The original draft of The Trust was prepared for the Counterintelligence Staff of the Central Intelligence Agency by Raymond G. Rocca, former Deputy Chief of Counterintelligence (Analysis). Mr. Rocca substantially revised and corrected his original paper in 1990, and donated it to the Center for Intelligence Studies in 1990. Originally published by the CFIS in that year, we are republishing The Trust as a public service.
Several years after the original publication, a pirate copy was published online and deliberately misrepresented as a publication of the Security and Intelligence Foundation, the Center for Intelligence Studies' predecessor organization, and credit was falsely attributed to former members of the SIF's Board of Directors. Neither was in any way involved in this effort.
We are aware of the individual who perpetrated this fraud, and we regret that he chose to dishonor Mr. Rocca's memory in this way. We would also like to warn the public that given the extensive effort invested in this deception, we believe it is likely that the text of the pirate copy was altered as well. Should readers come across it, we advise them to exercise due caution.
The following version of The Trust is the intellectual property of the Center for Intelligence Studies, but may be reproduced in part or in full for public educational purposes, provided full attribution is made and context is preserved.
Charles S. Viar
INTRODUCTION TO THE 2015 REISSUE
By Michael Holzman, Ph.D.
James Angleton was a member of a rather select group: secret intelligence professionals who were also trained intellectuals. There was Sherman Kent, of course, the founder of the Office of National Estimates and the discipline of intelligence analysis, but on the operations side the pickings are rather slim. The closest parallel might be the one-time head of MI6’s Section V, also an officer with counterintelligence responsibilities: Kim Philby, with his rather good Cambridge degree in economics. Angleton’s training was in English Literature, at Yale, and in Law, briefly, at Harvard. Although there is little evidence that Philby used his knowledge of economics in the line of duty, Angleton’s thought and habits continued to follow the lines of his training in literary studies, producing, for example, a detailed New Critical close reading of the anti-war magazine Ramparts in the late 1960s.
A few years earlier Angleton, as chief of the counterintelligence staff of the Central Intelligence Agency was faced with the problem of how to evaluate the testimony of a sudden flood of defectors from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The most significant defector, for Angleton and for the CIA, was Anatoliy Golitsyn, who had defected from the KGB late in 1961. Golitsyn told Angleton and his colleagues that the evidence for post-Stalinist disturbances within the Communist world --- Khruschev’s secret speech and all that followed from it --- had been wrongly interpreted by Western analysts. Instead, those disturbances should all be seen as part of a “weakness and evolution” pattern of deception. Golitsyn argued that the Western view of Soviet Bloc events at the height of the Cold War was based on a projection --- misinformation --- emanating from Moscow itself, an effort to present --- through press reports, diplomatic cocktail conversations, controlled defectors --- a view of the Soviet Bloc as divided, weak, reasonable, peace-loving, etc.
Efforts of this sort do from time to time occur. The supreme achievement in this regard --- that of projected interpretation, as it were --- was not, as it happens, a Soviet campaign, but the invention by the Western Powers of FUSAG, the notional World War II Allied invasion force created by Allied intelligence out of coded messages from double agents, radio traffic, the pearl-handled revolvers of General Patton continually visible in Whitehall. Twenty divisions were summoned from the empyrean in this way to protect Eisenhower’s left flank, pinning down an equal number of very real German divisions awaiting the arrival of those spirits of the air at the Pas de Calais: a triumph that in Eisenhower’s view determined the course of the war in the West. Golitsyn believed that the deception operation he posited required for their success such penetrations, as FUSAG had depended on British intelligence’s control of German agents. Hence, Golitsyn believed that there had to be agents in place, moles, as they are called, in the highest regions of Western intelligence. Angleton knew this was possible. He remembered his mentor Kim Philby.
An early Soviet parallel to the deception operation posited by Golitsyn was the then nearly forgotten affair of the “Trust,” the supposed counterrevolutionary organization invented by Soviet secret intelligence in the 1920s. (The Twenties were an era rich in deception operations, run by all sides, often enough through the White Russian emigration with its headquarters in Paris, Berlin, and Riga. One example was the Zinoviev Letter of 1924, which brought down the first Labour Government in Britain. This purported to be a letter from Zinoviev, head of the Comintern, calling upon Britain Communists to prepare for revolution. It is now generally accepted by historians that the letter was a White Russian forgery.) The Trust operation projected in the minds of its targets --- the White Russian leadership and various, especially British, secret intelligences --- an image they found congenial. That image was of a vast internal resistance to the new Soviet state simply waiting for the word from Paris, Berlin, Riga or London, to rise up and restore the Tsar, or, at least, the Duma. The projection was convincing --- its targets so wished to be convinced --- and it succeeded, as an operation, in significantly weakening those targets by capturing and eliminating many agents and, perhaps more importantly, creating an atmosphere of uncertainty about events within the Soviet state.
The requisite conditions for the Trust, as for FUSAG, were control of information and a conduit for ascertaining how that information, or misinformation, was being received by the target. FUSAG accomplished this through the Double-Cross system (which Angleton had learned during his service with OSS X-2 in London). The Trust did it through an elaborate system of double agents, some witting, some not. If Golitsyn was right, that The Thaw was a deception operation, then it followed that the Communist secret intelligence services either had or would try to develop double agents in Western secret intelligence services.
Angleton believed in Santayana’s maxim that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” He used the history of the Trust deception to help him and his staff think more broadly about counterintelligence, to move from thinking about individuals to thinking about more elaborate institutional efforts and then back, to a focus on the individuals who embodied those efforts. Ray Rocca’s history of the Trust was part of Angleton’s effort to avoid that misfortune.
Michael Holzman, Ph.D.
Dr. Holzman is the author of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA and the Craft of Counterintelligence; Guy Burgess: Revolutionary in an Old School Tie and numerous other works.
In the late 1950s, the Soviet security and intelligence services, and the services of the Soviet Bloc states under their control, assumed increasing responsibilities for the execution of Soviet and Bloc foreign policy. At the end of the decade, in 1959, the role of these security and intelligence services expanded dramatically. By the mid-1960s, the Soviet and Bloc security and intelligence services had become the leading instruments of the Soviet and Bloc foreign policy apparatus.
As such, the Soviet and Bloc services assumed responsibility for many state functions not normally considered by Western nations to be properly those of either security or intelligence services. In an effort to divine the meaning of the expanding role of the Soviet and Bloc security and intelligence services and to determine the nature of the threat it posed, the Western intelligence services turned in part to the historical record of Soviet intelligence operations against the West. Through historical analysis and other methods, including the study of espionage cases, generally and particularly, it became clear to them that an early Soviet operation, known as the Trust, was the inspiration for at least one particularly significant dimension of the reorientation of the Soviet and Soviet Bloc security and intelligence services and, more generally, a rough model for their expanded activities.
The story of the Trust as told in the following pages is complex, confusing and incomplete. That portions of it remain mysterious even now, almost seventy years after its termination, is mute testimony to the effectiveness of the techniques it employed. It also demonstrates the effectiveness of the Soviet Union’s practice of secrecy.
In many ways, the Trust can be viewed as the prototypical Soviet strategic political deception, i.e., an intelligence operation employing both overt and covert activities to advance Soviet foreign policy objectives and to influence events in foreign countries in ways favorable to the Soviet Union. Although the Trust probably did not achieve all of its objectives, it nonetheless served as a testing ground for Soviet techniques of penetration, disinformation and so-called special operations. Refined over the intervening decades, these techniques are now central to the conduct of Soviet strategic intelligence operations and, in fact, Soviet state policy as well. Thus, a proper understanding of either requires a working knowledge of the Trust.
The Trust operation is important in other respects also. Most importantly, it illustrates the key role of the security and intelligence services in ensuring the success of the early Bolshevik state. Because the relationship of the Soviet security and intelligence services to the communist party dictatorship they serve has not changed appreciably since the time of Lenin, and because all subsequent communist party regimes have been created more or less faithfully in the image of the original Soviet party-state, the insights this brief study provides concerning the interrelationship between the communist party dictatorships and their security and intelligence services remain relevant today. Lenin’s dictum that the Cheka, now the KGB, is the Sword and Shield of the Party still remains central to Soviet foreign and domestic policy.
This is particularly true when one considers the striking similarities that exist between the true goals and the means chosen for achieving them; between the New Economic Policy (NEP), devised by Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin in 1921, and the concepts of perestroika and glasnost, reintroduced with sophistication by the current Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev. Like Lenin before him, Gorbachev has publicly proclaimed his intention to restructure the Soviet system, to improve the economic lot of Soviet subjects and to grant to them certain basic, if strictly limited, freedoms. And, like Lenin, Gorbachev has turned to the West for the technological aid, trade and credits to bolster a faltering Soviet economy and to advance Soviet objectives.
Less obvious, though, is the extent to which Gorbachev has emulated Lenin in utilizing the Soviet security and intelligence services, under specific Politburo direction, with promoting the notions in the West that communism is a failed ideology rapidly withering; that communism, and communist party-states, no longer pose a threat to the Western democracies; that internal Soviet developments should not be opposed by the West, but rather actively assisted through the extension of aid, trade and commercial credits; that Soviet initiatives to lessen international tensions are being made to ease economic pressures that are slowing economic restructuring rather than to provide relief for an embattled regime on the edge of crisis; and that what the West wants to believe, specifically, that the Soviet Union is rapidly evolving into a normal nation-state, even a democracy, is true. In addition, Gorbachev, like Lenin, realizes there are risks to openness and economic and military changes, so he too is relying heavily upon the Soviet security and intelligence services to contain political dissidence and nationalist impulses internally, and to disrupt, preemptively or otherwise, their tenuous linkages with external sources of support, particularly within emigre circles abroad.
These similarities, however, are so striking as to be misleading if not taken in context and examined with great care. Here the danger lies in the natural tendency to emphasize the similarities of the NEP and perestroika/glasnost, and the Soviet security and intelligence services’ operations associated with both, at the expense of the equally striking differences which separate them. To understand the Trust and the current Soviet active measures campaign accompanying the current changes in the Soviet and Bloc states, then, it is important to understand that while these operations are extraordinarily similar, they are not identical.
To illustrate, it may well be argued that the Trust was only a more visible aspect of a much larger effort to eliminate opposition to communist party rule in Russia and to entice the Western powers into actively, albeit unwittingly, assisting the communist regime in consolidating its power throughout Russia. Until a truly comprehensive study of the full range of means employed to advance the New Economic policy, which was designed to strengthen the party’s control, is produced, the hazard of overgeneralization will remain great. This is indeed a danger to be guarded against, for it makes it all the more likely that we in the West will misunderstand Soviet strategic objectives, that we will be misled in our efforts to apprehend the true nature of the current Soviet political, military and economic situations, and that we will fail to take into account the enormous increase in sophistication of the Soviet and Bloc security and intelligence services and their vital role in communist systems.
The challenge, then, is to take what we know of the Trust --- as opposed to what we infer --- and to place it into historical perspective. Once this is successfully accomplished, our knowledge of this operation may prove to be of substantial value in understanding contemporary Soviet and Bloc policies and objectives while assessing developments and countering the associated active measures campaigns that are now being waged against us.
Reduced to the barest of essentials, the Trust was designed to accomplish two principal missions. The first was to penetrate, disrupt and ultimately destroy organized opposition to the Bolshevik dictatorship domestically and abroad. The second was to systematically delude the West as to the future course the communist regime would follow. Here the similarities between the Trust and the Soviet and Bloc security and intelligence services’ current active measures campaigns, both domestic and foreign, are particularly revealing.
At the time of this writing, the Soviet communist party-state is not seriously imperiled by opposition groups at home or abroad. However, it is imperative that the regime ensure that none of the apparently emerging dissident and nationalistic groups achieve sufficient power to pose a truly formidable threat. This imperative is particularly acute as current and future deviations from past party practices, such as multi-candidate elections, may create substantial internal opposition. Paradoxically, though, the emergence of opposition would almost certainly provide rich opportunities for exploiting the West by purveying false or deceptive impressions of Soviet internal developments. The Soviet security and intelligence services, then, must be prepared for any eventuality the party perceives as threatening.
Given the fact that the changes now occurring in the Soviet Union are creating conditions in many ways comparable to those that made the Trust operation first possible, then necessary, the West should be sensitive to the possibility that the current Soviet active measures campaign is proceeding along lines roughly comparable for similar --- though not identical --- reasons.
This study remains of value, then, for in describing a prototypical Soviet strategic political deception operation, it casts important light upon the conditions that likely inspire such operations, their likely objectives, basic techniques and their potential for success. To be truly useful, though, it is essential to compare and contrast the active measures techniques employed in the Trust operation with those employed by the Soviet and Bloc security and intelligence services today. These have become far more sophisticated and dangerous, and to lose sight of this is to invite disaster.
Taken together, the challenges required to extract the relevant operational aspects of the Trust from their historical context and to apply them to the current situation are formidable. Still, it is well worth the effort, for without a working knowledge of Soviet active measures techniques and an understanding of their origins, evolution and possibilities, it is not possible to comprehend the Soviet and Bloc communist party-states or the true nature of the threat they pose to the West.
The following version of The Trust is the intellectual property of the Center for Intelligence Studies, but may be reproduced in part or in full for public educational purposes, provided full attribution is made and context is preserved.
Charles S. Viar
In his speech at the Ninth Congress of the Soviets in Moscow on 23 December 1921, Lenin referred to this meeting as the “Congress for Peace,” because the civil war had been brought to a victorious conclusion and overt foreign intervention on Russian soil had ceased. He said that the rebuilding of the country was the next task of the Bolshevik party. Dwelling on this topic, he indicated that the recently introduced New Economic Policy (NEP) would ease considerably the daily life of the average Russian by opening the door to private enterprise, but it would also entail great risks to the Bolshevik party, since it constituted a clear deviation from its teachings. He therefore called for increased vigilance against dangers from abroad and from within.
Irritated by the stance of the Soviet Union, some foreign powers might still be tempted to exploit the obvious weakness of the country. The second enemy was the White Russian emigration, which was trying to stir up the people of Russia against the new regime.
Officially, Lenin’s call for vigilance was addressed to the Red Army; but there are indications that it was directed at the Cheka also. This meant, among other things, that the Cheka was expected to increase its penetration of the emigre organizations at home and abroad.
The Cheka had not been idle in this field. As early as 1920, Unshlikht had established the operation Mayak (Beacon), the purpose of which was to create confusion in emigre organizations so they could not distinguish between foe and friend. It was also designed to learn their intentions and assess their capabilities. The Supreme Monarchist Council in Berlin had been penetrated through the recruitment of one Tretyakov. A Cheka agent, Mikelson, had become a member of Kerensky’s entourage in Europe and had managed to pilfer important documents from his files. Inside the USSR parallel efforts had been made. Lev Nikulin, in his book, THE TRUST, hints that Starov had specialized in this field.
