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'Billion Dollar Spy': Former KGB Major Dies in Virginia

In the city of Vienne, Virginia, at the age of 73, the former KGB major Viktor Sheimov died, who in 1980 escaped from the USSR with the help of the CIA, writes

Photo: screenshot

According to Olga Sheimova, her husband died on October 18 from complications due to lung disease.

Viktor Sheimov worked at the Eighth Main Directorate of the KGB, which was responsible for protecting communications and creating ciphers. Prior to major, he rose to the 32 years.

In 1979, Sheimov turned to the American embassy in Warsaw with a request to help him escape from Russia in exchange for important information. The following year, he was taken to the United States with his wife and daughter, where he lived until his death.

According to The Washington Post, Sheimov made the decision to escape because of disappointment in the Soviet regime: he suspected the KGB of killing one of his friends who criticized the authorities.

Sheimov helped the US authorities find two State Department recruited by Soviet intelligence and another CIA official. He also spoke about the involvement of the USSR in the assassination of Afghan President Hafizullah Amin in 1979 and the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981.

Sheimov’s escape was learned only after 5 years. All this time, the CIA monitored KGB messages in ciphers, which it passed to Sheimov intelligence

The Russian state agency TASS provides an extensive biographical note in connection with the death of defector Viktor Sheimov.

He was born on May 9, 1946 in Moscow. His father was an officer, his mother was a cardiologist. In 1970, Viktor Sheimov graduated from the Moscow Higher Technical School (now the Moscow State Technical University) named after V.I. NE Bauman, specializing in spacecraft design engineer. After graduation, he worked for about a year in his specialty in one of the Moscow defense research institutes.

On the subject: Top secret: how an American handed over nuclear secrets to the USSR and did not pay for it

And in 1971, Sheimov was hired by the KGB of the USSR. He became an employee of the 8-th Main Directorate, which oversaw communications and cryptography, was engaged in the maintenance of communication systems in foreign diplomatic missions of the USSR.

In October 1979, while on a business trip to Warsaw, Sheimov came to the US Embassy and announced his intention to cooperate with American intelligence. He agreed to provide the United States with information on Soviet cryptographic systems. Later, in an interview with The Washington Post in 1990, Sheimov stated that the motive for his escape was the hypocrisy of the Soviet authorities and the low standard of living in the USSR. He also noted that his goal was "to cause as much damage as possible to the communist system."

In mid-May 1980, Viktor Sheimov, along with his wife Olga and six-year-old daughter Elena, were taken by the Americans from the USSR. The exact circumstances of the escape are unknown. In 1993, an article about his escape in The New York Times reported that they left Moscow on commuter trains with transfers, then “in a remote city” were transferred to a car driven by an American intelligence officer.

Photo: screenshot

Sheimov and his daughter were hiding in the trunk while his wife was sitting in the passenger seat.

They successfully crossed the Soviet border with Czechoslovakia in the Carpathian Mountains, and then ended up in the United States.

David Hoffman's 2015 Billion Dollar Spy also described Sheimov's escape across the land border, but with Finland, not Czechoslovakia.

Another version, first published in the newspaper Mir Novostey in 1999, is also widely distributed. According to its author Georgy Polsky, the version with the escape by car was misinformation, and in fact Sheimov flew away on a transport flight from one of the Moscow airports. The KGB major, disguised and disguised as the co-pilot, was taken to the plane without hindrance. The wife and daughter were hidden in a container of the American embassy, ​​which was not subject to inspection. To prevent the girl from crying and giving herself away during loading, she was first given sleeping pills. Subsequently, this version was replicated in the books of various Russian researchers.

On the subject: How the USSR special services suspected and watched him as an American writer of a “collective farm spy”

According to the memoirs of Vladimir Kryuchkov, who in those years was the deputy chairman of the KGB, the search for Sheimov began on May 19 on 1980, when he did not go to work. Sheimov’s parents claimed that he was planning to go with his family to one of his acquaintances for the weekend.

For more than half a year, there were no reasonable assumptions about the fate of the KGB major and his family. On the night of January 1, 1981, another major of the 8th Main Directorate of the KGB, Vyacheslav Afanasyev, was murdered in Moscow. He was robbed and beaten at the Zhdanovskaya (now Vykhino) metro station of the Moscow Metro, and then thrown into a forest belt in the Lyubertsy district of the Moscow region. The crime was committed by police officers. Two of the suspects in this murder, possibly after a leading question from the investigator, said that in May 1980 they killed a family of three and buried the remains near the town of Yakhroma, Moscow region. The KGB assumed that it could be about Sheimov. However, the search for the bodies yielded nothing. The policemen were tried and then shot only for the murder of Afanasyev.

In May 1982, the KGB received evidence that US intelligence agencies were able to remove one of the KGB officers from the USSR. The fact that it was precisely Sheimov was finally established only in the 1985 year - thanks to information from a Soviet agent in the United States, Aldrich Ames. Only after that did the KGB change their encryption systems - for five years the CIA knew about them.

According to Russian and American researchers, using the information received from Sheimov, the American intelligence agencies exposed several Soviet agents (their names were not given) and for several years decrypted the messages of the Soviet military intelligence.

Since the mid-1980's, Viktor Sheimov has been a consultant to the US National Security Agency (NSA). He earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Emory University, Georgia.

In 1990, Sheimov gave his first interview to The Washington Post and other American media. He said that the KGB was planning an attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II. In 1993, the former major published a memoir, The Tower of Secrets. However, he did not disclose the details of his escape from the USSR.

In 1999, Sheimov said that when he was recruited in 1979, the CIA deceived him and did not pay the promised $ 1 million, although it provided housing and also paid for his daughter's education in the United States. According to the defector, he was forced to sue. According to the pre-trial agreement, Sheimov received compensation (the amount was not disclosed), while he argued that, like many other defectors, "he feels deceived and humiliated."

In 1999, in the town of Laurel (Maryland), Sheimov registered and became the president of Invicta Networks, a computer security services company. Subsequently transferred it to Virginia. The company ceased to exist in the early 2010's.

In 2012, Viktor Sheimov published a book in English "Cyberspace and Security, Fundamentally New Approach", as well as a fiction novel "Gold of the Party". In 2014, he wrote a sequel to The Tower of Secrets. Then, until 2017, he blogged about computer security at personal website.

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Miscellanea CIA USA spy the USSR Our people КГБ
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