Thursday, March 19, 2009

Undercover Putin

From Skynews:
A picture has emerged apparently showing Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in his former days as a KGB officer.
What's interesting about this is that it corroborates accounts that dissent from the official KGB biography of Putin:
[A] Russian political analyst and author of books on Vladimir Putin dismissed Mr Souza's claims as "nonsense".

"Vladimir Putin was a major serving in Dresden and he wasn't important enough at that time to be brought to Moscow", said Andrey Piontkovsky.

Mr Putin served as a KGB officer in the East German city of Dresden.
But according to other sources, there are a number of years for which Putin's whereabouts are unclear. For instance, ex-FSB officer Konstantin Preobrazhensky, in his arduously titled KGB/FSB's New Trojan Horse: Americans of Russian Descent, has a chapter called "Putin's History Reveals the Man" where he discusses "Putin's Missing Years."

According to Preobrazhensky and others, Putin worked for the KGB's Fifth Division (or Branch, or Directorate), responsible for dissidents and the Orthodox Church. This division was also called "Protection of the Constitution," and, less formally, "Political Repressions."

This much is known. However, Putin doesn't talk about it because he is ashamed of the work he did there. This probably included looking for anti-Soviet tendencies in the student population and getting students to report on each other. It probably also involved contacts with Church leaders who were KGB collaborators. Such a task as posing as a tourist for a meeting with the U.S. President would have been a respite from such work.

The point of departure between the official biographies and the underground ones is Putin's supposed job with the First Chief Directorate in Dresden, East Germany from 1985 to 1990. This picture was taken during that time, and in Moscow.

Putin plays up the East German part of his resume because to Russians it is glamorous and patriotic to work for intelligence abroad. But to spy on your fellow Russians, subverting students and the Church, is shameful. So he doesn't talk about that part.

It has been speculated that Putin didn't really do anything for the FCD in East Germany; rather, he was involved in some other undisclosed intelligence tasks. Could he have been in Moscow at some kind of political training?