I know, as the token Russian, you’re expecting me to comment on it, right?
Well, I was recently reading this book about Soviet spy Dmitri Bystrolyotov (you can check my review here). The book is about how Bystrolyotov grows up during the Russian Revolution and, through a turn of fate, begins spying for the Soviet Union in Prague, London, and other European countries during the time leading up to World War II. Â It’s not really as much Rocky and Bullwinkle as a serious examination into character, morality, espionage, and Stalinism.
The Jew portion of this story:
When I talked to the author, Dr. Emil Draitser, (who also wrote about growing up Jewish under Stalin) about how some of the things in the book relate to the scandal today , he told me some very, very interesting stuff (emphasis mine):
For starters, during my research, I found documents that indicate that one of the main reasons the Jewish emigration from Russia was initiated by the Soviets in late 1960s was for exactly this purpose– to have an opportunity to send to the West “sleepers,” that is, spies that would blend with the Western societies and be reactivated years (even decades) later.
In 1968, head of the KGB Yuri Andropov and ForeignÂ Minister Andrey Gromyko proposed to the Soviet Politburo to open up Jewish emigration to Israel. Limited, of course, but, in their judgment, giving the Soviets three main benefits:
1) to shut up Western propaganda claims that the Soviet Union violates human rights;
2) to get rid of most active troublemakers among the Soviet Jews, thus preventing them from encouraging other Jews to press for their rights to emigrate;
3) to send along Soviet agents as sleepers.
It was done. The Soviet aim wasn’t achieved in the long run. They misjudged Jewish determination to get out of the modern day Egypt. The internal pressure skyrocketed as a result of having a precedent,Â a permission on the books, so to speak. A lot of efforts was spent to get the genie back into the bottle. To no avail. (I address this issue in my new book I am working on now, a sequel toÂ Shush! Growing up Jewish under Stalin.)
As to the spy side of it, some scandals about Russian spies in Israel took place later on, I believe. As to assuring sleepers’ loyalty, there are usually means to do it. For example, having their parents’ well-being back in Russia as a chip. Or the prospects are offered sums of money that they couldn’t possibly ever make themselves, etc. Of course, it never works hundred percent, but, on other hand, they never put all eggs in one baskets.
For the record, none of my family is part of a sleeper cell. Â The most excitement we had last weekend was when my mother-in-law gave my dad a vodka vuvuzela for his birthday. I’m not kidding.