Widow Spy

“TASS is Authorized to Announce – 20 Years Later” – Moskovskiy Komsomolets article 21 February 1997

U.S. Consul General Cliff Gross; Marti; possibly Viktor Sharovatov; an unidentified officer. Lower left spy paraphernalia

signed copy of this newspaper article that KGB Colonel Viktor Sharovatov gave to CIA officer Jack Platt


 Julian Semyonov, author of the novel and TV series based on the TRIANON/TRIGON case
(better quality photo than newspaper version – Martha, Viktor Sharovatov, Captain Vladimir N Zaitsev)


When this film was shown on television, the Soviet lands simply froze. No one can dispute the popularity of the TV series “TASS is authorized to announce.” Based on the novel by Yulian Semyonov with the same title, the picture had vast success. The “literary KGB Chekist” Semyonov perceived people’s expectations perfectly. A solid political mystery story skillfully matched here with the smell of inaccessible foreign life, where neon signs gleamed and beautiful spy ladies drank whiskey and soda from crystal tumblers. The Soviet film art has trained people not to believe a single word coming from the screen. However, in the case of “TASS…” the situation is different. Few people know that the basis of the film’s plot was an actual Soviet counterintelligence operation.

The KGB related the “Trianon case” with absolute success. It is not surprising that Semyonov grabbed it with both hands: even in its “pure form” this brilliant operation, which has no analogies, is perceived as an interwoven detective story.

What is even stranger is that for the past 20 years no one has tried even once to give a true accounting of this case.

My interlocutor, former First Deputy Chief of the Second Chief Directorate of the KGB (counterintelligence), Lieutenant General Vitaliy Konstantinovich Boyarov, has for the first time decided to talk about the events of twenty years ago. It was this man who led the entire operation: he was introduced by Semyonov under the name of General Konstantinov (as you remember, he was portrayed by Vyacheslav Tikhonov).

From the dossier “MK:”

Vitaly Konstantinovich Boyarov, KGB Lt General, 1st Deputy SCD

Vitaliy Konstantinovich Boyarov was born in 1928. He has been in the state security agencies since 1945. He completed partisan radio operator courses and after the Victory he served as a direction finder operator in radio counterintelligence of the Ministry of State Security (MGB) of Ukraine. Until 1962, in the counterintelligence service of the MGB-KGB of Ukraine (here he received his first combat order for exposing eight CIA agents), and in the duties of department chief he was sent into foreign intelligence. He was the Deputy to the KGB Resident in the London Residence. In 1965 he was declared “persona non grata.” He worked in the Center, in the Service (later Directorate) of Foreign Counterintelligence of the First Chief Directorate.

Beginning in the 70s, he was the Deputy Chief of the Second Chief Directorate of the KGB of the USSR (subsequently its First Deputy). For leadership of the Ogorodnik operation he was awarded the order of the Red Banner. From 1986 he was the First Deputy and from 1987 the Chief of the Main Directorate of State Customs Control under the Council of Ministers of the USSR. In the spring of 1991 he retired as a Lieutenant General. He has 32 governmental awards: the Order of the Red Banner, three Orders of the Red Banner of Labor, two Orders of the Red Star, and orders and medals of foreign countries.

He is now the president of the International Association for Legal and Tax Issues ‘I.L.T.S’.”  He heads the All-Russian Council of Veterans of the Customs Service.

“Agronom” bit the capsule and began to slowly slide to the floor

“Vitaliy Konstantinovich, what actually started this entire matter?”

“In the beginning of 1977, intelligence, we received information of interest from foreign intelligence. One of the KGB sources, an employee of Colombian intelligence services, reported that he was approached by American intelligence to secure their meetings technically with some Russian in a room of the Hilton Hotel. The agent didn’t know anything else. The only thing he was able to overhear was the conversation concerned some kind of automobile accident. Either the Russian ran into somebody or somebody ran into him…

“These were all the facts: an unknown Russian, an automobile accident and the time of the meeting.

