were temporarily distracted.
The fear of the false defector essential handicapped, if not paralyzed, American counterintelligence efforts to attract Soviet defectors between 1964, when Nosenko was denounced as a plant, and 1975 when the COURTSHIP project was initiated to reverse the policy. Another hazard was that of redefection, surely the ultimate rejection, and maybe a sign of failure on the part of the putative asylum host. Vitali Yurchenko , who returned to Moscow in 1985 is probably the best known, but is by no means a unique example. Others include: J. D. Tasoev and Oleg Bitov from London; Andrei Remenchuk from Montreal; Nikolai Petrov from Jakarta; Artush Hovanesian from Turkey; Evgenni Sorokin from Vientiane. Redefection may occur for a combination of reasons but it is an occupational hazard in all free countries where someone is granted asylum is quite free to return home. Indeed, to prevent them would be a breach of the law in most circumstances.
Nevertheless, redefection may offer the opportunity of a propaganda coup, and both Bitov and Yurchenko were paraded at press conferences despite the KGB’s knowledge that neither had been the victim of abduction as alleged. Their separate stories, of being held against their wills and being administered sedatives and other drugs, were never believed by the KGB, although political expediency ensured both men received a very sympathetic, if cosmetic, welcome. Yurchenko’s change of heart, apparently spontaneous and unrehearsed, took place while he had been dining alone in Georgetown with an inexperienced young security officer, but it prompted an intense debate about the possibility that he was indeed a rare example of a dispatched defector. On the one hand it appeared his information, about Ed Howard and Ronald Pelton, had been authentic, but might there have been an underlying subplot, perhaps an effort to discard unproductive agents so as to protect a more valuable spy? This interpretation would surface again when Aldrich Ames was arrested, and yet again when, following the exposure of Robert Hanssen, there was speculation about another, hitherto undetected supermole. Ultimately, the counterintelligence analysts concluded that Yurchenko had been a genuine defector, albeit one troubled by the belief that he was suffering from the terminal stomach cancer that had killed his mother. A series of disappointments followed during his resettlement, including rejection by his former lover, and an unsuccessful tour of the country, intended as a vacation, which sent him into a depression, apparently caused by the realization that he would find life on his own in the United States too great a challenge.
So what possesses an intelligence officer, presumably a member of his society’s well-educated and urbane elite, to abandon the system he has grown up in and benefited from, for an alien culture? Can defectors be relied upon to tell the truth? Human nature suggests they may have sought to impress their hosts by pretending to have undergone a political conversion, in preference to revealing aspects of their own frailty which may not necessarily reflect well upon them. Under close examination, few defectors really seem to have really changed their political creed, but more likely have experienced professional, personal or family crises that have acted as a catalyst. Igor Gouzenko and Vladimir Kuzichkin, for example, feared the consequences of being disciplined fore professional lapses. Oleg Gordievsky and Oleg Lyalin had experienced marital problems and found solutions that might have disadvantaged their careers.
A senior French intelligence officer, the Comte de Marenches, is credited with the observation that defector information is like wind: the first pressing is best, and subsequent growths are generally inferior. The implication is that some defectors are pathological attention-seekers who succumb to embroidery to retain contact with their new professional colleagues, and this accusation has been leveled at both Igor Gouzenko and Anatoli Golitsyn. Both proved exceptionally temperamental, and later complained that some of their initial information had been ignored, misinterpreted or deliberately overlooked, casting a pall over the standard of their resettlement handling.
Sensitive post-defection treatment is vital if others are to be encouraged to follow an individual’s example, and litigation claiming breach of promise, or other complaints, is an anathema. Unfortunately, very few intelligence defectors can be found suitable work in their field, so retraining is invariably necessary, with mixed results. Occasionally a defector can be retained as a consultant, as happened with Anatoli Golitsyn, Yuri Nosenko, and Nikolai Artamonov, but very few experience Piotr Deriabin’s total absorption into the intelligence community, or find that their associated professional skills are as highly prized as those of the computer genius Viktor Sheymov (above, left).
