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02.01.2015, 23:39

Thatcher's Fight For Cold War Spy Revealed

Thatcher's Fight For Cold War Spy Revealed

The former PM almost triggered a diplomatic crisis as she tried
to help Russian defector Oleg Gordievsky win back his family.


14:03, UK, Tuesday 30 December 2014
Video: Thatcher sympathy for KGB defector

By Jason Farrell, Senior Political Correspondent

Cold War documents released today show how Margaret Thatcher
risked a diplomatic feud with Russia in an attempt to save the
the marriage of one of Britain's most important spies.

Oleg Gordievsky was a defector at the heart of the KGB who
passed on significant secrets to MI6 and was credited with
averting a potential nuclear confrontation, but he was forced
to flee Russia after fearing his cover was blown in 1985.

In an operation approved by the prime minister he was whisked
across the border to Finland by two MI6 agents in the boot of
their car, but there was no time to extract his family.

Archived documents show that, once in the UK, the Russian defector
sent Mrs Thatcher a personal message explaining how he accepted
the decision to get him out alone, but added: "I must, however, go
on hoping that some way can be found to secure the release of my
family as, without them, my life has no meaning."
Former Russian KGB Colonel, Oleg Gordiev

Oleg Gordievsky was a defector at the heart of the KGB

In an uncharacteristically soft tone she responded: "Having children
of my own, I know the kind of thoughts and feelings which are going
through your mind each and every day. But just as your concern is
about them, so their concern will be for your safety and well-being.

"Please do not say that life has no meaning. There is always hope.
And we shall do all we can to help you through these difficult days."

Behind the scenes Mrs Thatcher threatened Moscow that if the family was
not released there would be a mass expulsion of KGB agents in London.

Mr Gordievsky's former boss at the KGB Mikhail Lyubimov told Sky News:
"He would have been executed if he had been caught (defecting).

And the KGB wanted to punish him somehow,
so they wouldn't let his family leave."

The deal was refused and Mrs Thatcher proceeded to expel
25 suspected KGB agents - all of whom had been exposed
by Oleg Gordievsky.

Two days later 25 UK nationals were ordered to leave Russia
- including the two MI6 men who helped Mr Gordievsky escape.

It was feared the diplomatic spat would pull
down the shutters on East West relations.

Documents show British Ambassador Sir Bryan Cartledge
warned against further expulsions.

He cabled London: "Never engage in a p***ing match with
a skunk: he possesses important natural advantages."

Britain did expel six more Soviets - and so six more
Britons were forced to leave Moscow - but relations
got no colder after that.

Mr Gordievsky's family were allowed to leave in
1991 but the marriage soon broke down and his wife
and children returned to Moscow.





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