Sunday, May 12, 2013

A spy in the Kremlin

After the fall of the Tsarist Empire and the rise of the Communist regime the British intelligence service tried to recruit spies inside the new Soviet state.

Most of the books I’ve read claim that all those efforts resulted in failure and no important sources of information were available. However I noticed that in the book ‘Spycatcher: The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer’ by Peter Wright (former Assistant Director of MI5) there is mention of a spy in the Kremlin.
In Chapter 15, p220 we get:
I switched back, and began to press his conscience. "Have you ever thought about the people who died?" Blunt feigned ignorance. "There were no deaths," he said smoothly, "I never had access to that type of thing . . ." "What about Gibby's spy?" I flashed, referring to an agent run inside the Kremlin by an MI6 officer named Harold Gibson. "Gibby's spy" provided MI6 with Politburo documents before the war, until he was betrayed by Blunt and subsequently executed. "He was a spy," said Blunt harshly, momentarily dropping his guard to reveal the KGB professional. "He knew the game; he knew the risks."

Who was this spy? What information did he give his controller and how did Blunt compromise him? Gibson was a longtime MI6 officer who served in Turkey and Czechoslovakia but I haven’t been able to find more information on his agent.
This spy must have been the person mentioned by Walter Krivitsky when he was interrogated by the British. Krivitsky was head of the Red Army’s foreign military intelligence network in Europe in the 1930’s but he defected and managed to get to the US. There he publicly attacked Stalin in a series of articles and in 1940 visited the UK and was interrogated by the British authorities. These reports refer to him as ‘mr Walter Thomas’.

In one of these he mentions how his chief Slutsky called him sometime in 1937 and showed him information from one of their spies in Britain. This person gave the Soviets copies of the proceedings of the Committee of Imperial Defense . One of these documents had information from a Politburo meeting that clearly showed that the British had a high level agent.

 I assume that this person was ‘Gibby's spy’.


  1. hello, its interesting also in that who the Soviet agent was. Would you think Donald McLean in the Foreign Office was the source of the Committee of Imperial Defense reports that made their way to Moscow? I am under the impression that most supposed intelligence coming from human sources in the Soviet Union in the 1930s to the West were either junk/fabrication peddled by some Russian Whites, agents providing junk for their own monetary benefit, or Soviet controlled disinformation and double-agents. And as I don't remember seeing anything in British written intelligence books on major agents being able to survive/operate inside the USSR, could it be either this British source is either some sort of Soviet disinformation (though you would think it wouldn't be considering the people discussing it!), or perhaps someone with access to high-up/Litvinov passing it along anonymously to preserve their skin?

    1. No, it is obvious that this was a real spy. You can see how alarmed the Soviet security higher ups were.

  2. And as a follow-up, how would A. Blunt know of such an agent? He wasn't in position until during the war later in 1941 or so to have any kind of such access, correct when he started passing along info such as the BRitish double-cross system, info on British CI efforts against Soviets, drafting CI reports, reporting on who was working for British and how. Which means this source of Soviet Politburo and Foreign Affairs department information had to be "blown" and executed during the war years correct?

  3. A bunch of Russian guys listed various open sources refering to "Gibby's spy" : (I don't speak Russian but google translator works quite well), especially the message posted at "03 июл 2011 01:47".

  4. Digging further, I find that Nigel West and Oleg Tsarev in the book TRIPLEX believe to have identified "Gibby's Spy" as one Aleksandr S. Nelidov. Nelidov worked for the SIS in the 1920s and 1930s but is described as a agent handler operating in Europe (outside USSR).

    Keith Jeffery's official history of MI6 also speaks briefly of Nelidov as an agent in Turkey and Germany, known for selling fake intelligence to various parties (UK, Germany, Russians, Germans suspected Nelidov of working for the French and Polish too).

    According to documents in TRIPLEX, Nelidov was arrested by NKVD in October 1940 (the authors believe he had been betrayed by Anthony Blunt) and commited suicide in 1942.

    I think that Peter Wright confused two spies in "Gibby's Spy" :
    1) Aleksandr Nelidov, dubious agent in Central Europe betrayed by Anthony Blunt in 1940.
    2) the SIS spy in Soviet's Foreign Office (NKID / Narkomindel) betrayed by Donald Maclean in 1936 or 1937.

    1. Более подробно о Нелидове сможете указать ?

    2. Hello,

      All I know about Nelidov is from two books :

      1) "Triplex: Secrets from the Cambridge Spies" by Nigel West and Oleg Tsarev.

      It contains twenty-two pages of confessions of Nelidov to NKVD after his arrest.

      You can see extracts on Google Books :

      2) "MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949" by Keith Jeffery.

      It contains just one paragraph on Nelidov, based on MI6 files.

      I hope it helps.

  5. Operation max was run by Stalin. After fooling the Germans with good information they led them into the battle of Kursk and other disasters. A handful of Jews won ww2. Afterwards the nazis that the allies took told the west about them, and they took over the network. Hence the 98% fatality rate in the 50s for western agents. That's why Stalin a rabid Jew hater and anti zionist voted for the establishment of Israel. He was blackmailed. And Ben gurion did warn the us in 49 but they didn't want to hear. Read secret war against the Jews by john loftus