- Vasili Mitrokhin was a 30-year veteran of the KGB, spent mostly in the First Chief Directorate’s archives. Beginning in 1972 Mitrokhin began to take notes on some of the 300,000 operational files for which he was responsible. These notes, which after 20 years totaled more than 100,000 handwritten pages, he buried under his dacha outside Moscow. In 1992 Mitrokhin approached a British intelligence officer in the Baltic and offered his “archives” to London. The publication of a book based on the archives created a firestorm of publicity in Great Britain in 1999 because it named dozens of British subjects and foreigners who had spied for the Soviet intelligence service between 1917 and 1989. Mitrokhin went on to write a monograph on the KGB in Afghanistan; his coauthor, Christopher Andrews, has been widely interviewed by the British and American press on the “archives.”The book’s bona fides were challenged by a number of scholars, though at least two of the long-term agents named in it publicly admitted serving Moscow. Some journalists and scholars compared the book to the infamous Zinoviev Letter, accusing Andrews of trying to blacken the British left in a mini–Red Scare. However, the majority of experts on security matters recognized the book as genuine. Mitrokhin apparently had acted like many of the dissidents the KGB had pursued during the Cold War: he wrote “for the dresser drawer”—not in the hope of publication and fame, but out of the need to somehow bear witness to the truth.
Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. Robert W. Pringle. 2014.
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