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General Vasyl Myakushko: “We Were Demanded That the Information about NATO’s Plans Appeared on Khrushchev’s Desk Sooner than at the US President’s”.

Some previously classified details of his work abroad were told to “Fakty”( “Facts”) by the first General of the Ukrainian Foreign Intelligence Service and its Chief in the 1960s-1980s Vasyl Myakushko , who on the 11th of January will celebrate his 90th birthday.

At his  90,  Vasyl Omelyanovych  is  cheerful, although  the front-line wound in the thigh is  increasingly making itself felt, completely restricting movements. “Without a walking stick, and sometimes without a wheelchair, I’m not a walker”, – he jokes. The veteran is talkative, has a tenacious memory for events and names of half a century ago, surprising with  details. But when it comes to intelligence operations, in  conducting  which Myakushko was involved, you see at once his years old habit   of not saying too much, not revealing  any operational secrets and the eternal for the people of his profession principle of “do no harm”. But then, this is not surprising: after all,  for almost 50 years he had worked  in the KGB, of which more than 40 – in the Foreign Intelligence Service.

”The  KGB’s Super-Agent  in France Georges Paques Flatly Refused to Take  Monetary Reward”

- Which  period in  your professional career is the most interesting and memorable?

- My work in France – unhesitatingly answers Vasyl Myakushko. – In the Paris residentura  of the Soviet Foreign Intelligence Service I had worked under diplomatic cover and actually  without vacation for two terms, from 1954 to 1960. I was sent there after the graduation from the 101th  (Intelligence) KGB  USSR School. Before my leaving,  I had a meeting with the Chief  of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Alexandr Panyushkin who  once again drew attention to the main task that I had to fulfill  abroad, which was  - to collect  military-political intelligence on the  bloc of NATO. Back then, NATO’s  Headquarters were  in France. I remember his words: “Where you are going to work, is the epicenter of the “Cold War”,  plans are developed of military-strategic confrontation  against  the Soviet Union and the entire socialist camp. On your work depends, that this war does not turn into a real one”.

The severity of the situation, constant tension, tough counterintelligence regime,  frantic pace – all this had been for all six years of work, and therefore  I could not have vacations. We were demanded  that the  information about NATO’s  plans appeared on Khrushchev’s desk  sooner than at the US President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s.  And we often succeeded.

- How did you?

- First of all, due to the agents, who operated in the  environment of objects of interest of the Soviet Intelligence Service, and directly in the NATO’s  Headquarters. One of these KGB’s super agents in France as he  was referred to  in the western press, was Georges Paques.  Much has been written about this  already, so I may tell something.

Paques held important positions in many government offices, was quite a successful official, awarded the Order of the Legion of Honor. At the time of my meetings with him, he worked in the French Ministry of Defence, and later – in the Secretariat of the NATO’s  Headquarters. On a permanent basis in touch with him was only the specially appointed for this employee of our residentura, and it was strictly forbidden to “light up” the agent in front of other intelligence agents. He was strongly protected from being disclosed. But it so happened that in the absence of his curator, who was either on vacation, or out of town,  Paques asked for an urgent meeting. The resident sent me, as I had previously participated in securing these meetings and knew Paques visually, and he knew me.

Several meetings that I had with him, left a very good impression of this man in my memories. In our conversations he  in every way showed that he was and would always remain a patriot of his country. Passing over to the Soviet Intelligence Service the materials that revealed NATO’s  military-strategic potential and plans, he wanted to keep the balance of two opposing systems and to prevent a new world war that would destroy France too.

- Was he paid money for the information?

- As far as I know, he categorically refused to take any monetary remuneration.

- Do you know about his further fate?

- It was very dramatic. After the employee of the KGB  Anatoly Golitsyn’s betrayal,  the French Counter-Intelligence received information that in front of them in government circles had been working a very important Soviet agent. The  information provided was enough to disclose Georges Paques.  He was arrested in 1964 and sentenced to life imprisonment, which was soon replaced with  20 years in prison. After numerous appeals and complaints,  in which the leadership of the Soviet Intelligence Service had a hand, the French President Georges Pompidou signed a decree to release him.

”For the Valuable Information That Influenced the International Talks in Geneva, we Were  Given the Watches “Polyot”

- Vasyl Omelyanovych,  please, admit: about the speed of information’s turning up on Khrushchev’s desk you did  exaggerate? The received documents needed to be transported through  diplomatic mail across the border, translated, processed, reported on a chain. At that time’s bureaucracy …

- No, I did not.  - parries Vasyl Myakushko. – Here is an example. True, the report is not connected with Khrushchev but with the  Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov. Once  on the eve of a major high-level meetings in Geneva, our residentura got  a piece of   valuable information from NATO’s  Headquarters, which could significantly affect the negotiation process. The Resident called me and another officer involved in the collection  of that intelligence, and set the task to urgently go to Switzerland. The documents were immediately copied on microfilm and placed in a special container in which it in case  of unforeseen circumstances would be dissolved by  acid. I was to drive because they knew I could at the maximum speed without too many problems drive up to a thousand kilometers in one go.

