Former Russian Spy on Putin’s “Selective” Stalinism


Former Russian Spy Oleg Kalugin says he had a change of heart about the KGB when he was transferred to the domestic service.

Below are a few excerpts from an interview by the magazine Foreign Policy with the Washington DC-based former KGB senior operative, Oleg Kalugin. We haven’t heard much out of Kalugin since the shooting of Paul Joyal – a story that the media has chosen to forget. From Foreign Policy (OK refers to Oleg Kalugin):

FP: When you were in St. Petersburg working for the KGB, you counted Vladimir Putin and Nikolai Patrushev, the current head of the FSB, Russia’s domestic security agency, as your subordinates. What memories do you have of these two men? OK: Nikolai Patrushev was my subordinate for years in Leningrad. One day he brought a report about one dissident in his district and said, “We must take care of him, maybe arrest him.” I said, “Why? Give me the case.” I read the file of this man, and it showed that he was honest about the lack of food, long lines you have to stand in for food, the bureaucracy of the Soviet party and government institutions. When Patrushev brought it, I said, “Why do we have to put him in jail? What is this case?” Patrushev’s first desire was to put the guy in jail because he would spread his discontent and unhappiness among his friends and colleagues and that was dangerous. Putin was too small to report to me directly. He was an operative; he was five steps below, so he never reported to me. He was one of 3,000 guys. He was just a gray, nonentity walking in the corridors. He was like all subordinates who had no confidence in themselves. …. FP: What in your mind then is the difference between the system Putin operates and Soviet Russia? OK: Putin has partially restored the old Stalinist methods. The difference is Stalin used mass repressions. He would imprison and execute hundreds of thousands, millions. In Putin’s case, it is more selective: individuals who he finds too hostile or harmful for his rule. Putin has actually put the country back to the authoritarian state; it’s not as bloody but just as criminal as Stalin’s regime. FP: At what point did you begin to become suspicious of Putin, and what pushed you to become more outspoken against him? OK: Putin? Well, I was always outspoken about him. I know this man’s background better than many others. I do not talk in details—people who knew them are all dead now because they were vocal, they were open. I am quiet. There is only one man who is vocal, and he may be in trouble: [former] world chess champion [Garry] Kasparov. He has been very outspoken in his attacks on Putin, and I believe that he is probably next on the list.