Book says Cold War KGB had major foothold in India
By Jeremy Lovell
LONDON (Reuters) – Russia’s feared KGB spy service
penetrated all levels of the Indian government under Indira
Gandhi in the 1970s and became a major cash backer of her
Congress (R) party, according to a book published on Monday.
The KGB operation in India during that period was its
largest in the world outside the Soviet bloc and it even had to
create a new department to handle it, according to The
Mitrokhin Archive II based on the KGB’s own secret files.
“During 1975 a total of 10.6 million rubles was spent on
active measures in India designed to strengthen support for Mrs
Gandhi and undermine her political opponents,” the book says.
Suitcases of money were regularly taken into the prime
minister’s house to fund the party, and in the 1977 election
that Gandhi lost, nine of her party’s candidates were KGB
agents, it adds.
And when Gandhi returned to power in 1980, the KGB
proceeded to influence Indian government policies by fuelling
her paranoia of CIA plots through disinformation tactics backed
by forged documents leaked to the press.
When Gandhi’s son Rajiv took over from her after she was
assassinated in 1984, the KGB continued to both court and scare
him through lavish receptions and more tales of CIA plots.
The relationship only foundered when Rajiv lost power in
1989 and as the Soviet Union itself started to disintegrate.
The book is the second volume detailing the Cold War
activities of the KGB, based on top secret agency files stolen
over more than two decades by archivist Vasili Mitrokhin and
handed over in 1992 when he defected to Britain.
It notes that as early as 1961 the KGB had decided that it
would wage its war against the capitalist West on the
battlefields of the Third World and not directly against the
“Main Adversary,” the United States.
The book tells how the KGB funded and supported Chilean
leader Salvador Allende — who it gave the codename LEADER —
but then abandoned him as the Chilean economy collapsed and he
was overthrown and killed in a coup.
It details KGB operations in Iran and Iraq as it tried to
exert influence in the Middle East after initially winning over
Egypt’s Gamel Abdel Nasser but then being rejected by his
successor Anwar Sadat.
It notes the agency’s successes in Syria and Yemen but its
abject failure to make serious inroads into Israel.
The book examines the KGB’s campaign to infiltrate
apartheid South Africa through its backing of the African
National Congress, and gives examples of some of its successful
disinformation campaigns — again using forged documents
planted in the press — implicating the CIA in supporting the
Mitrokhin died in January 2004 at his home in England.
Christopher Andrew, author of both books and an expert on
intelligence affairs, said that his archive — some of which
remains classified — was one of the biggest ever intelligence