- In the spring of 1918, the British intelligence service dispatched Robert Bruce Lockhart and Sidney Reilly to Moscow to stimulate resistance to the new Bolshevik regime. Neither Lockhart nor Reilly were professional intelligence officers, and their actions were first monitored and then controlled by the Cheka. Their contacts with other Western embassies caused the Cheka to believe it was facing an all-out offensive. The Cheka let the plot play out to expose the role of foreign embassies and catch their Russian accomplices. Thus, Lockhart and Reilly’s principal contacts were Cheka agents to whom they willingly confided their ideas for a plot that would include the arrest and execution of Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky. Crucial to this plot was the corrupting of Eduard Berzin, the commander of Lenin’s elite Latvian rifle detachment. Berzin played the role to perfection, as did the other Cheka actors. In the summer, however, a series of events endangered the regime.An attempt on the life of Lenin by Fanny Kaplan followed by violence in Moscow between Bolsheviks and their junior partners in the coalition, the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, caused the Cheka to act. Lockhart was imprisoned briefly; Reilly escaped using another man’s passport. Lockhart and Reilly were both decorated for heroism by the British government, and the Lockhart Plot became part of the mythology of British intelligence. The Cheka saw the Lockhart Plot as more than a series of blunders or British schoolboy heroics. Since 1918, it has been portrayed in the histories of the Soviet security services— both classified and unclassified—as one of the great moments in Cheka history. For Soviet security officers it was a victory over a major international plot that came within an inch of overthrowing the infant Soviet government.
Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. Robert W. Pringle. 2014.
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