“Of course, we did not know if this man had been recruited by the Americans, but in the intelligence services it is always the custom to assume the worst.

“This is how the usual painstaking work of counterintelligence officers began. We analyzed the facts known to us and gathered material. In sum, 9 or 11 employees of Soviet establishments in Colombia – I don’t remember exactly – fell into our field of vision.  Moreover, until the very last moment, right up to the arrest of the real spy, four people were still under suspicion.”

“How were you able to find the agent?”

“Many sincerely believe that the KGB can groundlessly start monitoring telephones or follow whomever they want. In reality, in order to carry out special measures, it was necessary to get approval. And without any evidence, you understand, no one would give approval.

“But we were lucky. That same Colombian source told us that the Russian the Americans recruited met at the Hilton with the wife of one of the workers of the Soviet Trade Mission in Bogota. The search was narrowed significantly.

“Quickly we were able to establish that a second secretary at the embassy of the USSR in Colombia, Aleksandr Ogorodnik, maintained “informal” relations with the spouse of a worker of the Soviet Trade Mission. Subsequently Semyonov would name her Olga Vinter, the wife of the engineer Zotov.

“True, when we came upon Ogorodnik, “Vinter” was already dead.”

“According to Semyonov, being afraid of exposure, Dubov-Ogorodnik himself poisoned her. And how was it in reality?”

“It is difficult to say. We exhumed the body but found no evidence of this. Even though we got verification that the CIA supplied Ogorodnik with poison. In his last spy container there were deadly ampules…

“…Our suspicions were also strengthened by the fact that Ogorodnik really had a car accident in Bogota.

“In addition his behavior seemed very strange to us. They offered him graduate work at MGIMO, but he preferred to go to the Department of Strategic Analysis and Planning of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (sic) where obviously he took a pay cut and did had no prospects for growth. In the directorate, by the way, unlike all “normal” people, he never refused night duty.

“Later we learned that during his duty hours he took pictures of all the cipher correspondence that came to the Foreign Ministry with a miniature camera. He gave particular preference to telegrams from the United States. That is, everything that Ambassador Dobrynin wrote from Washington ended up in the hands of the CIA.

“And so, you came upon Ogorodnik…”

“When suspicions about Ogorodnik finally strengthened, Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov gave us permission to carry out special measures.

“A surveillance camera was installed in Ogorodnik’s home: a so-called “Vizir”. Soon, an employee who was sitting on the “Vizir” on the floor above recorded how Ogorodnik deciphered radiograms received from the Center.

“Strictly speaking, that was enough. By the next day we conducted a secret search of his apartment. The items found completely exposed him as a spy. There was microfilm with cipher pads inside the batteries hidden in a flashlight, specific assignments of the CIA, and instructions for communication. That very evening, Ogorodnik was arrested…”

“And how did that go?”

“Around 10-11:00 in the evening, our officers detained “Agronom” (that is what we called Ogorodnik while in operational development) at the entrance of his apartment and suggested that we go inside. The cache was opened before his eyes.

“Ogorodnik couldn’t disappear anywhere and he agreed to write a statement. They gave him paper, he sat behind the table, took a pen and wrote: “I, Ogorodnik, Aleksandr Dmitriyevich, want to declare the following: “Suddenly, with a sharp movement, he grasped this pen in his teeth, bit on the capsule and slowly began to slide to the floor. It all happened so fast, that at first no one was able to figure out what he did. They simply went numb. Of course, we tried to do something before the doctors’ arrived: unclenched his teeth with a ruler, and revived him, but it was too late. On the way to the hospital, Ogorodnik died without regaining consciousness.”

“Evidently, after such a failure, appropriate negative consequences followed. Was there any punishment?       

KGB General Grigori Fyodorovich Grigorenko, Chief SCD


“The Chief of the Second Main Directorate of the KGB, Grigorenko, got Andropov out of bed at 7:00 in the morning. At 9:00 all officers who were present at the search were already in the chairman’s office.