Nor could the Cheka disregard the internal opposition, that is, officers and bureaucrats working for the Soviet government but secretly devoted to the Tsarist regime. The position of these Monarchists had become hopeless and tragic. Living outside the law “without a biography,” they were constantly in danger of being betrayed and shot. In no position to develop a significant political opposition, they gathered together in cells chiefly for self-protection. Yet there was a chance that they might get together for mischief. Indeed, in November 1922, the Cheka believed they noticed signs of incipient coalescence. Between certain groups there appeared to be a connection that was loose and nebulous owing to Cheka vigilance and poor communications that existed at the time. In Moscow, for example, there existed the Monarchist Association of Central Russia (MOTSR). This fledgling organization had fairly regular communication with the White groups in Petrograd and little contact elsewhere.
In 1921/22, MOTSR and its affiliations posed no real danger to the Bolshevik regime. But, with the introduction of the NEP policy, certain freedom of action was given back to the Russian people, and a feeling developed that the Bolshevik regime had seen its best days and was about to be replaced by some other form of government. It provided opposition elements with an opportunity for starting a political movement, and a better one still for establishing contact with emigre organizations abroad.
Between one and two million Russians had fled their homeland when the Bolsheviks defeated the White Russian forces in the civil war and scattered over the world, mainly in the capital cities of Europe. Homeless, impoverished, with no positions they could aspire to and barely tolerated by the host countries, their lot was a sorry one. This outward misery was topped by exhaustion and frustration which stimulated recrimination and the search for scapegoats in a hopeless cause.
They banded together in political organizations, either leftist or Monarchist, in wretched hope of giving meaning to their lives. The so-called leftist groups accepted the February Revolution and favored the parliamentary system that had ensued, while the Monarchist hoped for the reestablishment of a Monarchy, with little understanding of how this could be brought about. It was the latter group, in its various splintered forms, that the GPU hoped to reach, exploit and destroy through careful manipulation of the so-called “Trust.”
The senior leader of the Russian émigrés was Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich, the grandson of Tsar Nikolai I. Taciturn, ascetic and devout, yet imperial in bearing, he was a model of Russia’s military virtues. His goal was as simple as it was unrealistic: a return of the “Old and Holy Russia,” under the rule of a patriarch --- the Tsar. His call had a strong appeal to some emigrants, even though he bore a strong responsibility for the disaster that had overrun Russia. Prior to World War I, as Inspector-General of the Cavalry, he had stubbornly resisted the modernization of the Russian Army; and during the war this same army had suffered its worst defeats under his leadership. This had alienated the loyalty of many Russian officers. Further, he was mistrusted by his own family because it was he and his wife who had introduced the mad monk Rasputin to Empress Alice. He and his Supreme Monarchist Council lived in virtual isolation near Paris, begrudgingly respected by some émigrés, but disliked by nearly all.
The most outstanding of the White Russian leaders was General Petr Nikolayevich Baron Wrangel, a “political general” with a breadth of vision not normally found in the old school of Russian generals. This made him a tragic figure. Time and again, during the civil war, he had pointed out mistakes made by White generals, and at the very moment when he realized that all was lost, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the White forces. This made him accept defeat as final. He now knew in his heart that the Bolsheviks would rule for years to come. All he could hope for was to keep the émigrés together as a national group until the Bolsheviks permitted their return to Russia.
In September 1923, with this in mind, he created the “Russian Armed Services Union” (Russkiy Obshcho-Voyenskiy Soyuz), to which all Russian veterans were supposed to belong. This organization (i.e., ROVS) established posts in most European countries, and its policy was determined by Wrangel’s “wait-and-see” attitude. He considered sending terrorist groups across the border or otherwise trying to foment internal disorders as inappropriate, and ridiculed such actions as “pinpricks.”
His headquarters was in Yugoslavia, and there his command was supreme. But elsewhere in Europe, his authority at best was only nominal. In Paris, General Kutepov, with neither the patience nor foresight of Wrangel, decided to follow an independent course. He had seen how the Bolsheviks had come to power through brute force, and concluded that only by the use of brute force could they be dislodged. This would confuse the Bolsheviks, force them to commit blunders and ultimately bring about the collapse of their regime. For this purpose, he pulled out from Wrangel’s ROVS (to which he was deputy commander) the most daring and ruthless members and formed his own “Combat Organization.” He gave them training in clandestine activities and sabotage; and for their protection against Soviet penetration, he formed a special CI unit which was later called the “Inner Line.”
In theory, the émigrés appeared to be organized for some kind of effective action, but in reality they floundered. Eking out a living took precedence over patriotic service, and the émigrés mulled over paper plans as a spare-time activity. As a whole they were divided by internal friction, geographical divisions and a lack of funds. The latter was both a psychological and operational handicap because it forced the emigre organizations to depend on handouts from Western intelligence services. The latter, concerned with their own particular interests, often rode rough-shod over the idealism of emigre activities, and provided food for Soviet propaganda which claimed the émigrés were simply hirelings of hostile Western intelligence.
Still, a change in policy upon the part of their host governments and occasional benefactors might make them a force to be reckoned with. This would be particularly true if the emigre organizations succeeded in establishing contact with the internal opposition. Together, they could conceivably mount an effective challenge to Bolshevik rule.
This was the potential danger facing the Cheka and the one possibly in Lenin’s mind when he issued his warning. Thus, the Cheka gave first priority to an attempt to penetrate all White Russian groups in and outside of Russia. Later, it would expand its activities to disinforming hostile intelligence services and conducting “special operations” as designated by its chief, Felix Dzerzhinskiy.
In November 1921, one A.A. Yakushev, a high-ranking employee of the Ministry of Waterways and a secret member of MOTSR, had been sent on temporary duty (TDY) either to Norway or Switzerland, and en route he had stopped in Tallinn, Estonia to visit a former White Guardist, Yuriy Artomonov. Different reasons are ascribed for this visit. R. Wraga states that Yakushev was in love with Mrs. Artomonova (who remained in Moscow) and he wanted to persuade her husband to grant her a divorce. Lev Nikulin maintains, more plausibly, that Yakushev (a ladies’ man) had a mild affair with Varvara Strashkevich, a cousin of Artomonov, and called to deliver a letter from her.
Whatever the truth of this matter, during the visit Yakushev told Artomonov that although he was serving the Bolshevik regime, he was opposed to it and that, in this, he was by no means alone. He said that many ex-Tsarist officials and officers remained strongly anti-Bolshevik at heart. So heavily were the government apparatus and the Red Army infiltrated by this element that the Bolshevik regime itself was undergoing a subtle change; hence the NEP.
To Artomonov this sounded like important news and he lost no time in reporting it, by letter, to superiors --- the Monarchist Council in Berlin. Somehow, by means not disclosed, the letter fell into the hands of the Cheka. Wraga speculates that Tretyakov might have intercepted it but gives no evidence in support of this opinion.
On his return to Moscow, Yakushev was immediately arrested,, and after lengthy interrogations, was recruited to serve Cheka in its battle against the Monarchists. There are two different versions to this recruitment. Opperput, after his so-called defection, testified that he was in a death-cell with Yakushev, and that it was he who persuaded Yakushev to cooperate with the Cheka to avoid being shot out of hand. Nikulin gives a different and more detailed account of the affair, as follows:
Before Yakushev’s return to Moscow on 22 November 1921, Artomonov’s letter had been intercepted and brought to Dzerzhinsky. Realizing Yakushev’s potentialities, Dzerzhinsky entrusted the task of his recruitment to two Cheka officials, Artuzov and Pilyar. Together they set up a carefully planned scenario. Yakushev was sent on another TDY mission to Irkutsk, and on his way to the station was arrested and brought to the Lubyanka. There he was told not to worry about his family; they would be informed in due course by telegram from Irkutsk that he had come down with a severe case of typhoid.
For the first three weeks, Yakushev was interrogated mostly about his past, that is, about his work during the Tsarist regime. In this way he was kept in a state of tension, and also kept in the dark about the real purpose of the interrogation. Artuzov, the chief interrogator, also dwelt on Yakushev’s extramarital affairs and his lack of morals to further sensitize his conscience.
Having made his point, Artuzov interrupted the interrogation for a week to let it sink in. When recalled, Yakushev assumed he would be questioned further on the subject of girls; but Artuzov gave the subject a sudden twist. He said that the Cheka knew Yakushev had met Mr. Massino in the dressing room of a female dancer in 1917; that the future of Russia had been discussed; that Massino had mentioned the concessions the British government would request for its continued support; and that Yakushev had in general agreed to his proposals. Now Artuzov played his trump card. Massino, he said, was Great Britain’s greatest spy, Sydney Reilly, a sworn enemy of Russia; so, obviously, Yakushev had shown himself willing to sell Russia to the British. What kind of patriotism was this? How could such betrayal of the motherland be defended? Again Yakushev was left alone for another week to think things over.
The next time Yakushev was called, it was to a well-appointed office, and both Artuzov and Pilyar were there. After a few casual questions, the crucial one was posed: What had Yakushev discussed with Artomonov in Tallinn? When Yakushev denied having visited anyone in Tallinn, Mrs. Strashkevich was brought into the room, and she stated that he must have called on Artomonov because she had given him a letter to deliver. After she left the room, Yakushev was shown the letter Artomonov had written to the Monarchist Council, and at this point he fainted.
Back in his cell, expecting to be executed at any minute, Yakushev began writing a complete report on MOTSR and the role he had played in the organization. After a few days, Artuzov told him that, after careful consideration of his case, it was decided that he was not a complete traitor, for he had counselled émigrés against terrorism and against expectations of any quick return to Russia; therefore, mercy would be shown. He was to return to his home, resume his work and forget what had happened in Lubyanka. From then on, he reported regularly to Artuzov on his contacts with members of MOTSR. Later, in the spring of 1922, Dzerzhinskiy, appealing to his patriotic feelings, asked him to collaborate formally with the Cheka and Yakushev agreed.
While Yakushev was still in prison, a Cheka official, Kolesnikov, contacted Artomonov on behalf of “his good friend” Yakushev, explaining that the latter was sick in Irkutsk. He confirmed all that Yakushev had previously said about disaffection in Russia, and getting down to specifics, disclosed the existence of MOTSR, led by ostensible anti-communists like General Zayonchovskiy (the chief), General Potapov (specialist in military matters) and Yakushev (the political brain). Artomonov and his friend Shchelgachev were delighted and agreed to establish contact with the organization. They further agreed to Kolesnikov’s suggestion that the middleman, for the time being, should be a member of the Estonian embassy in Moscow, Roman Birk.
Kolesnikov explained the activities of MOTSR, stressing its program and goals, but remaining vague as to personalities involved, owing to the rules of conspiracy allegedly in effect. He did, however, mention in passing that the membership was approximately 400. MOTSR, he said, would pose abroad as a “Trust” and the code to be used in communications to and from émigrés abroad would be based on normal business terminology appropriate to concerns operating under the NEP. Thus, communists were to be referred to as “competitors,” the MOTSR Central Committee as “the Board Management of the Trust,” etc. Such a code was childishly simple and easy to decipher, but appears appropriate to the spirit of the times. So too does the cover name for the Trust (i.e., Moscow Municipal Credit Association) seem appropriate to a time when new enterprises were springing up every day under the auspices of the NEP. But code names selected for certain leaders of MOTSR, such as the “Supreme Commissar” or “Boyar Vasiliy” for General Zayonchovskiy, and “Captain Prisoner” for the political council, were singularly inappropriate, starkly smacking, as they did, of the clandestine.
Be this as it may, Artomonov and Shchelgachev saw nothing wrong with any part of the deal. They bought the story, lock, stock and barrel. They informed the Monarchist Council by open mail. In due course, Roman Birk was in business with a steady flow of letters between the émigrés in Tallinn and the so-called “Trust” in Moscow. In this exchange of information, the émigrés gave their order of battle, the numerical strength and location of battle units, etc., but the Trust for its part supplied nothing but doctored-up information. Before long, Artuzov decided that Yakushev should go to Berlin and gain direct access to the Monarchist Council and similar circles.
The GPU could not have been very well informed about the actual activities and living conditions of the émigrés, for, otherwise, Yakushev would not have been sent to Berlin to penetrate the upper strata of all emigre organizations and report on their activities. A controlling upper strata simply did not exist. There were too many chiefs, too many self-serving plans, too much dissension, undermining and mischief making.
Before his trip, Yakushev was briefed by Artuzov and Styrne-Starov. In approaching emigre circles, Yakushev was to make it clear that the “Trust” considered the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich as the only man acceptable as the future leader of the newly emerging Russia. Further, he was to support the views held by the Grand Duke, namely, that the Monarchy was to be reestablished with not one iota of change. Yakushev was also advised to get in touch with the Grand Duke as a way of gaining prestige with a minimum of effort. This would have an additional advantage, for among all the émigrés, the members of the Supreme Monarchist Council were the most uninformed about actual conditions in Russia and would, in all probability, be the least critical.
In November 1922, Yakushev took off for Berlin, ostensibly as an official representative to the Koenigsberg Fair. His first meeting was with members of the Monarchist Council headed by E. Markov. He delivered the following messages: Russia was beginning to awaken from a horrible revolutionary nightmare; anti-communist elements were gaining control of the system. The “Trust,” with Yakushev acting as its “Foreign Minister,” would supply all necessary information about the movement and fulfill all intelligence missions. The emigre groups should forego all activity inside Russia and should dissuade foreign powers from aggressive acts. Work inside Russia would be performed by members of the Trust and their efforts should not be jeopardized by outside interference. Yakushev conducted himself with aplomb and an air of authority, and he appears to have convinced the Monarchist of his sincerity.
A few days later, Yakushev had a meeting with three of Wrangel’s representatives: his chief of intelligence, General Klimovich; his political adviser, N. Chebyshev; and a well-known journalist, Shulgin. On this occasion, Yakushev’s charm failed to impress and his story failed to convince. Sharp questions were posed and Yakushev parried them as best he could. When Klimovich asked how all this activity could take place in the midst of Cheka agents, Yakushev said that obviously Klimovich was not well informed about conditions in the USSR, but he saw that he was now confronted with men who would not simply accept his words at face value. The meeting was soon over. Shulgin proclaimed himself convinced of Yakushev’s sincerity. Klimovich voiced some skeptical reservations. Chebyshev told his colleagues outright that he believed Yakushev was a Cheka stooge. His views on Monarchism were simply too pat for a man who had lived for years under Soviet rule; in other words, he had learned his lessons too well.
At another meeting with the Monarchist Council, it was agreed that the Council would appoint representatives in several capitals to act as liaisons with the Trust. Later, for this purpose, Captain Artomonov was sent from Tallinn to Warsaw under the name of Lipski, and in Paris young Prince Shirinskiy-Shakhmatov was assigned to the job.
