Thursday, September 15, 2005

A gift from Mis-Nagid

Mis-Nagid writes:

Adolf Tolkachev was a CIA spy in Moscow. He handed over tremendously sensitive information on Russian military technology for many years, undermining Russia's attempts to pull ahead of the USA. His story is full of nearly incredible details, awesome tradecraft, frustrating bungles, and stunning coincidences. He was executed in 1986 for high treason. From the unclassified CIA article of his story (an engrossing read):

"Tolkachev identified his wife as Natalia Ivanova née Kuzmina. She was born in 1935 and worked as an electronics engineer at the same institute where he worked-he described her as an "antenna specialist." He wrote that his wife's mother "had been executed in 1938," but he said nothing about the reasons for her execution. He noted that his wife's father had spent many years in a labor camp, typically the fate of "enemies of the Soviet state." Freed in
1955, he had returned to Moscow, but died shortly thereafter. Tolkachev commented a number of times to at least one of his case officers that the brutal treatment that his wife's parents had suffered was a key factor in his motivation to work against the Soviet regime. He never shed any light on why the authorities had taken these actions against his wife's parents, but once suggested that his wife and her parents were Jewish. Given the Stalinists' anti-Semitism, this factor may have played a role in their persecution."

The article covers his other motivations, and the Jewish connection is slightly sketchy, but I still found it interesting. If the article's author is correct, Russia lost nearly all of its military secrecy -- billions of rubles of investment and thousands of man-years of research -- partly because they tortured and killed two Jews.

Serves 'em right.