KGB Files Open to All in Cambridge Library
Published: July 10, 2014 (Issue # 1819)
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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