Secret Intelligence Service
Soviet Military Intelligence
In order to know, understand and predict someone, a group, or indeed a whole nation and its infinite and multifaceted complexity – allow those who were and still are there to tell you. Step into their world this way, step into their mind
This is a very large collection of era-specific papers, comprising; spoken thoughts, opinions, diary extracts, books and other writings of Soviet / Russian intelligence officers
Attention to the point of view
No. IX of XL
After the trial of Akma, Swedish newspapers ceased publishing articles about Russian espionage on the Scandinavian Peninsula. But the lull was temporary. On December 14, 1944, all Stockholm evening newspapers published an official report with the following content : ‘Former Russian citizen Vladimir Stashevsky and two Swedish citizens – navigator Viktor Buk and another person whose name is not published, as this strongly affect the health of his family, and, besides, in a mental sense, he is so unstable that we can talk about his release.’
The next day, December 15, 1944, the newspapers AT, Aftonbladet, Dagens Nyheter and others published more detailed reports regarding the detention of Russian spies. The head of the criminal police, Lyundkvist, told reporters that the detained Vladimir Stashevsky ‘is a Tsarist-Russian spy,’ and his accomplice, Viktor Buck, was a navigator at ‘a number of Swedish ships assigned to the ports of Stockholm, Gothenburg, Landskrup, Solvesborg and Trelleborg. He delivered to Stashevsky information about the situation in Germany, about the Swedish sea traffic to Germany and fortifications on the Baltic coast. Stashevsky gave this information to the Soviet resident.’
In those days, the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet wrote : ‘The disclosure of a new spy centre in Stockholm, headed by the former Russian naval attache, refers to facts that remind our people that he still can’t go on to discuss post-war problems the hope that the danger has passed.’
According to the police, the Stashevsky story was one of the most serious cases of espionage in Sweden in 1944. Spying, it was believed, was directed against Sweden. ‘The activities of the detainees included both the sale of Swedish military secrets to a foreign country and spying for merchant ships, including shipping in the Baltic Sea. The disclosure of this case should once again induce the Swedish public, despite neutral fatigue from the war, not to turn a blind eye, to be vigilant against many mysterious personalities who conduct their underground criminal activities in Sweden.’
On December 20, 1944, a special correspondent for the newspaper ‘AT’ reported on its pages that ‘the investigation of the case of the Stashevsky espionage group began. Deal versed in city court. All members of the group are quite old people. Stashevsky is a very small, dry old man with Hitler’s mustache, but not without smartness. When the judges offered him a chair, he replied that he was so good, and continued to stand.’
Stashevsky during the trial never sat on the chair offered to him by the judges. Apparently, the Swedish journalist did not guess that the former officer of the imperial fleet of Tsarist Russia did not consider himself guilty and could not accept a kind offer to sit in the dock. He was firmly convinced that his work to collect information about fascist Germany and the supply of Swedish industrial goods to the ports of the Third Reich was not a crime against Sweden. Stashevsky was engaged in intelligence activities against fascist Germany, which was the enemy not only of the Soviet Union, but also of all European countries. Including Sweden, ‘despite its neutral fatigue from the war.’
Who was Vladimir Stashevsky and what was he really doing in Stockholm?
Vladimir Arsenyevich Stashevsky was born into a noble family in Yaroslavl in 1879. His father had the rank of lieutenant general, served as military governor of the Maritime Region and was the ataman of the Ussuri Cossack Army.
Vladimir chose a different path in his life. He decided to become a naval officer, graduated from the Naval Cadet Corps, spent several years serving on the ships of the Imperial Navy, in 1911 graduated from the Nikolaev Naval Academy. After studying, the young, talented officer was assigned to a foreign (reconnaissance) part of the Marine General Staff, where he was assigned to the position of naval agent in one of the European countries. Before going on a special official business trip, Stashevsky had to perform one of the tasks in Sweden. Despite the lack of intelligence experience work, the young officer successfully coped with it. This indicated that he could make a sensible military intelligence officer. General educational training also allowed him to perform representation duties in Stockholm. This was the basis for the appointment of Stashevsky on February 17, 1914 to the position of marine agent in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. ‘Maritime agent’, in modern terms, was the naval attache of the Russian Empire in the Scandinavian countries.
During the First World War, V. Stashevsky obtained valuable information about the German navy. Despite the fact that Stashevsky was collecting information about Germany, being in the territory of neutral Scandinavian countries, he constantly met with active opposition from counterintelligence of Norway, Denmark and especially Sweden.
In 1916, V. Stashevsky was given the rank of captain of the 1st rank. He successfully solved the tasks assigned to him by the Marine General Staff.
