The lockdown has given me more time to read. My latest reading took me back to times long gone by but was for that reason all the more startling and gripping.
Have you heard of the Mitrokhin Archives? I had but rather vaguely. I now know that Vasili Mitrokhin, a senior Russian intelligence officer crossed over to the UK in 1992 with masses of documents about the organization he served for decades: the infamous Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti or the KGB. This translate to The State Committee for Security. An organization that sent chills down the spines of the residents in the USSR and its opponents the world over during the years when it was in its prime.
“The Mitrokhin Archives II – The KGB In The World” is written by Mitrokhin and Christopher Andrew. Mitrokhin’s critics claim these papers are all part of a fraud. I believe Andrew’s credentials add considerable weight to the authenticity of these papers. Would a Emeritus Professor of Modern & Contemporary History and a former Chair of the Faculty of History at the renowned Cambridge University co-author this book unless he was convinced of its authenticity?
While what The KGB did in South America, Africa, the Middle East and so on are interesting we are drawn as if by magnets to Asia and India in particular. We read, rub our eyes and re-read Chapters 17 and 18. These are titled, ” The Special Relationship With India Part 1: The Supremacy of the Indian National Congress” and ” The Special Relationship With India Part 2: The Decline & Fall of Congress.” I guess the titles say it all!
Mitrokhin served in Soviet Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service from 1948 to 1984 so he was an old fox in the game. From 1972 to 1984 he supervised the movement of the First Chief Directorate of The KGB from the Lubyanka to to the new Foreign Intelligence HQ at at Yasenevo.
I grew up in the days of the Cold War. We read extensively about the CIA and The KGB. We liked John La Carre, Ian Fleming and other writers who wrote extensively about this theme. We knew of spies and spying in the United States, in the United Kingdom, in different countries of Europe and the Middle East. However, growing up in India I had absolutely no idea how active The KGB was in my own country !!
It was fascinating to see how deeply The KGB had entrenched themselves in Indian organizations including the Intelligence Bureau! The political rulers of India for most of the times after Independence, the Indian National Congress, and other political parties like the Communist Party of India, and the Communist Party of India ( Marxist) were in the grips of The KGB.
I am not sharing the stories here but I hope these articles about the KGB in India may whet your appetite to buy this book and read more.
An extract from one in the Economic Times ; ” As many as 40% Congress MPs in Mrs Gandhi’s last government had received Soviet political contributions,” the report titled “The Soviets in India” reads, adding that “the Soviet embassy maintains a large reserve of rupees for various uses — including clandestine payments to Congress politicians.”
And one more from the Economic Times: ” The report quoting a defector (possibly Vasili Mitrokhin) said that the Soviets use 40 to 50 journalists annually to place material and over the last several years had used around 200 to 300 journalists for this purpose. ”
I hope you will enjoy reading the Mitrokhin Archives a s much as I did!