Report: MKs, IDF General Were on KGB Payroll

View of  the large cathedrals in the Kremlin, situated by the Moscow river, in Moscow, Russia, March 13, 2012. Photo by Moshe Shai/FLASH90
Cars drive by the Kremlin, situated by the Moscow river, in Moscow, Russia. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

In a report Wednesday, Yediot Acharonot said that an examination of the KGB archives compiled by Major Vasiliy Mitrokhin, the chief archivist of the Soviet spy agency, indicates that it wasn’t just Mahmoud Abbas who acted as a KGB agent. At least three Knesset members, as well as top IDF officials – including a member of the General Staff – were being paid by Moscow for information and/or to carry out tasks.

The Israeli daily was among a small group given exclusive access to the archives located at Cambridge University. Members of the paper’s staff, along with a team of professional translators, spent months probing the documents for information about Israel. The investigation indicated that the KGB had successfully recruited several top-level political and military officials to provide services, although it did not yield specifics of what those activities were.

The documents indicate that the KGB saw Mapam, a socialist party that was thought to be sympathetic to the Soviet Union, as a target for infiltration. The three MKs were all members of the movement, and according to the documents, one code named “Granite,” was “a resident of Kibbutz Shoval near Be’er Sheva.” According to the report, that would likely be MK Elazar Granot, who was recruited in the mid-1960s and worked with the Soviets until 1967, when Moscow broke off diplomatic relations with Israel in the wake of the Six-Day War.

The report did not mention the names of the other MKs involved, nor did it name likely suspects in the IDF. Several of the names will be released in the paper’s Friday edition, Yediot said. However, the report added that Shin Bet and Mossad officials had long been aware that a member of the IDF’s General Staff had worked for the Soviets, but had decided not to act against him due to his poor health. The officer has since passed away.

The Soviets were also interested in subjects other than politics and the military. On the KGB’s payroll were several engineers, including a senior member of the design staff of the National Water Carrier, the major mid-1960s project that brought water from the Kinneret to the center and south of the country. Other recruits were involved in several other major projects; one was an engineer who worked on the design of the Lavie fighter jet, while another was involved in production of the Merkava tank, the report added.

The information comes from what has come to be called the Mitrokhin Archive. According to Cambridge University, Mitrokhin, a senior archivist in the KGB’s foreign intelligence archive from 1972 to 1984, had “unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of files from a global network of spies and intelligence gathering operations.” He decided to defect with his family to the West in 1992, and was taken out of the collapsing Soviet Union by the U.K.’s Secret Intelligence Service. Earlier this year, the documents revealed that Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas had also been on the KGB’s payroll. Abbas has denied the allegations.