The Reasoned Review

Just another weblog

Confessions of an Ex-KGB

with 6 comments

A former Soviet soldier in Afghanistan and subsequently, KGB special-agent. Rotund, heavily-accented, he chain-smokes throughout the interview:

“I fought in Afghanistan from 1979-1981. Two years – that was the mandatory service for all Soviet citizens. I was in the first detachment of soldiers sent to that desert.

(He pantomimes a machine gun, a bullet hitting his forehead, then collapses in a heap)

Ack-Ack-Ack! Woosh! BOOM! Forward, Forward! Kill them all! Ivan, Ivan, to the left! He’s hit!

Those were the bad years – we had no support, no supply lines; we were surrounded by enemies. You could be pass by a child of 10; maybe you think he’s cute, he looks like your son – then BLAM! That child just killed your best friend. So many died. You couldn’t trust anyone. I traded an old wizened man some food for a pack of cigarettes. He smiled at me, so harmless. Two seconds later I’m taking cover – that old man had an American rifle under his rags; he’s shooting at my company a few hundred meters away. We shoot back, of course. When the smoke clears, there is no old man. His cigarettes tasted like death.

And oh, the bombing campaigns. Any sign of Talibs, we couldn’t hesitate – we take our helicopters, destroy the whole village. Destroy! Destroy! We had to follow orders; we had no choice. Later we had to burn the bodies – you could smell them for miles.

I felt bad at first, but you grow used to it after a while. We really had no choice but to kill. It was them or us. Any sign of hesitation, any show of sympathy and you’d be shot on the spot as a traitor. This was during the first years of the war, back when we were sure of ourselves. Later, when our losses began to pile, we couldn’t afford to shoot traitors anymore.  We just beat them until the pain of not fighting outweighed the pain of battle.

Everyone gets used to watching their comrades die. So many of my friends were shot, blown-up. I had to carry a friend of mine two miles through the desert once. He had no face. Most of the soldiers turned to drugs to take their mind from the carnage. Marijuana at first, but Heroin later. Some were so despondent that they could only be induced to fight at the butt of a rifle.

And still, the Talibs came for us. They had no tanks, no helicopters, only rifles from America – but how tenaciously they fought back! They were like ants. When a single ant dies, the colony pays no mind. But for us, every loss was personal. I suppose it is always the same relationship between an invader and their victims.

In 1983, after rising to the rank of Army Captain, I joined KGB special forces.  I did all sorts of assignments: espionage, undercover, political arrests. We were the cream of the crop. The only rule was: Don’t ask questions! The only advice was: Keep your head down! Even though we were spetznaz (special forces), even though they always told us we were the “best of the best”, one mis-step, one wrong move, and away you go! You don’t just get fired from Special Forces. You get erased. This happened to me in 1992.

It was a few months after the failed August Coup. The parliamentarians were calling the shots. Nobody thought they could trust the KGB. I had to flee. My plane ticket for America was for February 12th. On the 10th, they seized me. They sent me to a psychiatric hospital. It wasn’t like what you have in America – nice padded room, friendly doctors. No, they only sent you there if you were a problem, if they needed to erase you. First they deleted my file. They deleted me! From then on I didn’t exist – I never existed, not in the eyes of Russia.

But it wasn’t enough, not for those devils. They gave me injections; they gave me electroshock. To destroy my mind as well.

(He indicates his arms, his legs, and his buttocks)

Here, here, and here. Six injections, every day! Do you know what that does to your mind? It makes you crazy – you don’t remember who you are, what you did in life; it’s a just a black spot. And the electroshock! Twice a day!

(He indicates his temples)

This is where they clamped the electrodes. Cold and wet. After the shock you feel like you’ve been at the center of an explosion; you see nothing but harsh, white light. You can’t remember anything, not even your own mother. They wanted to erase my memory, so I couldn’t say anything to the Americans. But I remembered. It took me years, so many years, but I remember.

I came to America with nothing. Zero dollars, and crazy to boot. It’s been 17 years since then. I want to go back. I want to get those bastards, and bring them to the FBI! Let them taste electroshock! I have contacts – Russian Mafia. Do you know how many killers there are in America? Soviet killers, come to the US after the cold war? Thousands, tens of thousands! Some stay in New York, most went to New Jersey. They’re everywhere.”


Written by pavanvan

August 4, 2009 at 6:34 pm

Posted in Interviews

Tagged with , , , ,

6 Responses

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  1. I like this blog man, very interesting stories and commentaries. I read the rickshaw and the ex kgb and a couple others…awesome!! keep it goin


    August 5, 2009 at 10:47 pm

  2. I am curious where did this take place (the interview)

    Boris from Bryant Park

    August 10, 2009 at 4:40 am

    • Right outside my building! It was one of the more surreal experiences I’ve ever had.


      August 10, 2009 at 2:22 pm

  3. One of those times when fiction can’t hold a candle to real life

    I passed your blog URL onto a buddy, trying to rustle up some traffic for you


    August 10, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    • I am that friend. I too shall pass the URL to a few more people here in ATL, next stop a link on Huffington.


      August 10, 2009 at 6:07 pm

      • Much appreciated, good sir! Any friend of Iron Pat is surely a friend of mine!


        August 10, 2009 at 6:15 pm

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