Mitrokhin Archive

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The KGB sword and shield emblem appears on the covers of the six published books by Vasili Mitrokhin and Christopher Andrew

The Mitrokhin Archive is a collection of handwritten notes made secretly by KGB Major Vasili Mitrokhin during his thirty years as a KGB archivist in the foreign intelligence service and the First Chief Directorate. When he defected to the United Kingdom in 1992 he brought the archive with him.

The British intelligence historian Christopher Andrew wrote two books, Sword and the Shield (1992) and The KGB and the Battle for the Third World (2005), based on material in the archives. They give details about much of the Soviet Union's clandestine intelligence operations around the world. Their publication provoked parliamentary inquiries in the UK, India, and Italy.[1][2] In July 2014, the Churchill Archives Centre at Churchill College released Mitrokhin's edited Russian-language notes for public research; the archives are the largest openly available KGB data trove.[3]

Origin of the Notes[edit]

Vasili Nikitich Mitrokhin originally started his career with the First Chief Directorate of the KGB (Foreign Espionage) in Undercover operations. After Nikita Khrushchev's Secret Speech, Mitrokhin became critical of the existing KGB system and was transferred from Operations to the Archives. Over the years, Mitrokhin became increasingly disillusioned with the Soviet system, especially after the stories about the struggles of dissidents and the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, which led him to conclude that the Soviet system was un-reformable. "[4]

By the late 1960s, the KGB headquarters at the Lubyanka Building became increasingly overcrowded, and the Chairman of the KGB, Yuri Andropov, authorized the construction of a new building outside of Moscow in Yasenevo, which was to become the new headquarters of the First Chief Directorate and all Foreign Operations. Mitrokhin, who was by that time the head of the Archives department, was assigned by the director of the First Directorate, Vladimir Kryuchkov, with the task of cataloging the documents and overseeing their orderly transfer to the new Headquarters. The transfer of the massive archive eventually took over 12 years, from 1972 to 1984.[4][5][6]

Unbeknownst to Kryuchkov and the KGB, while cataloging the documents, Mitrokin secretly took his own copies and immensely detailed notes of the documents which he smuggled to his dacha and hid under the floorboards. Mitrokhin made no attempt to contact any Western Intelligence service during the Soviet Era. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union (in 1992) he traveled to Latvia with copies of material from the archive and walked into the American embassy in Riga. Central Intelligence Agency officers there did not consider him to be credible, concluding that the copied documents could be faked. He then went to the British embassy and a young diplomat there saw his potential and after a further appointment one month later with representatives of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) operations followed to retrieve the 25,000 pages of files hidden in his house, covering operations from as far back as the 1930s.[4][5]

Content of the notes[edit]

Notes in the Mitrokhin Archive claim that more than half of the Soviet Union's weapons are based on US designs, that the KGB tapped Henry Kissinger's telephone when he was US Secretary of State, and had spies in place in almost all US defense contractor facilities. In France, some 35 senior politicians were alleged to have worked for the KGB during the Cold War. In West Germany, the KGB was said to have infiltrated the major political parties, the judiciary, and the police. Large-scale sabotage preparations were supposedly made against the US, Canada and elsewhere in case of war, including hidden weapons caches; several have been removed or destroyed by police per Mitrokhin's information.[7]

Prominent KGB spies named in the files[edit]

National leaders who cooperated with the KGB[edit]

KGB operations revealed in the files[edit]

Accused but unconfirmed[edit]

Disinformation campaign against the United States[edit]

Andrew described the following active measures by the KGB against the United States:[27]

Installation and support of Communist governments[edit]

According to Mitrokhin's notes, Soviet security organizations played key roles in establishing puppet Communist governments in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan. Their strategy included mass political repressions and establishing subordinate secret police services at the occupied territories.

The KGB director Yuri Andropov took suppression of liberation movements personally. In 1954, he became the Soviet Ambassador to Hungary during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. After these events, Andropov had a "Hungarian complex":

...he had watched in horror from the windows of his embassy as officers of the hated Hungarian security service were strung up from lampposts. Andropov remained haunted for the rest of his life by the speed with which an apparently all-powerful Communist one-party state had begun to topple. When other Communist regimes later seemed at risk - in Prague in 1968, in Kabul in 1979, in Warsaw in 1981, he was convinced that, as in Budapest in 1956, only armed force could ensure their survival.[36]

Andropov played a key role in crushing the Hungarian Revolution. He convinced a reluctant Nikita Khrushchev that military intervention was necessary.[37] He convinced Imre Nagy and other Hungarian leaders that the Soviet government had not ordered an attack on Hungary while the attack was beginning. The Hungarian leaders were arrested and Nagy was executed.

