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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Mitrokhin Archive

The Mitrokhin Archive consists of summarized notes taken by Vasili Nikitich Mitrokhin, a former KGB archivist who defected to the United Kingdom after the fall of the Soviet Union. Primarily, this collection contains items from his "Chekist Anthology," which covers activities of the secret Soviet organization Cheka in places such as Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, and Egypt. For more context, please read the "Note on Sources" and biography of Mitrokhin below, all of which should be read before any other documents. See also Intelligence Operations in the Cold War and the Vassiliev Notebooks. (Image, Mitrokhin)

  • June, 2007

    The Campaign against Soviet Economic Policy. Folder 31. The Chekist Anthology

    Mitrokhin states that in 1978 the West attempted to gain influence over Soviet fiscal policy because the U.S.S.R. was in opposition to the Helsinki Accords. Soviet officials ensured the Soviet public that any attempts by the West to change the socialist system in the country would not affect domestic politics in any way. However, it would negatively affect the development of relations between the West and the East and would damage international economic and trade cooperation. According to Mitrokhin, the Soviet administration was especially concerned with Carter’s efforts to end any kind of collaboration with the Soviet Union. Mitrokhin provides a detailed plan prepared by Soviet officials to stop the anti-socialist campaign in the West that was led by the Carter administration.

  • June, 2007

    An Illegal Trainer (KGB history of agent "Halef"). Folder 60. The Chekist Anthology.

    Describes training techniques used by the KGB in logistical preparation of their operatives for assignments abroad. This article focuses on the employment history of the KGB agent codenamed “Halef.” Between 1955 and 1967, Halef was stationed in Hong Kong and Tokyo. In 1967, due to his insignificant feedback and a weak performance as a field operative, Halef was transferred back as a trainer. As a trainer, Halef traveled extensively. While in the United States, the KGB developed a fictitious identity for Halef – a so-called legend-biography – in case his activity aroused suspicion and he were detained by authorities. In the United States, France and Mexico, Halef’s objectives included developing and testing means of communication with the KGB, which could be used to inform the KGB of an operative’s arrival to and departure from a country, request a meeting, or announce an emergency. In addition to assessing the existing signal language used among operatives, the KGB also instructed Halef to collect the data necessary to set up new surveillance locations in a number of countries. In 1977, Halef was performing assignments in Pakistan and Burma. In 1978, he and his wife were engaged in assignments throughout the USSR. From the USSR, they were relocated to the GDR and then to Bulgaria, where they boarded a cruise ship going from Varny to Suhumi to survey the ports of the Black Sea basin. Traveling through Odessa, Halef photographed military vessels and observed the procedures of the border patrol and customs officers.

  • June, 2007

    The Case of Hmelyova: "The Witch." Folder 37. The Chekist Anthology

    In this entry, Mitrokhin relates the KGB details surrounding “The Witch”—Aida Moiseeva Hmelyova (b. 1936), a native of the Kokchetavskii region in Russia. Mitrokhin describes how Hmelyova was investigated by Moscow’s Fifth Directorate of the KGB which shadowed her throughout 1969.

  • June, 2007

    The Yuri Case. Folder 91. The Chekist Anthology.

    In this entry, Mitrokhin draws upon KGB sources to describe Yuri Velichkov Bagomil Stanimerov (b.1941), a Bulgarian citizen who graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1968. Stanimerov was recruited by the Bulgarian branch of the KGB in 1970, and became a resident of Sweden in 1972. Mitrokhin’s summary of KGB documents indicates that in April 1974, CIA officer Huey Walter “Hearst” made Stanimerov an offer in the name of the National Security Council. While Stanimerov refused the offer, he told Hearst that he would continue collaborating with him. Stanimerov subsequently traveled to many foreign countries, but the Americans no longer expressed interest in him. In 1975, Stanimerov was sent to work in the Bulgarian embassy in the United States. The Americans began to train Stanimerov as a spy and tried to ideologically convert him. The Mitrokhin account posits that the KGB gave Stanimerov instructions in case the latter succeeded in infiltrating the CIA. In 1978, the KGB received information regarding the fact that Stanimerov was being investigated by the FBI for his ties with the Bulgarian intelligence services

  • June, 2007

    The Vernii (Devoted) Case. Folder 92. The Chekist Anthology.

