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Lukanov: My days as a useless KGB informer

Юрій Луканов , 06.05.2009 17:03

Вирішив поставити цю статтю з "Kyiv Post", бо останнім часом з`явилося багато викривачі моєї ососби, котрі мене викривають з моїх же власних слів чи статей. те, що викладено в статті - я ніколи не приховував, хоча і не афішував. Друзі мої знали про це. Тут деякц скунси розповідають про теплі місця чи гроші. ніяких грошей я від цього немав, ну а про всі мої теплі посади всім тим, хто мене знає - добре відомо. У мене не було і нема няких теплих посад. Отож, хто знає англійську = хай читає.

Eighteen years after independence secret service informants have been finally called out of the educational system in Ukraine.

I was shocked upon hearing from a colleague that Ukraine’s secret service had just recently, in March, cancelled the practice of having informants operating within the country’s educational system.

At first, I recalled how I was once asked to serve as an informant to the Soviet KGB in the early 1980s. But then the shock set in. It took 18 years of independence for Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU), the successor to the Soviet KGB spy agency, to cancel this controversial practice.

“Today the SBU called off all employees from all higher educational institutions,” UNIAN news agency quoted the SBU chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko as saying. According to Nalyvaichenko, this and other de-KGBization efforts were being implemented upon orders of Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko.

I wondered: What crucial information have the SBU informants and spies assigned to educational institutions been gathering over the past 18 years? Some say the aim was to keep a close eye on potential anti-Ukrainian activities.

Judging from my personal experience with the KGB in Soviet days, the spy games at academia were no more than a waste of time that produced piles of useless dossiers and reports.

Back then, we all lived with an understanding that the omnipresent Committee for State Security, or KGB, watches us just about everywhere, be it our bedroom or toilet. Universities were no exception.

The KGB made sure that students and teachers “thought” in the “right” direction prescribed to Soviet people by the ruling Communist Party.

One day in 1982, I got a phone call from a man who suggested we should meet in the middle of a street to discuss “important business.”  When he flashed his KGB credentials, I started to worry a bit. Being called in for a meeting with the KGB was bad news.

A few weeks earlier I had the “luck” to meet one of their kind at the journalistic department of the university where I studied. He asked me whether I had seen a book by the Russian writers, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, called “The Ugly Swans.” I didn’t dodge the question because, to my knowledge then, writings by the Strugatskys were not banned.

“Do you know that this novel is forbidden?” I was asked.

My insides froze. Although I was not a Communist Komsomol student activist, I wasn’t a dissident either. Luckily, everything turned out OK. The KGB agent reprimanded me for inattention and gave me a lecture.

So, ahead of the second meeting with the KGB, I expected it to be a sequel, another reprimanding for not reporting the banned book. But instead the KGB agent gave a long talk in which he said that university students and teachers are mostly patriots and honest people. But he insisted that immature personalities or enemies of the state were present within the group. And if I happen to come across any of the above, I ought to inform the KGB. In other words, they were suggesting that I should become a stool pigeon.

I had no plans to inform on anyone, but did not openly turn them down. I studied at a department that was considered ideologically important because that’s where they tried to raise brainwashers for the Soviet people – from the ranks of journalists.

If I had bluntly refused to cooperate, there was a risk that I would never find a job in my profession. I decided to play dumb.

In the years that followed, KGB representatives met up with me about twice a year in special flats. They would lecture me, saying: “The enemies are alert.” Sometimes they asked for information. For example, they learned that the husband of one of my colleagues could be sent to serve as an official in the United Nations. I had to write down everything I knew about him. I described him as a devout Soviet and other nonsense. I made him look good enough to serve as leader of the regional Communist Party.

The experience led me to the conclusion that tales describing the KGB as an efficient spy agency were just a myth. To this day, I still can’t see what use I or other coerced informants were to them. Not once did I inform on anyone as being anti-Soviet. Nobody was jailed because of me. They got no dirt on anyone from me.

Once, the KGB made me an exciting offer. Although I wasn’t a dissident, I realized that the country was in decay. But I still thought that the country had to deal with its problems internally, without interference from outsiders. So, when a KGB worker told me I could take part in uncovering Western spies, I responded with enthusiasm. I imagined myself as a Soviet James Bond, but with a different flavor – not a spy, but a spy buster.

My task was to meet a foreigner they point out, talk to him and test him for anti-Soviet activities. One time I met an American student, another time I sat next to an elderly Canadian lady of Ukrainian origin who decided to go to the theatre. I realized that I was more of a spaceman than they were spies.

I broke up with the KGB around the time Soviet Ukraine made a strong push towards independence.

I was reporting on a massive convention held by a pro-independence movement. I got a call from a KGB operative asking to meet up. He asked me to describe everything that had happened at the convention. I replied there were no secrets to be told. The convention was being broadcast through loudspeakers onto the street, loud enough for anyone to hear for themselves.

The KGB operative showed clear disappointment. I think that’s when he realized the once-unbeatable KGB was losing its grip.

Yuriy Lukanov is a freelance Kyiv journalist who can be reached at lukanov@ukr.net.

* Знайшовши помилку, виділіть її та натисніть Shift+Enter.

Про автора:
Журналіст, який грає вар`ята, за сумісництвом голова Незалежної медіа-профспілки України, http://yuriylukanov.ucoz.ua/

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