Interview with Vladimir Rezun (Victor Suvorov) 



What made you defect to the West?

I did it for a number of reasons. Of course, my decision was strongly motivated by the fact that my life was in danger. But the urge to describe a criminal system I abhor was equally important.

Weren't you aware of the nature of the secret service when you started working for it?

I had a vague idea. I was only a young officer when Soviet Military Intelligence turned its eye on me. I was subjected to long and meticulous investigations. I love my country, I love the army, I love the secret and adventurous life of an intelligence agent, but I hate communists. From my earliest years, I always felt that something really bad was happening in my motherland. This feeling intensified after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

I trained for five years. Working under the cover of a civilian diplomat, I learned about the horrors of the system which constantly pulled in new victims. A feeling of justice, fear of death and the urge to write the truth were growing. But in order to do that, I had to escape.

How much of your books is fact and how much is fiction?

I would divide my books into two categories. The first I would call textbooks where I describe the mechanisms and techniques governing Soviet intelligence. These include GRU-Soviet Military Intelligence, Specnaz and Inside the Soviet Army. My other books also contain many facts. When writing Aquarium, for instance, I had to change the names, pseudonyms, place names and the time of action for a number of reasons, but most of them did take place in reality.

Was there a difference in the way intelligence services operated in the Soviet Union and democratic countries?

Generally, all intelligence services act according to the same principles all around the world: their only purpose is to extract information. Intelligence agents can be compared to journalists. In the course of civilization progress, methods are constantly perfected and state-of-the-art solutions, unknown to the masses, are introduced.

Yet we must realize that a secret service is an instrument of the authorities. The type of government determines the type of instrument. This is where the differences lie. If a country has a criminal regime, the secret service will also be criminal. Western democracies draw well-defined lines which cannot be crossed. In a totalitarian system, anything is possible.

The Polish secret service boasts that it was the only intelligence agency in the East bloc to create its own school and manage to stay relatively independent from the Soviet secret service.

There's a lot of truth in it. I have met many Poles, I've heard about the achievements of the Polish secret service and I must admit that Polish agents are top-class professionals. Many of them were highly patriotic.

But we can't really say that Poland was fully independent. The general communist bloc mechanism was cooperation-oriented. Despite that, the struggle for success among the GRU, the KGB and other East European secret services was vicious. Poles scored a number of spectacular successes in this area.

Have connections between the Russian secret service and intelligence agencies of former satellite states remained after the fall of the Soviet empire? Do they pose a threat to new democracies?

I'm sure there is a possibility of various connections and threats. Everything depends on people and, as everyone knows, there are good and bad people in this world. Yet I feel that every country struggling for and valuing its independence creates structures which can ensure that freedom, and guarantee stable protection for its interests.

After you fled to the West in 1978, the Soviet Supreme Military Court passed the death sentence on you. So far, it hasn't been repealed. Aren't you afraid that your old colleagues might want to take revenge?

Not at the moment. By killing me, they would be admitting that all I've written is true. I know that many of my colleagues support my point of view. But others are calling me a traitor. I have left the communists, that's true, but I still love my country. In Aquarium, I postulated that those who stayed behind may be the traitors. Those who killed children and old people in Afghanistan, those who were Brezhnev's and Andropov's puppets. Or maybe those who hacked masses in Tbilisi during Gorbachev's reign, or those responsible for the Chechnyan massacre today. How do we refer to people who in February 1994, shot Sergei Dubov, my close friend who first published my novel, The Icebreaker, in Russia? I didn't want to kill! I believe that the day when people no longer want to kill each other is close at hand. That's why I write my books.

Interview conducted by Mirosław Wójcikowski.


more info