Sunday 23 April 2017

Scandal reminiscent of golden age of espionage

If Katia Zatuliveter was spying in Britain for Russia, she is proof that a new breed of agent is operating, and on a scale that exceeds the Cold War, says former KGB officer Oleg Gordievsky

British MP Mike Hancock leaves his home in Fareham, Hampshire after denying that Katia Katuliveter, a Russian aide to the Liberal Democrat, could be deported following allegations of spying by British security services
British MP Mike Hancock leaves his home in Fareham, Hampshire after denying that Katia Katuliveter, a Russian aide to the Liberal Democrat, could be deported following allegations of spying by British security services

THERE is little that changes in the world of espionage. The Russians have been spying on Britain since the days of Sidney Reilly, the "Ace of Spies", who was executed for his part in attempting to overthrow the Bolshevik regime in 1918. Ever since then, the Russian secret services have hated their British counterparts. But if Katia Zatuliveter is a spy, the Russians appear to have had a new kind of star.

Once, the role of an attractive young woman in an espionage tale was simply to be the honeypot but Zatuliveter is suspected of being a serious agent, and probably a very effective one. Many of the agents deployed now are far more dynamic than in my day: they speak foreign languages fluently, work in important companies and institutions, and move between countries and jobs with ease. They are often better than the officers they work for -- and, working within Parliament, would be worth more to Moscow than the whole of the KGB's London station.

In 1985, when I escaped from the Soviet Union, there were 25 KGB officers and 14 GRU officers -- their military counterparts -- working at the embassy in London. Twenty years after the end of the Cold War, there are exactly the same number there now.

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