Category Archive 'KGB'

11 Aug 2011

Did the KGB Kill Albert Camus?

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“[Camus’] death in 1960 was felt as a personal loss by the whole literate world.” — Susan Sontag

Did the KGB arrange the death of Nobel Prize winning writer Albert Camus in a car accident in 1960?

An article which appeared in the Italian paper Corriere della Sera on August 1 quotes Eastern European scholar Giovanni Catelli, who discovered that the complete version of the Diary of Czech poet and translator Jan Zábrana contained a reference to the death of Albert Camus omitted from abridged French and Italian translations.

The Diary account (translated from the Corriere della Sera article by JDZ)

From a man who knows many things and is in contact with informed sources, I heard something very strange. He said the accident in which Camus died in 1960 was arranged by Soviet intelligence. They produced a blow-out, using a technical device which cut or punctured the car’s tire at high speed. The order for the action was given personally by the [Soviet Foreign] Minister [Dmitri] Shepilov, as “payback” for the article published in “Franc-tireur” in March 1957, in which Camus, in connection with events in Hungary, had attacked the minister explicitly by name.

Jan Zábrana’s contact with “informed sources” was speculated by Corriere to have been either of two relatively litle-known academics: George Gibian or Jiri Zuzanek.


The Accident (translated from the Corriere della Sera article by JDZ)

On the morning of January 4, 1960, a cold and foggy Monday, the asphalt around the village of Thoissey in central France was covered with frost. The car, being driven by Michel Gallimard (Camus’s publisher), had left the day before from the Riviera and was now four hours from Paris. In the car, besides Camus, seated in the rear were Janine, wife of the publisher, and Anne, his daughter. The previous evening, the party had celebrated Anne’s 18th birthday with toasts and good wishes at the inn Chapon Fin. They left after breakfast, between nine and ten in the morning, proceeding calmly, at moderate speed, on a straight road, nine meters wide, with almost no traffic and good visibility. They were joking about the writer’s latest romance and trying to guess the identity of the person waiting for him in Paris. Just before Petit-Villeblevin, Janine Gallimard suddenly heard her husband cry: Merde! And then the vehicle’s steering suddenly unaccountably went out of control, followed by a shock strong enough to make it seem as if “something had collapsed under the car.” Experts say that probably the seizure of wheel bearing or the rupture of a tire caused Gallimard to lose control, sending him crashing into one of the plane trees that lined the road. Camus was extracted from the wreckage already dying, his skull fractured and his neck broken.


There are chronological problems with all this.

Dmitri Shepilov was replaced as Soviet Foreign Minister 15 February 1957 by Andrei Gromyko. The article identified as offending Shepilov appeared in March. Shepilov, however, moved from the Foreign Ministry to the post of Secretary of the Central Committee, which he held until 29 June 1957 when he was removed and demoted for being part of a group which attempted to oust Nikita Krushchev from power.

It is not impossible to imagine that a Secretary of the Central Committee would be no less able than a Foreign Minister to order a KGB hit, but Shepilov was out of favor completely and in the process of descending to the level of an ordinary clerk in the State archives when Camus died in 1960.

Still, Albert Camus was an extremely prominent and widely respected and admired intellectual figure, whose prestige was particularly potent in international left-wing intellectual circles. His criticism of the Soviet invasion of Hungary and of subsequent brutalities and oppression was unquestionably particularly damaging to the Soviet Union’s prestige and reputation.

Camus subsequently offended the Soviet Union significantly again, when he championed Boris Pasternak’s novel Dr. Zhivago at the time of its publication in the West. Pasternak’s book, which rapidly acquired a major readership and became an established classic, described the violence and inhumanity of the Revolution and the Russian Civil War and its publication in Russia had been banned by Stalin.

It is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility, nor would the murder of Albert Camus have been out of character for the KGB. The Russian intelligence service has always been renowned for the assassination of prominent opponents of the Soviet regime, and has demonstrated a particular penchant for using ingenious devices.

The Bulgarian writer Georgi Markov, for instance, was assassinated using an umbrella capable of pneumatically firing a tiny projectile embedded with ricin in the victim’s body.

If the little-known Markov was worth killing in 1978, when the Cold War was simmering quietly at a low ebb late in the game, one must reflect just how much more valuable a target Camus would have been, and how much more bloodthirsty the Soviets would have been in 1960, just a few years after the revolt in Hungary, when the Soviet Union was winning the Space Race, Castro had just seized power in Cuba, and Krushchev was promising “We will bury you!”

The Czech diary account is just a thinly-sourced story, and is completely unproven, but it could be true.

Guardian article

Daily Star (Lebanon) article

Hat tip to John Brewer.

Galliamard’s wrecked Facel Vega FV3B

31 Aug 2009

The Patriotism of Teddy Kennedy

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José Guardia quotes (and translates) a story about Ted Kennedy from recalled by former Spanish Ambassador to the US Javier Rupérez, adding his own puzzlement about the late Senator Kennedy’s behavior.

