Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

James Jesus Angleton: CIA Spy Hunter


Yuriy Nikolayevich Loginov
Yuriy Nikolayevich Loginov

Yuriy Nikolayevich Loginov didn't look like the typical Cold War-era KBG agent. He was slender, with delicate, almost effeminate features. The KGB had trained him for five years to be an "illegal," the most treacherous kind of spy. A prospective illegal would be given a new identity and fake documents of the highest quality, then sent to a Western nation where, over a period of years, he would establish himself as a citizen of that country, honing his language skills to perfect his cover. When the time was right, he would then immigrate to the target country, often the United States, where he would do the bidding of the KGB. Having been in deep cover for so long, a skilled illegal would be nearly undetectable.

After five years of training under a KGB tutor, Loginov made his debut on April 28, 1961, when he was sent to Italy with two fake American passports. It was merely a training mission to test his undercover skills, nothing more. In Florence he surrendered one of his passports to the hotel desk clerk, as is the custom in Italy, but the following morning when he came down to the lobby, he saw two Italian policemen examining passports and broke into a cold sweat. He panicked, convinced that he had been found out.

According to author Tom Mangold, Loginov walked out of the hotel and wandered the city, regretting that he had ever agreed to become an illegal, doubting that he had what it took to be a real spy. He left Florence for Milan where he boarded a plane for Finland. In Helsinki, he made contact with the local KGB officer who just happened to be Anatoliy Golitsyn before his defection to the West. Golitsyn gave Loginov a forged Finnish visa, good for a 17-day stay, after which he was to return to Moscow. In that time, Loginov composed himself for his return. He got over his bout of cold feet, but before he left for the Soviet Union, he secretly visited the American Embassy and asked for asylum. His dream, he would later say, was to leave the spy game entirely and disappear into the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.

The KGB sent Loginov out again the next year, this time to Paris, where he clandestinely made contact with the CIA. His secret courtship with the American intelligence agency would go on for several years, and he was given the codename AEGUSTO. As the KGB began to trust him with more assignments in Western countries, Loginov used these trips to meet with his CIA contact and pass on nuggets of classified information about Soviet counterintelligence. Among the various things he revealed, he confirmed that Yuri Nosenko was a genuine defector, and said that he knew for certain that the KGB kept Chinese students in the Soviet Union under surveillance, supporting the notion of a Sino-Soviet split.

When reports of the Loginov debriefings reached Angleton's desk at Langley, the CI chief was not pleased. Loginov's statements contradicted the Fundamentalists' bedrock beliefs about the Communist monster plan. Angleton came to the conclusion that Loginov was a deliberate "provocation" from Moscow.

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