The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB

By Christopher Andrew; Vasili Mitrokhin | Go to book overview
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on the stage.71 Subsequent FCD directives discussed schemes (which were never successfully implemented) to break one or both of Nureyev's legs.72

In the summer of 1970 one of Nureyev's best-known near-contemporaries, Natalia Makarova, defected from the Kirov Ballet during a London season at the Royal Festival Hall. The KGB report on the defection predictably condemned her as a "politically immature individual, with low moral qualities."73 In reality, the main motive for her defection, like Nureyev's, had been the quest for greater artistic freedom.74 A joint memorandum by the heads of the First and Second Chief Directorates proposed that, if a way could be found to injure Nureyev without the hand of the KGB being obvious, a similar "special action" should be undertaken against Makarova. As usual, the reference in their memorandum to physical injury was expressed in euphemistic bureaucratic prose:

Depending on the results of special actions taken with respect to Nureyev, aimed at lessening his professional skills, [the KGB] should consider carrying out a similar action with respect to Makarova, in order to localize the negative effect of her forthcoming performances in Britain and the United States. If the British propaganda organs are activated and information provided by her is used to slander Soviet life, additional measures will be devised.75

An approach was made by the Centre to the Bulgarian intelligence service to seek the possible assistance of one of their agents in a company where Makarova was due to dance. On one occasion Makarova was slightly hurt in an accident behind the stage caused by a beam falling from the set. The files seen by Mitrokhin, however, do not make clear whether this was the first nearly successful "special action" by the KGB against a defecting ballerina or merely an act of clumsiness by a stagehand.76

Since the defection of the reluctant assassin, Bogdan Stashinshky, in 1960, KGB operations against traitors living in the West had been totally unsuccessful. Though enormous amounts of time and resources had been devoted to tracking down defectors and preparing to kill and maim them, the only successful liquidation claimed by the Centre, the assassination of Hayhanen, was entirely fraudulent. It is just possible that the KGB was responsible for the minor injury to Natalia Makarova. But the probability is that its pursuit of traitors during the decade up to 1970 ended in complete failure.


Instructions for Disarming the MOLNIYA Explosive DeviceFCD Directorate S guidance to residencies on the correct procedure for removing radio transmitters from booby-trapped caches


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The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB
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