Some Case Histories of GRU Activities
Rather than sprinkling the text with examples I have put together a representative sample of GRU officers uncovered in the course of operations abroad, as reported in the press. The number of GRU officers caught and expelled and the nature of their activities is indicative of the power and scale of the GRU.
Canada and the United States
In June 1980 the Canadians announced that they had requested the withdrawal of three Soviet officials from the Embassy, Captain Igor A. Bardeev, Colonel E.I. Aleksanjan and the chauffeur Sokolov. The case involved an unnamed individual employed in a sensitive position in the USA, who had been in contact with the Soviet Embassy and been given the task of obtaining information. Soviet officials had maintained clandestine contact with the American citizen over a period of some months.
In October 1979 the Naval and Air Attach6 of the Soviet Embassy in France, Vladimir Kulik, was expelled from the country. He was an officer of the GRU working in French military circles and had been in contact with firms specialising in military supplies. In 1979, at a reception in another embassy, he had met by chance a young Frenchman employed in the armaments department of an important organisation who was carrying out studies on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. Kulik sought to maintain contact with the Frenchman, and in due course offered him a large sum of money for documents from his place of work. He also sought to find out details about other staff at the organisation where the Frenchman worked. Kulik was arrested at the moment when he was about to receive from the Frenchman a document about a French weapon.
In February 1980 the Soviet Consul and No. 2 in Marseilles was withdrawn. He had been detained by the French authorities between Toulon and Marseilles with plans of the Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft in his briefcase. They had just been handed to him by an agent.
Travkov had arrived in 1977. The area of Marseilles and the Bouches du Rhone contains many installations and objects of defence interest. Travkov was officially concerned with 'scientific subjects connected with the port and airport', and these interests enabled him to meet people involved in the aeronautical field and to visit firms and installations. Travkov obtained copies of files on staff working on defence contracts and used the details thus revealed to build up a network of informers. Four Frenchmen were taken into custody at the time of Travkov's arrest. Travkov had also been interested in the twin-jet Mirage 4000 which used the same engine as the 2000.
The Soviet Press Attache declared the French action a 'provocation by the police' but the documents were, of course, genuine. A few days later Frolov, himself a KGB officer, was required to leave France too. He had been in Marseilles for two years and had earlier had a posting to Paris. His job, like Travkov's, had given him opportunities to meet all sorts of people and he had made the most of it. Both Travkov and Frolov were personable, charming individuals who made many friends.
Anatoliy Pavlovich Zotov, the Soviet Naval Attache in London, was expelled in December 1982 after trying to set up a network of agents to gather information about weapons systems and electronic hardware used by the Royal Navy during the Falklands campaign. His interests had also extended to the Royal Navy's nuclear submarines.
A retired Japanese major-general, Yukihisa Miyanaga was arrested in Tokyo in January 1980. He was a GRU agent whose case officer at the time of his arrest was Colonel Yuriy N. Koslov, Military and Air Attache at the Soviet Embassy. Miyanaga had been recruited as an agent in 1974 by one of Koslov's predecessors. He was equipped with and instructed in various means of clandestine communication, including particular ciphers for use with radio. Miyanaga and two other officers of the Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force were subsequently sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for passing military secrets to the GRU.
Valeriy Moiseevich Mesropov served in Norway as an engineer with a Russian firm in Drammen, as a representative of Stankoimport, from 1968 to 1970. Mesropov, who was not a diplomat, was arrested in 1970 on suspicion of intelligence activity and finally expelled from Norway for security reasons in September 1970.
Igor Ivanovich Zashchirinsky served in Norway from 1974 to 1977 as representative at the Soviet Trade Delegation of a number of Soviet import/export organisations. He was engaged on clandestine operations to obtain information and products of a scientific/technical nature including material classified as Top Secret. He too was declared persona non grata on 28 January 1977.
In June 1983 Lt-Colonel Zagrebnev was expelled from Norway. He was Military Attache at the Embassy in Oslo, and had visited a military area in the north of Norway, where he had attempted to bribe a Norwegian officer to hand over secret information.
Oleg Churanov, Director of Aeroflot in Madrid, was arrested in February 1980, accused of espionage for the Soviet Union. His case was part of another expulsion of six officials who had already left. It was alleged that Churanov had bought plans of certain aviation electronic equipment. The 'seller' was a member of the Spanish Secret Services who purported to be a member of a Spanish firm. Churanov was an engineer who had been Aeroflot representative in Canada before coming to Spain. He was very popular with staff and pilots at Madrid airport where he had shown interest in radio frequencies and the security regulations at the airport. He had also tried, on one occasion, to get a Spanish pilot to introduce him into the American airport at Tarrejon. The Spanish security authorities themselves claimed that Churanov was a member of the GRU.
In May 1982 the Aeroflot Director in Spain was again expelled for spying, this time with another official. Vasiliy Fedorin and Vladimir Tertishnikov were accused of trying to obtain information on the supply of US military materials to Spain and on Spanish weapons manufacturers.
In March 1979 Stig Bergling, a Swedish police inspector and reserve officer, was arrested in Israel. He had been an agent of the GRU for some ten years. In January 1969 he had begun service with the Police Board, and from 1971-75 was given leave of absence to serve in the Defence Ministry and to do duty with the UN. Bergling had access to information about security police personnel and counter-espionage organisations; and about defence establishments and Swedish defence plans. He was equipped with radio to receive messages from the GRU, and also made use of micro-dots. He kept in touch with his case officers in a number of countries, particularly in the Middle East, having been trained in East Berlin.