Interview with OLEG GORDIEVSKY: How the KGB Helps Gorbachev

OLEG GORDIEVSKY was once the KGB's station chief in London -- and Britain's most valued double agent. He fled to the West in 1985, just before he was to be executed.

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Q. If glasnost had happened sooner, would you still have defected?

A. I deliberately and purposefully had started to cooperate with the British in order to help the security of Britain and the West, the U.S. not least, and continued as a British agent for years, and was prepared to continue for many more years, even though I knew my situation was getting increasingly dangerous. Then I was trapped by the KGB by a false excuse and taken to Moscow, where I was drugged and interrogated. So in my case, it was a long collaboration with the British, and then a dramatic escape from the Soviet Union in 1985. Would I still be an agent of the West today? Yes, even now I probably would, because I am still not entirely convinced that democracy and freedom will win in the Soviet Union. The main elements of the totalitarian society in the Soviet Union remain. They are the one-party state, the state- owned economy with one acceptable ideology for the whole society, and the secret police.

Q. Can you describe your escape from the Soviet Union?

A. Not really, because there may be someone else who might try the same means. I planned it for some time, in case of danger. But even with careful planning it was an extremely difficult and dangerous enterprise. When they took me back to Moscow, I thought it was all over, I would die. They drugged me, interrogated me, but then let me go, I don't know why, though the KGB kept me under surveillance all the time. But I managed to act on my escape plan -- despite some difficulties and some encounters on the way to the border with the police and the KGB -- and cross the border to the West, which was a fantastic relief. I felt it was a miracle. I crossed the border with my KGB identification card in my pocket. For some reason, the KGB did not dismiss me after my interrogation, so I was still in its employ when I escaped, though I had been removed from my previous position. I think they suspected I was working for the West and hoped to get more evidence against me before they executed me.

Q. Are British and U.S. intelligence cleansed of Soviet agents?

A. The British and American services were, I believe, clean at the time of my escape. I can't guarantee it, of course, particularly on the American side, because I don't know the American side well. But on the British side, I am pretty sure they remain clean. With the so-called illegals -- KGB officers using a foreign identity -- it is different. I understand they were all withdrawn from Britain because of me when I escaped. But in the 4 1/2 years since, they may have restored that presence.

Q. What prompted you to collaborate with the British?

A. Idealism caused me to do it; I wanted to work for freedom for my own country too. I had thought about it for a long time. Before the invasion of Czechoslovakia I said to myself, "I break with this regime." A few years later I started collaborating with the British.

Q. Is the KGB a supporter and protector of Mikhail Gorbachev's policies?

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