Putin laments how his spy secrets were ignored
Published 20/05/2010 | 05:00
Vladimir Putin has admitted for the first time that he spent his stint as a KGB spy in 1980s East Germany conducting industrial espionage against the West, lamenting that the secrets he stole were ignored.
In his most candid comments on the subject to date, the Russian prime minister said that at least part of his job as a KGB agent in East Germany involved acquiring sensitive technological and industrial secrets from the West.
But he told a meeting of the Russian Academy of Sciences that he grew increasingly frustrated as the know-how he passed back to the Soviet Union to help it make good the yawning technological gap with the West went unused.
"When I was serving in a different department (the KGB) in my past life I remember very well the moment at the end of the 1980s when our work and the work of your foreign colleagues obtained through special means was not integrated into the economy of the Soviet Union," he told the scientists and academics.
Mr Putin, who worked as a KGB spy in Dresden from 1985-1990, said he could not understand why Soviet scientists did not use the intelligence.
"We were working really hard on this area and again and again getting what was needed but it was no use." Little is known about Mr Putin's time in East Germany in the 1980s except that another part of his job was to recruit spies who had access and close links to West Germany.
But his disclosure that he engaged in industrial espionage in a last ditch and fruitless attempt to breathe life into the dying Soviet economy confirms claims made by former East German officials and spies that part of his job was to appropriate Western computer technology for the USSR. Dresden, the German city where he was based, was a good place for this since East Germany's biggest computer manufacturer, Robotron, had its headquarters there and based its products on Western models.
Former company officials have said the firm had its own external industrial espionage unit spying on Western counterparts, while Dresden itself hosted many trade fairs attended by foreign business people. (© Daily Telegraph, London)