    Shortly after the Iraq war started I saw Senator Kennedy in a public session of the U.S. Supreme Court. As we were taking our seats he briefly took my arm and told me he greatly appreciated the attitude of the Spanish government regarding the decision taken by the White House because, he said, “although you know my position ” — he was one of the few senators to oppose the authorization for the war — “I appreciate the solidarity with my country in times like this.” “I would appreciate if you relay this to President Aznar,” he added.

Interesting. Let me see if I get this straight: if it’s good to show solidarity with the US “in times like this”, why did this only apply to foreigners? Why didn’t he start with himself? I understand the “politics ends at the water edge” principle, but it’s one thing not to criticize, and another to send a clear, precise message like this. Of course it may be he was acting as a politician, telling his interlocutor what he wanted to hear. But still, the opposition to the war in Iraq was a topic in which Ted Kennedy was very vocal, and it’s certainly odd he said this, if he did.


How much solidarity with his own country did the late Senator show?

Paul Kengor, at American Thinker, reminds of us of the 1983 KGB memo describing the late Senator Kennedy making a confidential offer to General Secretary Andropov to join him in opposing the Reagan Administration defense build-up which ultimately persuaded the Soviet leadership it could not win the Cold War and brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union.

There’s solidarity for you. Too bad the solidarity of the late Senator Edward Moore Kennedy was with his country’s enemies. And they buried him with honors in Arlington National Cemetery! That noise you hear in the distance must be the real Americans buried there revolving in their graves.

The subject head, carried under the words, “Special Importance,” read: “Regarding Senator Kennedy’s request to the General Secretary of the Communist Party Y. V. Andropov.” According to the memo, Senator Kennedy was “very troubled” by U.S.-Soviet relations, which Kennedy attributed not to the murderous tyrant running the USSR but to President Reagan. The problem was Reagan’s “belligerence.”

This was allegedly made worse by Reagan’s stubbornness. “According to Kennedy,” reported Chebrikov, “the current threat is due to the President’s refusal to engage any modification to his politics.” That refusal, said the memo, was exacerbated by Reagan’s political success, which made the president surer of his course, and more obstinate — and, worst of all, re-electable.

On that, the fourth and fifth paragraphs of Chebrikov’s memo got to the thrust of Kennedy’s offer: The senator was apparently clinging to hope that President Reagan’s 1984 reelection bid could be thwarted. Of course, this seemed unlikely, given Reagan’s undeniable popularity. So, where was the president vulnerable?

Alas, Kennedy had an answer, and suggestion, for his Soviet friends: In Chebrikov’s words, “The only real threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations. These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”

Therein, Chebrikov got to the heart of the U.S. senator’s offer to the USSR’s general secretary: “Kennedy believes that, given the state of current affairs, and in the interest of peace, it would be prudent and timely to undertake the following steps to counter the militaristic politics of Reagan.”

Of these, step one would be for Andropov to invite the senator to Moscow for a personal meeting. Said Chebrikov: “The main purpose of the meeting, according to the senator, would be to arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they would be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA.”

The second step, the KGB head informed Andropov, was a Kennedy strategy to help the Soviets “influence Americans.” Chebrikov explained: “Kennedy believes that in order to influence Americans it would be important to organize in August-September of this year [1983], televised interviews with Y. V. Andropov in the USA.” The media savvy Massachusetts senator recommended to the Soviet dictator that he seek a “direct appeal” to the American people. And, on that, “Kennedy and his friends,” explained Chebrikov, were willing to help, listing Walter Cronkite and Barbara Walters (both listed by name in the memo) as good candidates for sit-down interviews with the dictator.

Kennedy concluded that the Soviets needed, in effect, some PR help, given that Reagan was good at “propaganda” (the word used in the memo). The senator wanted them to know he was more than eager to lend a hand.

Kennedy wanted the Soviets to saturate the American media during such a visit. Chebrikov said Kennedy could arrange interviews not only for the dictator but for “lower level Soviet officials, particularly from the military,” who “would also have an opportunity to appeal directly to the American people about the peaceful intentions of the USSR.”

This was apparently deemed crucial because of the dangerous threat posed not by Andropov’s regime but — in Kennedy’s view — by Ronald Reagan and his administration. It was up to the Kremlin folks to “root out the threat of nuclear war,” “improve Soviet-American relations,” and “define the safety for the world.”

Quite contrary to the ludicrous assertions now being made about Ted Kennedy working jovially with Ronald Reagan, Kennedy, in truth, thought Reagan was a trigger-happy buffoon, and said so constantly, with vicious words of caricature and ridicule. The senator felt very differently about Yuri Andropov. As Chebrikov noted in his memo, “Kennedy is very impressed with the activities of Y. V. Andropov and other Soviet leaders.”

Alas, the memo concluded with a discussion of Kennedy’s own presidential prospects in 1984, and a note that Kennedy “underscored that he eagerly awaits a reply to his appeal.”