After the change of power in Russia in 1917, Captain 1st Rank Stashevsky continued to engage in intelligence work in its interests. Many of their colleagues in the Naval General Staff refused to cooperate with the new workers ‘and peasants’ power established in Russia. Stashevsky, however, continued to maintain contact with Petrograd, despite the fact that funding for its activities was completely discontinued.
In 1918, the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic decided to abolish the institute of military and naval agents (attache). Stashevsky was dismissed from service and was left virtually without means of livelihood. However, he did not stop his intelligence activities in the interests of Russia. Former Russian naval attache was engaged in collecting information important to the security of his homeland, disinterestedly and voluntarily. Stashevsky had some personal savings that allowed him to live and work in Sweden. To support his financial situation, he gave private lessons in Russian and higher mathematics, which he taught to individual Swedish students.
The data produced by Stashevsky was of considerable interest. In June 1918, for example, Stashevsky reported to Petrograd that Germany was pushing Finland into a military seizure of Russian Karelia and the northern lands. ‘This is openly talked about in Swedish military circles,’ Stashevsky reported. ‘The scale of the operation is assumed. The time of the operation is in the tundra – the end of summer, ‘the spy reported.
In 1933, V. Stashevsky applied to the USSR Embassy in Sweden with a request to grant him Soviet citizenship and allow him to return to Russia. According to Stashevsky, a positive decision was made. While living abroad, he remained a decent person, did not take part in actions against other immigrants from Russia, and assisted his Fatherland, in which a new life was incomprehensible to him.
Despite a positive decision on Stashevsky’s claim, the former officer of the Russian Navy did not return home. In the same year of 1933, the representative of the Soviet military intelligence ‘Rudolf’ met Stashevsky and offered him to stay in Sweden. Military intelligence was in dire need of skilled personnel devoted to Russia who could carry out its tasks. One of these tasks was to collect reliable information about the state and prospects of development of the Swedish-German relations. After Hitler and the National Socialists came to power in Germany, this issue was of considerable interest to the Soviet military intelligence. Y.K. Berzin, the head of the Red Army Intelligence Agency, did not rule out the deterioration of Soviet-German relations and purposefully created the residency of Soviet military intelligence in Germany and the states where it was possible to extract information on the direction of the foreign policy of the Third Reich.
Under the pseudonym ‘Rudolf’ in the Red Army Intelligence Directorate was listed as an assistant naval attache Arthur Alexandrovich Ritter. In 1937, Ritter’s special mission to Sweden was interrupted. He was recalled to Moscow.
Attracted by Ritter to work for the Soviet military intelligence, Vladimir Stashevsky remained in Stockholm. He was a major military specialist, he thoroughly knew Germany and its armed forces, possessing an analytical mindset, well understood the peculiarities of the foreign policy courses of the Scandinavian states. Such a specialist was very necessary to the Soviet military intelligence.
Military intelligence reconnected with Stashevsky at the end of 1939. At the Centre, he was given the pseudonym ‘Admiral’. Performing the mission of the Red Army Intelligence Agency, the Admiral created a reconnaissance group in Stockholm. If Sweden entered the war against the USSR on the side of Germany, she had to obtain information on the orders of the Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Red Army.
The Admiral knew German, French, English, and Swedish. Describing the personal and business qualities of Stashevsky, Lieutenant Colonel N. Nikitushev reported to the Centre : ‘Stashevsky is very careful in his work. Carefully selects people who may have useful information or connections. Itself is quite trustworthy. As a well-trained military specialist, he provides valuable information on military matters. With the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, transferred to an independent connection with the Centre’.
When fascist Germany treacherously attacked the Soviet Union, the Admiral’s intelligence group stepped up its work. It consisted of the sources of ‘Barbo’, ‘Ture’ and ‘August’. The radio operator of the group was Akma.
The Stashevsky reconnaissance group was engaged only in collecting information on the position of the Germans in Norway and on the transfer of German troops through Sweden to Finland. One of the active assistants of the ‘Admiral’, extracting information about fascist Germany, was the source of ‘Barbo’. This pseudonym belonged to Viktor Nikolaevich Buk.
Buck was born in Tomsk, graduated from high school, in 1914, arrived in St. Petersburg and entered the officer naval school, but due to unknown circumstances, he was expelled. Victor Buk did not break up with the navy. He entered the courses of ensigns, after graduating he received the military rank of ensign of the Admiralty, served in the mine barrier ‘Volga’.
