At the World Economic Forum, Oleg Kalugin was listed as a Deputy of the Russian Parliament, a post he held until he became security adviser to President Boris Yeltsin. Kalugin was a KGB general, in fact, one of the most decorated and youngest to attain that rank. Until 1980, he was the KGB’s top operative in
The Washington-wise, articulate Kalugin is smoother than 18-year-old bourbon. A few comments on topics put to him.
Did COCOM’s technology restriction work? Not really. Kalugin claims the KGB stole whatever it needed. Problem was, the Soviets took too long to develop the technology before the West came up with the next generation. “I told my superiors it would be better spending our resources on our own R&D rather than waste time obtaining secrets we couldn’t use properly. They told me to mind my own business.”
Which country’s service was the KGB’s most/least formidable adversary? That’s easy: CIA, MI5, and Mossad, in that order. The French service was, ahem, a tad less secure. Basically, the KGB Paris station chief knew everything that went to the
What further light can he shed on the coup against Gorbachev? Gorby wasn’t involved with the plotters as many Russians suspect. Kalugin was himself tipped off by virtue of being tailed a month before. “I knew [KGB] methods, so I suspected the coup would happen soon.” The week before the putsch Kalugin thought he had bought the farm when two agents followed him into the
How long will the Commonwealth last? The CIS is transitional, designed to ease away from the Soviet Empire. The republics may retain economic links but are destined to go their national ways.
How long will Yeltsin last? Hard to say. He could be a transitional figure but as yet no other leader has emerged to replace him. He is to some degree at the mercy of his advisers, regarding economic policy, as he doesn’t have fixed views. The democrats who have been swept into power behind him have gotten cold feet about transforming