    In this entry, Mitrokhin draws upon KGB files to describe Ivan Illarionovich Ortinskii-“Vernii” (b. 1922), a native of the Lvov region, Ukraine. A priest in a Greco-Catholic church, Vernii pursued his religious studies at the Vatican and lectured at a seminary in Rome in 1964. Beginning in 1973, Vernii lived in Ingolstadt, Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). According to the entry, the KGB established contact with Vernii when the latter visited his parents and kin in Lvov in 1968. In 1971, Vernii was recruited as an agent by the KGB branch of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Between 1971 and 1974, collaboration between Vernii and the KGB took place within the territory of the Ukrainian SSR. As an agent, Vernii provided the KGB with information regarding his church, and the leadership of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). Mitrokhin’s summary of KGB documents indicates that Vernii transmitted information to the KGB through his sister, Ukrainian SSR agent “Chestnaya” (born Ortinskaya). Mitrokhin concludes the entry by stating that in 1978, Vernii informed the KGB from Vienna that he would no longer work as an agent, since he had aroused much suspicion within the Greco-Catholic Church.

  • June, 2007

    The Case of Dissident Velikanova. Folder 38. The Chekist Anthology

    In this entry, Mitrokhin describes how on November 1, 1979 KGB operatives arrested dissident Tatiana Mikhailova Velikanova. Mitrokhin relates that since Velikanova’s name was widely known outside Soviet borders, the KGB warned its resident agents abroad to adopt certain procedures in case of an emergency. Tatiana Mikhailova Velikanova (b.1932) was a highly-educated Russian and a mother of three. Beginning in the late 1960s, Velikanova actively participated in public anti-state demonstrations—particularly at the Pushkin Square in Moscow. Drawing upon KGB files, Mitrokhin mentions that in 1969, Velikanova became a member of the Initiative Group for the Defense of Human Rights, a club which according to the KGB, boasted Tatar autonomists, extreme nationalists, religious fanatics, and secessionists amongst its ranks. For more than ten years, Velikanova and her associates were producing anti-Soviet and politically harmful material, distributed to foreign publishing houses and radio stations. Under Velikanova’s initiative, The Chronicles of Current Events, a samizdat publication was issued in Moscow in 1974. The Chronicles described topics such as arrests, judiciary procedures, the pursuit of dissidents, and other aspects of political life in the Soviet Union. The periodical shed negative light on the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). By Mitrokhin’s account, although Velikanova had been officially sanctioned by the state with regards to continuing her work, she paid no heed to the warnings. In essence, Velikanova remained largely unmoved by the searches and interrogations subsequently conducted by the State Prosecutor’s Office. The KGB file stated that the West had helped Velikanova by supplying her with financial resources. Velikanova further received assistance from the Fund for Aiding Political Nonconformists. Velikanova’s file stated that she was being investigated by the KGB in accordance with the wishes of the Prosecutor’s Office.

  • June, 2007

    The Homyakov Case. Folder 87. The Chekist Anthology.

    In this entry, Mitrokhin draws upon KGB files to describe Martin Ole Heinstadt-“Homyakov” (b.1947), a citizen of Norway, and a secretary/archivist at the Norwegian Embassy in Moscow. According to the entry, the Second Chief Directorate (SCD) of the KGB sent one of its operatives, Valerii Evgenevich Zverev, to a function at the Norwegian embassy in Moscow in May 1971. Zverev had been sent to the embassy in order to strengthen ties with SCD KGB operative “Pavlov.” As a cover, Zverev had adopted the identity of a foreign correspondent. The entry states that during the May 1971 gathering, Zverev met Homyakov with whom he was subsequently able to meet regularly. Homyakov began to give Zverev information about official embassy business, including details regarding Soviet citizens and embassy visitors Mitrokhin’s summary of KGB documents indicates that in order to continue receiving information, the SCD KGB ensured that Homyakov and Zverev met in a secluded region, away from the eyes of foreign visitors. The SCD KGB sent operative Andrei Mikhailovich Agekyan, who acted as a mediator between Homyakov and Zverev. Agekyan presented himself as an attorney who was capable of resolving disagreements. The entry mentions that Agekyan was able to “rescue his friends from impending problems.” KGB sources, as described by Mitrokhin, state that there was an agreement with Homyakov regarding the means of establishing contact with the SCD while he was in Norway. From May 4 to September 3, 1972 Homyakov was again in Moscow, where he worked as a guard at the Norwegian embassy. In relocating Homyakov to Moscow, the SCD KGB was able to continue to maintain its operations in the Norwegian embassy, and receive key documents from the Norwegian military attaché. Homyakov was later arrested by Norwegian authorities for espionage.

