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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 It was one of hundreds of pages of previously unpublished documents obtained by Reuters on KGB-Stasi activities in the Dresden area from Germany's vast archives of Stasi material.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, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russia’s most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkin’s, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontov’s short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library System’s website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Club’s weekly meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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