Mitrokhin Archive

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Publication.png Mitrokhin Archive Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Mitrokhin Archive.png
Typeintelligence leak,forgery?
Publication date1992
Author(s) • Vasili Mitrokhin
• Christopher Andrew
Local copyBroken Link: [[{{{local}}}]]
A vast number of handwritten notes allegedly smuggled out of KGB archives by defector Vasili Mitrokhin, but possibly a British intelligence disinformation operation.

The Mitrokhin Archive is a vast number of handwritten notes allegedly smuggled out of KGB archives by defector Vasili Mitrokhin in the early 1990s. The MI5 made them public - distancing themselves one level - through historian Christopher Andrew, who wrote 3 books based on the notes, which received extensive media coverage.[1] The books and notes are possibly a British intelligence disinformation operation, created from a mix of already known facts, plus added suspicions and accusations now presented as firm evidence.

Official narrative

For the official narrative on the claims and people mentioned, see the Wikipedia article.

The archive is a collection of handwritten notes which were secretly made by the KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin during the thirty years in which he served as a KGB archivist in the foreign intelligence service and the First Chief Directorate.

According to his version, the offices of the Archives were shifted from one building to another between 1972 and 1984. During this period, he was put in charge of supervising the safe transfer of the files. He had an opportunity of seeing the contents of many files relating to sensitive KGB operations all over the world. Every day, he used to copy on pieces of paper in his own hand-writing the contents of important files. He would then secretly take them to his house, type them at night, conceal them inside empty milk cartons and hide the cartons under the floor of his house. He had thus copied in his own hand and typed 25,000 pages of allegedly sensitive information over a period of 12 years. When he defected to the United Kingdom in 1992, he brought the archive with him, in six full trunks.

The official historian of MI5, Christopher Andrew,[2] wrote two books, The Sword and the Shield (1999) and The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World (2005), based on material in the archives. The books purport to provide details about many of the Soviet Union's clandestine intelligence operations around the world.

KGB security

All intelligence agencies more or less follow the same rules of security in order to safeguard the identities of their sources and the modus operandi of the operation. Moreover, no one, however trustworthy, is allowed to work alone in a branch containing operational files. Generally, there has to be at least two persons present, to prevent the possibility of one person taking advantage of his being alone for Xeroxing or photographing files.

If Mitrokhin's story is to be believed, none of these security precautions would seem to have been followed in the KGB. The operational files of branches dealing with dozens of countries were allowed to be kept in one place in the central Archives, the personal particulars and details of the modus operandi were kept in the files and Mitrokhin was able to work alone day after day, hour after hour–undisturbed–taking down notes from the files and taking the notes out in the evenings.[3]

Targeted notes

Mitrokin, on the basis of his notes, named a large number of political leaders and others of the UK, France, Germany and other Western countries as allegedly working for the KGB. Th Indian intelligence analyst B. Raman points out that:

In the past, the British intelligence was never well-disposed towards the Labour Party and other political leaders and intellectuals to the left of the political spectrum. During the Cold War years, it used to project the Labour Party as riddled with KGB agents. It even reportedly suspected that former Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson was a KGB agent. It was never able to prove its allegations or corroborate its suspicions. And then, in 1992, when the Conservative Government headed by Mr. John Major was in power, Vasili Mitrokhin walked in with tonnes of notes kept by him, allegedly showing that many of the Labour leaders whom the British intelligence suspected in the past of being KGB agents were, in fact, KGB agents.
One would notice that Mitrokhin hardly named any Conservative leader as being in touch with the KGB. It is significant that the MI6 and the MI5, the internal Security Service, did not prosecute any of the persons named by Mitrokhin as KGB agents. Not even a woman civil servant, whom he accused of helping the Soviet Union's nuclear programme, was prosecuted. They did not even consider it necessary to interview or question them in order to get their comments on the allegations leveled against them by Mitrokhin.