During the Prague Spring events in Czechoslovakia, Andropov was a vigorous proponent of "extreme measures".[37] He ordered the fabrication of false intelligence not only for public consumption, but also for the Soviet Politburo. "The KGB whipped up the fear that Czechoslovakia could fall victim to NATO aggression or to a coup". At that moment, CIA double agent Oleg Kalugin reported from Washington that he had gained access to "absolutely reliable documents proving that neither CIA nor any other agency was manipulating the Czechoslovak reform movement". But, Kalugin's messages were destroyed because they contradicted the conspiracy theory fabricated by Andropov.[38] Andropov ordered many active measures, collectively known as operation PROGRESS, against Czechoslovak reformers.[39]

Assassinations attempts and plots[edit]

Penetration of churches[edit]

The book describes establishing the "Moscow Patriarchate" on order from Stalin in 1943 as a front organization for the NKVD, and later, for the KGB.[48] All key positions in the Church, including bishops, were approved by the Ideological Department of CPSU and by the KGB. The priests were used as agents of influence in the World Council of Churches and in front organizations such as World Peace Council, Christian Peace Conference, and the Rodina ("Motherland") Society founded by the KGB in 1975. The future Russian Patriarch Alexius II said that Rodina has been created to "maintain spiritual ties with our compatriots" and to help organize them. According to the archive, Alexius worked for the KGB as agent DROZDOV, and received an honorary citation from the agency for a variety of services.[49]

Support of international terrorism[edit]

The Andrew and Mitrokhin publications briefly describe the history of the PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, who established close collaboration with the Romanian Securitate service and the Soviet KGB in the early 1970s.[50] The KGB provided secret training for PLO guerrillas.[51] However, the main KGB activities and arms shipments were channeled through Wadie Haddad of the PFLP organization, who usually stayed in a KGB dacha BARVIKHA-1 during his visits to the Soviet Union. Led by Carlos the Jackal, a group of PFLP fighters carried out a spectacular raid on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries office in Vienna in 1975. Advance notice of this operation "was almost certainly" given to the KGB.[50]

Many notable operations are alleged to have been conducted by the KGB to support international terrorists with weapons on the orders from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, including:

Italian Mitrokhin Commission[edit]

In 2002 the Italian Parliament, then led by Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing coalition, the Casa delle Libertà, created a commission, presided over by Senator Paolo Guzzanti (Forza Italia) to investigate alleged KGB ties to opposition figures in Italian politics. The commission was shut down in 2006 without having developed any new concrete evidence beyond the original information in the Mitrokhin Archive.[54] However, former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko said that he had been informed by FSB deputy chief, General Anatoly Trofimov (who was shot dead in Moscow in 2005), that "Romano Prodi is our man [in Italy]".[55]

A British Member of the European Parliament for London, Gerard Batten of United Kingdom Independence Party, demanded a new inquiry into the allegations.[56] A report by the Conflict Studies Research Centre of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom from May 2007 noted that Trofimov was never the head of the FSB, which did not oversee intelligence operations, had never worked in the intelligence directorate of the KGB or its successor the SVR, nor had he worked in the counterintelligence department of the intelligence services, nor had he ever worked in Italy, making it difficult to understand how Trofimov would have had knowledge about such a recruitment. Henry Plater-Zyberk, the co-author of the report, suggested that Trofimov was "conveniently dead", so "could neither confirm nor deny the story." He noted Litvinenko's history of making accusations without evidence to back them up.[57]

Preparations for large-scale sabotage in the West[edit]

Notes in the archive describe extensive preparations for large-scale sabotage operations against the United States, Canada, and Europe in the event of war, although none was recorded as having been carried out, beyond creating weapons and explosives caches in assorted foreign countries.[58] This information has been corroborated in general by GRU defectors, Victor Suvorov[59] and Stanislav Lunev.[60] The operations included the following:

