Mitrokhin Dies: Stole KGB Files---Moscow's Gold a Fact
January 30, 2004

Vasily Mitrokhin, 81, Recorder of Trunkloads of K.G.B. Secrets, Dies


LONDON, Jan. 29 Vasily Mitrokhin, a K.G.B. archivist whose defection opened up thousands of the agency's files to the West, died on Jan. 23, the British Foreign Office announced Thursday. He was 81.

He had been living in Britain under a false name and with police protection since his defection in 1992.

Mr. Mitrokhin joined the Soviet secret service in 1948 but soon grew disillusioned with life in the Soviet Union. "I was looking for the New Jerusalem, but we ended up at the Wailing Wall," The Times of London quoted him as saying in 1999.

He worked in the K.G.B.'s archives for three decades and for years smuggled thousands of documents home in his shoes, copying them out in longhand.

He turned himself over to British agents in Latvia in 1992; the C.I.A. had reportedly turned him down.

Mr. Mitrokhin's six aluminum trunks full of K.G.B. files formed the basis of the 1999 book "The Mitrokhin Archive," written in collaboration with the British scholar Christopher Andrew.

The book, which was serialized in a British newspaper, caused a sensation by identifying several Britons including two former lawmakers, a Scotland Yard policeman and an 87-year-old woman named Melita Norwood as Soviet spies. Ms. Norwood said she had passed British nuclear secrets to the K.G.B. for decades.

The Foreign Office, through its spokesman, said Mr. Mitrokhin "was a man of the greatest personal integrity whose lifetime preoccupation was the preservation of truth," adding, "We are pleased that he was able to fulfill his ambition to ensure that the world, especially the Russian people and those of the former Soviet bloc, learned the true facts about the evil perpetrated by the intelligence services of the Soviet Union and those in the Kremlin who directed them."

Mr. Mitrokhin is survived by a son.


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