Saturday, April 26, 2008

Oleg Kalugin

Born in 1934 as the son of a NKVD officer, Oleg Kalugin was destined for a career in the intelligence services. After graduating from the Leningrad university he was recruited by the KGB. It was the start of a remarkable career in the First Chief Directorate - the foreign intelligence service - as undercover agent, mainly in the United States.

His first assignment in 1958 was as a student at the Columbia University in New York. Shortly after, he was employed as Radio Moscow correspondent at the UN in New York, of course under his cover as journalist, for the next five years. He returned to the Soviet Union to work under the cover of press officer in the Soviet Foreign Ministry in Moscow. It was a run-up to a five year career as press officer for the Soviet Embassy in Washington, DC from 1965 to 1970. In reality, he was chief of the Rezidency of the Soviet Embassy, in other words, head of the KGB office in Washington. Kalugin made a swift career in the First Chief Directorate and became the youngest general in the history of the KGB. As head of the KR line (foreign counterintelligence) he was involved in many of the most notorious spy cases in the Cold War period.

As a KGB General, Kalugin became more and more frustrated about the way the KGB worked and how it was lead. His criticism finally resulted in a demotion to a less important post in Leningrad in 1980. Having experienced the corruption from within the KGB an amongst Communist Party officials he retired from the KGB in 1990. His public attacks on the KGB resulted in the loss of his KGB rank, his decorations and pension. However, thanks to public support, Kalugin obtained a seat in the Parliament of the USSR. After the 1991 putsch, Kalugin became advisor to Vadim Bakatin who finally dissolved the old KGB and initiated the reforms of the Russian intelligence services.

When Vladimir Putin became president of the Russian Federation, Oleg Kalugin saw this as a return of the old power of the KGB in politics, an opinion he also expressed in public. While visiting the United States for businesses, Kalugin was accused of treason. He never returned to Russia and was convicted in absentia to 15 years in jail. The US refused to extradite Kalugin who now works as a staff members at the Counter Intelligence Centre. He remains a critic of Vladimir Putin. Kalugin published two books, Spymaster and The First Directorate, and was co-writer to several other books.

More about Oleg Kalugin at the CI Centre website and the CNN Cold War pages. On Youtube there's a most interesting interview with Oleg Kalugin.

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