“Certainly, we were terribly upset. Including Andropov. But we didn’t lose heart. I told Yuri Vladimirovich everything that happened, saying ‘if you authorize the further conduct of the operation, I guarantee that we will see it through to the end and thwart the plans of the Americans.’”

“I will remember,” he sadly joked, “as if it is from your mouth to God’s ears.”

“But he did sanction it. That was the 20th of June. But by the 14th of July 1977 we had caught the professional CIA officer Martha Peterson red-handed.”

Marti’s radio

“Don’t grab my breast” shouted the female spy”

“Are you aware of how Ogorodnik became an agent of the CIA?”

“They recruited him like many other traitors: “through a woman.” While he was working in Bogota, the Americans dangled their agent in front of him at the Colombian Institute of Culture… actually not an agent, but a covert  employee.


Pilar and Ogorodnik in Bogota

“An incredibly beautiful Spanish woman: Pilar Suarez Barcala (Semyonov portrayed her under her real name). The CIA used this Pilar for the development of many people, moreover not only Soviet citizens. But in Ogorodnik’s case they brought her in especially from Spain to Colombia.

“Further – the plan was simple. Their meetings (by the way, they met at the same Hilton hotel every time) were photographed. Playing on Ogorodnik’s ambitions, blackmailing him with the “lovers” materials, the Americans persuaded him to cooperate.”

“What kind of man was Ogorodnik?”

“Well, what can I tell you… He was overly ambitious. A poseur. Very greedy and petty – this was noted by many acquaintances. But at the same time, women liked him: his naval bearing was effective (he finished Leningrad Higher Naval School), he had an interesting appearance, and youth – he was around 30. It is not surprising that he was able to start a relationship no less … with the daughter of the Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Rusakov.”

“Holy Jesus!”

“Yes. Imagine what would have happened if an agent of the CIA became the son-in-law of a Secretary and chief of a department of the Central Committee. And events there developed rapidly. By the time of his exposure, Ogorodnik had already proposed and seemed to have received consent. The Americans grabbed this unprecedented opportunity with both hands and feet. In the radiograms that we were able to decipher, they regularly inquired about his possible spouse, in every way emphasizing the importance of this moment.”

“Of course, the story of the daughter of a Secretary of the Central Committee was not reflected either in the novel or in the film.”

“Naturally. In the plot she was replaced by some stupid girl, whom I tried to convince in every possible way to help us.

“We were not even allowed to interrogate the fiancée. Andropov undertook to talk with Rusakov himself as a member of the Central Committee with another member of the Central Committee.”

“But let’s return to the operation itself.”

“After the death of Ogorodnik, we were left with ciphers in our hands and the last radiogram from the spy center. And in fact KGB radio counterintelligence recorded all enemy messages. Using their cipher pad, we were able to read everything that was addressed to Ogorodnik.

“They explained that he should place the next container with information collected at Park Pobedy (Victory Park). There was nothing more concrete.

“But on the other hand, we knew when and where another, later dead drop operation would take place.”

“The film and the book show how you painstakingly found out the site of the operation in Victory Park and even cordoned off the entire territory.”

“That is how it was. Before contact Ogorodnik had to give a prearranged signal: to leave his “Volga” in a parking spot. But the question was, which one?

“We began to calculate. Since the American intelligence officers were constantly being followed by surveillance, we had a rough idea of the usual routes of their movement. And we knew the Ogorodnik’s path not long before his death, after we started to follow him closely.

“Through trial and error, we concluded that there could be three such parking spots – in the area of MGIMO near Culture Park, at the main entrance to the Central Park of Culture and Leisure and not far from the Foreign Ministry building. For each of these parking spots employees parked a specially made up Volga with Ogorodnik’s license plate.

Two Volgas

“However, it was not possible to establish whether the Americans picked up the password signal. All three targets were located on the Sadovoye (Garden) Ring Road, that is, on the usual routes of the Americans (their embassy was also located on the Garden Ring).