  • A plan for sabotage of Hungry Horse Dam in Montana.[61]
  • A detailed plan to destroy the port of New York (target GRANIT). The most vulnerable points of the port were determined and recorded on maps.[61]
  • Large arms caches were hidden in many countries to support such planned terrorism acts. Some were booby-trapped with "Lightning" explosive devices. One such cache, identified by Mitrokhin, was found by Swiss authorities in the woods near Fribourg. Several other caches in Europe were removed successfully.[62]
  • FSLN leader Carlos Fonseca Amador was described as "a trusted agent" in KGB files.[63]
  • Disruption of the power supply across New York State by KGB sabotage teams, which were to be based along the Delaware River in Big Spring Park.[61]
  • An "immensely detailed" plan to destroy "oil refineries and oil and gas pipelines across Canada from British Columbia to Montreal" (operation "Cedar") was prepared; the work took twelve years to complete.[64]


The FBI described the Mitrokhin Archive as "the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source".[65] The historian Joseph Persico described the revelations as "far more sensational even than the story dismissed as impossible by the SVR (Sluzhba Vneshnei Razvedki)." He had dismissed early reports of the existence of the archive and commented that Mitrokhin's archives may be the only references to a large volume of material that has since been destroyed by the KGB.[66]

The Central European Review described Mitrokhin and Andrew's work as

"fascinating reading for anyone interested in the craft of espionage, intelligence gathering and its overall role in 20th-century international relations," offering "a window on the Soviet worldview and, as the ongoing Hanssen case in the United States clearly indicates, how little Russia has relented from the terror-driven spy society it was during seven inglorious decades of Communism".[67]

David L. Ruffley, from the Department of International Programs, United States Air Force Academy, said that the material

"provides the clearest picture to date of Soviet intelligence activity, fleshing out many previously obscure details, confirming or contradicting many allegations and raising a few new issues of its own" and "sheds new light on Soviet intelligence activity that, while perhaps not so spectacular as some expected, is nevertheless significantly illuminating."[68]

The Intelligence Forum commented that the text of the book

"is remarkably restrained and reasonable in its handling of Westerners targeted by the KGB as agents or sources. The individuals outed by Mitrokhin appear to be what he says they were, but great care is generally taken to identify those who were unwitting dupes or, in many instances, uncooperative targets."[69]

Jack Straw (then Home Secretary) stated to the British Parliament in 1999:

"In 1992, after Mr. Mitrokhin had approached the UK for help, our Secret Intelligence Service made arrangements to bring Mr. Mitrokhin and his family to this country, together with his archive. As there were no original KGB documents or copies of original documents, the material itself was of no direct evidential value, but it was of huge value for intelligence and investigative purposes. Thousands of leads from Mr. Mitrokhin's material have been followed up worldwide. As a result, our intelligence and security agencies, in co-operation with allied Governments, have been able to put a stop to many security threats. Many unsolved investigations have been closed; many earlier suspicions confirmed; and some names and reputations have been cleared. Our intelligence and security agencies have assessed the value of Mr. Mitrokhin's material world wide as immense."[70]

The author Joseph Trento commented that

"we know the Mitrokhin material is real because it fills in the gaps in Western files on major cases through 1985. Also, the operational material matches western electronic intercepts and agent reports. What MI6 got for a little kindness and a pension was the crown jewels of Russian intelligence."[71]

Historian of UCLA, in the American Historical Review (106:2, April 2001): found Mitrokhin's material to be "fascinating," but he also questioned plausibility that Mitrokhin could have smuggled and transcribed thousands of KGB documents, undetected, over 30 years.[72] The former Indian counter-terrorism chief, Bahukutumbi Raman, pointed out that Mitrokhin did not bring either the original documents or photocopies. He brought handwritten/typed notes of the contents of the documents. He also observed that "one finds it very difficult to believe" that Mitrokhin could have had access to the files and copied them, which should have been impossible if standard intelligence agency safety rules were followed. Regarding the MI-5 and MI-6, Raman commented that "their interest seems to have been only in the publication of a book on the misdeeds of the KGB", going so far as to suggest that "The Mitrokhin notes and the two books based on it written by Andrew are part of the MI-6's psywar against Russia".[73]

Scholar Amy Knight stated that "the story of Mitrokhin's defection, ... strains credulity". Like Raman, she expressed bewilderment as to how Mitrokhin could have acquired access to the documents and was able to copy them unnoticed - "incredibly, given the rigorous security rules in all Soviet archives" - as well as take the archive to a Baltic country unhindered. Apart from that, she described the book as "the latest example of an emerging genre of spy histories based on materials from the KGB archives." She believes that the book does not reveal anything really new and significant:

