‘Unique people’: Putin recalls KGB times, wishes deep-cover agents good fortune
Russian President Vladimir Putin has for the first time revealed that he had worked closely with illegal resident operatives during his time with Soviet intelligence. Describing such agents as “unique” individuals, he praised their tremendous sacrifice.
Putin joined the KGB (Committee for State Security) in 1975, serving in Dresden from 1985 to 1990. The Russian president retired from the intelligence service with the rank of lieutenant colonel when the USSR collapsed, but briefly served as head of the KGB’s successor, FSB, in the late ‘90s. However, details of his service profile remained a mystery for decades until Putin’s Saturday interview on Russia-1 TV channel.
“All my work in the USSR foreign intelligence agencies was connected not just with the Foreign Intelligence Service, but specifically with illegal intelligence,” Putin told news host, Sergey Brilev.
People who serve in such roles are “unique” individuals with special beliefs and a distinctive character, Putin said. Such individuals sacrifice their liberties to serve their country.
“Not everyone can give up their life, give up their loved ones, leave their families for many, many years, not everyone can devote their lives to serving their homeland,” the Russian leader pointed out.
Putin recalled a conversation he once had with one of his mentors, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich, when he was a junior intelligence officer. At the time, the senior officer had just returned to the USSR and was assigned to work with Putin.
“I asked him, you have worked there so much and now you are here with me. Is it normal? You must have expected more?” Putin recollected.
The senior officer, who Putin later worked with for many years, replied that he had been offered a better position by KGB headquarters but turned it down.
“I consider it a reward for myself that the motherland entrusted me to perform such a function that no one else can perform except me. This is the biggest reward I have earned, and I must thank the motherland for it,” the officer replied to Putin.
“Only the chosen ones can do this. I say this without any exaggeration. Employees of the illegal intelligence live with such an approach to the cause, to the country, to the people. They are unique people,” the president said, wishing his former colleagues good fortune.