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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 It was one of hundreds of pages of previously unpublished documents obtained by Reuters on KGB-Stasi activities in the Dresden area from Germany's vast archives of Stasi material.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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Monday, Jan. 26


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Discover the State Hermitage Museum's collection of English painting at a lecture by art historian Yelizaveta Renne at the Prince Galitzine Library, 46 Nab. Reki Fontanki. The event starts at 6 p.m. and the lecture will be followed by a concert of arias, songs and duets by English composer Henry Purcell. The event is free of charge.



Tuesday, Jan. 27


Celebrate the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



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