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 It was one of hundreds of pages of previously unpublished documents obtained by Reuters on KGB-Stasi activities in the Dresden area from Germany's vast archives of Stasi material.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


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldn’t miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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