In light of Bush's latest push for the annihilation of Russia, can we hope to be saved by a defector from the US military establishment? Or, are we doomed?
Double agent Penkovsky contributed to prevent WWIII
45 years ago at the height of the Caribbean crisis Soviet military intelligence (GRU) colonel, double agent Oleg Penkovsky was arrested, Moscow-based daily Moskovsky komsomolets (MK) writes today.
While the world in October, 1962 with trembling hearts followed the events in the Caribbean sea area, only a few people knew in the USA and Britain that the Soviet Union was not prepared for a decisive nuclear strike yet, MK notes. There was a huge disbalance of forces – 17:1 in favour of the United States, as concerns the nuclear arsenal, – and the Soviet missiles were hardly controllable and undependable. This confidence of the western politicians was based on the information, transferred by a major source – Alex, who was the GRU colonel Oleg Penkovsky. The Penkovsky case is considered to have been the most successful Cold War espionage operation.
Given the code name "Hero" by the CIA, Penkovsky provided an astonishing amount of information. According to investigation, only between April 1961 and autumn 1962, he delivered 111 rolls of film and spoke to debriefers for about 140 hours. The CIA needed a special team of 20 people to translate and analyze all the material; MI-6 had a team of 10 people on the project. Some of the documents Penkovsky provided eased fears that the West was on the short side of a missile gap with the Soviets; others helped the United States identify the Soviet missile buildup in Cuba and paved the way for President Kennedy's strong response to it.
According to an official Soviet version, widespread by the mass media after the open trial in Moscow, Penkovsky had sex affairs with many women, spent much of his time in pubs, "was a person of extremely limited interests, with the narrowest outlook, who did not show any interest neither about literature, nor about music and art, he did not read books". During the lawsuit his affiliation with the GRU was not revealed by the authorities.
MK says the real Penkovsky was far from the image presented by the Soviet propanda. He was born on April 23, 1919 in Vladikavkaz in an intelectual family. He lived a typical life for the Soviet person of his time: school, young communist league, artillery school in Kiev. In September, 1939 war began against Poland, in January 1940 – against Finland, in 1941-1945 – war against Hitler’s Germany. During this period, he received two awards of the Red Banner, order of Alexander Nevsky, an order of Patriotic War 1st degree, an order of the Red Star, eight medals. In 1953 in a rank of colonel he appeared in the GRU – in the directorate, engaged in activity concerning the Middle East countries. In 1955 his first business trip abroad as an assistant to the military attache in Ankara took place. According to investigation, it was then when Penkovsky had planned to come over to the enemy’s side, MK writes. However, Americans have counted the activity of the Soviet colonel as a KGB operation. Then in 1958 Penovsky found common ground with the British intelligence. They accepted his offer and involved also the Americans in the operation, and they successfully used his services.
According to the official version, Penkovsky’s collaboration with the foreign spy agencies was revealed by the agents of the 7th directorate of the KGB. At the end of 1961, while carrying out external surveillance of the wife of a British diplomat, her contact to unknown man was fixed. Nine months later he was arrested. This version has been in detail described in numerous publications. However, according to an independent version, MK expands, Penkovsky became a part of a game of the leadership of the USSR Ministry of Defence and growing anti-Khrushchev opposition in the Central Committee of the CPSU with an aim to idscredit Khruschev in the eyes of the western community. Avoiding the general failure, Penkovsky was presented as the unique participant of events, MK writes. Penkovsky was executed by a bullet in the head in 1963. His contact Grevil Winn was sentenced to eight years of imprisonment. In a year he was exchanged for Soviet spy Gordon Launsdale.
Ivan Serov, head of the GRU, was degradated in his rank and dismissed. Most of Penovsky’s colleagues and acquinatances were transferred from Moscow to serve in distant garrisons.
A precise answer on the question who actually Penkovsky was – continues to remain secret stored in the GRU and FSB archives, MK marks.
However one thing is clear: partly owing to Penkovsky the world escaped doomsday, as the materials that he had transferred to the West, allowed the US President J.F. Kennedy to unravel Khruschev's plan and to prevent inception of the World War III, MK concludes.