His name is Stanislav Lekaren, a former KGB officer stationed in London, between 1971-1975.
In a rare telephone interview on July 2, 1999 I talked with Lekaren about espionage, assassination and blackmail – all the juicy stuff you would love to ask a spy but don’t. Well in my case I did.
Lekaren really had no idea who I was, other than some guy from America calling for him on the phone. I managed to reached him at the English club in Moscow, a hangout for old retired KGB Spies.
I must have caught him at a good time, because he didn’t hang up on me immediately when I asked for a briefinterview. I think he was more intrigued than anything else.
He said: “I give you 5 minutes, but no more, you can ask me anything.”
What follows is a transcript of the conversation we had on that date:
Tilford: “I wanted to ask you about espionage, could you tell me briefly your thoughts on the subject?”
Lekaren: “Espionage is a dirty business…(pause).”
Tilford: “How so? Would you be more specific?”
Lekaren: “They can invite you to dinner, talk with you openly – will ask you – will you work with us or not? And then put something in your tea, certain medicine and you die in a weeks time.”
Tilford: “Are you saying that MI6 killed Soviet Intelligence Officers in the 1970′s?”
Lekaren: “You will never prove it, but we lost 7.”
Tilford: “Will you give me names and dates?.”
Tilford: “Ok. How did you recruit agents?”
Lekaren: “Each guy from Moscow was officer with KGB – was difficult in direction of recruiting someone. Your first task was to prove you were not the officer and you have nothing to do with this bloody organization. In this way you had to charm the people, and convince them to do what you ask. It required special skill sets.”
Tilford: “Did that include blackmail?”
Lekaren: “Well, uh Yes, sometimes we did that…you know in theory you can blackmail, in practice not so easy, alright,…of course it’s possible – but no result will be made. OK , he says “no” – what will I do? I shall take a man who worked for us 20 years and gave us plently ofsecret documents, and show these secret documents to his chiefs, and say, this is a vendetta! No….(pause) My friend I must go now, before I do let me ask you this. How did you find me here. ”
Tilford: “Lucky I guess.”
Lekaren: “They say we make our own luck. Are you CIA?”
Lekaren: “You are a terrible liar my friend, but I wish you well.”
My editor at the time called the interview interesting, but declined the opportunity to publish it back in 1999.
Today this information is being published for the first time.