Back in Moscow, Yakushev reported to Artuzov on the results of his trip. He pointed out that a barrier divided the Monarchist Council and Wrangel’s organizations (i.e., the ROVS), and that the Trust would have to work with one or the other; to keep in touch with both might not be possible. He also reported that the young émigrés were disenchanted with both of these organizations and suggested that a third organization, “the Eurasians,” should be approached as possible unwitting collaborators. Yakushev’s report and suggestions were favorably received, but a decision as to the best course of action was postponed.
Yakushev returned from his Berlin trip with greatly enhanced self-assurance. He considered himself more than a match for the leaders he had met, and had convinced himself that none had the caliber to lead a change of government in the USSR. This left him with the heartfelt conviction that Russia’s future was in the hands of the Bolsheviks for better or for worse. This being so, he could now devote himself to the activities of the GPU-controlled Trust with no twinges of distaste or hypocrisy.
The Trust now started to get involved with foreign intelligence services. The mechanics of these contacts have not been disclosed, but it seems likely that this was done through the emigre liaisons located in capital cities. Wraga claims that the Trust was in contact with ten Western intelligence services, but he provides no evidence in support of the allegation. From available documents it can be deduced that, at best, the Trust was in liaison with the Estonians, Polish, Finns and the English, and that communications moved along two channels: (1) through diplomatic couriers such as Roman Birk (who brought Trust material out in the Estonian diplomatic pouch) or (2) through so-called “windows” (i.e., controlled points on the border for letting Trust agents in and out of Russia).
Thus, fabricated information of every description found its way into foreign countries, with sufficient accurate data to make the remainder appear authentic. Most of the material was prepared by “Razvedupr,” which had a special “Disinformation Bureau” for the purpose. All the information sent out was designed to convey the same message: Don’t make war against the USSR or execute acts of terror, for great changes are taking place and Russia soon again will become a respectable member of the community of nations.
As this traffic in disinformation became more or less routine in character, Artuzov planned a deeper penetration into emigre circles, and toward this end, Yakushev was slated for a trip to Paris to meet Grand Duke Nikolai. Aware of the importance of such an encounter, Artuzov decided that Yakushev should be accompanied by General Potapov, ostensibly now a leading member of the Trust. Actually Potapov belonged to the General Staff of the Red Army, but he had been given leave of absence (as arranged by the GPU) to enable him to devote himself to Trust affairs. The selection of Potapov as an emissary was an astute choice, for he had occasionally been received at the Tsar’s court by the Grand Duke in former times.
Both Yakushev and Potapov arrived in Paris in August 1923 and had a meeting with the Grand Duke which lasted for three hours. Yakushev pushed his well-known line, which merely being a reiteration of the Grand Duke’s own, found a sympathetic listener. Nikolai Nikolayevich promised his cooperation and, although he did not later measure up to the promise, the visit was a success for Yakushev, for he now was able to trade on the prestige given him by a senior member of the Imperial family.
This newly-acquired prestige paid off in two ways: It enabled Yakushev to conclude a working agreement with the Kutepov group in Paris, and, because of it, he now was listened to with increased respect by his old MOTSR co-conspirators inside Russia.
The GPU had started the Trust operation with some idea of its importance but without realizing the full extent of its potentialities. As its possible scope became clear, Dzerzhinskiy wrote a memorandum delineating its goals. The Trust, he said, was to control “public opinion” among émigrés, to convince them of the futility of terrorism and debunk their idea of intervention. They must be persuaded that a counterrevolution was in the making, in which they could play a supporting role. Dissension must be provoked by keeping alive controversial issues such as the elimination of classes, the nationalization of heavy industry and the agrarian problem. Kutepov and Wrangel should be put at loggerheads by fanning the rumor that the latter was a future Bonaparte. These, according to Nikulin, were the goals outlined by Dzerzhinskiy, but apparently there were others. A check on the activities of Monarchist elements inside Russia was certainly part of the operation, as was the feeding of disinformation to foreign intelligence services.
Emboldened by success, the GPU decided to go after special game, and Boris Savinkov was chosen as a target. Dzerzhinskiy himself made this decision in the summer of 1923 after learning that Savinkov’s personal adjutant, Leonid Danilovich Sheshenya, had been captured while crossing the border into the USSR. At that time Savinkov was the only remaining anti-communist leader with a charisma of his own, acquired in continuous battle for a democratic Russia against totalitarian forces both right and left.
Savinkov began his political career at an early age and achieved fame during the Tsarist regime as a member of the SR Party terrorist group. In this capacity, he took part in the assassination of the Grand Duke Sergius and of Plehwe, the Tsarist Minister of the Interior. He was several times imprisoned but always escaped miraculously.
After the February Revolution, he joined the Provisional Government of Kerensky. When the Bolsheviks seized power, he turned his revolutionary experience against them and organized counterrevolutionary conspiracies in Moscow and Jaroslav. These activities were successfully combated by the Cheka.
With the defeat of the White forces in 1920, Savinkov founded “The People’s Association for the Defense of the Motherland and Freedom,” with headquarters in Warsaw. An intellectual, Dmitriy Vladimirovich Filosofov, and an activist, Yevgeniy Sergeyevich Shevchenko, were selected to run the show in Poland. Savinkov himself, with his two assistants, Aleksandr Arkadyevich Dickhof-Daehrentahl and Colonel Sergey Eduardovich Pavlovskiy, chose to reside in Paris. This higher echelon maintained contact with Polish, French and British intelligence services and also with the governments of these countries in a marginal sense.
By 1922, Savinkov had been able to set up an impressive organization inside the Soviet Union under the direct command of the ruthless general, Bulak-Bulakhovich. Members had succeeded in spreading terror among the Bolsheviks. In 1923, the tide began to turn. The Peace Treaty of Riga, concluded in 1921, had forced the Poles to disband military units belonging to Savinkov and could no longer give him open support. His cells within Russia began to flounder and were picked up by the GPU one by one. Worse still, Savinkov began to lose faith in his own lifelong ideal of a democratic Russia and started to flirt with new ideologies such as the fascism of Mussolini.
Dzerzhinskiy, aware that Savinkov was capable of staging a comeback if given the slight opportunity, decided that the time was ripe for his elimination. He called together certain trusted GPU officials, Artuzov, Puzitskiy, Pilyar, Syroyezhkin, Demidenko and Fedorov. He explained that Savinkov, adventurous, vain and intelligent, yet so egotistic that he could not bear the humiliation of setbacks, might now be willing to run great risks for uncertain gains. In a psychological ploy, Savinkov was to be fed information about an anti-communist organization of Liberal Democrats inside Russia, which was incapable of action simply for want of an able leader. In this way Savinkov, with his colossal conceit, could be lured into the Soviet Union and into the clutches of the GPU.
The Trust, as such, could not be used for such an operation because Savinkov detested Monarchists as much as he did the Bolsheviks. A parallel Liberal Democrat (LD) organization must be set up under the control of a few selected GPU officials. Unlike the Trust, its recruited agents would be kept under strict control with no freedom for personal initiative.
Artuzov (as Nikita Nikitovich Tverdov) was appointed as head of the bogus LD; Puzitskiy (as Nikolay Nikolayevich Novitskiy) was made head of the Moscow LD unit; Fedorov (as Mukhin) was given the job of getting in personal touch with Savinkov, ostensibly on behalf of impatient LD elements in Russia.
Almost simultaneously with the capture of Sheshenya, mentioned above, the GPU apprehended a group of Savinkov partisans, under the leadership of one Zekunov. Sheshenya and Zekunov were placed under pressure and soon promised to collaborate.
Zekunov was sent to Poland on a courier mission ostensibly as a LD representative. There he informed both Polish intelligence and Savinkov representatives that both he and Sheshenya had managed to establish contact with an anti-Soviet underground in Moscow (i.e., the LD) and that the latter were anxious to have contacts abroad for the furtherance of their somewhat parochial activities. To give weight to his story, he handed certain military documents to the Poles.
And here a departure from Trust operational methods is to be noted. Whereas the Trust passed material that was for the most part fabricated, material given to the Poles through LD channels, though outdated and not of first class importance, was genuine. Dzerzhinskiy knew that the LD was bona fide, otherwise the latter could be lured to Moscow. The use of authentic documents was a high price to pay, but appeared necessary as a means to an end.
Both recipients of the news about the LD manifested interest to such extent that a direct approach seemed warranted, and a GPU official, Fedorov (alias Mukhin), was dispatched to Warsaw and Paris. On this occasion, however, Mukhin did not go to Paris because he was advised in Warsaw that Savinkov refused to see him. Savinkov’s message stated that Mukhin should return to Moscow accompanied by a genuine Savinkov disciple, Fomichev. The latter would meet Sheshenya, satisfy himself that he was not under GPU control, meet other LD people, then return and report directly to Savinkov.
Fomichev’s stay in Moscow was carefully stage-managed. He was unable to detect any signs of duplicity in Sheshenya, and he even attended a LD meeting chaired by Artuzov (alias Tverdov) without suspecting possible deception. Thus his reports to Savinkov were so convincing that the latter agreed to meet Mukhin, and the meeting was arranged to take place in Paris in the spring of 1924.
At this time, Savinkov was losing the support he had received from the French and the British. He had begun to realize that his cause was almost hopeless, and he suffered from acute mental depression. He was ready to clutch at any straw, for anything, to his mind, was better than being dumped on the dung heap of history.
When he met Mukhin, he was more than half prepared to be convinced. Yet his naturally suspicious nature asserted itself and, in a disparate exercise of caution, he decided that one more check must be made. With this in mind, he sent his trusted assistant, Colonel Pavlovskiy, to Russia without any prior advice to the so-called LD leadership. But by this time, GPU penetration of the Savinkov group was so extensive that Pavlovskiy was apprehended without loss of time. Given the treatment, he too promised his cooperation and, thus, the trap for Savinkov was set.
The script for the scenario to follow was borrowed from the Trust operation. Since 1923, Russian emigre circles had been told about friction within the Trust leadership; of how activists led by Opperput were opposed by “procrastinators” headed by Yakushev. The same tactics were to be used in the case of Savinkov. Pavlovskiy was to dispatch dictated letters explaining the LD situation in similar terms, and suggesting that Savinkov come to Moscow to support the activist faction, lest the whole movement fall apart.
For almost a year Savinkov had been told of terrorist acts by daring members of the LD, and one who invariably participated in such acts was Sheshenya, according to reports. In support of these alleged acts, Savinkov, by one way or another, had been provided with copies of Izvestiya doctored up by the GPU in corroboration of each event, original articles having been deleted and substituted by fabricated reports. Colonel Pavlovskiy, now under GPU control, informed Savinkov by letter of a terrorist act which had failed, and in which he reportedly had been wounded. This, he said, left the activist faction without a leader, making Savinkov’s presence a matter of increased urgency. This event, staged by the GPU, was reported in Izvestiya primarily for Savinkov’s benefit.
This struck Savinkov as being too flawless to be entirely true, so once more he sent Fomichev to Russia, this time to check on Pavlovskiy. The arrival of yet another inspector embarrassed the GPU, but somehow they contrived to fool him as thoroughly as they had done on his first visit. In all this, Dzerzhinskiy saw signs of Savinkov’s growing impatience and decided to bring the play to a close. Mukhin accompanied Fomichev back to Paris and presented an ultimatum from the LD to Savinkov: Unless he banished mistrust from his mind and came to Moscow to take charge, the organization would break with him promptly. After a few days of lingering doubt, Savinkov suddenly made up his mind. He decided to take the plunge despite the protestations of his friends. In early August 1924, accompanied by Dickhof-Daehrentahl and the latter’s wife, he crossed the Polish-Soviet border through an ostensible LD “window” and the three were arrested in Minsk on the following day.
The sensational two-day trial of Savinkov opened on 27 August 1924. According to contemporary Western sources he unequivocally recanted his former views and unconditionally recognized the right of the Bolsheviks to govern the country. According to Soviet writer Vasiliy Ardamatskiy, in his book, VOZMEZDENIYE (Retribution), this was not strictly true. He recognized the right of the Bolsheviks to rule because of their demonstrated strength, not because of merit in any other respect. His one mistake, he said, had been to underestimate the power of the regime.
According to reports of the trial appearing in Western newspapers, Savinkov, during interrogation, disclosed all the secrets of his organization and betrayed all its members. Ardamatskiy has nothing to say on this matter, neither by way of confirmation or denial. The so-called frank confessions of Savinkov, outside the court, might therefore be nothing more than disinformation put out by the GPU to camouflage the extent of its infiltration of the Savinkov organization. Once Savinkov was shown to be a complete turncoat the GPU could act boldly on information which presumably came from his babbling. And this was an important consideration in view of the developing Trust operation.
On 29 August 1924, Savinkov was given a death sentence, later commuted to ten years imprisonment. He was given a comfortable two-room apartment in the Butyrki prison and treated well. Finally, on 7 May 1925, under mysterious circumstances, he jumped or fell from the apartment window to his death.
The Daehrentahls were released without trial and given jobs with Intourist, probably to cast suspicion on their integrity, vis-à-vis Savinkov, and to distract attention from the real culprits. Nikulin, in his account, makes no references to the Daehrentahls, as if he found it more expedient to ignore their involvement than to clarify it.
Meanwhile, General Kutepov was busy organizing his Combat Organization (CO) to create mischief inside the USSR. Although without experience in the intelligence field, he was an excellent soldier endowed with common sense, and from the start he entertained suspicions about the Trust. He could not understand how Yakushev and his colleagues could operate inside Russia with seeming immunity, and he was unconvinced by the explanations given for this strange state of affairs. He decided it would bear looking into.
For this task, he selected five persons in whom he had full confidence. As leader of the group, he appointed his niece Maria Zacharchenko-Shults; the others were Maria’s third husband Radkovich, Karinskiy, Colonel Susalin and Shorin. The Trust was informed in advance of their intended arrival. By way of reply, Kutepov was told that the group would be welcome, but that it would have to confine itself strictly to the Trust’s instructions, otherwise its safety could not be assured. In this connection reference was made to the arrest of of Navy Lieutenant Burkhanovskiy about a month before as he tried to cross the border on an intelligence mission for Wrangel.
Kutepov chose to disregard these warnings. He dispatched Maria Schults and her husband across the Estonian border into the Soviet Union without using a Trust “window.” They arrived in Moscow in September 1924. Their timing was inopportune for the Trust, because Yakushev and Potapov were in Warsaw negotiating with Polish intelligence. Von Staunits-Opperput, who was Yakushev’s deputy and “Finance Minister” for the Trust, was told to take the new arrivals under his wing.
