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The fate of the chief of the GRU, who has leaked secret information of the CIA for 25 years
The fate of the chief of the GRU, who has leaked secret information of the CIA for 25 years

Video: The fate of the chief of the GRU, who has leaked secret information of the CIA for 25 years

Video: The fate of the chief of the GRU, who has leaked secret information of the CIA for 25 years
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A senior intelligence chief for 25 years supplied the Americans with top-secret information.

Ideological betray once

Among all the traitors who have ever contacted foreign intelligence services, the GRU officer Dmitry Polyakov stands apart. Military psychologists and specialists “working with personnel” note that people like Polyakov are the backbone of any special service. Polyakov not only managed to fight on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War and was awarded several orders and medals, but also received an excellent education. After the end of hostilities, Polyakov graduated from the Military Academy. Frunze, after which he was sent to work not to the archive, as was often the case with graduates, but to the front line of the Cold War - to the General Intelligence Directorate.

In 1951, the young spy received the first direction, and immediately to New York - the lair of a potential enemy in a future war. The military intelligence officer has served under diplomatic cover for five years, and the results of his work are impressive to the superiors. After a three-year break and cross-checks of counterintelligence in 1959, Polyakov was returned to work in the United States, but already with the rank of colonel and deputy resident for illegal work. Polyakov's main task is to coordinate the actions of illegal immigrants who obtain especially important information about the state of the US Armed Forces in all corners of the world. Polyakov's career is rapidly going up, and a year later he is predicted to be the head of the residency.


Photo © Wikipedia

However, late in the evening on October 30, 1961, Polyakov calls one of the officers of the US Armed Forces, Colonel Feyhi, and, knowing that the latter is actively working with intelligence and counterintelligence agencies, demands a meeting with representatives of the US military intelligence who are undercover at the UN. At the same time, there is no conspiracy: Polyakov introduces himself by his name, names his title and position. Confused, Feyhi immediately calls the head of the Soviet counterintelligence department of the FBI, James Nolan. In the latter, after a sleepless night, by the morning of November 1, 1961, a unique plan for the use of an officer of one of the most closed military structures in the world is born in his head.

"You've got a leak"

A week later, FBI agents arrange a personal meeting with Polyakov. The historian of the special services, a former employee of the 8th Main Directorate of the KGB of the USSR, Nikolai Kondratyev, notes that Polyakov decided not to dump all known information on agents for several reasons at once.

The first thing he wanted to do was prove his worth to the FBI. The second reason - Polyakov possessed such an amount of data that he decided not to engage in the collapse of the psyche of American agents. By my estimate, by 1961 he could name about 200 names and positions. They could come for these people in a couple of hours, and Polyakov understood this well, decided not to reveal himself.

Nikolai Kondratyev, historian of the special services, former employee of the 8th Main Directorate of the KGB of the USSR

One of those whom, along with the GRU staffers, Polyakov "spotted" in the first meeting with the FBI, was his ward, Maria Dobrova. An illegal Soviet intelligence agent worked in New York under an assumed name and a completely fabricated legend and owned a beauty salon where the wives of diplomats and senior UN officials went. After the FBI agents came for her in December 1961, Dobrova, instantly assessing the situation, decided not to give up and jumped out of the window. Polyakov, in turn, sent disinformation to the center that Dobrova had been recruited by the FBI, and her death was staged to distract attention.

Off we go

The first year of Polyakov's work for the US counterintelligence agencies turned out to be effective. In addition to Maria Dobrova, Polyakov gave the FBI three illegal agents with a fictitious biography, who managed to infiltrate the US Armed Forces, and not just anywhere, but at naval bases. In addition, as a bonus, Polyakov shared with the FBI data on the best Soviet encryptors who worked at the embassies. Despite the fact that the information provided by Polyakov was used by the Americans extremely carefully, the numerous failures of the GRU residencies forced the counterintelligence to search for the leak. The result of active work was the execution of the main (as it seemed then) spy and traitor Oleg Penkovsky, to disclose which several counterintelligence departments were sent.

Polyakov was lucky. He turned out to be smarter than his colleagues and never got into any operational development. Former employees of the special services note that Polyakov set a very modest fee for his work - only three thousand dollars a year.

The explanation is simple. His expenses should not have raised suspicion among the inspectors. Every officer who worked abroad was examined under a microscope. They looked especially at everything related to money. Instead of money, Polyakov quietly elicited information from the CIA and the FBI on insignificant agents, whom he could disclose in order to promote his career in Moscow. Career was his only understandable goal, so he usually did not pay attention to money.

Nikolai Kondratyev, historian of the special services, former employee of the 8th Main Directorate of the KGB of the USSR

Most successful in the CIA

In 1965, Polyakov received the right to lead the residency in Burma and was sent to monitor the situation on the spot personally. He has at his disposal not only the manuals and reference books that the GRU is developing for agents, but also very specific areas in which to work: military-technical cooperation, the political situation in the ranks of the Armed Forces, and much more. All information that Polyakov has at his disposal immediately falls into the hands of a CIA liaison in Southeast Asia. Together with valuable official information, Polyakov "leaks" the CIA of his colleagues - residents in Asian countries and almost the entire list of agents recruited by the USSR.

