Vasili Mitrokhin

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Vasili Mitrokhin, source of the Mitrokhin Archive
See also: Mitrokhin Archive

Vasili Nikitich Mitrokhin (Russian: Василий Никитич Митрохин) (March 3 1922January 23, 2004) was a Major and senior archivist for the Soviet Union's foreign intelligence service, the First Chief Directorate of the KGB, and co-author with Christopher Andrew of The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West, a massive account of Soviet intelligence operations based on copies of material from the archive. Work on the second volume, The Mitrokhin Archive II: The KGB in the World, was completed by Andrew in 2005 after Mitrokhin's death.


[edit] Education

Mitrokin was born in Yurasovo, in Central Russia, Ryazan, Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. After leaving school, he entered artillery school, then attended university in Kazakh SSR, graduating with degrees in history and law.

[edit] Career

[edit] Military

Towards the end of the second World War, Mitrokhin took a job in the military procurator's office at Kharkov in the Ukrainian SSR. He entered the MGB as a foreign intelligence officer in 1948. His first foreign posting was in 1952.

During the 1950s he served on various undercover assignments overseas. In 1956, for example, he accompanied the Soviet team to the Olympic games in Australia. But later that year, after he had apparently mishandled an operational assignment, he was moved from operational duties to the archives of the KGB's First Chief Directorate, and told he would never work in the field again.

[edit] Disillusionment

Mitrokhin sometimes dated the beginnings of his disillusionment to Khrushchev's famous speech to the Communist Party congress denouncing Stalin, though it seems he may have been harbouring doubts for some time before that. For years he had listened to broadcasts on the BBC and Voice of America, noting the gulf between their reports and party propaganda.

Yet when he began looking into the archives, he claimed to have been shocked by what he discovered about the KGB's systematic repression of the Russian people. "I could not believe such evil," he recalled. "It was all planned, prepared, thought out in advance. It was a terrible shock when I read things."

Between 1972 and 1984 he supervised the move of the archive of the First Chief Directorate from the Lubyanka to the new KGB headquarters at Yasenevo. While doing so he made copies or stole documents from the archive. He retired in 1985.

[edit] Betrayal of the Soviet Union

In 1992 he traveled to Estonia with copies of material from the archive and walked into the American embassy in Tallinn. CIA officers there didn't consider him to be credible, concluding that the copied documents could be faked. He then went to the British embassy and the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) officer there saw his potential and following consultations with London accepted him as an agent. Operations followed to retrieve the 25,000 pages of files hidden in his house, covering operations from as far back as the 1930s. He and his family were then exfiltrated to Britain.

Richard Tomlinson, the MI6 officer imprisoned in 1997 for attempting to publish a book about his career, was one of those involved in retrieving the documents from empty milk cartons hidden under the floor of the dacha.

[edit] Books

(These works are collectively referred to as "the Mitrokhin Archives".)
  • Vasili Mitrokhin and Christopher Andrew, The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB, Basic Books (1999), hardcover, ISBN 0-465-00310-9; trade paperback (September, 2000), ISBN 0-465-00312-5
  • Vasili Mitrokhin and Christopher Andrew, The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World, Basic Books (2005) hardcover, 677 pages ISBN 0-476-00311-7
  • Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West, Gardners Books (2000), ISBN 0-14-028487-7

[edit] External links

[edit] Sources

pl:Wasilij Mitrochin

Vasili Mitrokhin

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