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Comrade Cameron - Tales of KGB recruitment attempts

  • #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 9,348 Morlar

    I heard this story a couple of years ago but it's still as bizzare today as ever :
    KGB tried to recruit me as a student – David Cameron

    By Robert Winnett
    Tuesday September 13 2011

    KGB agents tried and failed to recruit David Cameron when he was a young student, the British Prime Minister told his Russian hosts on a visit to Moscow.

    He joked that he apparently failed to pass the “interview” during the bizarre incident on a gap-year trip to the Black Sea coast in 1985.

    When told of the incident, President Dmitry Medvedev said that Mr Cameron would have made a “very good KGB agent”.

    Mr Cameron described the apparent approach during a speech to students at the Moscow State university. “I first came to Russia as a student on my gap year between school and university in 1985,” he said. “I took the Trans-Siberian railway from Nakhodka to Moscow and went on to the Black Sea coast.

    “There, two Russians, speaking perfect English, turned up on a beach mostly used by foreigners.”

    He continued: “They took me out to lunch and dinner and asked me about life in England and what I thought about England.”

    A naive Mr Cameron apparently did not immediately realise what had happened at the resort of Yalta until returning to Britain. He is understood to have been travelling with a friend, Anthony Griffith. The Prime Minister said: “When I got back I told my tutor at university and he asked me whether it was an interview. If it was, it seems I didn’t get the job.”

    The anecdote was met with an uncomfortable reaction among the Russian students in the auditorium.

    But later, when asked about the incident, President Medvedev and other senior Russian figures laughed it off.

    “David would have been a very good KGB agent, but in this case he would never have become a Prime Minister of the UK,” the Russian President said at a press conference in the Kremlin.

    There have long been rumours that Left-wing politicians, including the Labour prime minister Harold Wilson, were groomed by the KGB. However, it is unusual for a Right-wing politician to admit any links to the Soviets. Mr Cameron said he had to disclose the incident to MI5 in 1990 when he applied for a job as a special adviser to Norman Lamont in the Treasury.

    Former KGB spies cast doubt on the story. Mikhail Bogdanov, 58, a former London-based KGB spy, said: “I suspect Mr Cameron is flattering himself a bit, in the way that he is the victim of a perception about the Soviet Union, and now Russia, that there are spies everywhere, and the almighty KGB wants to recruit everyone.”

    Igor Prelin, 74, a retired KGB colonel, added: “I would not necessarily call it recruiting, but it might have been a meeting aimed at making friends. We had a good system of databases and a simple check of the name could have brought amazing results.”

    The meeting between Mr Cameron and Mr Putin was said to be formal and focused on economic issues.

    Mr Putin said to the Prime Minister: “We are very glad to see you and this is the first visit by the Prime Minister of Great Britain in the past five years. I should say the trade and economic development over the past years has been developing very successfully.”

    Mr Cameron said that the meeting provided a “great opportunity for Great Britain and Russia to try to build a stronger relationship”.

    - Robert Winnett

    Any other KGB recruitment tales ?


  • Morlar wrote: »
    ...Any other KGB recruitment tales ?

    there was a very friendly Russian Artillery Officer - who knew fcuk all about Artillery - at KFOR HQ in Pristina, and the Russian contingent in UNPROFOR in Bosnia was absolutely stacked with officers who spoke European languages, were obsessed with our signals kit and reactive armour, how closely we knew the Queen and Prime Minister, and who paid no attention whatsoever to what their soldiers were, or were not, doing.

    the only serious attempt that i'm aware of came, of course, from the French...

  • I think that might fall more under intelligence gathering than recruitment attempts?

    I heard years ago from Irish guys in the Lebannon about how, when there was a rotation of new personnel, a few days later at about 3 or 4am there would be a girl speaking in Irish across various frequencies trying to get a response. I was told this was a standard Israeli tactic at that time.

    Can I ask which french example are you referring to ?

  • Morlar wrote: »
    Can I ask which french example are you referring to ?

    its an anecdotal example, it was reported straight off (apparently the French person involved heard the blokes brain go 'click' and he hastily started backing away from the subject....). sadly it happens all the time - anyone who's been in a multi-national environment and hasn't been 'felt-up' (the delightful term for an analysis of the potential usefullness of the subject and the likelyhood of the subject being amenable to an approach), just hasn't noticed that they've been felt-up.

    obviously intelligence gathering and recruitment are just different parts of the same spectrum, but the Russians in UNPROFOR and KFOR were more interested in the personal relationships they could build with NATO people than they were with any tech details. they'd happily talk about kit/doctine/whatever, but it was the personal relationships they were after.