Instructions from the Centre

Title:                      Instructions from the Centre

Author:                Christopher Andrew

Andrew, Christopher (1991) and Oleg Gordievsky (eds.). Instructions from the Centre: Top Secret Files on KGB Foreign Operations, 1975-1985. London: Hodder and Stoughton

OCLC:                    26256407

JN 6529 .I6 I57



Book Jacket Notes:

  • “From ‘The Centre’ the KGB headquarters in Moscow pours forth an avalanche of top secret documents to its residencies the world over. During the decade which culminated in the rise to power of Mikhail Gorbachev, Oleg Gordievsky, at the time a Colonel in the KGB, regularly risked his life by making copies of these documents. And now, for the first time, in Instructions from the Centre, a revealing selection covering the main priorities of Soviet foreign intelligence operations at the time has been translated and analysed by the joint editors. Christopher Andrew provides the commentary. In the KGB’s priorities the United States–the ‘Main Adversary’ in Centre jargon–was never far from its thoughts, although as one report acknowledges it had ‘not had great success’, infiltration by such agents as it had being ‘unsatisfactory’. Agent recruitment is however regarded as the first priority–and here for the first time are the KGB’s instructions on how to do it, complete with the personality questionnaire that covered every possible trait of likely targets from self-discipline to sexual perversion. The practical instructions include an astonishingly detailed description of how to establish a dead letter box in London’s Knightsbridge (inside Brompton Oratory) and signal sites for its illegals in Mayfair (blue chalk marks on specified lamposts). [This book] offers a highly classified insight not merely into KGB foreign operations at the dawn of the Gorbachev era, but also into the thinking of its top leadershiop at the beginning of the 1990s–and, in particular, into the mind of General V.A. Kryuchkov, KGB chairman, and one of the leaders of the abortive coup of August 1991.” — Front jacket flap.

Date Updated:  August 26, 2015

Early edition of Comrade Kryuchkov’s Instructions. Contains a collection of documents taken by Gordievsky over the years.

Some comments by Roy Berkeley:[1]

In Knightsbridge in London, not far southwest down Brompton Road from the Knightsbridge tube station is Victoria and Albert Museum. Immediately E of the Victoria and Albert Museum is Brompton Oratory. Follow these tediously precise directions to the “dead letter box”(dead drop, in American terminology) that one KGB officer considered the safest in all London: “As you face the church from the street the entrance will be on the right hand side. Go into the church. Just to the right of the entrance is an altar. It is a memorial to Englishmen who were killed in the war and has a copy of Michelangelo’s famous statue Pieta—the dead Christ in his Mother’s arms. On the floor below the statue are the words Consummatum est. Just to the left of the altar as you face it, are large marble columns which are part of the architecture of the church. Both are very close to the wall. The DLB site is behind the column nearest to the wall (if you are facing them, it is the right-hand column), in a little space between the actual column and the wall.”

This description was sent by Moscow Centre to its top people in London in April, 1985. The top-secret message was copied for SIS almost immediately by Oleg Gordievsky, who had been working in the London rezidentura since 1982 and had been an SIS penetration agent since 1974. In May, 1985, newly appointed as rezident, Gordievsky was suddenly summoned to Moscow. Still there in July and aware that his double-agentry had been discovered, he made a run for the border—yes, such things do happen outside the movies—and escaped to the West by a still-undisclosed route. A collection of documents taken by Gordievsky over the years was published in 1991 as Instructions from the Centre: Top Secret Files on KGB Foreign Operations, 1975-1985 (edited by Gordievsky and with commentary by the historian Christopher Andrew)[2]. The book is a dazzling collection of policy statements and tradecraft memos from the KGB.

Suggesting a DLB here, the KGB officer reported that the church wasn’t watched round-the-clock since it wasn’t state property. The chapel was observed to be seldom visited and poorly lit. “I would be inclined to think that there is no safer place in Central London,” the officer advised Moscow Centre. I would be inclined to disagree. A visitor might suddenly enter this chapel, unseen until the last minute; an untended toddler might easily find the packet of film behind the column. (Much safer is a DLB not normally visible, even one as well-known as a magnetized box on the underside of the shelf of a telephone kiosk.) But bad as the Brampton Oratory DLB is, the alternate DLB selected by the Soviets is even worse (see Site 48: Holy Trinity Church).

[1] See Berkeley, Roy (1994). A Spy’s London. London: Leo Cooper, pp. 107-108

[2] Andrew, Christopher (1991) and Oleg Gordievsky (eds.). Instructions from the Centre: Top Secret Files on KGB Foreign Operations, 1975-1985. London: Hodder and Stoughton. An updated version is Andrew, Christopher (1994) and Oleg Gordievsky. Comrade Kryuchkov’s Instructions: Top Secret Files on KGB Foreign Operations, 1975-1985. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press

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4 Responses to Instructions from the Centre

  1. Pingback: Comrade Kryuchkov’s Instructions | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  2. Pingback: The Dead Hand | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  3. Pingback: KGB: The Inside Story | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  4. Pingback: Near And Distant Neighbors | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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