He was given a “dacha” where his guests could live in reasonable comfort. They were introduced to certain Trust members --- all Chekists --- with whom they could discuss Trust activities. When Yakushev returned from Poland, he made a great impression on the couple, and they were made members of his staff. Their job was to code and decode messages allegedly being sent or received, to and from points abroad. They were also supposed to write propaganda material for distribution inside the USSR. This went well for a time, and Maria Schults sent enthusiastic reports to Kutepov in Paris.
But Maria was a restless person and she began to demand the initiation of terror, all of which posed difficulties for Yakushev whose standing orders were to frustrate terrorism of any kind. By the beginning of 1925, Artuzov began receiving disturbing news from Paris. Kutepov was receiving financial help from some unknown source, increasing his activities and, worse still, building up his counterintelligence organization, the “Inner Line.” Artuzov discussed this development with Yakushev, and it was decided that the latter should go to Paris to meet Kutepov and the Grand Duke to ascertain precisely what they were up to; and it was further decided that Maria Schults should go along to bolster up the Trust position.
They arrived in Paris in June 1925, and Yakushev was assured, both by the Grand Duke and Kutepov, of their continued faith in him. Kutepov, however, did not disclose his future plans, and discussions were confined to financial problems, Yakushev pleading for monetary support and Kutepov explaining the difficulties of finding financial angels for such a risky enterprise. The meeting was friendly, but its practical results were small and did little to alleviate the growing disquiet of Artuzov.
In the third category, the capture of the British master spy, Sydney George Reilly, was considered a primary objective, and plans toward this end were on the drawing boards in 1925. This in itself warranted a continuance of the Trust even though Artuzov found reasons to be dissatisfied with the operation in other respects.
An old supporter of Savinkov, Sydney Reilly had been an implacable foe of the Bolshevik regime ever since the Revolution, and in 1918 he had organized a counter-revolution which had put the regime in jeopardy and which had been thwarted by the narrowest of margins. Although Reilly had escaped from the Soviet Union, he had continued his anti-Bolshevik activities abroad, which made him a primary GPU target on a continuing basis. Savinkov had been lured into the USSR through a psychological approach, and it was proposed to draw Reilly into the trap in a similar way. In preparation for the operation, a special “window” was opened on the Finnish border, with a GPU border guard, Ivan Mikhailovich Petrov, in charge. This was accomplished sometime around May 1925; the GPU was ready for the next step.
Immediately after her return from Paris, Maria Shults and her husband were transferred from Moscow to Leningrad, and from there they wrote a letter to Reilly alluding to “big business possibilities in Russia which, in all probability, would have a big influence on European markets.” Reilly received the letter through a British intelligence officer in Tallinn, and, knowing Maria Shults’ personality, he interpreted the message in terms of a budding counter-revolution. He went to Paris and informed Kutepov of this development, and it was arranged that he would go to Helsinki in September to consult with one Bunakov, a representative of Kutepov in that city.
Apprised of this plan through Trust channels, Yakushev went to Helsinki beforehand and saw Bunakov to arrange for Reilly’s reception. Bunakov was not cooperative until Yakushev promised to bring his brother out of Russia for a reunion in Helsinki; and when Yakushev lived up to this promise in August, Bunakov was fully won over, convinced at last that the Trust was, indeed, a potent force.
Yakushev now took Maria Schults and her husband to Helsinki through the newly-established “window.” This ostensibly was supposed to be a trial run in preparation for the arrival of Reilly, and, naturally the GPU saw to it that no hitch occurred.
In September 1925, Reilly duly arrived in Helsinki with General Kutepov, and there he met Maria Schults, her husband Radkovich, Bunakov and Yakushev. All assured him that he could visit Moscow with minimal risk. When Reilly demurred, Yakushev proposed that he should go to Moscow and Leningrad for a meeting with the political committee of the Trust and return to Finland two days later. To this Reilly agreed and wrote to his wife that a three-day trip to Moscow and Leningrad was necessary, adding, “There is absolutely no risk to it.”
The next evening he was taken to the border and passed through the “window” under the guidance of the GPU border guard, I.M. Petrov. In Leningrad he was met by so-called leaders of the Trust, which included General Potapov, Aleksandr Langovoy, Styrne-Starov, Yakushev and Opperput. He then went to Moscow with this group for further discussions.
Of all sources who have written or speculated about this affair, Nikulin, who obviously had access to GPU records, is in the best position to know the truth of it, but whether his written account is strictly accurate is another matter. He does not, for example, mention the involvement of Opperput. And there are other discrepancies as well.
According to Nikulin, at the meeting held in Moscow the funding of the Trust was high on the agenda, and Reilly proposed an ingenious plan. He would, he said, establish a company in the West to sell Russian antiques which the Trust would steal from Soviet museums and smuggle out of the country. Further, support of the British government for the Trust could be obtained in return for intelligence information, particularly concerning the Comintern. To both these proposals the group remained noncommittal. It is interesting to note that, according to this Soviet account, the impending counter-revolution was not discussed. This is more than passing strange, for it was the promise of such a development, and not the financial difficulties of the Trust, that lured Reilly into Russia.
On his way back to the railroad station Reilly was arrested. Fearing that this, once known abroad, would irrevocably damage the reputation of the Trust, the GPU put the following plan into effect: Styrne-Starov went to the Finnish border on the night of 28/29 September and staged a sham shooting incident, followed by a report that Reilly, along with a few smugglers, had been killed.
Actually Reilly was kept in prison and interrogated. At first he remained tight-lipped; however, when he was shown a clipping from a British newspaper announcing his death, he saw that the game was up and talked freely. According to Nikulin he even volunteered to divulge British intelligence secrets in return for his life. But, Nikulin adds, he had been sentenced to death in absentia in 1918, and now this sentence was carried out.
Despite the pains taken by the GPU to disguise the nature of the Reilly affair, the reputation of the Trust was blemished, for certain elements were inclined to discredit news put out by the Soviets for consumption abroad. Another operation was therefore initiated to repair the damage and refurbish the tarnished image of the Trust. This time the target was a prominent emigre journalist, Shulgin, who had a consuming desire to see his son, lost in the Crimea since 1920. Yakushev invited Shulgin to the USSR and promised that the Trust would make every effort to locate his son, and Shulgin accepted the invitation, despite the warnings of Wrangel and his staff.
On the night of 23 December 1925, he passed through a “window” at Stolbtsov and was sent to Kiev in the company of “Anton Antonovich” (i.e., Dorozhinskiy). From the first day to the last, he was guided through Russia by members of the Trust. In Moscow he was greeted by his old friend Yakushev, who introduced him to an “Otto” (i.e., Opperput). Then he was put under the tutelage of Maria Schults and her husband, which reassured him since there could be no doubt whatever that they were true anti-Bolsheviks. He was amazed by everything he saw; Russia was not dying as so many émigrés had been led to believe.
The Trust made real or sham attempts to find Shulgin’s son and reportedly found no trace of him, so that, at last, Shulgin was forced to admit that his hope was dead; thus he declared himself ready to return to Yugoslavia. Before his departure, Yakushev suggested that he write a book about his experiences and observations inside the USSR, and when he demurred on the grounds that this might unwittingly compromise the Trust, it was further suggested that he send a preliminary draft of the book to the Trust --- through usual channels --- for careful editing on that score.
By April 1926, Shulgin was back in Belgrade and his book, THREE CAPITALS, was soon published. Although he tried to write objectively, the book reflected the Trust propaganda line, namely, Bolshevism was vanishing, so there was no sense in fighting it; everything was as it was before, only somewhat worse; Russia was on the way to recovery and any kind of outside interference would only retard this trend. In 1927, after the Trust had been unmasked as a GPU operation, Shulgin published a postscript to the THREE CAPITALS, admitting that he had been thoroughly hoodwinked during his stay in Russia and that his book had been edited by persons whom he now realized were GPU officials.
As noted earlier, Yakushev, after returning from his Berlin trip in 1922, told Artuzov that the émigrés were split into various groups and that organizations parallel to the Trust might have to be initiated in the interests of wide penetration. This suggestion led to the creation of a “Eurasian” chapter in Moscow under a GPU official Langovoy to exploit a so-called “Eurasian” group of émigrés centered in Bulgaria, whose ideas were rather nebulous but nevertheless popular with Russian youth abroad. This group of intellectuals held that Russia was neither Europe nor Asia, but a continent in itself --- Eurasia; and it concluded that Bolshevism was an unavoidable stage of development not to be interfered with by a decadent West. Since such pseudo-scientific concepts wholly coincided with the aims of Soviet policy, couriers were dispatched to Europe to tell emigre “Eurasians” that their movement had many partisans in Soviet Russia.
The “First Conference of Eurasians” was held in Moscow in 1924, and the guest of honor was Arapov, a Eurasian from the West who walked across the border illegally under the sponsorship of the Trust “Directing Committee.” Most, if not all, of the delegates appear to have been GPU agents, so that Arapov was able to take back interesting comments made at the conference. It was stressed that ideological warfare was preferable to “the sword and torch of Attila,” and it was recommended that Eurasian cells be established in all important European centers and, “if possible, in America.”
A.A. Langovoy (alias General Denisov) had been given leave from the Red Army to run this show. His purely military background did not qualify him for this type of psychological operation, and the movement seemed to have languished. However, another Moscow conference was scheduled in 1926, and when a Professor Savitskiy arrived, as a prominent representative of Western Eurasians, the GPU gave him the standard red carpet treatment.
An anonymous writer, “A.B.,” in an article first published around 1928 and again in 1953, claimed that he knew Savitskiy well, and that the latter was well aware that the Moscow chapter of the “Eurasians” was under GPU control; however, his vanity was such that he believed himself capable of pushing the GPU in the direction of his own design.
In 1926 and again in 1929, a Eurasian representative, P. Malevsky-Malevich, approached the United States State Department and on both occasions submitted the program and philosophical basis of his organization. In the paper submitted in 1926, it is stated that the Eurasian movement inside Russia had been growing since 1921. In the 1929 paper this claim was not repeated. But the main thesis remained the same, namely, the transition from Bolshevism to new regime should be accomplished without civil war or chaos; the change of regime must be the result solely of internal action. Thus it is clearly seen that the Eurasians did not cease to propagate the standard Soviet line even after GPU meddling in emigre organizations had been rudely exposed.
The Trust did not limit its activities to the field of émigré and anti-Bolshevik counter-revolutionary affairs. By 1926, the Soviets had decided to use the Trust to achieve certain devious aims in international politics. The inclination of the Baltic States toward the formation of a Baltic Bloc and the endeavor of the Soviet government to induce these states to conclude a non-aggression pact set up political tensions. A decision was made to attempt the recruitment of one or more Baltic ambassadors, by force or guile, to serve Soviet ends. One man selected as a pawn in this game was Ado Birk, the Estonian minister in Moscow. The case of Ado Birk is bizarre, over-complicated, ambiguous and in many respects contradictory, being based on the evidence of Ado Birk himself and that of Opperput after his defection, both self-serving witnesses.
According to Opperput, by 1926 Ado Birk was being treated as a favorite by the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs. At the same time, Opperput, as a representative of the Trust, was cultivating the Estonian Military Attaché, Colonel E. Kursk, and suggested that Birk might be thinking of switching sides. There was no love lost between Ado Birk and Kursk, and Kursk lost no time in reporting these misgivings to his superiors. Thus the stage was set for a blackmail operation against Birk.
Members of the Trust who had gained the confidence of Birk gave him a document ostensibly of great importance and warned him against telling any of his legation colleagues about it. An identical document was handed to Colonel Kursk with the same warning. The two documents were identical, excepting that the one given Birk lacked four vital photographs which were attached to the one given Kursk. The photographs were later given to Birk, but the damage was done, for the GPU had circulated a rumor that Birk had communicated the contents of the documents and sold the photographs to the Polish embassy in Moscow before submitting them to his own government. Thus enmeshed, Birk resigned in June 1926 and prepared to return to Estonia to defend himself against possible charges of treason.
En route, he was overtaken at the Finnish border and returned to Leningrad. Stetskevich-Kolesnikov, posing as a Foreign Commissariat employee and as Birk’s friend, advised him to remain in Russia. Birk remained non-committal and soon made a second attempt to leave the country. This time, Stetskevich, accompanied by other agents, stopped him at the station. When he pleaded diplomatic immunity, he was knocked down and taken to a dacha near Moscow. Here he was joined by his former secretary, Mrs. Kery, and soon after both were taken from city to city in a seemingly senseless peregrination.
Sometimes Birk was granted a semblance of freedom, but he was never free from surveillance. Twice he met an old friend, Loganovskiy, and on each occasion he was bullied into signing a statement for the press, in terms that were hostile to Estonian interests. Both statements appeared in Izvestiya.
In March 1927, Birk escaped into the Norwegian embassy in Moscow. Stories regarding this episode differ. According to Opperput, Birk managed to outwit his GPU guards. Wraga, however, claims that the GPU wanted to get rid of him and deliberately gave him a chance to escape. The latter hypothesis seems more plausible, because he now without delay received official permission to leave the USSR. He arrived in Tallinn on 9 March 1927, and during his trial, which ended in acquittal, he described the Trust as a GPU-controlled organization. This seemed like a fantastic story at the time, and not much credence was given to it. The story was soon to be confirmed by Opperput after his defection; but before an account of this event is given, reference to Trust activities inside Russia would seem to be in order.
Nikulin’s description of these activities suffers from obvious propaganda and inbuilt contradictions. Monarchists inside Russia are portrayed as old fogies and depraved criminals, yet the GPU seemed to consider them a real danger to the Bolshevik regime.
Nikulin debunks an idea held in certain emigre circles that Yakushev agreed to work with the GPU to save his Monarchist friends. According to Nikulin, Yakushev was recruited by playing on his love of the Fatherland, and he reported regularly on any and every Monarchist he came in touch with. After writing his confession in a GPU cell, he had to work as a penetration agent in Moscow for almost a year before being sent abroad.
The MOTSR operation within the USSR was not completely successful from the GPU point of view, for the Trust was not able to unite all the scattered Monarchist groups, nor was it able to prevent contact between all local groups and émigrés abroad. For example, agents of Wrangel, Kutepov and Atamen Ulagay were able to enter Russia and contact local Monarchists through channels not controlled by the Trust. Further, the Trust was unable to maintain tight discipline over all the Monarchist cells it nominally controlled.
MOTSR, or the Trust, was initially run by a “High Political Council” consisting of the following regional members:
● Chairman: General Zayonchovskiy (Moscow)
● Foreign Minister: A.A. Yakushev (Moscow)
● Military Advisor: General Potapov (Moscow)
● Secretary: Opperput-Staunits (Moscow)
● Regular members: Rtyshchev (Leningrad)
● Osten-Saken (Leningrad)
● Putilov (Leningrad)
● Struyskiy (Tsaritsin)
● Baron Nolde (Tver)
● Mirzoyev (Southern Russia)
The first four members mentioned were GPU agents, and the last six were genuine Monarchists. If Nikulin is to be believed, Opperput also was a Monarchist and not a GPU agent, a view for which he gives no credible evidence. He does not even try to explain how Opperput got away from the clutches of the GPU in 1931 after his arrest.
