Kvasnikov, Lev Romanovich
- (1905–1993)The founder of Soviet scientific and technical intelligence was drafted into the NKVD in 1938, following the purge of the foreign intelligence component. Trained as an engineer, Kvasnikov was one of the first intelligence officers to understand the potential of nuclear weapons, and he personally convinced NKVD chief Lavrenty Beria in 1941–1943 that nuclear weapons were not British disinformation. Beria personally threatened Kvasnikov with summary execution should the information prove false.In 1943 Kvasnikov was sent to New York to head up a small Line X rezidentura to collect information on the Anglo-American nuclear project—codenamed Enormoz by the Soviet service—as well as other weapons programs. Over the next two years, Kvasnikov directed a small team of case officers who ran dozens of sources with access to these programs and produced thousands of key reports. The most important of these agent handlers, Anatoli Yatskov and Aleksandr Feklisov, ran agents in more than a score of critical defense plants as well as at Los Alamos.On his return to Moscow, Kvasnikov directed the service’s scientific and technical intelligence program. In the KGB, Line X ran scientific and technical intelligence inside rezidenturas while Directorate T managed the effort from within the First Chief Directorate. Scientific and technical intelligence was one of the jewels in the KGB’s crown: every annual report from the KGB chair to the party leaders listed the success of obtaining Western technology. For example, the 1960 report notes that the KGB in the previous year had acquired “10,029 classified technologies, blueprints, and schemas, as well as 1,311 different samples of equipment.”See also Industrial espionage.
Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. Robert W. Pringle. 2014.