"While "The Sword and the Shield" contains new information ... none of it has much significance for broader interpretations of the Cold War. The main message the reader comes away with after plowing through almost a thousand pages is the same one gleaned from the earlier books: the Soviets were incredibly successful, albeit evil, spymasters, and none of the Western services could come close to matching their expertise. Bravo the KGB."[74]


  1. ^ "Advani seeks white paper on KGB charges", The Hindu, October 3, 2005.
  2. ^ The Mitrokhin Inquiry Report, United Kingdom
  3. ^ "Mitrokhin’s KGB archive opens to public". Churchill College. 2014-07-07. 
  4. ^ a b c [1]
  5. ^ a b [2]
  6. ^ Andrew, Mitrokhin Archive, p. 48-52.
  7. ^ KGB in Europe, 472-476
  8. ^ UK House of Commons, Hansard Debates, 21 Oct 1999, Columns 587-594
  9. ^ Andrew and Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West (London, 1999) pp. 559-563.
  10. ^ Andrew, Mitrokhin Archive, p. 526-527.
  11. ^ New York Times, 25 September 1997.
  12. ^ KGB in Europe, page 23-24
  13. ^ Vasili Mitrokhin and Christopher Andrew, The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World, Basic Books (2005) hardcover, ISBN 0-465-00311-7, pp. 69-85. Note: Allende made a personal request for Soviet money through his personal contact, KGB officer Svyatoslav Kuznetsov, who rushed to Chile from Mexico City to help him. The KGB claimed it gave $400,000 to influence the election, with an additional personal subsidy of $50,000 directly to Allende. Andrew argued that help from KGB was a decisive factor, because Allende won by a narrow margin of only 39,000 votes of a total of the 3 million cast. After the elections, the KGB director Yuri Andropov obtained permission for additional money and other resources from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to ensure Allende's victory in Congress. In his request on 24 October, he stated that KGB "will carry out measures designed to promote the consolidation of Allendes's victory and his election to the post of President of the country." The KGB file on Allende reported him as having "stated his willingness to co-operate on a confidential basis and provide any necessary assistance, since he considered himself a friend of the Soviet Union. He willingly shared political information...".
  14. ^ Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, "How 'weak' Allende was left out in the cold by the KGB", excerpt from The Mitrokhin Archive II, The Times, 19 September 2005
  15. ^ The KGB and the Battle for the Third World, p. 121
  16. ^ Andrew, Mitrokhin Archive, p. 522-526.
  17. ^ Andrew & Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West (London, 1999) pp. 310-311.
  18. ^ Andrew, The KGB in Europe, p. 443.
  19. ^ Andrew, The KGB in Europe, pp. 451-453.
  20. ^ Andrew, The KGB in Europe, p. 454.
  21. ^ KGB in Europe, pages 503-505
  22. ^ Rufford and Penrose, 'KGB Claims Kinnock Aide Was Agent Dan', The Sunday Times, September 19, 1999
  23. ^ Andrew and Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive, pages 529 and 555
  24. ^ 'Richard Clements' (Obituary), The Times, November 28, 2006
  25. ^ Audrey Gillan, "Ex-Editor dismisses spy claim", The Guardian, September 20, 1999
  26. ^ Hearings of the U.S. House of Representatives, 26 Oct 1999.
  27. ^ Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin (2000). The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West. Gardners Books. ISBN 0-14-028487-7.
  28. ^ KGB in Europe, pp. 296–297
  29. ^ Letter to The Nation from Lane, The Nation, 20 March 2006. Quote: "Neither the KGB nor any person or organization associated with it ever made any contribution to my work."
  30. ^ KGB in Europe and the West, p. 298
  31. ^ KGB in Europe, pages 300–305
  32. ^ KGB in Europe, pages 305–308
  33. ^ KGB in Europe, pages 308–309
  34. ^ a b KGB in Europe, page 310
  35. ^ KGB in Europe, pages 318–319
  36. ^ The KGB in Europe, page 7.
  37. ^ a b The KGB in Europe, p. 327.
  38. ^ The KGB in Europe, page 334-335.
  39. ^ The KGB in Europe, page 328.