For a time the MOTSR group in Leningrad, under the leadership of Rtyshchev and Putilov, was perhaps the most active, in direct contact with Artomonov in Tallinn, the Finnish intelligence service and a foreign consulate in Leningrad. It gathered intelligence for its foreign contacts and did propaganda work by distributing pamphlets brought in from abroad. But in 1925, Putilov ordered the execution of one Zabelin who was suspected of being a GPU plant; and the GPU, unwilling to accept such a challenge, decided that the group must be destroyed, and its leaders disappeared from the scene.
In Moscow, Opperput appears to have been one of the main activists, but, according to Nikulin, he was constantly at loggerheads with his superiors and little seems to have been accomplished. In 1925, a man identified as “Dyadya Vasya” (i.e., Uncle Vasiliy) got in touch with Maria Shults, and they made plans to rob a bank to obtain money for the Trust --- a time-honored way for Russian revolutionaries to obtain funds. Dyadya Vasya carried out this operation alone, successfully robbing the bank but killing a militiaman in getting away. Yakushev learned of this and, fearing that it might get MOTSR into serious trouble, he ordered that Dyadya Vasya should go to Turkey with the money. Meanwhile the GPU was kept fully informed, and when Dyadya Vasya tried to cross the Turkish border he was shot, according to plan.
According to Nikulin, strong anti-Bolshevik groups in the northern Caucasus gave their allegiance to a former Cossack leader, Atamen Ulagay, then residing in France. Ulagay had steadfastly refused to have any dealings with the Trust, despite Yakushev’s persuasive arguments. In the spring of 1927, at the bidding of Yakushev, one Aleksy Zubov (a GPU penetration agent) and Basakov (a genuine Monarchist under the alias of Kuzen) were sent to the Caucasus to contact an anti-Bolshevik group in an attempt to have it abandon Ulagay and join MOTSR.
When the two men arrived in Krasnodar, they were unable to get in touch with any of the men they hoped to meet, and this surprised them for they were unaware that the members of the group had been apprehended by the local GPU and executed a few days before their arrival. Then Zubov received a telegram and after reading it stated that he had to return to Moscow immediately. He tore the telegram into small pieces and threw them in a trash can, and this aroused the suspicions of Basakov. Left alone, the latter retrieved the pieces and, putting them together, he saw that Zubov had been given a devious warning about the fate of the Krasnodar group and that the message had been signed by Fedorov (the alias for Yakushev).
From this, Basakov concluded that Yakushev must be an agent of the GPU. How else could he have learned so quickly what happened in Krasnodar? And Basakov reasoned further that, this being so, the whole of the MOTSR organization was probably penetrated by the GPU.
When both emissaries returned to Moscow, Basakov immediately got in touch with Opperput and told him about Yakushev’s telegram and its serious implications. Opperput saw the point at once and decided it was time to give the Trust the coup de grâce.
Opperput quickly informed Maria Shults, with whom he was having an affair at the time, that they had both been unwittingly working for the GPU and not for the Monarchist cause as they had supposed. Both decided that they must leave the country at once, Opperput to save his skin and Maria Shults to warn General Kutepov of this calamitous development. Maria insisted that her husband and two other White Russians, Karinskiy and Shorin, should be warned. Opperput agreed and this was done in great haste. (The account given above was provided by Nikulin, and it differs radically from the story given by Opperput after his defection.)
It is a matter of record that Maria Shults and Opperput arrived in Finland on 14 April 1927 and reported to the local authorities. A few days later, Radkovich, Karinskiy and Shorin crossed the border into Poland. Under detention, Opperput was interrogated by the Finns, but precisely what he disclosed during these sessions has never been revealed. From May to October 1927, his story, as written by himself, appeared in issues of the Russian language newspaper Segodnya, published in Riga. In this account he describes himself as a GPU agent under duress in which capacity he had worked for the MOTSR inside the USSR. He described the Trust (MOTSR) operation beginning with the recruitment of Yakushev and the capture of Sydney Reilly, and he gave his version of the Ado Birk affair.
These articles created a sensation abroad; they were hotly debated, with Opperput’s veracity either accepted or impugned. General Potapov and Yakushev wrote General Kutepov a letter branding Opperput as a traitor who had made public enough information to enable the GPU to exterminate Monarchist groups inside Russia. The truth of Opperput’s defection is still open to speculation. Three theories exist: (1) he was a disenchanted GPU agent who defected and told the truth; (2) he was a GPU agent who ostensibly defected under orders, to create confusion abroad and enhance the image of the GPU as an omnipresent agency; (3) he was a genuine Monarchist who fled when he found reasons to believe his liquidation by the GPU was imminent.
Whether his defection was genuine or just another ingenious maneuver of the GPU may never be known. But there can be no doubt that it dealt a severe blow to the emigre organizations in Europe by making them appear ridiculous not only to themselves, but to the Western powers as well for having been so easily duped. No move could have been better calculated to spread confusion, dissension and suspicion, for Opperput left the indelible impression that the emigre groups were well infiltrated by GPU agents, without revealing the identity of a single one.
Maria Shults was one person who was convinced that Opperput had been a GPU agent and that he had undergone a change of heart. Why else should he have given warning to Kutepov’s couriers? Further, he now advocated the launching of a campaign of terror in the USSR, which appealed to Maria --- a terrorist at heart. For years she had pestered Yakushev to initiate acts of violence, only to be met with his usual bland arguments in favor of moderation. She now saw how she had been tricked, and she thirsted for revenge. General Kutepov was in Finland at the time and, after hours of argument, he was finally swayed into allowing her to assume the direction of a “Military, National and Terrorist Society” as she called her new project.
In this capacity, she selected two sabotage teams of three persons each, one group destined for Leningrad, the other for Moscow. She was to lead the latter group, accompanied by Opperput and Peters (Voznesenskiy). Opperput allegedly had insisted on being included in the mission to prove that his conversion was real. In his writings Chebyshev criticizes the inclusion of Opperput as being unprofessional, for, assuming his change of heart to be genuine, he should have been kept on Kutepov’s staff to unravel much that remained murky and as a safeguard against his perpetrating some new mischief for the GPU. That he was, at his own request, sent back into the USSR provides additional proof that the emigre organizations were naive and amateurish in their approach to clandestine operations.
On 30 May 1927, the Helsinki-Vyborg night train carried six conspirators to the border. There the two groups separated. One, under the leadership of Captain Victor A. Larionov, proceeded to Leningrad where it successfully bombed a communist meeting hall before returning safely to Finland. The mission of Maria Shults’ team, however, ended differently.
On 10 June, the Tass agency came out with the announcement that an attempt had recently been made to blow up the headquarters of the Moscow GPU. On 5 July, Tass issued another statement according to which all three members of the sabotage group had been caught and liquidated: Opperput on 19 June; Maria Shults and Georghi N. Peters a couple of days later. The next day, Deputy OGPU Chief Yagoda called a press conference at which he reported that a diary had been found on Opperput, proving conclusively that both the Moscow and Leningrad sabotage attempts had been engineered by General Kutepov and British intelligence at Raval. This statement by Yagoda is lacking plausibility, for it is not likely that an old hand like Opperput would have kept such a compromising diary on his person.
In 1928, the Soviet government published an official account in which Opperput’s name was not mentioned at all. According to this version, the Moscow team consisted only of Maria Shults and Voznesenskiy (Peters), and it was the latter who had the incriminating diary.
F. Fomin, in his Memoirs of an Old Chekist, holds to the second version; he makes reference to only “two” terrorists, who in June 1927 threw a bomb into the OGPU building in Moscow. If Fomin’s statement can be taken as authentic, only two persons in the three-man team were real saboteurs and the third an agent-provocateur.
While the Trust operation was not able to achieve all of its objectives in full, the GPU, by its implementation, was able to boast of the following accomplishments: it gained a clear picture of White emigre organizations, their character, membership and objectives; it was able to deepen the antagonism existing in these organizations and discredit the various groups inside the USSR; it succeeded in duping foreign intelligence services, particularly the Poles, Estonians, and Finns. Its most striking and lasting success was psychological; the GPU found, by means of the Trust operation, that it possessed tradecraft equal not only to security demands at home, but also, with some modifications, commensurate with the requirements of psychological operations abroad. From this point on, Russian intelligence became a force to be reckoned with worldwide.
It must be noted, however, that the Trust operation succeeded not because of its inherent merits, but rather because of the inherent weakness of the elements against which it was targeted. According to V.V. Shulgin, in a candid account of his dealings with the Trust, the organization impressed emigre circles by its use of resources indicating real power. This put it in sharp contrast to other emigre activities which seemed to consist of little more than good intentions. Some émigrés marveled at the way Trust people crossed and recrossed the border with impunity, leaving Moscow ostensibly for the provinces and appearing in Paris and Berlin before returning to Moscow to pursue their old duties. They were astonished, if not dumbfounded, by the ease in which these people obtained visas to travel freely about Europe. It is true that such marvels aroused suspicions in certain skeptical individuals, who reasoned that only GPU agents could be capable of such legerdemain. But on the whole, the émigrés believed what they wanted to believe, and they accepted the Trust at its face value.
The Russian émigrés were without means, without jobs, without a future, living on dreams, ready to follow anyone who promised them a way out of their wretched existence. Aware of this, the GPU gave substance to the dream by selecting for its principal agent-provocateurs men like Yakushev, Potapov, Opperput and Langovoy, who were intelligent and apparently strong and fearless.
Whatever the private misgivings of these agents might have been, Artuzov, as head of the operation, managed to make them toe the line, with possible exception of Opperput at the moment of his so-called defection.
The position, vis-à-vis the foreign intelligence services, particularly the Poles, Estonians and Finns, was different. The latter had not been defeated, and they did not suffer from lack of self-confidence. But they had a weakness just the same in that they were fledgling states without leadership equal to the job of contending with various fronts at one and the same time. Their main enemies were local communist party members in their midst and, owing to lack of funds and trained personnel, the gathering of intelligence from inside the USSR was of secondary importance. Thus they accepted information willy-nilly without checking its validity or mistrusting its source. This precisely is the weakness the Trust undertook to exploit, and they gave out spurious information in abundance.
Against this complex of weak opponents, the GPU was able to direct the efforts of a tightly-knit group of trained personnel with unlimited means and power at their disposal. Strict security measures and discipline made it virtually impossible for an outsider to know what was going on in the inner sanctum, and the GPU might have continued to play its game indefinitely had Opperput not made his damning disclosures, by mischance or calculated design.
Three main groups of persons were involved in the Trust operation: genuine anti-Bolsheviks; GPU officials, agents and collaborators; and officials of foreign governments. The following lists such people by category, showing the nature of their involvement.
A. ANTI-BOLSHEVIKS WHO PLAYED A PART IN THE TRUST AFFAIRS
ARTOMONOV, YURIY ALEKSANDROVICH (Aliases: Lipiskiy and, according to R. Wraga, Alexandrov): He and Yakushev attended the Imperial Aleksandrov Lycee High School, and both graduated in 1907. In 1918 he was on the staff of Cossack Hetman Skoropadskiy in Kiev, and after the defeat of the Whites he went to Tallinn (Estonia), working first as a lumberman, then in the passport office of the British embassy.
In 1922, he received a visit from Yakushev, and on this occasion the latter disclosed his anti-Bolshevik sentiments. A few months later, he was visited by Stetskevich-Kolesnikov, and a means of communication between Artomonov and Yakushev was arranged, the Estonian diplomatic courier, Roman Birk, to serve as intermediary. All messages received were to be forwarded by Artomonov to the Monarchist Council in Berlin, to General Wrangel or to General Kutepov in Paris, according to their contents.
In 1924, under the alias of Lipskiy, Artomonov was sent to Warsaw to serve as liaison between General Kutepov and the Trust, and also Polish intelligence. He introduced Denisov-Langovoy and General Potapov to Col. Talinkovskiy and Col. Bayer of the Polish I.S. He attended the “Eurasian Congress” in Berlin in 1925 and helped V.V. Shulgin pass through a “window” into the USSR the same year. After the collapse of the Trust in 1927, his position in Warsaw became untenable, and he went to Paris.
BALMASOV, ALEKSANDR: With another member of Kutepov’s Combat Organization, Solskiy, he went on a terrorist mission into the USSR in August 1927. Both were captured and executed.
BASAKOV, FNU (CAPTAIN): Receives mention only in Lev Nikulin’s book and could be fictitious. Reportedly a Captain of the police during the Tsarist regime and worked in the Moscow security division under Klimovich. Joined the MOTSR at its inception, and belonged to the Opperput group under the alias of Kuzen, acting as a safe house keeper.
Early in 1927, he was sent with GPU officer Zubov to the northern Caucasus to contact a local Monarchist group in Krasnodar. There Zubov committed a breach of security by failing to destroy a telegram he received from Yakushev. Basakov was able to decipher the message and learned that the Trust was a GPU-controlled organization. On his return to Moscow he informed his chief, Opperput, and, thus warned, the latter fled to Finland.
BUNAKOV, N.N.: A representative of General Kutepov in Helsinki, in contact with British and Finnish intelligence. He was skeptical of the Trust until Yakushev got his brother out of Russia for a reunion in Helsinki in August 1925, which persuaded him that the Trust was a bona fide Monarchist organization with real power. In this frame of mind,, he made arrangements, on the Finnish side, for Sydney Reilly’s ill-fated trip to Moscow.
GUCHKOV, ALEKSANDR IVANOVICH: A member of the Duma during the Tsarist regime and leader of a moderate leftist party, one of the persons who forced the Tsar to abdicate and Minister of War in the Provisional Government that followed. After the November Revolution, he joined General Wrangel and worked for him in Berlin, where he met Yakushev and became one of his partisans. Young Monarchists like Maria Shults disliked and distrusted him.
KARINSKIY, FNU: A member of the second team sent to the USSR by General Kutepov to observe and report on the activities of the Trust. When Maria Shults and Opperput decided to fly to Finland in April 1927, they warned Karinskiy, as well as Radkovich and Korin, thus enabling the three to escape into Poland.
KLIMOVICH, YEVGENIY E. (GENERAL): The much-feared mayor of Moscow in 1915, and a year later, the chief of the Tsarist Police Department. After the revolution he became General Wrangel’s Chief of Intelligence, residing first in Berlin and then in Paris. He was assigned to deal with Trust matters, and he served as a liaison between Wrangel and General Kutepov, using this position to keep the two generals at loggerheads. A firm believer in the Trust, he did all he could to help Yakushev and Potapov gain entry to emigre circles.
