KGB/SVR agent Sergei Tretyakov speaks at KGB headquarters in 1998. (Putnam photo)
Imagine you are a well established book author and you are approached by the F.B.I. They praise your work, and offer you exclusive access to a trove of unpublished material delivered by a Russian defector. The senior agent, who had run all of Russian Intelligence gathering in New York including operations at the United Nations, had capped his career with two perilous years as a double agent for the F.B.I. The Russian has already been debriefed, his stories vetted, and he is available for interview. How do you respond?
Now imagine that you are a member of the Canadian establishment; It doesn't matter which tier - Parliament... the Civil Service... the News Media. Reporters call and inform you that an AMERICAN writer has just published a book which, among other revelations, contains profiles of five Canadians who aided the Soviets or the succesor to the KGB - the Russian SVR . You haven't read the book but you know such stories have a very short shelf-life and you want a piece of it. What do you do? Of course you do what is expected of you - attack the source... the defector, the author and the book.
Incumbant M.P. Alex Kindy campaigning in Calgary, 1988. Though born in Warsaw Kindy's profile reflected his roots. He was a staunch Ukranian nationalist. A new book entitled "COMRADE J" alleges Kindy took Russian cash for informing on the Tory Caucus.
"Comrade J" is based on 125 hours of recorded interviews with Sergei Tratyakov and exclusive access to FBI counter intelligence officers.
The book is called Comrade J: the Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War. The National Post claims the book is "blockaded at the border" but I just checked Amazon. ca and found it available. The author, Pete Earley, is a New York Times best-selling author who has written books on American traitors Aldrich Ames and John Walker, Jr. He is certainly qualified to analyse and explain a story of this magnitude.
As a former Reform Party activist (and never a Tory) I continue to be interested in leaks from the drum-tight secretive world of subversion and influence peddling in Canada. This new book, published by G.P. Putnam's, alleges that in 1992 Moscow was interested in getting Parliamentarian Alex Kindy to provide details on “various intrigues inside the Canadian Parliament and government. This was intimate information about his colleagues and also details about international manoeuvres that were going on.” He was approached at a Ukranian-Canadian function and a Russian agent made the pitch. It does not say Kindy betrayed Canada. It alleges that he turned on his former cronies in the Conservative Party, several of whom had previously been scuppered as they attempted to build profile by crafting a major "friendship" overture between the government of Brian Mulroney and the Kremlin. The claim is that enough information was delivered by Kindy that it filled more than 100 cables to Moscow.
Much has been made in news reports since Thursday, of Alex Kindy's expulsion from the Tory caucus in 1990, because of his vociferous objection to the imposing of the G.S.T. That is hardly the point. Kindy was on the outs with the Tories long before that. Case in point: pick up a copy of Richard Cleroux's book OFFICIAL SECRETS, published in 1990. It's the story of the creation of C.S.I.S. and its troubled early years. Chapter 9 deals with the Sofonov investigation and the attempt, in 1986, by Tory insiders to set up Parliamentary friendship group designed to show those Americans just who had the inside track with the Soviets, and give the MPs plenty of junketing opportunities. "Then disaster struck. Calgary Tory MP Alex Kindy, a practising psychiatrist of Ukranian descent, and Toronto Tory MP Andrew Witer, a staunch supporter of a number of self-styled Ukranian "Freedom Fighter" associations, attacked the idea of any kind of parliamentary rapprochment with the Russians. Mysteriously, information travelled to a number of right-wing ethnic and emigre associations in Canada, along with the names and photocopies of the signatures of the two dozen MPs who had signed the friendship club charter." Cleroux connects all the dots but two. He leaves it to readers to decide who distributed unmarked manila envelopes and blind faxes.
Comrade J makes the allegation that Kindy took payment in 1992-93, while a sitting MP. $10,000 plus $5,000 plus $5,000 from an operative working for Tretyakov. It doesn't claim Kindy reneged on his life long opposition to the Soviets. Russian Communism had already disintegrated. It does say that he informed on his old colleagues in the Conservative Party, and he was tape recorded accepting cash. The point is that he was already in the cold, facing the Tory machine in Calgary, and the rise of the Reform Party (which took his riding). In 1993 he tried to run as an Independant and lost. If any man ever felt he had the moral authority to toss a hand grenade among the Tories, it would have been Alex Kindy in 1992.
Before going to press, author Earley gave Kindy access to the allegations. His silence was deafening. Since the story broke Kindy has remained silent. His son claims he is ill, but that is the extent of the family response so far. If he has been ill used, Kindy must demand a retraction.
This from a review by David Wise - "Tretyakov, who had been assigned to the Russian mission at the United Nations since 1995 and to Ottawa before that, gave the FBI 5,000 secret SVR cables and more than 100 Russian intelligence reports, according to one U.S. intelligence official cited by Earley. Tretyakov apparently first tried to defect around 1997 but agreed to remain as an "agent in place," passing secrets to the FBI until October 2000, when he vanished from a Russian residential compound in the Bronx with his wife, daughter and cat. Four months later, the United States acknowledged his defection, but Comrade J (the title is drawn from the KGB's code name for Tretyakov, Comrade Jean) is the first account of his espionage career. "It is one of our biggest success stories," puffed the unnamed U.S. intelligence official."
The Calgary Herald made a lukewarm attempt to cover the story - gathering a few rebuttal comments from those who knew Kindy, back when, but asking not a single hard question. You'll find the January 31 Herald story here. The fact that the F.B.I. have a complete archive of the Soviet and later SVR cables prepared in Ottawa by Tretyakov and his agents, may be the reason that Kindy has clamed up.
Comrade J can be freely purchased from Amazon. ca or Chapters/Indigo. Tantor Audiobooks offers an eleven hour audion version of the book here, which can be delivered by post. National Public Radio (NPR) in the U.S. has an interview and also posts a lengthy extract from the book.Update: It's been two weeks since this story broke in Calgary, Mr. Kindy's last hometown. He has issued no rebuttal, nor has the local press chased after him. We are left to assume that COMRADE J is 100 % correct on Kindy at least. That news won't add a single button to your TV remote, but some of us prefer to open the back of the watch, and observe the tiny gears and levers which run this country.