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Spying Just Isn’t What It Used to Be

OlegKalugin071810.jpgIn an interview with RFE/RL, Oleg Kalugin, former head of overseas KGB operations, scoffs at the recent spy scandal:

Honestly, it made me laugh. It all seemed so laughable — an intelligence farce. Financing 10 or 12 people who had no direct access to state secrets and hoping they would one day be able to infiltrate the State Department or another governmental institution is such a waste of time, money, and human resources. That’s my opinion on the ‘spy’ saga that unfolded recently.

In my opinion, it ended very successfully with the swap of the so-called Russian spies with a relatively small group of real American spies, of people who at any rate provided valuable information to the United States and Britain. The exchange was a failure in the sense that Russia freed people who really were spies — this was not an invention.


His thoughts on the Russian intelligence services, then and now:

Theselection process was very strict — biographical data, relatives,connections — and candidates also were tested on their integrity, ontheir devotion to the Communist ideology, on their awareness of theirduty, on possible risks and sacrifices of their freedom and even oftheir lives. The selection process was very thorough…

…Thesecret services now attract many people who are romantic by nature, whohave read thrillers and seen many movies dedicated to the heroic deedsof the Soviet agents. There are many people like that, and they aredecent people. But with time, the romance fades away and not all areable to adapt to the reality of the secret services.

Well, at least the KGB training didn’t go to waste:

TheU.S.S.R was based on three pillars: the Communist Party, the KGB, andthe military-industrial complex. Russia’s current system is based onthe KGB at the head of the government, on the Russian Orthodox Churchas a former part of KGB agencies among the clergy, and on Russianbusiness. Many former KGB officers are now doing business, eitherlaundering money or participating in intelligence operations.