WHEN A TEAM MEMBER GOES AGAINST HIS OWN TEAM
ARMAN NAVASARDIAN
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary






Bismarck wrote that he never believed his intelligence officers, because they spent most of the time inventing stories to show how irreplaceable they were and proving that the money spent on them wasn’t wasted. And as the American General Douglas MacArthur said, "Expect only five percent of an intelligence report to be accurate.” Both Bismarck and MacArthur are obviously exaggerating.

In reality, the role of intelligence is invaluable for the defense of the statehood of a country in terms of its foreign policy.

Regarding diplomacy and intelligence—their relationship is unequivocally symbiotic. However there is one circumstance that hinders the effective collaboration of these state bodies. I am talking about foreign counterintelligence, which is present in most embassies. The purpose of this organization is to secure the wellbeing of their own diplomats, intelligence officers, and nationals in a foreign country and to prevent hostile or enemy intelligence organizations from successfully gathering intelligence against them. However the Soviet counterintelligence functioned in a flawed and paradoxical way: it spied on those whom it was supposed to protect.


The KGB, under General Oleg Kalugin’s leadership, had created its Directorate K, which supposedly was responsible for foreign counterintelligence matters. Yet it had become a machine for spying on its own citizens and nationals abroad and for policing the mores of the Soviet population. The directorate was guided by the dangerous philosophy that any Soviet citizen who happened to be abroad could be recruited by enemy counterintelligence organizations. Anyone could be recruited, including the ambassador. Ironically, the list of "suspicious” individuals also included the names of those very counterintelligence officers who worked for the KGB and who selflessly served their country. These were usually people who were highly intelligent, professionals who were endowed with high analytical skills and who knew foreign languages. They differed from the KGB agents who hadn’t risen above the level of a crude policeman and who had to prove in any way possible that they were doing something useful abroad. These flawed men were also driven by feelings of envy and inferiority. The object of envy could be someone who was more intelligent, successful, or higher in status. His wife could be younger and more attractive. His car could be a better model. His apartment could be larger and better furnished, and so on. And envy is the mother of all evil. It spawns hatred and weaves a web of slander and lies around the victim, who is done for when the Center receives a "letter” detailing that he has been communicating with foreigners. That’s the end! His mission is interrupted and he is called back in the best-case scenario. In the worst-case scenario, he is completely removed from the system.

Directorate K was the Second Chief Directorate of the KGB headquarters, about which the former director of KGB’s Fifth Directorate and Army General Filip Bobkov wrote in his memoir The KGB and Power: "Let’s assume that someone didn’t like someone else at the embassy. He would report to the resident-designate, accusing his opponent of having relations with suspicious individuals. And the most absurd thing was that the accused person could not disprove or refute the secret accusation. And he would never know what exactly he was being punished for.”

And the bitter truth is that the Soviet counterintelligence directorate often couldn’t determine or discover the real traitors and spies. Colonel of the KGB Oleg Gordievsky was the KGB resident-designate and bureau chief in London, who was also a double agent for the British Secret Intelligence Service, and when the opportune moment arose, he defected to the British side, causing immense damage to Soviet interests. Moscow subsequently sentenced Gordievsky to death in absentia for treason.

Major General Dmitri Polyakov was a Soviet Military Attaché in India and a double agent for the CIA who was arrested by the KGB after he retired. Later it became clear that he had been betrayed by Aldrich Ames, a CIA counterintelligence officer who was also working for the KGB. Indeed, how could Soviet counterintelligence operate efficiently when its own head, the KGB General Oleg Kalugin, betrayed his fatherland and hides in the United States until this day? He too was put on trial in absentia in Moscow and found guilty of spying for the West.

And when people compare diplomats and intelligence officers they discover that during all of Soviet history only one ambassador refused to return to his fatherland: Fyodor Raskolnikov, who openly criticized Stalin in 1938 and promptly died in Sophia with the "help” of NKVD agents. In comparison, the number of betrayals, denunciations, and defections among intelligence officers is, unfortunately, much higher. One of the first Soviet Armenian intelligence officers, Georges Agabekov, who betrayed his country and "escaped” to the West when the Soviet Union was just forming, was a resident-designate in Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey.

If Soviet diplomacy and foreign intelligence have undertaken the same tasks with minute differences, the relationship between diplomats and counterintelligence officers hasn’t been smooth from the very beginning. They recently published the first Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs Georgi Chicherin’s "Service Report,” in which he wrote: "The State Political Directorate [known under the Russian abbreviation GPU] treated the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs [known under the Russian abbreviation NKID] as a class enemy. The GPU heads blindly believe every idiot and impostor whom they have hired as agents. They spy on my colleagues from NKID and follow us in most absurd and barbaric ways. The GPU agents consider me their enemy. The circulars that defame me and falsely accuse me of wrongdoings are doubtlessly their handiwork.”

Many first-rate diplomats, Lev Karakhan among them, were executed in the 1930s because of this treacherous politics. Chicherin himself was publicly scorned and politically persecuted. He was excluded even from the Diplomatic Encyclopedia edited by Andrei Gromyko, which was published in 1985.
The state is often forgetful and ungrateful when it comes to people who have faithfully served it.
DIPLOMATIC ESSAYS
1126 reads | 28.09.2013
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