The Backstage of the Profession: the SZRU Has Presented a New Book about Intelligence Officers

November 17, 2016

In Kyiv, there was a presentation of the journalist and writer, author of many studies on the activities of our secret services Oleksandr Skrypnyk’s new book “The Funny Side of Intelligence”. As suggested by the title of the book, a new piece of literature is devoted to surprising, sometimes funny, but absolutely real stories that happened to many intelligence officers around the world. The book is special not because the author has collected in one book   stories from life of famous intelligence officers, but first of all because he managed to find, communicate and record the reminiscences of about fifty veterans of the Ukrainian Foreign Intelligence Service, who shared with him little known facts and stories from their own lives and experience of their colleagues who had worked abroad.

Oleksandr Skrypnyk tried to look behind the scenes of special services and for the first time so unconventionally, interestingly and with humor to describe the intelligence work and to tell about the forms and methods of work, achievements and failures of “their spies” and “our intelligence officers”.  “The Funny Side  of  Intelligence” is the result of the author’s years of work on finding, gathering the crumbs and reenacting on paper the unique circumstances in which officers would find themselves, including those whom the author has known in person from his nearly thirty-year work in the Security Service of Ukraine and in the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine. Almost two hundred unique stories from the memoirs, documentaries, magazines and, most precious, from the author’s live communication with the intelligence officers, are now available to the public.

Reading “The Funny Side  of  Intelligence”, people who are far from the security services, can see for themselves how non-standard, creative, full of various unforeseen situations, dramatic twists, original tricks, and intricacies of improvisation is the work in the intelligence service.

Oleksandr Skrypnyk’s  idea of ​​writing this book was born gradually,  becoming  stronger after each  meeting with an interesting person. Here’s how the author himself words it: “Usually  I talked with my interlocutors about serious things: their  way into intelligence, mastering the basics of intelligence art, specifics of  intelligence-operational activities, work abroad, the role and place of intelligence in the modern world, intelligence operations, hide-places, legends, passwords, codes, keys, special equipment, surveillance. But more and more I was getting convinced that although intelligence  is regulated by  specific instructions, orders and rules, many things do not fit into the established framework and templates. One  cannot always predict how events will unfold  and how the opposite side will  react to your actions. Often an officer has  to improvise and play different roles. This leads to all sorts of unusual, funny situations, jokes and embarrassments. I noticed that the intelligence officers  have a good enough  sense  of humor to   remember their  adventures with a smile, and a good laugh at themselves, colleagues or opponents”.

In addition to interesting stories from the life of intelligence officers, there is a pleasant surprise for readers: a separate section in the book  contains  “folk art”, namely jokes about the Knights of the invisible front. This humorous folklore reflects the way people see intelligence, their attitude to spy themes, but as the reader will see, it usually depicts intelligence officers first of all as positive characters.

The presentation of the book “The Funny Side of  Intelligence” was held at  the headquarters of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine. At the meeting were present nearly all the employees and veterans who agreed to Oleksandr  Skrypnyk’s invitation to  come and share their own interesting and unusual stories from their  professional biographies, and in general from the practice of intelligence work over decades. In a word, it  was a very interesting and useful for today’s employees of the SZRU  exchange of views about the past and present of the Intelligence Service.

Press Office of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine