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

By Christopher Andrew; Vasili Mitrokhin | Go to book overview

TWENTY - FIVE
COLD WAR OPERATIONS AGAINST BRITAIN
Part 2: After Operation FOOT

Despite Moscow's public expressions of righteous indignation after the expulsion of 105 KGB and GRU officers from London in September 1971, the Centre knew that it had suffered a public relations disaster. The centerpiece of its active measures campaign to turn the tables on British intelligence and discredit the British expulsions was the former rising star of SIS, Kim Philby. Philby, however, was in no fit state to be seen in public. Since the publication of his memoirs in 1968, the KGB seemed to have no further use for him and Philby roamed round Russia on a series of almost suicidal drinking bouts which sometimes left him oblivious of where he was, uncertain whether it was night or day. During the early 1970s he was slowly pulled back from alcoholic oblivion by Rufa, "the woman I had been waiting for all my life."1

Though the Centre judged, no doubt correctly, after operation FOOT that Philby was still in no condition to give a press conference, it used a lengthy interview with him in Izvestia on October 1, 1971 to denounce the "slanderous allegations" in the "right-wing bourgeois British press" that the Soviet officials expelled from London had been engaged in espionage. In striking contrast with the far more sophisticated tone of Philby's memoirs published three years earlier, the interview regurgitates a series of stereotypical denunciations of British "ruling circles:"

It should be said that spy mania, the fabrication of slanderous inventions in regard to the Soviet Union, is nothing new in the activities of the ruling circles in England. Definite, concrete political aims are always behind such activities.

This time also, the intensive anti-Soviet provocation and the large scale of the false accusations in regard to Soviet officials in London, as well as the timing of this action, reveal the premeditated character of the activities of the Conservatives who now hold power.

These activities are directed at putting the brakes on the process of lessening tension in Europe.

It is no accident that, as was reflected in the English bourgeois press, government circles showed evident displeasure at, and I should say fear of, the foreign policy of the Soviet Union, which is directed towards normalization of the international situation.

-417-

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