“One way or another a decision was made to conduct the operation in the park. In order not to frighten off the CIA officers, on that day “external surveillance” was removed. We cordoned off the entire Victory Park. Capture groups were placed in spots most likely for dead drops. But, alas, the Americans did not come into contact.”

Aleksandr Khinshtein / Александр Хинштейн (very detailed bio and recent activities)

TASS is Authorized to Announce 20 Years Later Part 1, Aleksandr Khinshteyn (Hinstein), Moskovski Komsomolets 21 February 1997 /  ТАСС УПОЛНОМОЧЕН ЗАЯВИТЬ 20 лет спустя, Александр Хинштейн, Московский Комсомолец 21 Феб 1997 (Russian only)
U.S Consul General Cliff Gross; Marti; possibly Viktor Sharovatov; an unidentified officer; lower left: spy paraphernalia

Part Two [Translator: translated directly from the MK newspaper]

  • Why? (asked the interviewer,  Aleksandr Khinshteyn)

“Perhaps they suspected something was wrong,” replied General Boyarov. “And then we had no choice but to prepare for a new operation. This was our last chance.

          “We knew from radio messages that before going to the next meeting (on the bridge near the Luzhniki Stadium), Ogorodnik had to paint a stripe with lipstick on target “Deti” (“Children”). And only after the CIA guys wipe it off go pick up the spy container placed there for him on the railway bridge near Luzhniki.

“But again, what Children meant, we did not know … We banged our heads against the wall. And finally we figured out it was a road sign at the corner of Leninsky Prospekt and Krupskaya Street …

“Surveillance reported that the Americans removed the signal. A car with a known CIA officer drove slowly past the post.

          – And then you began to finalize the whole case.

          “It was very difficult to technically prepare the operation itself. Americans are not fools – they chose the safest place for the cache specially for the intelligence officer. The railway bridge near the Luzhniki is visible throughout its length. That is, if just one suspicious person appears on it, the contact officer immediately throws the container into the river. And that’s it. The evidence is destroyed.

          “But we found a way out. According to the instructions, the container had to be placed in one of the pedestals that run along the edges of the bridge. It was impossible to hide either on the bridge or in the curbstone itself. But next to this curbstone was a hatch.

“We welded up its lid. We “built up” the overlap – the Moscow River was below. They put two officers in the shelter.

“Two more capture groups were located at Luzhniki and at the neighboring gasoline station. The Control Post was in a construction trailer on the Berezhkovskaya embankment. I waited there.”

          – Did everything go as you planned it?

          “In general, yes … On that day, July 14, 1977, I waited for the arrival of evening with undisguised excitement …”

          “We took surveillance off the Americans – God forbid we frighten them off. We stretched out a telephone line to the Command Post, the gasoline station, and to the guys who were sitting under the bridge. We did not want to talk over the radio – we knew that when going out on an operation the CIA usually listened to our frequency.

          “Accordingly, only one word, Plus, was supposed to have been spoken on the air – it meant beginning of operation.

          “Evening came. At about 11 o’clock I received a call from the Command Post informing me that a CIA officer, Vice Consul of the US Embassy Martha Peterson, was heading towards the objective. I notified everyone by phone that the “prey” was approaching. Everyone froze in anticipation.

          “Peterson had already gotten out of her car and was walking towards the bridge, when suddenly two police cars drove up to the gasoline station near Savvinskaya Embankment with their sirens on. Peterson saw them, stopped, and apparently decided to be on the safe side and go back. 

          “You can imagine the fix I was in, six months of struggling and putting out so much effort and have everything fall apart so stupidly before the finale. Luckily, our guys were sitting at the gasoline station. They chased the policemen away. Peterson, to our luck, climbed up the bridge anyway.

          “And as soon as she put the container camouflaged as a stone,  passed the command Plus! The spy was detained when she began to go down the stairs. They grabbed her quite carefully – after all, she was a woman. But, understandably, she fought back. “This is a provocation!” She shouted in English, “Don’t grab my breasts!” In principle, Peterson was a pretty attractive lady. But truth be known, in my opinion, somewhat masculine.

