In 1992 the British Secret Intelligence Service exfiltrated from Russia a defector whose presence in the West has remained secret until the publication of this book. Vasili Mitrokhin worked for almost thirty years in the foreign intelligence archives of the KGB, which in 1972 he was made responsible for moving to a new HQ just outside Moscow. He was congratulated by the head of foreign intelligence, Vladimir Kryuchkov (later the ringleader of the 1991 Moscow coup), for his success in transferring the archives and his devoted ‘service to the state security authorities’.
Unknown to Kryuchkov, however, Mitrokhin – a secret dissident – spent over a decade noting and copying highly classified files which, at enormous personal risk, he smuggled daily out of the archives and kept beneath his dacha floor. ‘Few KGB officers have ever spent so much time reading, let alone noting, foreign intelligence files,’ writes Christopher Andrew. ‘Outside the Archives, only the most senior officers shared his unrestricted access, and none had time to read more than a fraction of the material noted by him.’ Mitrokhin’s archive, which extends from the Lenin era to the 1980s, has been described by the FBI as ‘the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source’.
This unprecedented treasure-trove of KGB material, supplemented by research in a mass of other published and unpublished sources, has enabled Christopher Andrew, the leading Western writer on modern intelligence, to cast new light on the history both of the Soviet Union and of the East-West conflict which spanned three quarters of this century. This first volume of The Mitrokhin Archive gives an extraordinary insight into the KGB’s penetration of the West, its secret links with Western communist parties, its covert role in maintaining the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe, and its brutal war against dissidents inside and outside the Soviet Union, all of which were on a scale and of a variety which we have never previously realized. Among the British agents revealed for the first time are a corrupt Scotland Yard detective who became a KGB ‘Romeo Spy’ on four continents, and a woman who was both KGB’s longest-serving British agent and its most important female spy. Both are still alive.