Newsmagazines, as well as book markets, have had their filling of eye-catching espionage stories. Exciting articles and riveting page-turners have presented reading audience with a plethora of clandestine topics: from revelations of the Cold War spymasters to sensational leaks by investigative reporters. However, if we take a closer look at seemingly truthful accounts, then many of the stories would look dubiously.
The best way to ascertain, whether an espionage story sounds real, is to track the fate of its author. Such glamour “spies” as Richard Tomlinson and Vladimir Rezun (his penname is Viktor Suvorov) lead prosperous lifestyle, not fearing reprisals from their counterparts, whom the “spies” allegedly betrayed. It is a small wonder, because both of them have never divulged any real secrets. A British national Mr. Tomlinson wrote an impressive book, The Big Breach, 2001, about his years at the Secret Intelligence Service, aka MI6. Yes, his narrative is definitely closer to truth than James Bond movies or even Graham Greene novels. Nevertheless, most of the time he dutifully omits real names and places, giving just a sketchy picture of events together with anecdotes concerning MI6 mentality. An ostensible defector from the Soviet military intelligence service (GRU) Mr. Rezun wrote a readable book, Aquarium, 1985, which for the first time publicly revealed the mere existence of this ominous spy agency. However, being loyal to his colleagues, Mr. Rezun usually omits real names and places, impressing readers with bloodcurdling stories about vicious Soviet spies without any actual details.
Completely different situation takes place, when someone really defects from an intelligence service and divulges its secrets. Alexander Litvinenko, a former officer at the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia, coauthored documentary books about its crimes: Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror, 2007, with Yuri Felshtinsky and Criminal gang from Lubyanka, 2002, with Alexander Goldfarb. These no-nonsense works deal with real perpetrators of actual wrongdoings. As a result, Mr. Litvinenko fell a victim to radiation poisoning in London, carried out by Russian assassins. A Kazakh dissident, Dr. Rakhat Aliyev was in charge of our intelligence agencies. He wrote a fascinating book about corruption in his homeland, The Godfather-in-law: the Real Documentation, 2009, which contains real transcripts of intercepted phone calls, copies of genuine documents, etc. As a result, Dr. Aliyev was hanged in a solitary cell of an Austrian prison. You see, Kazakh bribery has found its way even in the seemingly law-abiding Austrian society. The tragic death of the two defectors presents a sharp contrast to PR activities of the glamour “spies”.