          “Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov was in Kislovodsk that day.  He was not sleeping but waiting to find out how things turned out. At about 1 a.m. Grigorenko reported to him that everything went well. The next morning he immediately flew to Moscow and signed an order expressing his gratitude to all the officers involved in the operation.

          “Indeed, such success could only be possible thanks to the combined efforts of many people. Dozens of officers from various directorates and subunits of the KGB and the Foreign Ministry were involved in the operation. I can’t help but remember my immediate boss, the Chief of the Second Chief Directorate, Colonel-General Grigori Fyodorovich Grigorenko, with whom I associated over many decades of joint work (in the film he is played by Mikhail Gluzsky); Chief of a Department Vyacheslav Kevorkov [in the film]- Slavin; his deputy – Vladimir Kostyrya; Chief of a Department Igor Peretrukhin; and Mikhail Kuryshev, Chief of the Security Service of the Foreign Ministry.”

Viktor Sharovatov, Captain Vladimir Zaitsev, Marti, and an unidentified officer. Lower left: spy paraphernalia

– By the way, what was in the container intended for the Ogorodnik?

          “New methods to communicate, tasking from the Center, vials of poison, and a large amount of money and jewelry that Ogorodnik had ordered. Apparently, they were intended as gifts to his women friends.

Work break during filming: Left to right: Yu Solomin (Slavin); A. Petrenko (Dick); V. Kikabidze (Glebb); Eh. Zubkova (Pilar); Director V. Fokin. Petrenko is holding a wig over his head.

Semyonov was not a KGB agent

– At whose initiative did Semenov take up the pen?

– “Mine. I thought that such interesting material could not be kept in the archives, otherwise it would lose its value. We needed to make it public, if you like, for propaganda purposes.

“And then a few weeks after the operation there appeared a suitable occasion – our intelligence officers were expelled from the U.S. As always, counterintelligence was instructed to prepare a response. And I suggested to Andropov, “Let’s commission Julian to do a newspaper article. You’re accusing us of espionage, and what about you?” Andropov agreed. Soon Julian published his article in Izvestia “Who Benefits?”

“When I told Semenov about the circumstances of the case, I consciously gave him some more information than necessary. I said, “If you want to write about all this, go ask Yuri Vladimirovich [Andropov].” He, of course, jumped on it. The chairman gave him the go-ahead.”

I have always been interested in Semenov’s role in the Soviet establishment. He was allowed access to too many secrets. He was too close to the leaders of the party and the KGB. He was at least Lubyankas elemental agent?

          “No, of course he was not our agent. It’s just that Julian maintained very good relations with the KGB leadership, the Secretaries of the Central Committee, and with Shchelokov. Everyone related towards him with great sympathy. However, at this time a bit condescendingly. But they always supported him.

          “By the way, Andropov introduced me to Semyonov. In the in the early 1970s, he asked Yuri Vladimirovich [Andropov] to assist in the search for the “Amber Room.” Julian was just obsessed with finding it. Andropov tasked me to advise him.

          ”We helped him. He helped us. Within the KGB they conducted the case to search for the “Amber Room.”

          – Apparently, the novel was written in direct contact with you.

          – We spent a lot of time with Julian. Slava Kevorkov and I talked about all the details of the operation, showed the case materials.

          – It is no coincidence that the novel is very close to reality.

          “Yes, everything that concerns the events in Moscow is almost one hundred percent true. For example, in the book he lists the amounts that were transferred to Ogorodnik-Dubov’s account abroad. They are genuine.

          “But Nagonia is pure fiction.”

          – For Nagonia you have in mind Angola?

          “Of course … He spent a very long time convincing me of the need for a second, foreign line. In the end I agreed – without her, the novel would indeed have been less interesting.

          – How long did Semenov work on the book?

          “Three weeks.”

          – What?!!

          – Yes, yes. Exactly three weeks later, he came to my office and called Andropov directly from my office. “Yuri Vladimirovich, I am reporting to you: The novel TASS is Authorized to Announce is ready.”

