Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

An unpaid spy

From Mr Oleg Gordievsky

Sir: It is easy to answer Chapman Pincher's question about money (Letters, 6 January) because I have done so in my numerous interviews and my books, particularly the recent Next Stop Execution. It is a pity that Chapman Pincher didn't bother to read any of them. In my period of co-operation with MI6 I did exactly what he speaks about. I did not get payments from the British government, just to make the point that I was working for the West purely for ideological reasons. It was precisely the reason why my family, after my arrest by the KGB and then escape, were kept in Moscow as hostages for six years and had to live in conditions of abject poverty until they were rescued by British diplomacy.

As to the KGB salary, I am not in debt to them after all my efforts to teach mostly ignorant and poorly educated officers about Russian grammar, history and how to write reports.

By the way, do not forget that in a totalitarian state there is no legitimacy with the government and its branches. Thus, to be a traitor to the KGB should be regarded as a duty of any honest and law-abiding man, like being a traitor to the Gestapo, SS or to the Iraqi Muhabharat. It is a shame that such elementary things should have to be explained to people like Chapman Pincher. In order to understand the conflicts of conscience in a totalitarian society, I would recommend a reading of the rulings of the Nuremberg trials.

As to the British traitors, I remember reading Anthony Blunt's receipts for KGB payments dated as early as 1938 - the most ideological period of history.

Oleg Gordievsky

London WC2

Wrong priorities

From Susan Panikkar

Sir: I work as a trained nurse, specialising in the care of elderly people.

I do not ride or hunt.

I am at a loss to understand why the government deems it fit to spend parliamentary time, money and effort trying to bring about a Bill banning hunting. It seems to me, and I'm sure most other people, that there are lots more pressing issues, eg: the continuing problems of the NHS; the crisis in privately run care homes; the fact that many elderly people in the UK are malnourished; the lack of an integrated public transport system; and that so many British-educated children are leaving school without basic literacy and numeracy skills, to name but a few.

I can only deduce that this fixation of the government on banning hunting is linked to the L1.1 million received by Labour preelection from the animal welfare groups.

Would I be correct?

Susan Panikkar

Worthing, West Sussex

A paean to Africa

From Mr David Craine

Sir: Matthew Parris (Another voice, 9 December) is surely too negative about the prospects for many African countries, and far too susceptible to the dangers of over-- generalisation regarding such a diverse and rapidly changing continent.

It is certainly not inevitable that countries which have at last climbed out of trouble will slip back `like spiders in a bath' just because they happen to be located in Africa.

The truth is that there has been a massive shift towards multi-party democracies over the past decade. The Organisation of African Unity has agreed to banish leaders who have won power by undermining internationally established democratic processes. A core of African leaders who are committed to democracy, peace and good governance are now drawing up plans for continental recovery.

South Africa's own achievements in consolidating democracy are being noticed throughout the continent and beyond. South Africa's role on the continent in support of peace, democracy and development is also being increasingly acknowledged. The extraordinary humanitarian work of the air force to rescue 15,000 flood-stricken Mozambicans is but one example

Economic management has also improved substantially. Diversification of output and ensuring macroeconomic stability have been part of the economic reform process throughout Africa: fiscal deficits are on average far lower than they were a decade ago, falling from almost 7 per cent of GDP in 1992 to about 2. …

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