In 1918, Viktor Buk was dismissed from service in the Navy. He left St. Petersburg for Arkhangelsk, joined the white army commanded by Miller. In 1920 he was captured by the Reds. Voluntarily joined the Red Army, fought on the Polish front, near Polotsk was seriously wounded and captured already by the Poles. He escaped from captivity, ended up in Riga, hired a merchant ship that was transporting goods to Sweden and Finland. In 1923 he stayed in Sweden, settled in Stockholm, and over time received Swedish citizenship.
In 1937, Beech was already working as the second navigator on one of the Swedish merchant ships, which flew to the ports of Germany. Apparently, Stashevsky was acquainted with Buk. In carrying out the task of the Intelligence Agency for the creation of an intelligence group, Stashevsky suggested that Buk be engaged in collecting information about German seaports and Swedish-German trade traffic through the Baltic Sea.
Beech was married to a Swede, had a daughter of 12 years. Behind him he had a difficult life, participation in the war on the side of both whites and reds. At first he did not accept Stashevsky’s proposal, but when fascist Germany attacked the Soviet Union, Beech realised that his homeland needed help, and agreed to carry out Stashevsky’s tasks. At the Centre, he was given the pseudonym ‘Barbo’.
‘Barbo’ began to collect information on the state of the German ports of Kiel, Bremen and Emden, as well as on shipments of industrial goods, raw materials and other goods to Germany from Sweden. He was engaged in this work with interest, he knew all the German sea ports, the German and Swedish merchant ships and passenger ships, their payload well.
Barbo was acquainted with some of the captains of the Swedish naval vessels, which enabled him to carry out the Admiral’s tasks in a timely manner, collect information about the German minefields in the Baltic Sea, promptly report on the courses of the German military convoys in the Baltic, keep control of the transfer of German troops and cargo to the Scandinavian Peninsula. Deliveries of Swedish industrial goods to Germany were also timely estimated by the Admiral group. Barbo data has always been accurate, detailed and valuable.
Barbo was also able to organise the acquisition of secret information from the office of the German military attache in Sweden. In this he was helped by one of the Swedes who worked for the German.
Barbo collaborated with the ‘Admiral’ disinterestedly. Risking his life, he, as he could, helped Russia, which he always considered his homeland. Arrest V.N. In December 1944, Buka interrupted the entry into the Centre of important information about fascist Germany.
Under the pseudonym ‘Ture’. The name of this source was not mentioned in Swedish newspapers in December 1944. One also will not call her, but will specify that this source did not suffer from a mental disorder, as the Swedish newspapers wrote. He occupied a fairly high position in Swedish political circles and was even a member of the family of King Gustav. With Gustav he had an old friendship. When the Swedish king was still in a difficult situation when he was still a young officer, ‘Tyure’ helped him with something. The service, apparently, was significant.
‘Tyure’ transferred intelligence information to ‘Admiral’ only for cash rewards. Yakov Nikolaevich Knyazev (Colmar) on behalf of Nikitushev handed over to Admiral the necessary funds for the calculations. The game was worth the candle. Sometimes ‘Tyure’ even conveyed to ‘Admiral’ the contents of the letters that King Gustav sent to Hitler. Initially, the Centre was treated with such suspicion. It was hard to believe that ‘Tyure’ was capable of obtaining such information. But the subsequent development of the Swedish-German relations exactly confirmed everything that Türe reported. In particular, he was the first to inform Soviet intelligence that the king agreed to provide Germany with free transit for the transport of troops, military equipment and ammunition through Sweden. After some time it was confirmed.
‘Ture’ in 1941-1943 also obtained valuable information about Finland and Germany. In one of the archival documents of the military intelligence of those years it was noted that ‘in 1940–1943, the Admiral group sent several valuable materials to the Centre on the German armed forces, German military transport and the foreign policy of Sweden.’
What happened to the ‘Admiral’ after the arrest of ‘Akma’, with which he, as already mentioned, had never met? How could the Swedish criminal police get on the trail of V.A. Stashevsky and detain him, V.N. Beech and source ‘Tyure’?
Before starting the search for answers to these questions, it seems worth exploring the characteristic that Colonel Nikitushev gave to the Admiral in 1944. ‘Admiral’, according to Nikitushev, ‘certainly a dedicated worker. He does his best to fully accomplish our tasks.’ And further : ‘The work is extremely cautious, acts only for sure. For more than three years of cooperation with us, he did not offer any recruitment from local citizens. His connections have long been tested and secured. The police approach to him is extremely difficult because he does not have access to secret information, and he himself is the leader of a small illegal group; he organised work with sources skillfully, therefore collecting compromising materials on him is extremely difficult.’
The assessments and conclusions of Colonel Nikitushev do not raise doubts about the high professional skill of the Admiral. Nevertheless, in December 1944, Stashevsky was arrested by the Swedish criminal police. What happened in Stockholm?
