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UK: Embarrassment As Powell Admits Russian Spying Plot – OpEd


By John Robles>


An interview with Michael John Smith, a British blogger and intelligence expert and the last person convicted of spying for the Soviet Union.

It was admitted this week that the famous Moscow rock incident was actually a British Intelligence operation. What is your opinion on this Mr. Smith?

Well, if we go back to 2006 when this incident actually happened. If you remember we had lots of denials at the time, and what was wheeled out from retirement was that old relic called Oleg Gordievsky, who actually claimed that this was all ‘a KGB stunt’. Now we know that’s not true, and in fact this week a man named Jonathan Powell, who was actually in Tony Blair’s office – so you can’t get much higher than that in the British Government – he actually made the statement that he thought the Russians knew about this at that time and they had been saving it up for, quote, “a political purpose”. As though it’s really all to do with, that it’s a ‘Russian problem’. We know that’s not true now, and I think it’s a very embarrassing situation for the British Government this week.

What do you think about the timing of the admission? Why are they admitting to it now?

Well, I think, interesting isn’t it, I mean the Russian – UK relationships have been, they go through hot and cold periods. I think probably it’s a time when the British Government want to get on better with Russia. They probably need Russian oil, they need Russian gas, and it’s a time for perhaps more friendly relationships, so that we can have more trade between our two countries.


You’ve mentioned Gordievsky being wheeled out again.

Yeah. Well, as I said before John, you remember we discussed this last year, Gordievsky is somebody not to be trusted; he is merely a tool in the armory of the British Intelligence Services. Every time any incident like this comes into the media, Gordievsky comes forward and he makes claims which are anti-Russian and pro the British Intelligence. He is not really playing a useful role, I think, because it is so obvious that the guy is lying, in many ways. He lies about all sorts of things, and he exaggerates, he exaggerates to the point where his point is not considered real. For instance, we remember only a few weeks back, MI5 were complaining about a Russian woman called Katia Zatuliveter.

Yes, we talked about that, sure.

And Gordievsky said without a doubt that this woman was a Russian spy. Well, now she has been exonerated by a British Court as not being a Russian spy. So, what does that say about Gordievsky’s opinion? It says that the guy is not telling the truth.

Would you like to tell us how his testimony affected your life?

Yeah, well, Gordievsky said in my own case, he said that I was a Russian spy, and that from his own personal viewpoint he had inside information about the way that the KGB operated, their methods, and such like. And he said that I must have been a Russian spy just because of the nature of the evidence against me. There was no actual evidence that I had met any Russians or any KGB operatives, but from Gordievsky’s point of view it was all very clear. Now, you know, I look at the way, the evidence he gives in other cases, he lied in my case as well.

Why do you think the incident was denied by the UK authorities at that time?

Denial is a standard British tactic. I mean, if you look back through history, the British have always denied they do these sort of things: it’s not normal, it’s not the British way of doing things. And when they get caught out in this type of incident – it’s politically embarrassing. I think what it shows, in many ways, is that British policy – at Government level – is full of hypocrisy.

What surprises me is that the British condemn Russia for having any intelligence gathering service in the world, or in London, or in any country, and they deny that we [the British] do that. But we know that MI6 is operating in Moscow, it’s operating in all the world capitals, and why make a big thing of it? I mean, it’s just a part of life, and this paranoia, you know, that goes on amongst the intelligence services in the UK – it’s a sign of immaturity I think, it’s unprofessional.

Intelligence services in the UK have played a major part in my life, you know. In fact I believe they’re still tapping my phone at this very minute. My niece, I learned only three weeks ago, is going to marry an RAF man who works at RAF Lyneham, in the UK. And what has happened since is that he is now being called in for security clearance checks, because he is marrying my niece. And what’s that got to do with me, I’ve never met the guy? But it’s just a sign of the way intelligence works in the UK. It is paranoia, you know, they think that everybody is sneaking around spying on everything, and particularly Russians, you know. If there are Russians in the UK – they must be spies. This is the way it works.

So, you are saying that your phone is being tapped or something because your niece is marrying an RAF pilot?

Well, he is not a pilot, I think he is a ground man. But, I mean, what it tells me is that they look very negatively on anything from the past that is a black mark against anybody. And particularly me, even though I was convicted of working for Russian Intelligence back in 1992, but even now I’m still considered a risk, you know, a risk even if a person meets me I could in some way “contaminate” them. It’s very serious I think, and it’s very damaging for my own family connections.

It sounds like they are violating some human rights.

Well, I thought it was a human rights issue but probably there is nothing I can do about it.

What do you think about the phone thing? Why do you think it’s being tapped now?

Purely because they think I may be conniving to my niece’s new husband, to give secrets to the Russians. I’m sure that’s what’s behind it. It seems crazy.

 What’s the evidence? Do you have some evidence, that maybe, it’s being tapped?

Well, it’s purely by the way… people can’t get through to me, I can’t get a dial tone, I mean there are all sorts of strange things going on. These are exactly the same sort of things that were happening in my case before when, back in the 80s, I was under surveillance by MI5 and my phone was acting very strangely – I couldn’t get a dial tone, I had to go out to a phone box just to phone in to clear the line. It seemed very strange, and when I called the phone company, they denied there was anything wrong with it.

And the same things are happening now?

Same things are happening now, you know, I recognize the signs.


VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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