Kim Philby Meets His KGB Controller in Moscow, 1964

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“As for me, I had to wait until 1964 to meet Kim Philby, at which time I was detailed by the KGB to work with him on his autobiography. The idea was to write an official KGB version of his life, for distribution in Russia and other Iron Curtain nations. The moment I had waited for so long had finally come.

Philby was quartered not far from the center of Moscow, in a new, nondescript but well-maintained building. I climbed three flights of stairs and rang the bell. A man in his fifties appeared at the door: he was of average height, slightly stout, but still handsome and distinguished-looking.

I introduced myself, and he grasped my hand, grinning.

‘You and I are old friends Peter. Come in!’

We sat down with a bottle of vodka and began to talk. It was a strange sensation to have so much in common with a man I had never spoken to in my life, and I believe he shared this feeling. As we talked on, an image rose up in my mind. I had the impression that together we were piecing together two halves of a puzzle. When he spoke of a given even or recounted an anecdote, I responded with my own version of it, drawing on memories of my times in Moscow (1944-47) and London (1947-55). Each of us could reveal to the other the part of the picture that had been hidden from him.”

My Five Cambridge Friends: Philby, Burgess, Maclean, Blunt, and Cairncross by their KGB Controller, Yuri Modin, with Jean-Charles Deniau and Aguieszka Ziarek, translated by Anthony Roberts, Ballantine Books, 1994.

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