KOKOVTSEV, VLADIMIR NIKOLAYEVICH (COUNT): A former statesman and financial expert in Tsarist Russia, he belonged to the entourage of Grand Duke Nikolay Nikolayevich in Paris in the twenties. Yakushev gained his cooperation by promising that he would be made Prime Minister once the MOTSR (Trust) succeeded in unseating the Bolshevik regime.
KUTEPOV, ALEKSANDR PAVLOVICH (GENERAL): Of humble beginnings, Kutepov rose to fame by his bravery during World War I and gained the rank of colonel. During the Civil War he was made a general in command of White units in the northern Caucasus and later joined Wrangel’s army in the Crimea. In Gallipoli, he was made Commander-in-Chief, and, a strong-willed person and a martinet, he quickly brought order in the ranks of a disorganized and defeated army. From there, as Wrangel’s deputy, he went to Bulgaria with a part of the troops and headed the officers’ society “Gallipolitsi” to which all officers who had been interned on Gallipoli could belong.
In 1923, he went to Paris and organized his Combat Organization (CO) to fight the Bolsheviks and also started a CI group called the “Inner Line.” In these organizations he gathered energetic and capable officers from the “Gallipolitsi” and gave them training in sabotage and clandestine operations in preparation for missions into the USSR.
From 1923 to 1927, he worked closely with the Trust, mainly through Maria Shults and her husband Radkovich, and he also managed to send agents into the USSR without the knowledge of the Trust. In 1930, his abduction in Paris by the GPU gained worldwide attention; and with his disappearance, CO terrorist missions into the USSR ended.
In 1945, his only son, Peter, then living in Bela Cerkva, Yugoslavia, was lured into the USSR by the incoming Red Army on the pretext that Kutepov was there serving in the Red Army under the alias of General Zhukov. Peter was not heard from again.
LARIONOV, VICTOR A.: Leader of a three-man team of saboteurs who successfully bombed a communist meeting hall in Leningrad in June 1927 before returning to Finland. Larionov describes the event in his book, BOYOVAYA VYLAZKA SSSR (Paris, 1931), and excerpts from the book were published by A. Amfiteatrov in Vozrozhdeniye (Paris, 27 and 30 May 1936) under the title “Explosion on the Moyka.”
MARKOV, NIKOLAY YEVGENYEVICH: Head of the Monarchist Council in Berlin and one of Yakushev’s first contacts in 1922.
VON MONKEVITZ, NIKOLAY A. (GENERAL): As Chief of Intelligence for General Kutepov, he played a prominent role in the Combat Organization. Owing to his checkered past and love of intrigue, he was widely known as the “Red Spider.” He and Klimovich were two of the most ardent sponsors of the Trust among the émigrés.
In November 1926, he vanished from his apartment after leaving a suicide note, and rumors spread that he had defected to the Soviets. Shulgin, however, believes that von Monkevitz misappropriated Combat Organization funds, and this was the reason for his suicide, real or pretended.
MONOMAKHOV, VLADIMIR: A member of Larionov’s three-man team which bombed a communist meeting hall in Leningrad in June 1927 and returned safely to Finland. A few months later he and Radkovich (Maria Shults’ husband) were expelled from Finland because their anti-Soviet activities were embarrassing the authorities. Both men returned to the USSR on another sabotage mission in July 1928 and were killed.
PETERS, GEORGIY N. (AKA VOSSNESENSKIY): Accompanied Maria Shults and Opperput into the USSR in June 1927 to bomb the GPU quarters in the Lubyanka in Moscow. According to a Tass release on 5 July 1927, both Maria Shults and Peters were trapped while on their way to the Polish border and killed in an exchange of gunfire on 27 June. According to A. Amfiteatrov (in Vozrozhdeniye, Paris, 27 and 30 May 1936), Peters was born in Mustamyski on the Finnish-Russian border, the son of a railway engineer. The Peters family were half Finnish, half Russian, and nearly all members were Bolsheviks. When Peters’ father went to the USSR to stay, Peters remained with his mother and was sent to a religious school in Finland. Soon after leaving school, he became a professional anti-Bolshevik agent and border crosser for hire, eventually resulting in his being chosen by Maria Shults as a member of her team.
PUTILOV, ALEKSANDR SERGEYEVICH: A landowner near the city of Ryazyansk during the Tsarist regime, and earlier a student of the Imperial Aleksandrov Lycee, where he met Yakushev. He later became a government official in Petrograd and remained there after the Revolution. The most active leader of MOTSR in Petrograd, he was probably liquidated in 1924 when the GPU decided that his group must be destroyed.
RADKOVICH, GEORGI (AKA KARPOV): The husband of Maria Zakharchenko-Shults, more commonly known as Maria Shults. Both were in Moscow from 1924 to 1927 as emissaries of General Kutepov to check on the activities of the Trust. Radkovich escaped to Poland at the time that his wife and Opperput fled to Finland in April 1927. In July 1928, he went to the USSR again, this time on a sabotage mission with Vladimir Monomakhov, and both lost their lives.
ROMANOV, NIKOLAY NIKOLAYEVICH (GRAND DUKE): Senior member of the Romanov family. His wife, Militsa, was the daughter of the last king of Montenegro, where General Potapov had been military attaché. During the emigration the Grand Duke lived in a suburb of Paris, the acknowledged head of the Supreme Monarchist Council, whose goal it was to return him to Russia as regent until the question of succession among the Romanovs could be threshed out. He died in 1928, respected but disliked.
RTYSHCHEV, ALEKSANDR NIKOLAYEVICH: A high-ranking official in Petrograd during the Tsarist regime. He remained in Petrograd after the revolution and, around 1922, became the leader of the MOTSR group in that city. Lev Nikulin pictures him as an old fogey and ineffectual leader. He died in 1926.
SAVINKOV, BORIS L.: An arch-enemy of the Bolsheviks who was lured into the USSR in August 1924, arrested, tried and sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment. On 7 May 1925, he jumped or fell from his prison window to his death. It was widely reported that during his trial he completely recanted on his former anti-Bolshevik views.
A leading member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, he was also chief of the party’s “Combat Organizations” and was directly involved in the assassination of high Tsarist officials. During World War I, he was exiled in France, but after the fall of the Tsar, returned to Russia and became Deputy Minister of War in the Provisional Government. After the November Revolution (1917) he directed his efforts against the Bolsheviks.
He met the British master spy, Sydney Reilly, in Paris for the first time. A year later he went to Poland where, with the help of Reilly and Marshal Pilsudski, he organized a large group of guerrillas who were fighting the Bolsheviks in the eastern part of Byelorussia.
After the signing of the Peace Treaty of Riga in 1921, this effort had to be abandoned. He then went to Prague and, with the help of Czech General Gayga, organized the “Green Guards,” an anti-Bolshevik group. Some members of this group were sent into the western Ukraine for small scale operations.
In 1922, Reilly introduced Savinkov to Winston Churchill, hoping to get British intelligence more interested in Bolshevik affairs. Savinkov was directed to Lloyd George, who showed no interest whatever in further British involvement.
By 1923, Savinkov was thoroughly disillusioned with the prospects of bringing outside force to bear on the Bolsheviks. The Russian émigrés were a bewildered and ineffectual lot, incapable of taking concerted action; and Western powers, pursuing short-term policies, were equally indecisive. Savinkov began to feel that the only hope of unseating the Bolsheviks lay in some organized effort of anti-Bolshevik elements within the USSR. Persuaded by GPU agent-provocateurs that such elements did exist and that they were only waiting for a leader of his stature, Savinkov was lured into Russia, where his career was brought to an untimely end.
SHCHELGASHCHEV, VSEVOLOD IVANOVICH: A nephew of the last Tsarist Minister of Justice, and General Wrangel’s representative in Tallinn, Estonia, as of 1921. As a close friend of Artomonov, he took part in the latter’s discussions with Yakushev in 1921 and in later discussions with Kolesnikov.
According to Nikulin, he had direct contact with Rtyshchev, the MOTSR leader in Petrograd -- an informal link which Yakushev tried to break without success.
SHIRINSKIY-SHIKHMATOV, PRINCE: A leading member of the Monarchist Council in Berlin who met Yakushev during the latter’s first visit to that city in 1922. He did not participate further in negotiations, but appears to have been directly involved in communication between the Monarchist Council and the Trust through intermediaries such as Artomonov-Lipskiy in Warsaw and Shchelgashchev in Tallinn.
SHORIN, FNU: Went to the USSR in 1924 with Karinskiy and Susalin to check on the activities of the Trust on behalf of General Kutepov. Little is known of their activities, but R. Wraga speculates that they were assigned, through GPU connivance, to murder GPU officials who had fallen into disfavor; and Natalie Grant, in her article “A Thermidorian Amalgam” speculates along similar lines. Neither of these authors can, however, give evidence for such a hypothesis.
In April 1927, both Shorin and Karinskiy were warned about the impending Opperput defection, and both were able to escape to Poland. Shorin returned to the USSR in August 1927 on a sabotage mission and presumably was killed.
SHULTS, MARIA, NEE LYSOV (AKA ZAKHARCHENKO, RADKOVICH, MIKHNO, BEREZOVSKAYA, KRASNOSHTANOVA): According to M. Chebyshev (Vozrozhdeniye, Sept./Oct. 1935), Maria was the daughter of a Russian nobleman, Lysov, living near Smolensk. At an early age she married Mikhno, an adjutant of the Semenovskiy regiment, who died of wounds during World War I. Her next husband was Captain Zakharchenko, a famous horseman. Both fought in the armies of Denikin and Wrangel; both emigrated to Yugoslavia, and sometime later, Maria joined her uncle, General Kutepov, in Paris and became a leading member of his Combat Organization.
At about this time (1922/1923) an unnamed colleague described her as follows:
A short, slender woman, she moved gracefully and quickly. Her face had prominent cheek bones; her head was covered with dark, fine hair; her eyes gray but subject to changes in color and often flashing gaily as she talked…She lived on her nerves, craved danger and action; to her rest and peace seemed tantamount to suffering. Her speech was rapid, abrupt, and often with a rising inflection. Many were struck by her mannerisms and her passion.
In 1924, Maria and her third husband, Radkovich, were sent to Moscow to check on the activities of the Trust, both travelling with German documents under the name of Shults. In Moscow, Opperput got them other German documents, hers under the name of Berezovskaya --- her husband’s under the name of Karpov.
They stayed in Moscow until 1927, and meanwhile, in 1925, they were unwitting tools in luring Sydney Reilly into Russia. In April 1927, Maria fled to Finland with Opperput but soon returned to Moscow on a sabotage mission and was killed in an exchange of gunfire.
SOLOYEV, SERGEI V.: A member of the Larionov team that went to Leningrad in June 1927 and successfully bombed a communist meeting hall before returning to Finland. In August of the same year, he and Shorin entered Russia on a second sabotage mission, and both were killed in the Petrozavod district.
SOLSKIY, FNU: Went to Russia on a terrorist mission with Aleksandr Balmasov in August 1927, where both were killed.
SUSALIN, FNU: Went to Russia in 1924 with Karinskiy and Shorin to check on the activities of the Trust on behalf of General Kutepov. Reference is made to this assignment in Trust material, but there is no record regarding his subsequent activities or of his fate.
ZAITSEV, FNU (COLONEL): Chief of the “Inner Line,” the CI branch of General Kutepov’s Combat Organization. He was considered an able man, but after the abduction (i.e., death) of Kutepov in 1930, he was made the victim of emigre intrigues; as a result, he was deposed and his organization dissolved.
B. GPU OFFICIALS, AGENTS AND COLLABORATORS INSIDE THE TRUST OPERATION
ARAPOV, FNU (AKA SCHMIDT): One of the leading “Eurasians” in Paris, who, with the help of the Trust, entered Russia in 1924 to attend the “First Eurasian Conference” in Moscow as a guest of honor. Under the alias of Mr. Schmidt, he addressed the conference and delineated the program of the organization.
As they did in regard to MOTSR, the GPU set up a branch of the “Eurasians” in the USSR as a means of infiltrating and directing the “Eurasian” group in Europe.
ARTUZOV, FNU (AKA RICCI, RENUCCI, FRAUCHI): Chief of the Counterintelligence Section of the GPU and one of its vice-presidents.
According to R. Wraga, Artuzov was born in Trieste with Italian blood in his veins, and his real name was Ricci. During World War I, he served with Austrian intelligence, spent some time as a POW in Russia, and then became a member of the Cheka.
According to G. Bailey, his true name was Renucci.
Lev Nikulin simply refers to him as Artuzov and describes him as a former engineer with very dark eyes and a small pointed beard. On his tunic he wore a golden letter “V” with crossed swords --- a medal bestowed on outstanding Chekists at the fifth anniversary of the Cheka.
According to S.I. Tsybov and N.F. Chistyakov, his true name was Frauchi.
DICKHOF-DAEHRENTAHL, FNU, AND WIFE: Secretary of Boris Savinkov after World War I, and, like his chief, an old revolutionary fighter. His wife came from similar circles. On 10 August 1924, both Dickhof and his wife accompanied Savinkov to Russia and were arrested with him. Reportedly released on Savinkov’s request, they remained in Moscow unmolested and worked as Intourist guides.
The real relationship between Savinkov and this couple remains obscure. On one occasion, Yagoda told American newspapermen that Savinkov had been lured into the USSR by a “beautiful operator” and that she had been permitted to spend nights with Savinkov after his arrest. Since Mrs. Dickhof is the only woman known to have enjoyed this privilege, she was most probably the “beautiful operator” in question.
DOROZHINSKIY, SERGEI VLADIMIROVICH (AKA ANTON ANTONOVICH): A high-ranking GPU officer, who was probably a deputy of Artuzov’s. In 1922/23, he worked with the Petrograd Monarchist organization “Throne and Honor”; and in 1924, he was a case officer for Maria Shults and her husband, Radkovich --- a duty which he shared with Opperput.
He achieved some prominence by serving as a guide for V.V. Shulgin during the latter’s trip through Russia in 1925, and he received frequent mention in Shulgin’s book, THE THREE CAPITALS, under the name Anton Antonovich.
LANGOVOY, ALEKSANDR ALEKSEVICH (AKA GENERAL DENISOV): The son of a well-known professor of medicine in Moscow, he was a Red Army officer during the Civil War and was decorated with the Red Banner medal for bravery. His first recorded job for the GPU was to establish a branch of the “Eurasian” organization in Moscow and arrange the “First Eurasian Congress” in Moscow in 1924. In the following year, he attended another “Eurasian Congress” held in Berlin.
By this time he had become a liaison with Polish intelligence ostensibly for the Trust, and in this capacity he established two “windows” on the Soviet-Polish border. Disguised as a smuggler, he met Shulgin at the border in 1925 and helped him cross into the USSR, again on behalf of the Trust.