A large number become authors, intending to capitalize on their experiences, but very few go on to write more books, although Igor Gouzenko, Grigori Tokaev, and Vladimir Rezun (alias Victor Suvorov) are notable exceptions. Aside from the immediate and obvious value of a defector, whose meal-ticket can be exploited, defectors represent something of a yardstick by which the intelligence agencies of their host countries can be assessed. For example, Yuri Rastvorov originally intended to defect to the British, not the Americans, but changed his mind when he suspected the Secret Intelligence Service had been penetrated. Indeed, between the defections of Grigori Tokaty in 1946 and Oleg Lyalin in 1971, no British intelligence agency received any Soviet Bloc defector, whereas many opted for the CIA, a strong indication that potential candidates considered the security environment of England too dangerous because of high-level penetration.
However, the safe receipt and resettlement of a defector can represent an opportunity to undertake a “dog-and-pony show,” an international tour of allied intelligence agencies so other liaison services can meet and talk to an authentic defector. Such prestige events allow agencies to recover lost reputations and, in the case of Oleg Gordievsky’s dramatic exfiltration from Moscow in August 1985, prove that long-term source could be run successfully over a period of years, in his case eleven, and then be rescued from hostile territory should the need arise. Such achievements demonstrate eloquently that an agency’s integrity remains intact.
Accordingly, defectors during the Cold War fulfilled many functions, far beyond their obvious utility as sources of reliable intelligence. Inevitably, of course, myths have been created around them, perhaps the most widely circulated being the danger of assassination. In fact, although eh KGB is known to have traced Igor Gouzenko, Vladimir Petrov, Alexander Orlov, and made considerable efforts to find Oleg Lyalin, the only intelligence defectors to have been the victims of a deliberate attempt on their lives were Nikolai Khokhlov and the Bulgarian defector Vladimir Kostov, and both survived the experience. Thus the phenomenon of Cold War defection can be viewed as having been not entirely risk-free, but was certainly an infinitely valuable source of counterintelligence data.
 What follows is a summary of a talk given on July 11, 2010 by Nigel West on board Queen Mary 2, headed from New York to Southhampton, UK
 See Nigel West (2002). Historical Dictionary of International Intelligence, p. 81
 See Appendix 8
 See chapter 7.
 See W.F.L. Owen (1955) et al. Report of the Royal Commission on Espionage. See also, Robert Manne (1987). The Petrov Affair: Politics and Espionage. Canberra, Australia: Australian Natl Univ Press. [OCLC: 1664187] For a brief history of the Royal Commission, or the “Petrov Commission” see “Cold War Australia – Petrov Commission,” found at the following link:
 Nigel West is a military historian specializing in security and intelligence topics.
 Among Soviet defectors was Nikolai Borodin, a Soviet biologist who eventually renounced his Soviet citizenship in 1948. He wrote his memoirs in Borodin, Nikolai M. (1955). One Man in His Time. He is listed in the chart of defectors in Appendix 8.
 BUNDESAMT FÜR VERFASSUNGSSCHUTZ (BfV) was created in 1950 in Cologne under the leadership of Dr. Otto John, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution is the principle Federal German security agency responsible for domestic security, counterintelligence, and counterterrorism. During the Cold War, the BfV was regularly penetrated by the East German Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung (HVA). In August 1985 another senior officer, Hans-Joachim Tiedge, defected to East Germany and compromised many more current operations, prompting the BfV’s director, Herbert Hellebroich, to be transferred to the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), but after a month he was replaced by a career diplomat, Hans-Georg Wieck, a former ambassador in Moscow. In June 2000 the BfV’s director, Per Frish, was replaced by Heinz Fromm. See West, Nigel (2006). Historical Dictionary of International Intelligence. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, pp. 40-41
 The Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community have been taking a hard look at the possible causes of espionage and the betrayal of public trust. The results of systematic research have important implications for protecting the nation’s secrets and critical technologies. See “Espionage: Why Does it Happen?” at http://www.hanford.gov/files.cfm/whyhappens.pdf