Oleg Danilovich Kalugin (Russian: Олег Данилович Калугин; born September 6, 1934) is a former KGB general (stripped of his rank and awards by a Russian Court decision in 2002). He was a longtime head of KGB operations in the United States and later a critic of the agency.
Early life and the KGB career
Born September 6, 1934, in Leningrad and son of an officer in the NKVD, Kalugin attended Leningrad State University and, subsequently, was recruited by the KGB under the aegis of the First Chief Directorate (Foreign Intelligence). After training he was sent to the United States, where he enrolled as a journalism student at Columbia University on a Fulbright scholarship in 1958, along with Aleksandr Yakovlev. He continued to pose as a journalist for a number of years, eventually serving as the Radio Moscow correspondent at the United Nations. In 1965 — after five years in New York City — he returned to Moscow to serve under the cover of press officer in the Soviet Foreign Ministry.
Kalugin was then assigned to Washington, D.C., with the cover of deputy press officer for the Soviet Embassy. In reality he was deputy resident and acting chief of the Residency at the Soviet Embassy. Rising in the ranks he became one of the KGB's top officers operating out of the Soviet embassy in Washington: it led to his being promoted to general in 1974, the youngest in its history. He then returned to KGB headquarters to become head of the foreign counterintelligence or K branch of the First Chief Directorate. During this time he received high honors for the assassination of Bulgarian writer Georgi Markov, which had been accomplished on a request from Todor Zhivkov and ordered by the KGB chief Yuri Andropov.
In 1980 Kalugin was demoted to deputy head of the Leningrad KGB as a result of an intrigue initiated by Vladimir Kryuchkov who was at this time a close confidant of Yuri Andropov and had been privately criticized by Kalugin. Kalugin was accused of recruiting an agent twenty years prior whom the KGB believed, probably incorrectly, was actually an American spy. This made Kalugin himself seem to be a security risk. He was suspected of working for the CIA, although there was no supporting evidence. Vladimir Kryuchkov, Chairman of the KGB and orchestrator of the 1991 coup plot, alleged that in his time in counterintelligence he failed to discover a single American agent while his successor would allegedly find over a dozen. Former CIA mole Karl Koecher made unsupported claims that Kalugin was responsible for Koecher's eventual arrest.
The unsubstantiated accusations did not stop him from criticizing the agency's policies and methods, complaining about the fact that the KGB was overlooking corruption in the highest circles of Soviet society while terrorizing common people. His unbridled public criticism led to reassignment to Security Officers posts first in the Academy of Sciences in 1987, then at the Ministry of Electronics in 1988. His career at the KGB ended with his forced retirement on February 26, 1990.
As the Soviet Union underwent changes under Mikhail Gorbachev, Kalugin became more vocal and public in his criticism of the KGB, denouncing Soviet security forces as "Stalinist" domestic political police, although he never disputed the importance of espionage abroad. Finally, in 1990, Gorbachev signed a decree stripping Kalugin of his rank, decorations, and pension. In August 1991, Gorbachev returned his rank, decorations and pension. Despite opposition from the KGB, he was elected in September 1990 to the Supreme Soviet as a People's Deputy for the Krasnodar region.
Countering the Soviet coup attempt
Kalugin became a firm supporter of Boris Yeltsin, the president of the Russian SFSR. During the abortive Soviet coup attempt of 1991 led by KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov, he led crowds to the Russian White House, center of anticoup efforts, and induced Yeltsin to address the crowds.
After the coup he became an unpaid adviser to the new KGB Chairman Vadim Bakatin. While Bakatin succeeded in dismantling the old security apparatus, he did not have the time to reform it before being fired on November 1991. Ever vocal, Kalugin told the press that in the future, the KGB would have no political functions, no secret laboratories where they manufacture poisons and secret weapons.
Exile in the United States
In 1995 he accepted a teaching position in The Catholic University of America and has remained in the United States ever since. Settling in Washington, D.C., he wrote a book about Cold War espionage entitled The First Directorate: My 32 Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West, a more recent book Spymaster in 2008, and collaborated with former CIA Director William Colby and Activision to produce Spycraft: The Great Game, a CD-ROM game released in 1996. He has appeared frequently in the media and given lectures at a number of universities.
