Boris Solomatin Interview
Q: Which does a better job of spying - the CIA or KGB?
A: I must speak frankly here. Professionally, I have always envied the guys from CIA who, without making any efforts, get mountains of information from our former intelligence officers who came over to the opulent West. I have never felt that the playing field is level. If the CIA was deprived of its wealth, I do not believe that it would be as successful as it has been. Do not forget, we did not have as much money and yet we have handed you two major defeats.
Q: Okay, who was the Russian equivalent of John Walker and Aldrich Ames? What Western spy has caused your country the most damage?
A: My immediate answer is perhaps Oleg Gordievsky [who spied for the British and was identified for the KGB by Aldrich Ames in 1985. Gordievsky escaped to London where he still lives.] He is a common criminal and typical traitor who sold out his fatherland and his colleagues simply to secure for himself a comfortable life. [In 1990, Gordievsky co-authored a book, KGB: The Inside Story, in which he told the history of the KGB and identified several hundred of its agents, including Solomatin.] One reason why I detest him is that he now says that he betrayed his fatherland because he was always against totalitarianism. He mocks the real people in this country who stayed here and fought to change the system without fleeing the country or committing treason.
Q: Some in my country believe that Yurchenko was intentionally sent by the KGB to the United States to help keep Aldrich Ames from being exposed. They believe that he came over to deflect the suspicion onto Edward Lee Howard [a former CIA employee who was a Russian spy]. That is why Yurchenko was allowed to return back to Russia after three months without being executed.
A: Yurchenko says he was drugged and kidnapped by the CIA. I don't know a single proved case of kidnapping of the Soviet people by Americans. It sounds good. But it doesn't happen and not because the American special services consist of only righteous people who would not do such a thing. They simply are afraid that we will retaliate and they are afraid rightly.
Having told the CIA, all that was known to him in Washington D.C., Yurchenko changed his mind about staying in the United States and asked to be received back in Moscow. This man told the CIA valuable information about his colleagues and sources. He was not sent by anyone to protect Aldrich Ames. This is fantasy. And yet when Yurchenko returned to Moscow, he was treated like a hero at a mean-spirited press conference.
A: Yes. Mean-spirited. The main producer of this show was Kryuchkov who was merely trying to save his own skin. Why? Because Yurchenko had fled under his watch. They made a traitor - into a victim. It's ridiculous and horrible and if Yurchenko had any honor, he would confess, bear his soul, ask for forgiveness and voluntarily go to jail.
Q: So is Yurchenko the worst or is Gordievsky?
A: In truth, neither. The real and greatest traitors in my country are the people who have deprived me and my fellow countrymen of my former motherland in which I was born and for which I fought and worked in intelligence. And they did this by tearing it into pieces. They destroyed a super power and humiliated my nation. I consider Kryuchkov to be one of these traitors.
Q: Are you including people such as Mikhail Gorbachev and other reformers?
A: I am not a politician. But I look around. Everything has been destroyed. My father and mother are buried in Odessa. That is a Ukrainian town now. Now it's foreign land for me! Do you know what it is like to have to go to a different country to see your parents' grave. I will never forgive these people for what they have done to my country. Whether they are communists or anti-communists, I don't care.
Q: So it's not an issue of being communist or of restoring communism, it's the idea that they dismantled your nation?
A: Three generations lived under communism. It failed. I admit it. It is clear that it was an unhappy experiment. How many times can you experiment on the lives of the people? But why did we have to dismantle everything, change everything, destroy everything? I love my country and what it was, though it needed some radical changes. How would you Americans feel if the United States was dismantled? If suddenly, New York was a different country from Washington D.C. and you would not be allowed to move freely from one state to another? This is the ultimate treason that I can never forgive or forget. It grieves me to think that the ultimate destruction of my country came not from outside forces, but from within, by its own leaders. Yes, they are the real traitors.