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 It was one of hundreds of pages of previously unpublished documents obtained by Reuters on KGB-Stasi activities in the Dresden area from Germany's vast archives of Stasi material.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

Friday, Dec. 26


Celebrate Boxing Day by playing various tabletop games during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening tonight at 5 p.m. Spread the Christmas cheer and goodwill by making other people regret their decision to come and try to match their intellectual prowess against yours.



Saturday, Dec. 27


Indulge cultural and material needs simultaneously during the free classical music concert at the Galeria shopping mall in the heart of the city. Starting at 7 p.m., shoppers and mallwalkers will be able to hear the sounds of Tchaikovsky and Strauss softly lilt over the constant buzz of people bustling from store to store, trying to get their shopping done before New Year.



Sunday, Dec. 28


Prepare for the holidays at the Russian Winter New Year’s Fair on Moskovskaya Ploshchad, which concludes today after starting on Dec. 22. Games and attractions as well as numerous performances will be on offer for those looking to get into the spirit while numerous vendors will help make sure you have something for everyone on your list.



Monday, Dec. 29


Learn how the Swedes observe Christmas, or Jul, in their land of ice and snow, during aSwedish Christmas celebration at the Lermontov Children’s Library this afternoon at 4 p.m. Activities explaining and demonstrating Sweden’s cultural traditions will be accompanied by traditional dishes and sweets.



Tuesday, Dec. 30


Today is the final day of the Christmas Market at the Europolis shopping center on Polyustrovsky prospekt. Indulge your holiday sweet tooth by tucking into some gingerbread men, or attend one of the master classes that will teach you about how to make beautiful, festive decorations for your tree using only your hands.



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