In June 2001, Kalugin testified at the espionage trial of George Trofimoff, a retired Colonel of the United States Army Reserve who was charged with spying for the KGB during the 1970s and '80s. Upon being asked whether he knew the name of the U.S. military intelligence mole codenamed "Markiz," Kalugin responded "Yes. I did. His name was George Trofimoff." Kalugin testified that Metropolitan bishop Iriney (Susemihl), the Russian Orthodox hierarch of Austria, had recruited Trofimoff into the service of the KGB. Kalugin further described having invited the Metropolitan to visit his dacha in 1978. According to Kalugin "He did good work, particularly in recruiting Markiz. I wanted to thank him for what he had done." Kalugin further described his own meeting with Col. Trofimoff at a location in Austria. When asked his reasons for testifying, Kalugin explained that, as a resident alien, he was trying to obey American law. After the case went to the jury, Col. Trofimoff was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.
On August 4, 2003, General Kalugin became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
Criticism of Putin
With the return to power of elements of the KGB, most notably Vladimir Putin, Kalugin was again accused of treason. In 2002 he was put on trial in absentia in Moscow and found guilty of spying for the West. He was sentenced to fifteen years in jail, in a verdict he described as "Soviet justice, which is really triumphant today". The US and Russia have no extradition treaty.
Kalugin currently works for the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies (CI CENTRE). He is a member of the advisory board for the International Spy Museum. He remains a critic of Putin, a former subordinate, whom he called a "war criminal" over his conduct of the Second Chechen War, and claimed that he would absolutely face an international tribunal some day and would be severely penalized for his crimes against the people of the North Caucasus, just like former Yugoslavia President Slobodan Milosevic.
Books by Oleg Kalugin
- The First Directorate: My 32 Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West by Oleg Kalugin and Fen Montaigne. 1994. 374 pages. St Martins Pr. ISBN 0-312-11426-5
- Spymaster: The Highest-ranking KGB Officer Ever to Break His Silence by Oleg Kalugin and Fen Montaigne. 1995. Blake Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-85685-101-X
- (Russian) Proshchai, Lubianka! (XX vek glazami ochevidtsev) by Oleg Kalugin. 1995. 347 pages. "Olimp" ISBN 5-7390-0375-X
- Window of opportunity: Russia's role in the coalition against terror. An article from: Harvard International Review. September 22, 2002. Vol. 24 Issue 3 Page 56(5).
Notes and references
- . A scientist codenamed Cook was recruited by Kalugin in the US where he worked for the KGB and was later evacuated to the Soviet Union to avoid his arrest by the FBI. There, Cook started criticizing the inefficient socialist system, particularly in the scientific institutes where he worked and has been framed the KGB and convicted to eight years of prison. Andropov ordered Kalugin to interrogate Cook in Lefortovo prison and extort Cook's admission that he was indeed an American spy. During the recorded interrogation, Cook was terrified that a man who recruited him to work for the Soviet Union, now wants him to admit spying for the US. Cook refused to admit anything and instead condemned Kalugin.
- The First Directorate: My 32 Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West by Oleg Kalugin and Fen Montaigne, p. 327-328. St Martins Pr, New York (1994), ISBN 0-312-11426-5 (retrieved 25 February 2006).
- Scott Shane (26 June 2002). "From Soviet hero to traitor". Baltimore Sun.
- Andy Byers (2005), The Imperfect Spy: The Inside Story of a Convicted Spy, Vandamere Press. Page 169.
- Byers (2005), page 172.
- "Former KGB General Kalugin Calls U.S.-Russia Spy Saga 'A Farce'". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 17 July 2010.
- Steven Lee Myers (27 June 2002). "Russia Convicts a Former K.G.B. General Now Living in U.S.". New York Times.
- "Seven Questions: A Little KGB Training Goes a Long Way". Foreign Policy Magazine. 25 July 2007.
- "Oleg Kalugin: “Putin Is a Temporary Twist In History”". The Ukrainian Week. 8 September 2011.