According to Wraga, he was a member of the Soviet Military Mission Conference in Geneva in the late twenties, under the name of General Denisov.
Nikulin, who interviewed him extensively before writing his book, THE DEADLY SWELL, states that Langovoy died in Moscow on 26 February 1964.
OPPERPUT, EDWARD: (see UPENINSH)
PAVLOV, FNU: The bearer of a letter from Colonel Pavlovskiy to Savinkov, requesting the latter’s presence in the USSR. Both Pavlov & Pavlovskiy were under the control of the GPU at the time, and both were instrumental in setting the trap into which Savinkov fell.
PAVLOVSKIY, SERGEI (COLONEL): Commander of Savinkov’s guerrilla units in western Russia and his most trusted lieutenant, he was captured by the GPU in 1922 and forced under torture to work for the downfall of his chief. At the dictates of the GPU, he wrote a letter to Savinkov in 1924, urging him to visit the USSR as a matter of urgency, this being one of the factors that induced Savinkov to take the risk.
PETROV, IVAN MIKHAILOVICH: In the Soviet newspaper Moskovskava Pravda in November 1965, an item appeared regarding this former border guard who played a double role in leading Sydney Reilly across the Finnish-Soviet border in 1925. At that time, Petrov, under the alias of Toyvo Vyzkhi, was in charge of a so-called Trust “window.”
VON PILCHAU, PILYAR: A member of the German-Baltic nobility, he played a leading role in Trust affairs and is credited with the recruitment of Yakushev, the arrest of Savinkov and the capture of Sydney Reilly. He was for a time head of the Byelorussian GPU with headquarters in Minsk.
POTAPOV, N.M. (GENERAL): According to the Voenno-istoricheskiy Zhurnal in January 1968, General Potapov was born on 14 March 1871 in Moscow, the son of a small government employee of peasant stock. With a scholarship he enrolled in a military school in 1881, and until 1897 he attended various other military institutions, including the first cadet school in Moscow, an artillery school and the General Staff Academy. Graduating with honors, he was sent on extended TDY to Western Europe, principally to Vienna and Berlin. From 1901 until 1903, he was deputy military attaché in Vienna, and for the next twelve years he was a military advisor in the kingdom of Montenegro.
Back in Moscow in 1915, he became General Quartermaster of the army, a position he held until the October Revolution. At this junction Lenin found it difficult to deal with the old army, and he turned to Potapov for help, having heard from M.S. Kedrov and I.I. Podvoiskiy that General Potapov had maintained contact with communists for years. On 23 November 1917, Potapov promised Lenin his full cooperation and was appointed chief of the general staff in a reshuffle of army leadership. On 31 March 1918, he persuaded Lenin to issue an order through the Central Committee stating that specialists who had served under the Tsarist regime could be appointed to responsible positions.
In 1922, when the Trust was set up ostensibly for the purpose of staging a coup d’état, it appeared necessary to coopt a prominent military figure to keep in touch with Russian military leaders exiled abroad, and Potapov was chosen for this role. At the request of the GPU, he was given a leave of absence from the army and devoted himself to affairs of the Trust until its collapse in 1927. He then turned to lecturing and writing on military affairs until his death in February 1946.
PUSINSKIY, FNU (AKA PUZITSKIY): A deputy of Artuzov in the GPU, who personally placed Sydney Reilly under arrest in 1925, as the latter was about to leave Moscow for Finland after consulting with the so-called leadership of the Trust.
STETSKEVICH, VICTOR (AKA AOLESNIKOV, KOSINOV, KIAKOWSKI, KOSSINSKI, KAMINSKI, PETROVSKI): A subordinate of Artuzov in the GPU, selected to maintain contact with White Russians abroad.
According to W.T. Drymmer, Lieutenant Victor Stetskevich (Stezkiewicz) was sent to the USSR on an intelligence mission in 1919/20 by the Polish Military Organization. He was apprehended in Moscow, and, interrogated and broken by Dzerzhinskiy himself, he betrayed the entire Polish underground in the Soviet Union. From then on he was a loyal servant of the Cheka and GPU and held the corresponding rank of (army corps) general in 1922.
R. Wraga confirms the background given above, but spells the name Stetskevich instead of Stezkiewicz. Wraga adds that Stetskevich (under the alias of Kozinski) was attached to the Soviet missions in Helsinki and Riga immediately after the Polish-Soviet war. Lev Nikulin refers to the man by the name of Kosinov but provides no background information.
STRASHKEVICH, VAVARA: A cousin of White Guardist Artomonov in Tallinn, who had a mild affair with Yakushev. This brought her into the hands of the GPU, and she was forced to write a letter of introduction for Stetskevich to Artomonov, which gave Stetskevich access to White Russian circles in Tallinn as a bona fide member of MOTSR.
STYRNE, FNU (AKA STAROV, KOZLOV): A deputy of Artuzov in the GPU CI Section who played a prominent role in Trust affairs, particularly in the case of Sydney Reilly. Lev Nikulin refers to this official as Starov, Kozlov or Starov-Kozlov and avoids the real name of Styrne for unknown reasons.
TRETYAKOV, FNU: A GPU penetration agent of the Monarchist Council in Berlin. When a letter from Artomonov to the Monarchist Council in Berlin fell into the hands of the GPU, it led to the arrest of Yakushev and the real beginning of the Trust operation. Wraga attributes the interception to Tretyakov.
UNSHLIKHT, FNU: A leading member of the GPU foreign department and a deputy to Dzerzhinskiy, he initiated project “Beacon” (Mayak) for the penetration of White Russian emigre organizations. Wraga alone credits “Beacon” with having given birth to the Trust.
UPENINSH, EDWARD (AKA EDUARD OPPERPUT, VON STAUNITS, OTTO OTTOVICH, SPLYANINOV, UPELNITS, BARON ALEXANDER VON MANTEUFFEL): The most controversial figure in the Trust operation and one of its most dynamic. He defected to Finland in April 1927, and from 16 May to November of that year, his testimony appeared in issues of Segodnya, Riga. In brief, he had the following to say about himself:
Born in Latvia in 1894, he graduated from the Tukumskoye Trade School, studied for a time in the Riga Politechnical Institute, enrolled in the Aleksandrovskoye Military School in 1915, then took courses in an infantry school. In 1916, he fought first against the Germans, then
against the Turks in the Caucasus. After the Revolution, he joined the Red Guards and, in 1920, he was assistant chief of staff of Red troops near the Polish border. Revolted by the terror and brutality of the Cheka, he joined the organization of Boris Savinkov whom he met personally in Warsaw. He was arrested and interrogated in Minsk by Chekist Opanskiy. His will was broken by the use of chemicals (drugs?) and he identified several White agents, such as Tagantsev and General Elvengren. Having been drawn into the service of the Cheka under intolerable pressure, he was put in contact with A.A. Yakushev, who was confined in a death-cell of the Lubyanka prison in 1922, and it was he who persuaded Yakushev to cooperate with the Cheka, under its new designation, the GPU.
The strict accuracy of this story is open to question. According to Wraga, certain persons remember Opperput in 1918 as an assistant to the chief of the Riga Soviet Secret Service and claim he ordered the execution of hundreds of the bourgeois as “counter-revolutionaries.” Other persons met him in 1920 in Smolensk, where he began his career of provocation. There, posing as a left-wing anti-Soviet militant under the aliases of Spektorski and Selyaninov, he curried favor with Savinkov and obtained his sponsorship of an anti-Soviet organization, “People’s Union for the Defense of Freedom and the Fatherland.” Then, one day, Opperput was arrested and this was followed by a raid on the “People’s Union.” All its members were arrested and executed; but Opperput himself, the leader, survived. Later, in 1922, a booklet appeared in Berlin, written by Opperput and bearing one of his aliases, P. Selyaninov, on the cover. It described the organization and goals of the “People’s Union,” and portrayed the exiles, particularly the Savinkov group, as crooks and fakers.
Chebyshev and Wraga appear to accept Opperput’s story, namely, that he agreed to collaborate only after repeated torture. But Lev Nikulin, as a spokesman for the Soviets, puts Opperput in a completely different light. He makes passing reference to the arrest of Opperput and merely states that he was released by a “miracle.” He has Opperput meet Yakushev, not in a prison cell, but as a genuine Monarchist member of MOTSR. He makes no attempt to explain how Opperput, as a Monarchist, happened to know so much about GPU operations, as revealed in his written testimony after defection --- he simply ignores the testimony altogether. He admits Opperput’s defection but gives an implausible account of the motivation, i.e., by chance Opperput discovered that the Trust was penetrated by the GPU. He does not explain how the shifty and mercurial person he describes could have wormed himself into the confidence of so many people and have played such an important part in the Trust operation.
In June 1927, Opperput accompanied Maria Shults into the USSR on a sabotage mission, and his death, as well as hers, was announced in the Soviet press. Yet, rumors continued to circulate that he was alive and still working for the GPU. According to one story, he was working among the White Russians in Shanghai, but an investigation initiated by the American Legation in Riga produced negative results.
In his book, THE CONSPIRATORS, G. Bailey relates how in 1941/42, S. Voitzekhovskiy, the head of the White Russian Credentials Office in Warsaw, was visited by one Baron Alexander von Manteuffel, who wanted to establish business contacts for his antique shop in Kiev. A few weeks later, another White Russian leader, General Biskupskiy, confided to Voitzekhovskiy that this Manteuffel was actually Opperput and that after his Warsaw trip he had been caught in Kiev by the Gestapo and executed for espionage.
YAKUSHEV, ALEKSANDR ALEKSANDROVICH (ALIAS FEDOROV): Yakushev was born in the city of Twer on 7 August 1876, the son of an academy professor. He graduated from the Imperial Aleksandrov Lycee and later taught at this school. His last position under the Tsarist regime was chief of a department in the Ministry of Waterways.
In 1919, believing that the days of the Bolsheviks were numbered, he organized underground cells in Petrograd, but when the local Cheka arrested most of the participants, he escaped to Moscow to earn a livelihood by selling old china and silverware. The Soviet Ministry of Waterways got in touch with him and persuaded him to become one of its department heads. In this capacity he was sent to Norway on TDY in 1921. On his return to Moscow he was immediately placed under arrest by the Cheka.
Stories regarding the manner of his recruitment by the Cheka vary, but all agree in essence: He was finally persuaded to serve the Cheka as a penetration agent in the local MOTSR organization and as an agent-provocateur when meeting White Russian emigre circles abroad. Under the alias of Fedorov, he became one of the principal agents in the GPU-controlled Trust operation.
ZAYONCHOVSKIY, A.M. (GENERAL): A respected general of the Tsarist army who was made “Supreme Emissary” of the Trust. Wraga claims that the GPU forced him to accept this role on the threat that his daughter would otherwise be killed, but he gives no evidence for this belief, and the general’s motivation remains obscure. He did not participate in Trust operations, other than to sign documents with the pseudonym “Boyar Vasiliy,” presumably to give them an air of distinction. Nikulin makes only passing reference to Zayonchovskiy, stating that he died in 1926.
ZUBOV, ALEKSEV: Zubov figures prominently in Nikulin’s account of the Trust operation, particularly in connection with the activities of Maria Shults during her stay in Moscow. Reportedly he was killed by a White Russian two days before Opperput and Maria Shults fled to Finland. In every respect, Zubov is portrayed as an ideal Chekist, which gives rise to the suspicion that he may be an invented model of perfection.
C. FOREIGN OFFICIALS INVOLVED IN THE TRUST AFFAIRS
BIRK, ADO: Former Minister of Foreign Affairs in Estonia, who was appointed Estonian Envoy in Moscow where he became the victim of a GPU provocation in 1926/27. He returned to Estonia and was tried on charges of treason, with a verdict of acquittal. During the trial, he described how he had been framed and claimed that the Trust was a GPU-controlled operation, but his testimony in this respect gained little credence.
BIRK, ROMAN: Western and Soviet sources differ as to the background and role of Roman Birk.
According to Wraga, he was given the job of press attaché in the Estonian Legation in Moscow by his uncle, Minister Ado Birk. A weak character and self-indulgent, he became an easy target for the GPU. Initially he was wined and dined by Stetskevich and allegedly given so-called “state secrets.” Then, in a staged affair, he was caught red-handed, so to speak, and blackmailed into GPU service. From then on, he sent Trust reports out of the country in the diplomatic pouch and provided the GPU with hard intelligence acquired in his official capacity. According to Lev Nikulin, the Soviet writer, Roman Birk was a longtime communist and an officer in an Estonian unit of the Red Army. After being wounded in a battle near Tartu, he tore off his Red insignia and joined the Estonian nationalist forces to save his life. Eventually he was transferred to the office of the Estonian military attaché, Major Laurits, in Moscow, and by 1923 he was being used for intelligence activities against the Bolsheviks at a time when his old colleagues were being executed. This rested heavily on his conscience. One day he met his old Red commander, Colonel Kork, and they had a heart-to-heart talk. As a result, Roman Birk decided to correct the evil tenor of his ways by becoming a GPU agent. He informed Kork accordingly, and word was passed to Stetskevich, who became his case officer.
KURSK, F. (LIEUTENANT COLONEL): The Estonian military attaché in Moscow in 1926/27, on bad terms with the Estonian Minister, Ado Birk. Exploiting this relationship, the GPU, through its Trust operation, enmeshed Birk in a frame-up that badly compromised him in the eyes of his government. Kursk apparently was an unwitting pawn in this affair.
LAURITS, FNU (MAJOR): The Estonian military attaché in Moscow in 1922/23 and the superior of Roman Birk at that time.
REILLY, SIDNEY GEORGE (AKA ZHELEZNYY, MASSINO, STEINBERG, CONSTANTINE, ROSENBLUM): According to Reilly himself, he was born in Clommele, Ireland, under that name, but Nikulin claims he was born in Odessa with the Jewish name of Rosenblum.
He began his business career at the turn of the century in the Far East with the lumber firm “Gunberg and Reilly,” and a little later, he was also a director of the Danish firm “Danish Western Asian Co.” In 1906, after the Russian-Japanese war, he participated in an enterprise, “Mandrekovich & Shuberskiy,” which helped rearm the defeated Russian fleet.
His linguistic abilities and knowledge of German maritime matters brought him to the attention of British Intelligence. Recruited by the BIS at the outbreak of World War I, he served with outstanding success, even operating within Germany as a German naval officer.
Sometime in 1917, he was sent to Petrograd as a specialist in Levantine affairs under the alias of Mr. Massino. In 1918, after the 1917 October Revolution, he and a British diplomatic agent, Robert Bruce Lockhart, tried to organize an anti-Bolshevik counter-revolution, an enterprise which narrowly failed owing to a premature attempt on the life of Lenin. Lockhart was deported and Reilly fled. Both were tried and sentenced to death in absentia on 3 December 1918.
