- (1941– )The KGB’s recruitment of Aldrich Ames to penetrate the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Directorate of Operations was one of their greatest counterintelligence successes of the Cold War. Ames, angered by slow promotion and in need of money, volunteered to the Soviet rezidentura in Washington in 1985. He originally planned to provide the KGB only with the names of agents he believed the KGB already knew about. However, tempted by larger payments, Ames was subtly convinced by his handler, Viktor Cherkashin, to give up the CIA’s “crown jewels,” the names of more than a dozen Soviet officials who had been recruited by the CIA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Of the agents Ames betrayed, two were rescued, but 10 were executed in Moscow, and others were imprisoned. Among the agents reportedly betrayed by Ames were Adolf Tolkachev, who worked in the aircraft industry; Dmitry Polyakov, a GRU major general; and Oleg Gordievskiy, a KGB colonel serving in London and working for the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). Ames’s code name was “Lyudmila”: the KGB used a woman’s name to help disguise his identity. Ames signed his KGB receipts with the name “Kolokol” (Bell). Ames provided the KGB with the names of Western agents operating in the KGB and GRU as well as in the military and in military industries. He also provided CIA documents and cables that gave Moscow details of how the CIA operated inside the Soviet Union. In exchange, the KGB paid Ames approximately $2.7 million. Ames was arrested in February 1994, as was his wife, who had supported the operation. In exchange for full cooperation and a light sentence for his wife, Ames received a life sentence. Ames’s treachery reportedly caused friction between the CIA and the FBI, and severely damaged the public reputation of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations.
Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. Robert W. Pringle. 2014.
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