What happened next? We will never know.

21 Nov 2008

Major Intelligence Breach in NATO Reported

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The Irish Times reports an Estonian mole working for the Russian Intelligence services probably represents the most damaging penetration of Western security since Aldrich Ames.

Echoes of the Cold War have returned to Nato headquarters in Brussels after an Estonian general was unmasked as a “sleeper” spy who passed top secret alliance information to Moscow.

Herman Simm (61), a retired official in Estonia’s defence ministry, has been arrested along with his wife on suspicion that they were recruited by KGB officers before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

After Estonia’s independence in 1991, state prosecutors believe Mr Simm made contact with the KGB’s successor foreign intelligence agency, the SVR.

The former police chief was the perfectly placed mole: between 1995 and 2006 he helped set up the high-security system for handling all sensitive Nato documents ahead of Estonia’s accession to the alliance in 2004.

That has alarmed Estonia’s Nato allies, who are talking about the greatest intelligence breach since the CIA counter-intelligence chief Aldrich Ames was exposed as a Soviet mole in 1994.

Mr Jaanus Rahumägi, chairman of the Estonian parliament’s security watchdog, admits that the spy has caused “historic damage” to the alliance.

15 Oct 2008

Useful Idiots

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In a 1985 interview, Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov reveals the KGB’s strategy of demoralization and describes the ultimate fate of Western sympathisers.

16:35 video

08 Aug 2007

The Source of John Kerry’s Famous Senate Speech


Bird Dog at Maggie’s Farm identifies just where John Kerry obtained all that colorful rhetoric (Remember Genghis Khan?) in his 1971 Senate statement. George W. Bush’s performance in office has not been completely satisfying, but the nation owes him an eternal debt of gratitude for keeping John Kerry out of the White House.

20 Oct 2006

Grove City Professor Charges: Ted Kennedy Offered to Help Soviets Against Reagan

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Paul Kengor, a political science professor at (right-wing, Christian) Grove City College in a new book, titled, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism

CNSNews reports:

In his book, which came out this week, Kengor focuses on a KGB letter written at the height of the Cold War that shows that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) offered to assist Soviet leaders in formulating a public relations strategy to counter President Reagan’s foreign policy and to complicate his re-election efforts.

The letter, dated May 14, 1983, was sent from the head of the KGB to Yuri Andropov, who was then General Secretary of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party.

In his letter, KGB head Viktor Chebrikov offered Andropov his interpretation of Kennedy’s offer. Former U.S. Sen. John Tunney (D-Calif.) had traveled to Moscow on behalf of Kennedy to seek out a partnership with Andropov and other Soviet officials, Kengor claims in his book.

At one point after President Reagan left office, Tunney acknowledged that he had played the role of intermediary, not only for Kennedy but for other U.S. senators, Kengor said. Moreover, Tunney told the London Times that he had made 15 separate trips to Moscow.

“There’s a lot more to be found here,” Kengor told Cybercast News Service. “This was a shocking revelation.”

It is not evident with whom Tunney actually met in Moscow. But the letter does say that Sen. Kennedy directed Tunney to reach out to “confidential contacts” so Andropov could be alerted to the senator’s proposals.

Specifically, Kennedy proposed that Andropov make a direct appeal to the American people in a series of television interviews that would be organized in August and September of 1983, according to the letter.

“Tunney told his contacts that Kennedy was very troubled about the decline in U.S -Soviet relations under Reagan,” Kengor said. “But Kennedy attributed this decline to Reagan, not to the Soviets. In one of the most striking parts of this letter, Kennedy is said to be very impressed with Andropov and other Soviet leaders.”

In Kennedy’s view, the main reason for the antagonism between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1980s was Reagan’s unwillingness to yield on plans to deploy middle-range nuclear missiles in Western Europe, the KGB chief wrote in his letter.

“Kennedy was afraid that Reagan was leading the world into a nuclear war,” Kengor said. “He hoped to counter Reagan’s polices, and by extension hurt his re-election prospects.”

As a prelude to the public relations strategy Kennedy hoped to facilitate on behalf of the Soviets, Kengor said, the Massachusetts senator had also proposed meeting with Andropov in Moscow — to discuss the challenges associated with disarmament.

In his appeal, Kennedy indicated he would like to have Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.) accompany him on such a trip. The two senators had worked together on nuclear freeze proposals.

But Kennedy’s attempt to partner with high-level Soviet officials never materialized. Andropov died after a brief time in office and was succeeded by Mikhail Gorbachev.

In his attempt to reach out the Soviets, Kennedy settled on a flawed receptacle for peace, Kengor said. Andropov was a much more belligerent and confrontational leader than the man who followed him, in Kengor’s estimation.

“If Andropov had lived and Gorbachev never came to power, I can’t imagine the Cold War ending peacefully like it did,” Kengor told Cybercast News Service. “Things could have gotten ugly.”

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