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KGB Files Open to All in Cambridge Library

Published: July 10, 2014 (Issue # 1819)



  • In accordance with the deposit agreement, the Churchill Archives Center is opening Mitrokhin's edited Russian-language versions of his original notes.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

KGB files from the famous Mitrokhin archive — described by the FBI as "the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source" — are now open to the public for the first time. From 1972 to 1984, Major Vasily Mitrokhin was a senior archivist in the KGB's foreign intelligence archive, with unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of files from a global network of spies and intelligence-gathering operations.

At the same time, having grown disillusioned with the brutal oppression of the Soviet regime, he was taking secret handwritten notes of the material and smuggling them out of the building each evening. In 1992, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, he, his family and his archive were exfiltrated by Britain's Secret Intelligence Service.

Now, more than 20 years after his defection to Britain, Mitrokhin's files are being opened by the Churchill Archives Center, where they sit alongside the personal papers of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.

Professor Christopher Andrew, the only historian to date allowed access to the archive, and author of two global bestsellers with Mitrokhin, said: "There are only two places in the world where you will find material like this. One is the KBG archive — which is not open and very difficult to get into — and the other is here at Churchill College where Mitrokhin's own typescript notes are today being opened for all the world to see.

"Mitrokhin dreamed of making this material public from 1972 until his death; it is now happening in 2014. The inner workings of the KGB, its foreign intelligence operations and the foreign policy of Soviet-era Russia all lie within this extraordinary collection; the scale and nature of which gives unprecedented insight into the KGB's activities throughout much of the Cold War."

Among the 19 boxes and thousands of papers being opened are KGB notes on Pope John Paul II, whose activities in Poland were closely monitored before his election to the papacy; maps and details of secret Russian arms caches in Western Europe and the U.S.; and files on Melita Norwood, 'the spy who came in from the Co-op.'

Norwood, codename Hola, was the KGB's longest-serving British agent, who for four decades passed on classified information from her office at the British Non Ferrous Metals Research Association in Euston, North London, where nuclear and other scientific research took place.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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