          “True, for a month and a half he still worked on revising the book, blotted out some things, added other things …

          “Unfortunately, the novel was haunted by the same thing that subsequently prevented the release of the film. A certain group of KGB leaders, for example Tsvigun and Tsinev (the first deputy chairmen of the KGB – A. Kh.), opposed its appearance in every possible way. They said that Semyonov would reveal lots of official secrets and open the eyes of the enemy.

          “But I think that the main motive was not to protect state security organs, but just basic unhealthy envy. Many in the Committee were jealous of the counterintelligence successes that had developed by that period. And even more to let a book be published telling about such a brilliant operation!..

          “The book was not published for a long time. Then Tsvigun staged a circus with awards for the participants in the operation. Andropov, who decided to submit a number of officers for military orders and medals, fell ill, and Tsvigun, who stood in for him, began to drag his feet: “Well, what is there to reward them for, the case began with failure.” He stubbornly refused to send papers to the Central Committee. The matter ended when Andropov recovered and did everything himself.”

          – In your opinion, did the book and the film succeed?

          “Unfortunately, at first the fate of the film did not evolve smoothly. Logically, Tatyana Lioznova, who shot “Seventeen Moments of Spring,” should have been the director. But Julian was deathly opposed. They had a strong quarrel, literally over a trifle. Remember, in Seventeen Moments there is a scene of Stierlitz meeting with his wife in a cafe. Well, he came up with this idea. Lioznova said it was she.

          “As a result, Semyonov suggested Grigoriev as the director, who was making his first police films. He even started filming, but we didn’t like it too much – and the selection of actors was third-rate, and the tape itself turned out to be a bit too police-like, with chases and so on. In short, Iulian and I had a conflict on this basis.

          “I insisted that Grigoriev be removed. “If this is so,” said Julian, “then I also withdraw.” He saw the film itself as in a finished state already. So we chose a good guy, Vladimir Fokin, as director.”

          – You were the main consultant of the film …

          “In the credits, I’m played as Lieutenant General Krylov …”

          – … I wonder if there was strong pressure on the film crew from the KGB? Like they asked to remove this or that, and to emphasize such and such?

          “There was no pressure at all. During the filming, I generally tried not to let anyone near the film. But as soon as they finished, all those people who torpedoed the publication of the book began to appoint endless commissions. Fortunately for us, these commissions usually included normal people. However, the case still dragged on. “TASS …” came out only a year later.”

          – In the film you are played by Vyacheslav Tikhonov. Are you happy with your film image?

          “Initially, by the way, General Konstantinov, that is, me, was supposed to be played by Yuri Solomin. But then Julian himself suggested Tikhonov.

“Vyacheslav Vasilyevich [Tikhonov] and I are friends to this day. In my opinion, he plays me very convincingly. Although, of course, the glory of Stierlitz clearly hindered him here.

          “Well, to be honest, I cannot compare myself with Tikhonov. Life is life. Cinema is cinema. Everything is always more beautiful and interesting there …”

Alexander Khinshtein.

Alexander Khinshtein is French-born Russian politician. He was born in Nice, France and attended Lycee de la montagne de Valdeblore, after which he became a writer for Moskovskij Komsomolets.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Khinshtein Engl(ish)

https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A5%D0%B8%D0%BD%D1%88%D1%82%D0%B5%D0%B9%D0%BD,_%D0%90%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BA%D1%81%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B4%D1%80_%D0%95%D0%B2%D1%81%D0%B5%D0%B5%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87 (Russian – much more detail

Alexander Hinstine (Aleksandr Evseyevich Khinshteyn) / Александр Евсеевич Хинштейн

Since 1 Nov 2018 Deputy Committee Chairman of the State Duma for Anti-Corruption Заместитель председателя комитета Государственной Думы по безопасности и противодействию коррупции
Advisor to the Director of the Federal Service of the National Guard Troops of the Russian Federation / Федеральной службы войск национальной гвардии Российской Федерации

Posted in