Rufina Pukhova

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Rufina Ivanovna Pukhova (Russian: Руфина Ивановна Пухова; born 1 September 1932) is a Russian memoir writer. She was the last wife of Kim Philby,[1] a KGB double agent who rose in rank through British Intelligence along with the Cambridge Five.[2] She met Philby through George Blake. Pukhova and Philby married in 1971.[3] She is the author of The Private Life of Kim Philby: The Moscow Years (2000).[4] Pukhova was born in Moscow to a Russian father and a Polish mother.[5]

Early life[edit]

Rufina, before meeting Kim Philby, worked as a copy editor in Russia after surviving cancer.[6] She lived through World War II as well as the Cold War. It wasn't until Philby had defected to the Soviet Union that the two met.[7]

Married life with Philby[edit]

The couple married in 1971. She was the fourth and final wife of Kim Philby. He was a drunkard through their early marriage, but he slowly gave up drinking to save their marriage.[7] The couple lived in Moscow in an apartment located on the sixth floor, hence the title "Island on the Sixth Floor", another memoir written by Rufina. The apartment was intricately hidden so as to deter the press after Philby's defection.[8] They say that living with Philby was difficult; not only was he an alcoholic, but he suffered terribly from depression, sometimes even cutting himself. Rufina helped him through it and made his life better after his defection.[6] After Philby's controversial death in 1988,[4] Rufina fought against the rumours of suicide and held fast that he had died of a heart condition. She said to Helen Womack of The Independent, "The suicide story is rubbish, to put it mildly".[8] Rumours of Philby's suicide attempts were never confirmed.

Written works[edit]

Rufina Philby wrote two memoirs about her life with Philby. One, titled "Island on the Sixth Floor" was included in I Did it My Way, a collection of works about Kim Philby. It also included some autobiographical chapters by Philby himself titled "My Hidden War".[8] She also wrote the memoir titled The Private Life of Kim Philby: The Moscow Years.[7] Also included in this book are some unpublished chapters from Philby's autobiography, a foreword by his friend Michael Bogdanov and essays from Mikhail Lyubimov and Hayden Peake.[7] The book focuses mostly on the relationship between Rufina and Kim and not his work as a double agent for the KGB. The memoir is "perfect" for spy aficionados who would like a closer look at Philby's inner thoughts.[6] Others see Rufina's 187-page memoir as unnecessary and quite boring in contrast to the rest of Kim Philby's life.[4]


  1. ^ Higgins, Andrew (14 July 1993). "Kim Philby 'driven into rage by sight of Brezhnev'". The Independent. Archived from the original on 18 February 2011. 
  2. ^ “BBC - History - World Wars: The Cambridge Spies.” Accessed February 1, 2013.
  3. ^ Philby, Harold Adrian Russell [Kim] (1912–1988), spy by Nigel Clive in Dictionary of National Biography online (accessed 11 November 2007)
  4. ^ a b c Persico, Joseph E. (14 May 2000). "Out in the Cold". The New York Times. p. 14. Archived from the original on 18 February 2011. 
  5. ^ "odnb"
  6. ^ a b c Dettmer, Jamie. “A Cold War Love Story.” Insight on the News 19, no. 24 (June 26, 2000): 24.
  7. ^ a b c d Philby, Rufina, Mikhail Lyubimov, and Hayden Peake. Private Life of Kim Philby: The Moscow Years. Fromm Internat., 1999.
  8. ^ a b c “Spies: Philby’s Widow Tells of an Englishman’s Life in Exile.” The Independent. Accessed January 30, 2013.