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My Life as a KGB Spy in America: The Truth Behind Soviet Spies

KGB spies lie, but could this one be telling the truth?

This video captures interesting views and insights from Yuri Shvets. Caution, the world of international espionage is never as it seems. You have to have your wits about you when trying to decide whether or not to believe anything said by a former Soviet or Russian agent. That said, this is well worth a watch.

Shvets graduated in International Law from the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia when it was still named the Patrice Lumumba Peoples’ Friendship University.

Shvets recruited two key sources of political intelligence whom he referred to as Sputnitsa and Socrates. Sputnisa is identified as a journalist working in Washington, and Socrates as a former Carter administration aide with strong ties to Greece. In his 2005 book “Spy Handler: Memoir of a KGB Officer”, Victor Cherkashin alleges that “Socrates” was John Helmer and Sputnitsa the late New Statesman journalist Claudia Wright. However, Cherkashin also claims that contrary to Shvets’ assertions, Helmer was “never an agent or even a target” of the KGB.

After publishing a book describing his exploits and ultimate falling out with the KGB, Shvets was banned from foreign travel. In 1994, he secretly made his way to America where he now resides.

In 2006, Shvets emerged as a potentially key witness in the poisoning of ex-FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko. In an interview with the BBC, broadcast on 16 December 2006, Shvets said that he and Litvinenko had compiled a report investigating tha activities of senior Kremlin officials on behalf of a British company looking to invest “dozens of millions of dollars” in a project in Russia. Shvets said the dossier was so incriminating about one senior Kremlin official, who was not named, it was likely that Litvinenko was murdered in revenge. He alleged that Litvinenko had shown the dossier to another business associate, Andrei Lugovoi, who had worked for the KGB and later the FSB. Shvets alleged that Lugovoi was still an FSB informant and he had passed the dossier to members of the spy service. Shvets says he was interviewed about his allegations by Scotland Yard detectives investigating Litvinenko’s murder.

In the former U.S.S.R. and Russian nomenclature, there are two types of resident spies: legal’nye rezidenty (легальные резиденты, legal resident spy) and nelegal’nye rezidenty (нелегальные резиденты, illegal resident spy). In U.S. parlance the same distinction is between official cover and non-official cover.

A legal resident spy operates in a foreign country under official cover (e.g. from his country’s embassy). He is an official member of the consular staff, such as a commercial, cultural or military attaché. Thus he has diplomatic immunity from prosecution and cannot be arrested by the host country if suspected of espionage. The most the host country can do is send him back to his home country as persona non grata.

An illegal resident spy operates under a non-official cover; thus, he cannot claim immunity from prosecution when arrested. He may operate under a false name and has documents making him out to be an actual national or from a different country to that which he is spying for.[1] Examples of such illegals include Rudolf Abel who operated in the United States; and Gordon Lonsdale who was born in Russia, claimed to be Canadian and operated in Britain. Famous Soviet “illegals” include Richard Sorge, Walter Krivitsky, Alexander Ulanovsky, and Anna Chapman, who is also known as a sleeper agent.

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