“Legends” of Soviet Intelligence: An Outstanding New Russian Documentary Series about Soviet Spies under Deep Cover

Courtesy of Russian foreign intelligence (SVR), the Russian TV channel Zvezda, which is owned by the Ministry of Defence, is now broadcasting  a series of documentaries about successful officers and agents of the Soviet foreign intelligence service (civilian.) It is called “Legends of (Russian) Secret Intelligence.”

The first features the origins of the Portland Spy Ring formed by Konon Molody, a Russian sent as a child to be educated in the United States by relatives and given the cover name Gordon Lonsdale. Some MI5 (British counter-intelligence) files about him have recently been released at the British archives at Kew in London. If the other episodes are up to this standard, then we are in for an unusual treat. Not only are the files of the SVR used in the writing of the program, but so too is testimony from those in the service, one of whom, Vsevolod Radchenko, makes for vivid viewing as he relates how the head of British Intelligence was completely “shaken” when MI5 finally alighted on Lonsdale and traced his extensive contacts across south-eastern England.

Molody became a highly successful businessman, building four factories and amassing a small fortune, all as cover for espionage. He managed agents who gave the Russians the most up to date information on naval technology and biological weapons, quite apart from high level political and military secrets. A document from the SVR archives summed up Molody’s achievement thus: “This is one of the most effective [spy] rings in foreign intelligence, which succeeded in obtaining secret political, scientific-technical and military-strategic information from the most important institutions in England and US military bases located on its territory.” No wonder Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was so confident in dealing with Harold Macmillan. Once betrayed and arrested, Molody’s only chance to be freed awaited the seizure of Greville Wynne in Budapest, a  businessman who had worked for MI5 in World War II and was recruited to MI6 in 1955.

What follows next are two atomic spies, Americans both, who escaped the FBI at the very last minute when the others had been rounded up and eventually came to form part of Molody’s ring in England as the sweet old couple who lived in a very modest bungalow in the suburbs of London. They were the Cohens (tonight). William Fisher, the illegal dramatically arrested in the USA wearing a Fedora  appears next, on 5 November. Yet more can be had on the much celebrated Kim Philby (6 November) and, much less well known abroad, the man who penetrated German operations during the war and died in the process, Nikolai Kuznetsov (7 November.)


На телеканале «Звезда» в конце октября начнется показ новых фильмов из цикла «Легенды разведки». Зрителей ждет подробный рассказ об оперативном пути и закрытой от посторонних глаз жизни замечательных патриотов и профессионалов с большой буквы.


1 серия – 23 октября в 18.50, о Кононе Молодом;

2 серия – 24 октября в 18.50, о супругах Коэн;

3 серия – 5 ноября в 18.50, о Вильяме Фишере;

4 серия – 6 ноября в 18.50, о Киме Филби;

5 серия – 7 ноября в 18.50, о Николае Кузнецове.

Программа создана при содействии Пресс-бюро СВР России.

Руководитель Пресс-бюро

СВР России                                                                                                                           С.Иванов