  • June, 2007

    The Ezhov Case. Folder 85. The Chekist Anthology

    In this entry, Mitrokhin gives an account of KGB operative Peter Yots (codename “Ingo” or “Ezhov”), and his assignments within the FRG. The KGB file presents a brief biographical sketch of Yots who was born in 1937 in Berlin, and was trained as an electrical technician who specialized in deciphering coded radio transmissions and telegrams. Drawing upon KGB files, Mitrokhin asserts that Yots worked as an agent in the First Chief Directorate which sent him to West Germany in 1961 to fulfill the aims of operation “Glavnoiie.” The operation, according to the file, required Yots to monitor the movement of FRG forces and military equipment at the “Aizedlerhoff” railroad station. Yots was, nonetheless, soon relocated to Nuremberg where he took up a job as a lighting technician at a local theater. Between 1962 and 1964, Yots contributed to operation “Delta” from the island of Nidervert off the coast of Nuremberg. The KGB account relates that Yots was authorized by the First Chief Directorate to use necessary means to intercept telegraph messages and other communications, so as to inflict “maximum damage” upon the enemy. In 1967, Yots was relocated to Munich, where he became employed as a lighting technician at a local television station. One of Yots’ Munich missions, codenamed “Zarevo,” involved carrying out the surveillance of the “Alley Café”—a bar owned by Adolf and Mariette Laimer which was frequented by Americans. The KGB entry mentions that Yots also monitored the U.S Consulate and all surrounding public venues which attracted American diplomats and personnel. Yots was relocated by the First Chief Directorate to Czechoslovakia on August 2, 1968 but returned to Munich in 1969.

  • June, 2007

    The Cairo Residency, 1972-76. Folder 82. The Chekist Anthology.

    Information on the results of an analysis of the activities of the KGB residency in Cairo, Egypt from 1972-1976, conducted by KGB Service R. Starting in January 1973, the KGB leadership prohibited the residency from using Egyptian citizens as agents; however the resident in Cairo initiated restrictions on penetration operations earlier, in 1967 and 1968. As a result, by 1977, the residency had no agents in the majority of its intelligence objectives. In May 1971, after the defeat of the anti-Sadat opposition group “left Nasserists,” the KGB’s leadership role in the organization came to light. In response, President Sadat took steps to curtail the activities of Soviet intelligence in Egypt. The KGB resident in Cairo was forced to strengthen his efforts to obtain information on the intentions of the Egyptian leadership, while improving security for clandestine operations. In 1967, the Centre decided not to task the Cairo residency with collecting information on the United States or China, because its limited resources permitted it to focus only on Egypt’s internal politics, and its relations with the USSR, the United States, Israel, and other Arab states. The prohibition against using Egyptian citizens as agents meant that the residency often had to rely on operational-technical means of collection; however by June 1977, the KGB’s leaders instructed the Cairo resident to select and recruit a well-known Soviet-Arab for use in gathering political information, and active measures.

  • June, 2007

    A novel entitled 'Where is the truth?' Folder 18. The Chekist Anthology.

    Mitrokhin describes how the Novosibirsk KGB Directorate dissuaded a former Gulag inmate from completing a novel based on his prison experiences during 1949-54. Pereverzev had been sent away to a forced labor camp twice. Having completed his prison terms, he returned to Novosibirsk and decided to write his own account of the Soviet reality. According the KGB Directorate, such writings would be readily accepted by bourgeois publishers. They became intent on putting an end to Pereverzev’s literary pursuits The KGB Directorate in Novosibirsk discovered that Pereverzev corresponded with citizens from capitalistic countries, visited the GDR on two occasions, and attended the American exhibition in Novosibirsk entitled “Public education in the USA.” Pereverzev was taken under closer surveillance. Agents “Gorin” and “Sorokin” obtained 1,100 typewritten pages of Pereverzev’s novel that depicted his imprisonment. Agent Sorokin, being a professional writer himself, judged the novel as a composition of high quality. Sorokin, however, was instructed to convince Pereverzev that the style and content of his writing were good-for-nothing. Sorokin pointed out flaws in the composition and advised Pereverzev to consult a publisher and ask for an official review from a respected local journal. The KGB Directorate arranged for both sources to give Pereverzev negative evaluation. Having received criticism from authoritative institutions, he began to despair of his abilities and gave up on finishing the novel.