  40. ^ The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World, pages 400-402
  41. ^ The World Was Going Our Way, pages 400-402
  42. ^ a b KGB in Europe, pages 464-466
  43. ^ Vadim J. Birstein. The Perversion Of Knowledge: The True Story of Soviet Science. Westview Press (2004) ISBN 0-8133-4280-5.
  44. ^ Ken Alibek and S. Handelman. Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World - Told from Inside by the Man Who Ran it. 1999. Delta (2000) ISBN 0-385-33496-6
  45. ^ KGB in Europe, pp. 114-115
  46. ^ KGB in Europe, pages 477-478
  47. ^ KGB in Europe, pages 466-467
  48. ^ KGB in Europe, pages 634-661
  49. ^ The vice-president of Rodina was P.I. Vasilyev, a senior officer of Nineteenth (Soviet emigre) department of the First Chief Directorate of the KGB. (KGB in Europe, page 650.)
  50. ^ a b The KGB and the Battle for the Third World, pages 250-253
  51. ^ The KGB and the Battle for the Third World, page 145
  52. ^ KGB in Europe, page 502
  53. ^ The operation was personally approved by Leonid Brezhnev in 1970. The weapons were delivered by the KGB vessel Kursograf - KGB in Europe, pp. 495-498
  54. ^ "Spy expert at centre of storm", The Guardian, 2 December 2006 (English)
  55. ^ The Litvinenko murder: Scaramella - The Italian Connection, by Lauren Veevers, The Independent
  56. ^ Batten, Gerard (26 April 2006). "2006: Speech in the European Parliament: Romano Prodi". Gerard Batten MEP. Retrieved 2006-11-21. 
  57. ^ Monaghan, Dr Andrew; Plater Zyberk, Henry (22 May 2007). "Misunderstanding Russia: Alexander Litvinenko". The UK & Russia — A Troubled Relationship Part I (PDF). Conflict Studies Research Centre of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. pp. 9–12. ISBN 978-1-905962-15-0. Retrieved 2008-11-11.  (Archived at WebCite)
  58. ^ The KGB in Europe, page 472-476
  59. ^ Victor Suvorov, Spetsnaz, 1987, Hamish Hamilton Ltd, ISBN 0-241-11961-8
  60. ^ Stanislav Lunev. Through the Eyes of the Enemy: The Autobiography of Stanislav Lunev, Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998. ISBN 0-89526-390-4
  61. ^ a b c The KGB in Europe, page 473
  62. ^ The KGB in Europe, page 475-476
  63. ^ The KGB in Europe, page 472-473. Quote: "Sandinista guerrillas formed the basis for a KGB sabotage and intelligence group established in 1966 on the Mexican US border."
  64. ^ The KGB in Europe, page 473-474
  65. ^ Stromberg, Stephen W. "Documenting the KGB", Oxonian Review of Books. Winter 2005
  66. ^ "Book review for The Sword and the Shield", New York Times .
  67. ^ Stout, Robert. Central European Review. Vol 3, No 18. 21 May 2001.
  68. ^ David L. Ruffley , "Review of Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB", History Net, April 2002
  69. ^ Intel Forum Book Review : 0003
  70. ^ Commons Hansard Debates 21 Oct 1999 : Column 587
  71. ^ Joseph John Trento, The Secret History Of The CIA, pp. 474-475
  72. ^ J. Arch Getty, "Book Review", American Historical Review', at History Cooperative.
  73. ^ "Bahuktumbi Raman, " ", 26 September 2005
  74. ^ Amy Knight, "The selling of the KGB," The Wilson Quarterly. Washington: Winter 2000.Vol.24, Iss. 1; pg. 16, 8 pgs. Reproduced in [3] (Internet Archive copy).


  • Andrew, Christopher; Vasili Mitrokhin (1999). The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-00310-9. 
  • Andrew, Christopher, Vasili Mitrokhin (1999) The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West. Allen Lane. ISBN 0-7139-9358-8.
  • Andrew, Christopher; Vasili Mitrokhin (2000). The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West. Gardners Books. ISBN 0-14-028487-7. 
  • Andrew, Christopher, Vasili Mitrokhin (2000). The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-00312-5.
  • Vasiliy Mitrokhin (2002), KGB Lexicon: The Soviet Intelligence Officer's Handbook, Frank Cass & Co. Ltd, 451 pages, ISBN 0-7146-5257-1
  • Andrew, Christopher; Vasili Mitrokhin (2005). The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-00311-7. 
  • Andrew, Christopher, Vasili Mitrokhin (2005). The Mitrokin Archive II: The KGB and the World. Allen Lane. ISBN 0-7139-9359-6.

External links[edit]