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The Putin Files: KGB-Stasi Archives Opened

Published: February 27, 2001 (Issue # 648)


DRESDEN, Germany - The East German secret police had a favor to ask of their KGB comrades - could the Soviet Union recruit a man who lived next to a German Communist party guest house in Dresden and ask him to spy on visitors there?

"Comrade V.V. Putin to accomplish this," a Soviet official scribbled by hand on the secret 1987 letter from the Stasi, referring to KGB agent, now President, Vla dimir Putin.

Later, another Russian note suggested the recruitment did not go ahead: "To be returned, unaccomplished".

Whether Putin failed or whether his KGB bosses later simply refused the mission is unclear. Another handwritten Russian note says curtly the document is to be destroyed - "Unichtozhit."

Yet the letter survived. It was one of hundreds of pages of previously unpublished documents obtained by Reuters on KGB-Stasi activities in the Dresden area from Germany's vast archives of Stasi material. They cover 1984 to 1990 when Major Putin was a junior member of a small team of 10 to 15 KGB agents in Dresden, East Germany.

In keeping with the protocol of the times, the letters are mostly between the top Stasi and KGB officials and Putin is rarely mentioned by name. But the documents give insight to the cloak-and-dagger world where he lived much of his adult life.

NO DIAL TONE

One rare instance when Putin himself wrote to the local Stasi head, Gen. Maj. Horst Boehm, concerned a KGB informant who worked in East Germany's state wholesale trade enterprise.

The man's "telephone connection was mistakenly cut off in March 1989," Putin wrote, seeking to fix the problem.

"Considering that our informant was a former member of the police who support us, the People's Police headquarters applied to the post office to get a phone line," he wrote. "Nonetheless, there are still problems in solving this."

Subsequent notes show the phone line was installed days later, lightning speed in a country where it could take years or even a lifetime to get a telephone.

The informant's name and why he was of interest to Putin remains a mystery. The name is blacked out in the document, which was obtained under German freedom of information rules from the agency overseeing the Stasi archives.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Oct. 20


Amateur pictures from World War I are on display for only one more day at Rosphoto’s exhibition “On Both Sides,” chronicling the conflict through the eyes of observers on both sides of the trenches. The price of entrance to the exhibition is 100 rubles ($2.50).



Tuesday, Oct. 21


The Environment, Health and Safety Committee of AmCham convenes this morning at 9 a.m. in the organization’s office.


Take the chance to pick the brains of Dmitry V. Krivenok, the deputy director of the Economic Development Agency of the Leningrad region, and Mikhail D. Sergeev, the head of the Investment Projects Department, during the meeting with them this morning hosted by SPIBA. RSVP for the event by emailing office@spiba.ru before Oct. 17 if you wish to attend.


Improve your English at Interactive English, the British Book Center’s series of lessons on vocabulary and grammar in an informal atmosphere. Starting at 6 p.m., each month draws attention to different topics in English, with the topic for this month’s lessons being “visual arts.”



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