The BBC’s security editor, Gordon Corera, has written a lively and engrossing account of the FBI’s decade-long counterintelligence operation against the illegals, Russians Among Us. He talked to special agents whose job it was to watch them 24/7. The FBI placed bugs and broke into their homes. It monitored secret communications with Moscow, marital rows, even lovemaking.
Alexander Poteyev was a veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan who rose to become deputy head of Directorate S. His story, told here for the first time, is an extraordinary one. His motives for flipping to the CIA were mixed — part greed, part disgruntlement — but his bravery was astonishing; for more than a decade, deep inside Russian intelligence, he fed his secrets to the CIA.
If this sounds like a TV drama, that is what is became. “Just watch The Americans,” said Bezrukov/Heathfield, referring to the US series depicting undercover Soviet agents in the 1980s. “The result is quite close to the reality, though without the killings and the wigs.”