Cherkashin, Viktor Ivanovich

(1931– )
   One of the most successful case officers in modern KGB history was Colonel Viktor Cherkashin, who served as the deputy rezident for counterintelligence in Washington from 1979 to 1986 and was responsible for the recruitment and initial handling of Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen. Cherkashin’s career in the security service began in 1952 and lasted for four decades. He began with the Second (English) Department of the KGB’s Second Chief Directorate and took part in the arrest of Oleg Penkovskiy. He then served several tours abroad as an officer in the foreign counterintelligence component of the First Chief Directorate.
   Cherkashin’s greatest accomplishment was his handling of Ames and Hanssen. First, he had to verify the bona fides of the two potential agents: Ames volunteered to the Washington rezidentura; Hanssen contacted the KGB by mail. Second, he had to devise ways to run the agents in Washington under the watchful eyes of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Finally, he had to convince Moscow of the value of the information—proof that more than a dozen highly placed Soviet citizens were working for American and British intelligence. Cherkashin received the Order of Lenin for his success but was never promoted to general officer or given a responsible position in the KGB again. Because of his relationship with Oleg Kalugin, he was not fully trusted by KGB Chair Vladimir Kryuchkov, and he was assigned to a minor post. In later years, he was blamed for the loss of Ames and Hanssen, and articles appeared in the Russian press accusing him of being a “super mole” in the pay of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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