The answer to this question was found in one of the documents of 1944, which have now become available. It turned out that Stashevsky’s arrest was preceded by an event that played a fatal role in his fate.
September 17, 1944 in the apartment ‘Admiral’ rang an unexpected phone call. Stashevsky picked up the phone. The caller apologised for the anxiety and gave his last name. It turned out to be Boris Mikhailovich Chetverukhin, who once was also an officer of the imperial navy. After the October Revolution, Chetverukhin did not recognise the Soviet government and emigrated to Finland. In Helsinki, he was noticed and recruited by British intelligence. Chetverukhin was a man without strong moral beliefs. He wanted to have money and earned it as best he could, trading his knowledge of the Russian fleet, helping the British to gather information about Russia’s military potential.
Apparently, the British were not very generous in paying for the information that Chetverukhin transmitted to British intelligence. Realising this, Boris Mikhailovich offered his services to the Swedish general staff and began to cooperate with the Swedish intelligence. Helping the Finns, the Swedes and the British to gather information about Russia, Chetverukhin made a small capital and created his own trading office, Sundval Co. A / K. The office was located in Helsinki, Kazerngatat Street, 27. Probably, the office was a cover for Chetverukhin’s intelligence activities. In 1944, when Soviet troops successfully completed Operation Bagration and liberated almost the entire territory of the Soviet Union, Chetverukhin realised that Finland would soon be out of the war. ‘Triple Agent’ Chetverukhin did not rule out that the troops of the Karelian Front could enter Finland, that his business would fall apart, and decided to move to Sweden.
Stashevsky did not know all these details. He met with Chetrukhin. They had lunch at a restaurant in Stockholm. During the conversation, Chetverukhin said that he had arrived in Sweden for ten days, seeking permission from the Swedish authorities to stay in Stockholm. After several glasses of vodka, Chetverukhin, feeling that his interlocutor understood him completely, said that he was cooperating with British intelligence and also working for the German general staff.
Concluding the meeting with Stashevsky, Boris Mikhailovich said that after the war they could make good money together, since information about Russia would cost even more. There are buyers, and their number is growing.
Stashevsky realised that a guest from Helsinki arrived in Stockholm to solve his affairs and simultaneously engage him in intelligence work against the Soviet Union after the defeat of Nazi Germany. The proposal was direct and unambiguous.
Refusing the offer Chetveruhina, Stashevsky said goodbye to him. The unceremoniousness and lack of principle of Chetverukhin struck Stashevsky.
At the next meeting with the resident, Stashevsky reported in detail to Nikitushev about the content of the conversation with Chetverukhin. Nikitushev recommended that the Admiral no longer come into contact with Chetverukhin.
What happened next? After the unsuccessful recruitment of Stashevsky, Chetverukhin sent an anonymous denunciation of him to the Swedish police. After that, the ‘Admiral’ was taken by the Swedish counterintelligence under secret surveillance, which lasted about two months. Counterintelligence agents were able to record the contacts of the Admiral with Viktor Buk and the source of Tyure. In December 1944, all three were detained.
Even before the trial, Swedish newspapers determined that Stashevsky was a Soviet secret agent, that he was guilty of collecting information about Sweden. In short, even before the trial, all points in the Stashevsky case were set.
Stashevsky was sentenced to 2 years and 10 months in prison. During the investigation and trial, Vladimir Arsenyevich did not admit his guilt and did not disclose his belonging to the Soviet intelligence. The charge of collecting information about the Swedish armed forces remained unproven.
The Admiral did not really collect information about Sweden. During the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet military intelligence was hardly interested in such information. The task of the Admiral was to study the position of the countries of the fascist bloc and the position of the Finnish troops on the front in Karelia.
After the announcement of the sentence, the former captain of the 1st rank of the Russian Imperial Navy served his sentence in the prison in the city of Falun. Stashevsky did not regret what happened to him. While in prison, he wrote to his wife : ‘I am Russian, I am a military man, I am a patriot. So I did what I did. Russian military men are understandable to my actions.’
While in prison, Vladimir Arsenyevich gave some prisoners Russian language lessons, and to two Swedes who studied by correspondence in an engineering institute, in higher mathematics. He was released from prison when World War II ended. However, in the victory of the Red Army over fascist Germany, there is undoubtedly a noticeable contribution of this man. The Admiral loved Russia and helped her in difficult times with all he could.
After the war, V.A. Stashevsky lived in Stockholm. He died on October 30, 1950.
Secret Intelligence Service
Red Star. Soviet Military Intelligence
No. IX of XL
Adversitate. Custodi. Per Verum