This past summer the so-called Mitrohhin archive was opened to those interested in KGB operations and the agency in general. The archive is located at Cambridge University, home of documents describing how the Soviets stole nuclear secrets from the US, how Moscow was involved in the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II.
The University is also the alma mater of Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess (and allegedly John Cairncross), the notorious Cambridge Four (Five?) – British intelligence officers recruited while students at Cambridge and under deep cover for the Soviets.
The collection also contains formerly closed documents containing some of Estonia’s part in clandestine activities during the cold war.
Vassili Mitrohhin, born 1922, was a KGB employee from the late 1940’s till his departure for a pension. From the early 1950’s Mitrohhin started to work for the 1st Chief Directorate – foreign intelligence. His first assignment was to infiltrate the Russian Orthodox church in the middle east.
Initially participating in international operations, for which he was considered incompetent, he was assigned to the KGB archives on foreign intelligence. There he had unrestricted access for 30 years to the most secret material of the Soviet Union and a wide-angled, detailed picture of the Soviet spy network.
It’s said that he lost faith in the Soviet system and started to plan for defecting to the West. He realized that he was sitting on top of an immense potential investment for himself to become invaluable to the West. He started to copy information onto small pieces of paper, snuck them out and held them at his country cottage in tin boxes. This undertaking of course held an incredible risk. Being caught would have meant certain execution. The small pieces of paper had to be hidden in his shoes and brought out from his security-sealed Jassenevo headquarters. Over time Mitrohhin became bolder, simply copied documents onto other paper and brought them out in his pockets.
(Pikemalt Eesti Elu 17. oktoobri paberlehes)
Collection of KGB documents have some revelations about Estonians and Estonia Estonian Life