Most of these agents will face arrests and failures during the next four years of Bourbon's work (such a pseudonym Polyakov will receive at the CIA), but some especially valuable Soviet counterintelligence personnel simply disappeared without a trace along with hundreds of secret documents. In order for Polyakov's work to look successful, he is given “unnecessary” American agents, who nevertheless possess top-secret information.

Their disclosure and recruitment make Polyakov a good reputation already in Moscow, and upon returning to his homeland, the CIA agent receives a new appointment in the KGB - now Polyakov is entrusted with the leadership of the center for training GRU residents for transfer to the PRC. In this position, Polyakov obtained information unique in its value: minutes of meetings of the Soviet and Chinese Foreign Ministries, which noted the difficulties of relations between the USSR and the PRC, on the basis of which US Secretary of State Kissinger and President Nixon would ruin Soviet-Chinese relations and begin to actively make friends with the chairman Mao.

No suspicions

Even relatively recently retired counterintelligence agents call Polyakov a "genius of intelligence work" and "a unique bastard." According to the former security officers, Polyakov was not only able to organize the work of several residencies of the Soviet military intelligence, but also successfully led his curators in the CIA. It got to the point of ridiculousness: Polyakov strictly instructed the agents who worked with him in Moscow on the topic of where, how and when it is better to make bookmarks, wrote instructions for American employees to identify surveillance by Soviet intelligence officers, and did a lot of useful things for the successful work of American intelligence in the USSR.

Polyakov also does not forget about his own successes, and for his successful long-term work in 1973 he was appointed to lead the GRU station in India. After a year of work in India, Polyakov received the rank of major general, and in 1975, thanks to his data, the fact of a large supply of weapons to India was revealed exactly before the fourth war with Pakistan in 1971. A major international scandal begins, the result of which is the cooling of relations between the USSR and a number of states at once. After returning from India, Polyakov was not removed from his post, but on the contrary: in 1976 he was appointed to head a unit in the “forge of personnel for the GRU” - the Military Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Defense.

It is here, as historians and former intelligence officers note, that Polyakov strikes his main blow at Soviet intelligence.

When I am asked what monetary damage Polyakov has inflicted on the country, I am always lost. You understand one thing: almost a hundred agents recruited over 25 years, especially from among the top leadership in the US and NATO Armed Forces, are not billions or tens of billions even. Such a figure does not exist simply! The work of the GRU was written off almost completely for three decades! I'm not even sure if all these gaps are filled today.

Nikolai Kondratyev, historian of the special services, former employee of the 8th Main Directorate of the KGB of the USSR

Polyakov donated his main diamond to the CIA while serving in the academy. The Major General and the CIA agent had at their disposal not only lists of all listeners and potential military intelligence officers, but also data with detailed characteristics of the most successful listeners. According to the former counterintelligence officers, all this data, up to the moment of Polyakov's disclosure in 1986, was “sent in boxes to the CIA”.

The complete list of what Polyakov managed to accomplish over 25 years of work is impressive in its scale.

  • He handed over to the CIA a list of illegal immigrants who worked in the ranks of the US Army (including headquarters) from 1963 to 1977.
  • Helped uncover at least 50 recruited embassies in NATO and Southeast Asia.
  • Helped to derail a major arms contract between India and the USSR in 1980.
  • Revealed the addresses of safe houses in 25 US cities, including those near facilities such as Livermore National Laboratory. E. Lawrence (US Nuclear Center).
  • He handed over to the CIA data on 45 of the most promising candidates for the position of deputy resident of the GRU under diplomatic cover.
  • He gave the CIA data on 14 colleagues of the GRU residents, some of whom were collecting data on the state of nuclear weapons in the United States.
  • He disclosed to the CIA the ciphers, codes and structures of the information transfer system from the illegal to the residency.
  • He handed over to the CIA data on the program of recruiting agents by the foreign intelligence agencies of the KGB of the USSR.

Photo © Downing / Sygma / Sygma via Getty Images

Polyakov was discovered, like many traitors, quite by accident. In 1980, one of the best illegal immigrants of the GRU and concurrently the most productive traitor in the rank of major general retired. His curators from the CIA several times offered him to go abroad, but Polyakov insisted that he did not want to leave the country and wanted to live peacefully in Moscow. The extent of Polyakov's betrayal did not become known immediately. Information on Polyakov was handed over to the KGB by the CIA counterintelligence chief Aldrich Ames, who was recruited by the Soviet authorities in 1985. At his disposal were materials with the names and data of people with whom the FBI agents contacted. Among them was Polyakov. This data was enough for the Soviet security forces to unearth all the ins and outs of an effective major general in just a year.

In 1986, unsuspecting Polyakov was arrested, and two years later he was shot for treason by a court verdict. For his extradition, the then leader of the USSR, Gorbachev was asked personally by US President Ronald Reagan, but Gorbachev replied: "I'm sorry, but this is not possible."

Much and very different things were said about the reasons why Polyakov worked for a potential enemy for a quarter of a century. According to one version, with his work, the talented intelligence officer took revenge on the leadership for the death of his son, whom the center did not help with a complex operation costing only $ 300. According to another version, after the war, Polyakov became disillusioned with the ideals of the USSR and decided to help with the delivery of democracy to the country of socialism. Whatever the reason, for the sake of success in intelligence, Polyakov without any regret destroyed interstate relations and sacrificed colleagues, who were either imprisoned or killed during detention.