After his return to London, Reilly was sent to the headquarters of General Denikin to report on the situation obtaining there. Back in England, he remained with the BIS until his separation from the service in 1920. Even after leaving the service, he remained an implacable foe of the Bolshevik regime. He remained in close contact with Boris Savinkov and supported him financially with personal funds and money from the BIS.
In 1925, he received a letter from Maria Shults (under the pseudonym of Krasnoshtanov) urging him to visit the USSR on the pretext that a counter-revolution was impending. After some hesitation he decided to take the risk. On 25 September 1925, he crossed the Finnish border into the Soviet Union and was heard of no more.
According to Nikulin, he was arrested and the death sentence imposed on him in 1918 was carried out.
AUTHORS WHO HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT THE TRUST
Writers who have published articles or books about the Trust can be divided into general groups: participants with knowledge regarding some particular aspect of the operation and writers who have gained an overall view of the operation through research.
Most, if not all, writers on the Trust appear to have an ax to grind, some point to prove, so that literature on the subject is distorted by bias and attenuated by speculation.
ARDAMATSKIY, VASILIY: In this Soviet writer’s book, VOZMEZDENIYE (Retribution), there are many excerpts from the Savinkov files (presumably in the hands of the GPU) which indicate that it was written with the approval, if not on the orders, of the secret service. Like Lev Nikulin’s book, THE DEADLY SWELL, it presents State Security in flattering terms, showing the Russian people how courageously they are protected from their enemies.
But Ardamatskiy, unlike Nikulin, does not describe personalities as being either rogues or angels. He sees them all as human beings with good and bad characteristics; even Savinkov was not a villain, but a tragic figure who had tried to do his best and had gone astray. Dzerzhinskiy, of course, because of the legend surrounding him, was always right, but some of his subordinates were subject to the errors of human frailty. This seeming frankness may be attributed to the fact that Ardamatskiy’s book was written in 1968, three years after Nikulin’s, when official Soviet disclosures about intelligence operations had come in vogue, with realism in presentation as the accepted style.
His restraint notwithstanding, Ardamatskiy does here and there indulge in disinformation or blatant propaganda. For example, he refers to a Mr. Evans as a clever dwarf with plenty of money who was directing anti-Bolshevik activities on behalf of American intelligence. In this capacity, Evans was in touch with Savinkov and tried to recruit him into his network. Even representatives of French and British intelligence treated this enterprising dwarf with respect.
BAILEY, GEOFFREY: The author’s book, THE CONSPIRATORS, contains a section devoted to the Trust operation, supported by an extensive bibliography. If Bailey errs it is in ascribing motivations to various actors, in an apparent effort to give coherence to his thesis. For example, he portrays Yakushev as a man who played a double role for reasons of patriotism. The Soviets themselves admitted, somewhat belatedly, that he served the GPU out of fear, desire for reward and as a way of bolstering his ego; in short, he was a spy, no more, no less.
Except for superficial defects, such as the misspelling of names, Bailey’s book is well written and reflects a minimum of personal bias.
CHEBYSHEV, N.: As General Wrangel’s political adviser, Chebyshev first met Yakushev in Berlin in 1922 and immediately recognized him for what he was --- an agent of the GPU.
He published three articles in 1935 under the title “The Trust --- The History of a Legend.” He describes his own negative involvement: his refusal to deal with Yakushev, his warnings to Wrangel, his vain attempts to keep V.V. Shulgin from making a trip to the Soviet Union. He gives an assessment of leading personalities, such as Yakushev, Opperput and Maria Shults.
Thanks to him, as Chebyshev relates it, the GPU was not able to dupe all émigrés, and Wrangel, as a notable example, remained unsoiled. He wrote his articles for the obvious purpose of showing that certain Russian émigrés were more than equal to the machinations of the GPU.
SHULGIN, VASSILIY VITALVEVICH: A well-known journalist and writer during Tsarist times with a keen eye for realities, he joined the White forces during the Civil War, first with Denikin, then with Wrangel. In the emigration, he remained close to Wrangel, but he was held suspect among the ultra-right wing element because he had been instrumental in persuading the Tsar to abdicate.
At the invitation of Yakushev he visited the Soviet Union in 1925, and he was shown the country by guides whom he took to be genuine members of the Monarchist Trust but who were in fact agents of the GPU. On his return, he wrote a book, THREE CAPITALS, in which he described his trip in glowing terms. Later, after the disclosures of Opperput in Finland, he realized how he had been duped, and he wrote a postscript to his book, giving a forthright account of the Trust and its operations, as seen in retrospect. He also described at length the state of mind of Russian émigrés to show that it was this factor, more than any other, that had made the bogus Trust activities possible.
OPPERPUT, EDWARD (SOMETIMES SPELLED EDUARD; AKA VON STAUNITS, UPENINSH, ETC.): After his so-called defection in April 1927, Opperput wrote an account of his involvement with the GPU and the Trust, and this account was serialized in Segodnya in October/November of the same year, some four months after the reported death of the author. Certain details given in the articles have stood up to scrutiny, but an underlying theme in Opperput’s testimony has caused eye-raising among analysts, for he took pains to portray the GPU as all-powerful not only within the USSR but on the outside as well. He claimed that the GPU had extensive penetrations throughout Europe, yet he did not identify a single agent abroad.
The real reason for his flight to Finland and his disclosures is still open to question, and there are two schools of thought on this matter. One holds that his defection, disclosures and warnings to émigrés and Western powers were genuine. The other holds, with equal conviction, that he was still following orders of the GPU, who decided to bring the Trust operation to a close in a way that would create maximum confusion in emigre circles.
ANONYMOUS: In the May/June 1951 issue of the Russian emigre newspaper Vozrozhdeniye an anonymous writer published an article, “Legends and Reality,” with the claim that he was an “inside man” speaking from experience.
Taking issue with other writers, he states emphatically that the “Eurasians” were the dominant factor among Russian émigrés after 1923. He gives an account of the “Eurasian” ideology and goals as derived from reports of the Eurasian Congress in Moscow in 1924 and states that the Congress was dominated by Arapov (alias Schmidt), a representative from the West.
In reference to the cooperation between emigre groups and the Trust, he argues, unconvincingly, that this was a low-level affair; that leaders like Wrangel and Kutepov had always been suspicious of Trust representatives; and that only certain intelligence services, particularly the Poles, had been taken in.
The article is an obvious attempt to whitewash the Russian émigrés by impugning the credulity of foreign intelligence services. Inter alia it gives a good description of the goals of the “Eurasians” and conveys the impression that the writer was a member of that group.
DRYMMER, W.T.: Assistant military attaché at the Polish Embassy in Tallinn from 1921 to 1927, and later military attaché. In 1965, almost forty years later, he published an article in the Polish language newspaper Kultura (Paris) about his extensive dealings with the Trust. Apparently relying on memory, he wrote a muddled piece, confusing personalities and otherwise deviating from fact. He had forgotten, if he ever knew, that Fedorov (i.e., Yakushev) and Opperput were two different characters, not one and the same man. He describes the intrigue inside the Polish Intelligence Community, and it appears that he was the only person invariably in the right.
WRAGA, RICHARD: For many years the chief of the Russian desk in the Polish General Staff, he researched the staff archives regarding the Trust operation and gave lectures on the subject in the General Staff Academy. His first article about his findings, then and later, was published in 1950; and in a manuscript written in the mid-1950s, he elaborated on the same theme.
Both works, particularly the manuscript, pointed up the cunning of the GPU in exploiting the inherent weakness in any emigration, and this immediately aroused the ire of Russian émigrés, especially that of Vinogradov, who charged that Wraga disparaged emigrants as a means of exonerating Polish Intelligence.
Vinogradov accused Wraga of making sweeping assertions without proof, and there is no doubt that the latter’s writings suffer from this defect; yet they offer, for the first time, a full history of the Trust, its scope and significance, with a warning to any new emigration that it must avoid pitfalls that proved disastrous to the old.
KICHKASOV, N.: In 1928, Kichkasov published a small book, BELOGVARDEVSKIY TERROR PROTIV SSSR (White Guard Terror Against the USSR), in Moscow, and it may be assumed that he was provided with official materials relevant to the subject. White Russians are portrayed as terrorists and depraved hirelings of foreign intelligence.
An air of authenticity is imparted to the book by the use of courtroom reports. Court testimony of White Russians, Elvengren and Balmasov, and the testimony of Sydney Reilly under interrogation are cited, then elaborated and interpreted to point up the depravity of White Russians and their foreign masters. That the GPU had techniques for extracting confessions from prisoners is a matter the author chooses to ignore.
GRANT, NATALIE: The wife of Richard Wraga, who, after World War II, as an emigre in the United States, published an article, “A Thermidorian Amalgam,” concerning the Trust and more specifically about the case of Ado Birk. She speculates freely on certain aspects of the operation without offering any hard evidence for her views. She admits frankly that “In handling Soviet problems, research is often compelled to introduce, against all rules, surmises and conjecture in what should be a scholarly effort exclusively.”
She has two pet theories: (1) that the attempted recruitment of Estonian Minister in Moscow, Ado Birk, was ordered by the GPU to prevent the Baltic States from signing a treaty of mutual assistance, and (2) that Stalin at one time toyed with the idea of using White Russians, particularly those in the Trust, in a scheme to dispose of Trotsky.
Such theories might have had some basis in fact, but no facts are given in their support, so that they remain nothing more than theories among many others that are equally creditable. They find no confirmation, or support, in the events that followed, for the Baltic States did sign their pact of mutual assistance, and Stalin disposed of Trotsky without the help of Trust members or any other White Russians.
NIKULIN, LEV: Nikulin’s book, MERTVAYA ZYB (The Deadly Swell), published in 1965, describes the Trust operation in detail, with some notable omissions (e.g., the involvement of the Daehrentahls, the case of Ado Birk, etc.). Although Nikulin frequently oversimplifies events, he presents an abundance of factual material, indicating that he had access to KGB files. His one defect, both as a writer and reporter, is a tendency to portray personalities in black and white, that is, as rogues or heroes. He describes A.A. Yakushev in such terms, a man who made no mistakes once he agreed to work for the GPU, a man who anticipated every move of the enemy and found ways to thwart them, all for the purest of motives --- love of the fatherland.
Colonel General N. Shimanov, in a critique appearing in the Moscow Krasnaya Zvezda on 22 September 1965, takes exception to Nikulin’s proclivity for “window dressing” and thinks that in lionizing Yakushev his book was weakened. He says, “Yakushev, dyed-in-the-wool Monarchist and counterrevolutionary, respecting nothing in life but money, found it no great strain to become a counterintelligence agent.”
Nikulin’s principal villains are not individuals, per se, but groups and organizations, namely, White Russian émigrés and foreign intelligence services. Shimanov takes issue with Nikulin in regard to this attitude also and thinks the latter has mistakingly followed the lead of contemporary Soviet historians, who assume that all Western governments are preoccupied with the problem of Bolshevism and that their secret services share in the obsession. In his opinion this is a misreading of history, for during the Trust period (1922-1927), the primary concern of Western powers was Germany, and they gave but marginal attention to the Trust or the Soviet secret services in general. This notwithstanding, Nikulin makes every success achieved through the Trust appear like a resounding defeat of the enemy. Shimanov believes that Nikulin erred again in depicting White Russian émigrés as “short-sighted counter-revolutionaries,” a pack of rogues with the common mercenary aim of having their old privileges restored. To the critic, this is an oversimplified view of a complex situation.
If Nikulin differs markedly from Western sources in his story of the Trust, it is in portraying Opperput as a genuine monarchist who was not at any time in the service of the GPU. There is much in Opperput’s testimony, given after his so-called defection, that makes it almost certain that he was a GPU agent, even if a reluctant one. Nikulin does not try to discredit this testimony; he merely ignores it.
Shimanov makes no reference to Nikulin’s treatment of Opperput and the role he allegedly played, apparently thinking this is a matter best left alone.
SHIMANOV, N. (COLONEL GENERAL OF THE AIR FORCE): In a critique of Nikulin’s book, THE DEADLY SWELL, appearing in the Krasnaya Zvezda on 22 September 1965, Shimanov praises the author for his research of pertinent documents, but accuses him of presenting a biased account in a few major respects. (For the nature of his criticism, see review of Nikulin’s book above.)
A.B. “Yvraziysty/Trest” (The Eurasians and the Trust), Vozrozhdeniye, Paris, November/December 1953.
A.SH. “Tri Vstretchi s Opperputom” (Three Meetings with Opperput), Segodnya, Riga, 28 October 1927.
Amfiteatrov, Aleksandr. “O Treste” (Regarding the Trust), Vozrozhdeniye, Paris, 1935.
Anonymous. “Legenda i Deistvitel’nost’” (Legend and Reality), Vozrozhdeniye, Paris, #14/15, 1951.
Ardamatskiy, Vasiliy. “Vozmezdeniye” (Retribution), Molodaya Gvardiya, Moscow, 1968.
Bailey, Geoffrey. THE CONSPIRATORS [New York: Harper’s], 1960.
Burg, David. “The Mystery of Reilly” (Letters-to-the-Editor), Sunday Times, London, 20 March
Burtsev, Vladimir. “Ispoved’ Savinkova” (The Confession of Savinkov), Segodnya, Riga, 18 October 1927; “Borityes s GPU” (Fight the GPU), Obshchego Dela, Paris, 1932; “V. Setyakh GPU”
(In the GPU Net), Illustrirovannaya Rossiya, Paris, 26 October 1927.
Chebyshev, N. “Trest --- Istoriya Odnoy Legendy” (The Trust --- History of a Legend),
Vozrozhdeniye, Paris, 1935.
Colemann, F.W.B. THE BIRK CASE, OFFICIAL REPORT TO THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE (USA Legation Riga-Latvia), 21 November 1927.
Drymmer, W.T. “Trust” (in Polish), Kultura, Paris, #11/217, 1965, pp. 98-106.
Grant, Natalie. “A Thermidorian Amalgam,” The Russian Review [New Hampshire: Hanover],
July 1963, pp. 253-273.
Ilvin, I. “The Trust Against Reilly,” Literaturnaya Gazeta, #51, December 1967.
Kichkasov, N.N. BELOGVARDEVSKIY TERROR PROTIV SSSR (White Guard Terror Against the
USSR), Moscow, 1928.
Kondrashev, F. “Kommandant Okna v Evropu” (Commandant of the Window to Europe), Pravda, November 1965.
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[Editor’s Note: Above translation suspect]
“Trest i Vnutrennaya Liniya” (The Trust and the Inner Line), Vozrozhdeniye, Paris, #11, September/October 1950, pp. 138-43; “Trest,” Kultura, Paris, #4/21-5/22, 1949, pp. 156-77.
[Editor’s Note: Above translation suspect]
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