In Geneva, we arrived late in the evening and spent the whole night in the residentura developing  the film, translating the  documents and making a generalizing reference. Time was running out, so not everything was  done perfectly, translated into Russian, some materials were simply photocopied on a quarter of a standard sheet of paper. The next morning with red eyes from lack of sleep, the Geneva Resident and  we went to report to the Chief of  the Soviet KGB Ivan Serov who arrived with the delegation.  Having looked  at everything carefully, he in a raised voice said that in that form it all could not be reported  to Molotov. Our nerves snapped there  and we  uttered in the same tone too much in our excuse, arguing that the important thing was  not the form but the content. He swore in response, put us out the door, shouting  after us: “Hell of a thing is being done here!”

Frustrated, we went to sleep off. After some time, we were awakened by the  Resident, who invited us  to his office and said, “You’re lucky that the information was so important, or you’d have got  your shoulder straps blown off.  Thanks to it, they managed to adjust the position of the Soviet Union in the negotiations and look very dignified. Serov asked to say thanks from Molotov and to reward with valuable prizes”.  At this, he took out from the safe two boxes with watches  and gave them to us.

- At least the watches were Swiss ones, weren’t they?

- No, they were  Soviet ones. “Polyot” or “Slava”, I can’t  remember now.

- And which  award for your  work in the Intelligence Service do you consider the most valuable one? You have six orders and a lot of  medals, right?

- Among them there are orders that I have received for the war and for my  work in the Intelligence, and being already in retirement. But absolutely special for me  is the  sign “Honorary Employee  of the State Security”, which I was awarded for the recruitment of a valuable source in France. Then I was with all the insights specially invited  to Moscow to report to the Chief of the USSR KGB Alexandr Shelepin. Having asked me in detail and studied the   materials, he ordered the Chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Alexandr Sakharov to nominate  me to the government award. Already in the corridor Sakharov  asked what medals I already  had, and then said: “At the moment Khrushchev has to sign  a whole bunch of award documents for our employees. But for some unknown reason he is lingering. Lets better encourage you  with  “Honorary Employee of the State Security”.  It has  recently been adopted. You will be in the  first hundred of the awarded”.  At that moment I  was a bit older than thirty. I guess I was the only one at the time, who got the highest departmental award at this age, and the rank of Captain.

”Based on the Information Collected by  the Intelligence Service, Design Bureaus, Shops, and Sometimes Plants Were Created”.

-Vasyl Omelyanovych, Thierry Wolton in his book “KGB in France”,  among the  employees of the Soviet Intelligence Service, unmasked and ordered out of the country,  mentions  your name. How did this happen?

- Let’s just say my being on the list  is not quite correct, because there was no knocking out as such, – says Vasyl Myakushko. – And here’s what happened. One of the “sources”, with whom I worked, for some reason, turned to the Americans,  admitted that he cooperated with Soviet intelligence, and mentioned  my name. Americans after some time passed him over  to the French. At the same time our residentura learnt about this. Immediately my wife and two sons were sent to Moscow. And intensive consultations began  with the Centre concerning me. It was important to avoid the political scandal. Somewhere on the third day it was decided on my secret departure from France. Disguised as a member of the crew of “Aeroflot”’s plane,  I managed without problems and passing through customs and passport control,  to leave the country.

A few days later the official Paris invited the Soviet Ambassador Sergei Vinogradov, declared me persona non grata and demanded my leaving  the country within 24 hours. To this the  Ambassador replied calmly: “This employee is no Embassy staff. He had already left for home”.  The French were shocked. They were a hundred percent sure that I had not crossed the border. And we were able to avoid the political scandal.

- How after that did you become the   Chief of the Intelligence Directorate in Kyiv?

- It all happened very quickly. I did not even have a chance to  take a holiday  for the six years of working abroad. Taking into consideration the  fact that I originate  from Poltava, and  the Ukrainian language is my native, I was offered to work in Ukraine, as  the Deputy Chief of the 1st (Intelligence)  Directorate of the KGB of the Ukrainian SSR with a view to further lead the Directorate, which did happen in 1967. And since 1971, for  13 years I had been responsible for the  Foreign Intelligence  Service in the status of the Deputy Chief  of the Republican Committee of State Security.

- What were you doing at that time?

- The Foreign Intelligence units  were working on collecting  economic, scientific and technological intelligence  and its  implementation in enterprises of the powerful defense and industrial complex of the Republic.

- Could you reveal some secrets?

- There are plenty of examples  of how the  materials collected by the Intelligence Service helped achieve tremendous breakthroughs in science, technology, military sphere. Based on the information collected by us,  design offices, shops, and sometimes the whole plants were created.

Looking back at the past results  and accomplishments, we see them very differently and evaluate them differently. For example, in France, through hides high  in the mountains I used to pass over  bags with lots of money and jewelry. I did  not know how much was in them, who would come to collect them,  and for what purposes the values were intended. I could only guess.

Now between  special services  are being developed and deepened partnerships,  there is mutually beneficial cooperation, the exchange of information. And it is a great achievement. At that time there was nothing of the kind. And  I hope to God that the past remains history.

 

Oleksandr Skrypnyk,
specially for “Fakty”

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