  • June, 2007

    Gulag Camps, 1959-73. Folder 19. The Chekist Anthology

    Mitrokhin provides an overview of several corrective labor camps in different parts of the Soviet Union. He selectively describes the state of these facilities, the kinds of prisoners, disciplinary measures, difficulties, etc.

  • June, 2007

    Heat Haze. Folder 20. The Chekist Anthology

    Mitrokhin notes that beginning in December 1970 and during the 24th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), the KGB had the following objective: to enhance intelligence and counter-intelligence activities of the Cheka. To achieve this purpose, the KGB established a strategic unit consisting of heads of directorates, deputy secretaries, and other leading committee members chaired by Lieutenant General S.K. Tsvigun. Particular attention was given to signs of terrorist intentions. The unit counteracted eight anti-Soviet groups and organizations, including the Revolutionary Party of Intellectuals (Sverdlovsk), Russian Workers’ Party (Rostov-na-Donu), Struggle for Personal Freedom Union (Temirtau), Struggle for Liberation of Armenia Union (Yerevan), a group of Zionists, and others. Security level was elevated for entry into Moscow, monitoring of important targets, and conducting street patrols. On Red Square, 67 people harboring anti-Soviet views were detained, and four attempted suicides by burning were prevented.

  • June, 2007

    Disintegration, 1976-77. Folder 22. The Chekist Anthology

    In 1976, Leningrad KGB Directorate initiated active measures against “Plushkin,” laboratory director, and “Monarkhist,” employee of a suburban forestry, both of whom were intending to establish an anti-Soviet organization.

  • June, 2007

    About the Middle East. Folder 81. The Chekist Anthology

    Information on the situation in the Middle East prepared by KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov in April 1973, prior to a 7 May 1973 discussion in the Politburo. Andropov stated that given the increase in anti-Israeli propaganda in Egypt and Syria, as well as the heightened state of readiness of their armies, it was possible that a coalition of Middle Eastern states could resume military operations against Israel before, or during the upcoming Nixon-Brezhnev summit. To prevent this, the KGB initiated a series of active measures. Specifically, they dispatched KPSU Politburo Candidate Member K.G. Mazurov to speak with Egyptian President Sadat and Syrian President Assad on the USSR’s behalf; informed the United States government through unofficial channels that a resumption of hostilities in the Middle East was not in Moscow’s interests; delayed the delivery of new Soviet surface to surface missiles to Egypt; and dispatched a well known Soviet journalist specializing in Middle Eastern affairs to Cairo and Damascus to study the situation.

  • June, 2007

    National Alliance of Russian Solidarists. Folder 53. The Chekist Anthology

    In this entry Vasili Mitrokhin expresses the KGB concerns regarding the National Alliance of Russian Solidarists’ (NTS) anti-socialist activities held in the Soviet Union and in the West. Mitrokhin states that the KGB had the task of taking control of NTS’ activities as well as destroing their reputation and connections with other anti-Soviet organizations. In order to paralyze the NTS, the KGB’s fundamental goal was to establish strong connections with the organization by sending undercover agents. Toward the end of 1963, the NTS became familiar with the presence of KGB agents among their members. KGB’s main goal was to create an illusion that the NTS was ruled by the KGB, which would help to make America and the West to distrust the organization. According to Mitrokhin, taking over the NTS’s publication “The Posev” was important as well. Mitrokhin provides a KGB plan to overturn the publication and he also attaches the list of all KGB agents who were involved in this undertaking, including their short biographies and codenames.

  • June, 2007

    The Cheka Emergence. Folder 96. The Chekist Anthology

    In this entry Mitrokhin provides a history of the Cheka’s creation and its missions in Europe between 1918 and 1925.

  • June, 2007

    The Operational Situation as Reported in 1971, 1975, and 1981. Folder 35. The Chekist Anthology.

    In folder 35 Mitrokhin discusses the KGB’s assertion of an increase in domestic dissent and unrest in the 1970s and early 1980s as well as the methods the KGB utilized to combat this threat. Soviet intelligence believed that this increase in domestic unrest was due primarily to an increased effort by the United States and its allies to promote internal instability within the USSR. In response, the KGB continued to screen foreigners, increased the harshness of penalties for distribution of anti-Soviet literature, and monitored the activities and temperament of nationalists, immigrants, church officials, and authors of unsigned literature within the Soviet Union. Mitrokhin’s note recounts the KGB’s assertion that foreign intelligence agencies were expanding their attempts to create domestic unrest within the USSR. These activities included the support and creation of dissidents within the Soviet Union, the facilitation of the theft Soviet property such as aircrafts, and the public espousal of a position against Soviet persecution of dissidents and Jews. Responding to public exposure of these activities, the KGB proclaimed its legality and trustworthiness while also beginning to assign some agents verbal assignments without written record.

  • June, 2007

    A Directive from the Centre. Folder 79. The Chekist Anthology.

    This 25 April 1974 directive from the Centre is attributed to an author identified as “Sviridov.” It was sent to KGB Line A residencies in Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad, Aden, Samaa, and others, and contains instructions for planning “active measures.” “Sviridov” identified a variety of channels through which the KGB could influence Middle Eastern governments, militaries, and political groups, while suppressing anti-Soviet groups. Additionally, the residencies were instructed to plan active measures in advance to prepare for future contingencies. In an explanatory note, Mitrokhin explains that “Sviridov” is a pseudonym for then KGB Chairman Yuriy Andropov, and that Line A is the arm of the KGB concerned with active measures intended to influence foreign countries.

  • June, 2007

    Coordination of Soviet and Czechoslovak Intelligence Operations. Folder 80. The Chekist Anthology.

    This folder consists of a detailed operational plan for cooperation between the Czechoslovakian Ministry of Internal Affairs and the KGB for the years 1975-1978. Specific objectives include penetrating the military, political, and economic establishments of the United States, Britain, West Germany, France, and NATO, impeding the activities of the Czech Congress of National Development (KNR), collecting information on “Zionist intrigues,” gathering scientific/technical information on Western achievements in the fields of biological, chemical, and thermonuclear weapons, and using active measures to curtail the activities of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in West Germany.

  • June, 2007

    The Cherepanov Case, 1968-1980 Folder 24. The Chekist Anthology

    In this folder Vasili Mitrokhin reports that in 1968, a part-time student of the Vilnius Polytechnic University, Cherepanov, was sentenced to two years in a correctional facility for disseminating inflammatory leaflets in downtown Vilnius calling for the overthrow of the Soviet government. In 1970, he returned to Vilnius upon release and was unable to find employment. The KGB recruited Cherepanov, but in 1974 he was fired from the agency network for attempting to exploit his connection with the KGB for personal use, for behaving provocatively and making derogatory statements about the leadership of the KGB, and for intending to leave the Soviet Union. In 1978, Cherepanov met Yolanda Vachatis, citizen of Canada. They tried to get married, but the KGB intervened. In January 1980, Cherepanov attempted to leave for Israel. He applied for permission from the Office of Visas and Registration at the Ministry of the Interior, but was denied. In March 1980, Cherepanov met with Heikki A. Surye, citizen of Finland. Heikki agreed to assist Cherpanov and handed him a map marked with locations safe for escape. Cherepanov persuaded Surovets to come along. The two began collecting information critical of the Soviet regime in order to publish it in the Western press. On June 30, Cherepanov and Surovets left Vilnius for Riga. Once in Riga, Cherepanov mailed a letter to Vachatis, who resided in France at that time, saying that he was planning to meet her there sometime in July. On July 7, Cherepanov and Surovets reached the border zone. The warning system was set off, but, due to a rainy weather, footsteps could not be traced, enabling Cherepanov and Surovets to cross the border. Heads of the 11th and 2nd customs checkpoints and others were reprimanded for negligence and mismanagement of the situation. Cherepanov and Surovets were taken back to the USSR on July 24.