Spy Ops (2023) s01e03 Episode Script

Operation Pimlico

[suspenseful music plays]
[car horn honks]
[man 1] Oleg Gordievsky,
a Soviet KGB officer,
is one of the greatest spies
that worked for MI6, British intelligence.
[man 2]
I was prepared to take the risk
in order to protect
the security of Great Britain.
When the telegram arrived,
I knew the wording.
"I am under strong suspicion
and in bad trouble."
"Need exfiltration, soonest."
The MI6 signal that they had spotted
his distress sign for exfiltration
was that an MI6 officer
would walk by with a chocolate bar.
[man 2] When I started to prepare
myself for the escape,
then it became exciting.
This was
the highest-possible-stakes operation.
[man 2] I was very nervous.
Many times I was saying to myself,
"It's like a movie."
"It's like a movie. Look at it."
"Am I watching a movie about myself?"
[man 1] Operation Pimlico was the most
audacious and brave attempt
ever undertaken to rescue
an officer from Moscow.
[tense music playing]
[music fades]
Shall we start?
[suspenseful music playing]
In 1967,
I was sent to Copenhagen
as a deputy chief of KGB station.
Formerly, I was a KGB colonel
and intelligence officer.
A spy.
We were not working
against the Danes there.
We were mainly working
against the Americans
and the NATO.
[suspenseful music continues]
[man 3] One must remember
that Denmark is a small country
right on the front line
of the Cold War.
Spies are essentially
the cheapest weapon to fight a war,
and thus most of the socialist countries
would eventually have their spies,
either at the embassies
or independently of the embassies,
working in Denmark.
And at that time, I met Gordievsky,
who was working there.
Gordi was a deputy chief
of the station.
My right hand.
The closest man in the KGB station
after me.
Actually, Oleg Gordievsky was a man
who was completely surrounded
by the KGB people.
In the beginning, I was Homo Sovieticus,
which means a normal Soviet man
who is used to lying,
having one language within his family,
another language speaking
to the party organization.
My mother was not a member
of the Communist party.
It was the influence of my mother,
with her normality,
who taught me to take the reality
of the Soviet life
in its proper light and dimension.
She was basically against the KGB
because my father was a member
of the KGB
and she saw all the tricks
and brutality.
[crowd shouting]
My brother and I,
we would join not the KGB as such
the sinister, domestic body of the KGB
but its foreign intelligence department.
It's an elite organization.
We are people, intellectuals,
speaking different foreign languages.
But the work, what was it?
Recruiting members of the public
as secret informers for the KGB.
And abroad, we were supposed
to do exactly the same.
[Lyubimov] At that time, there was
the situation before the Prague Spring.
[reporter 1] The Czechs are queuing up
to explore their newfound freedom.
And for the last two months,
since the fall
of the strict Stalinist Novotný
from the party's secretaryship,
they've been freely arguing into shape
the future of their society.
[crowd shouting]
[reporter 2] Alexander Dubček came
to power in Prague several months earlier,
promising what he called
"socialism with a human face."
One of the first steps
was the removal of censorship,
even calls for multiparty democracy.
But Moscow was pressurizing Dubček
to reverse his reforms,
and also making military plans.
Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev
had originally supported Dubček.
Now, he feared the reforms in Prague
would weaken the Communist Bloc.
[Lyubimov] I remember many people
from our KGB station drinking vodka.
We were betting whether the Russians
will send tanks to Prague or not.
So I remember me and Oleg
made a bet
that they will not send tanks.
So we lost, by the way,
because it happens in 1968.
[ominous music playing]
[man speaking Czech]
[crowd shouting angrily]
[man 4] The young Gordievsky
is at the embassy
when he gets the news
about the invasion.
That was a tremendous blow
to the rest of my belief
that the Communist was able to evolve.
At that time, I thought,
"No, the Communists will never change."
It is a rigid totalitarian system
which I reject.
Um, the courageous Czechoslovak people
tried to regain freedom and democracy.
It was stopped by the repressive
Soviet regime.
From that day, I would never again
support that regime.
I would never again
view myself as a Communist.
So it was at that day
I became mental defector.
I was distancing myself
from the rest of the KGB,
which was, um
um, associated with the purges,
with the gulag, and so on.
[Hansen] He goes to the phone,
calls his wife back home,
crying his heart out,
because he's frustrated
about how the Soviet Union,
but also the other Warsaw Pact countries,
are handling the situation
in Czechoslovakia.
He did, in fact, expect that the phone
would be bugged.
And, in fact, it was.
So, Danish intelligence was listening in
on his conversation with his wife.
And that was when
one of these technicians
ran down the hallway,
went to the chief of operations
in the Danish Intelligence Service,
knocked at his door and said,
"Boss, you have to come listen to this."
[Bro] At that time, I was the deputy head
of the Danish Police Intelligence
and Security Service.
And as such, the head of operations.
I didn't speak Russian,
so I couldn't understand it immediately.
But I could read the transcript.
We found rather quickly
that he was KGB
and he was an illegals support officer.
And as such,
he had close contact
with Danish clergymen,
Danish police,
the personnel registration
to find new "let-ins,"
as they're called,
for the Soviet intelligence
illegal network.
That could tell us a good deal
about him.
He was bright, intelligent,
very friendly, open,
good language skills,
and well-educated.
He was a charming guy.
When we came to the conclusion
that here was an operational possibility,
we should try to recruit him.
I had his picture in my drawer.
So that's our man.
But we understood
that we couldn't do it ourselves,
and we ended up
asking the British service.
And, uh, after some preparations,
the British made a move
and put out their hand
to Gordievsky.
British intelligence, uh, certainly
in the mid-to-late part of the Cold War,
was really divided into a number
of different organizations.
MI5, the domestic service,
was looking at threats
within the UK itself.
But working overseas,
operating out of embassies,
trying to recruit foreigners
to work on behalf of British intelligence,
was MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service.
[suspenseful music plays]
[Bro] He was an energetic badminton player
and played early in the morning.
And the British head of station
was also a badminton player,
and he had he had the great advantage
that he was known
in whole Copenhagen
as head of British intelligence
stationed in Copenhagen.
That was a great advantage,
because Gordievsky knew
to whom he was talking.
[rackets banging]
[Gordievsky] I was actually found
and met in the early morning hours
uh, in a badminton court.
The court was available
only between 7:00 and 8:00
in the morning.
[man 5] And it was simple
as making eye contact with Gordievsky
and walking by him and saying,
"I wonder if you'd like
to have a conversation?"
To which Gordievsky said,
"That would be very good."
[Gordievsky] They did have
some doubt in the beginning.
Being an intelligence officer,
a KGB officer,
was I sincere or real?
They talked clear business and said,
"Well, we want you to work for us.
Are you in?"
And Gordievsky said, "Well, I'm in."
Of course he was anxious.
Every agent is anxious.
Every agent lives with the fear
that you can be exposed.
You live with the fear
while you're working,
and you live with the fear
when you're finished.
That's a part of the game.
We were behind.
We were giving cover.
We assisted.
But it was kept as a total secret.
If two knows about it, dangerous.
Ten knows about it, very dangerous.
The good thing about a friendship
with the chief KGB officer in Denmark
is that you can go to your boss's office,
go through his papers and documents
on the desk
and find the secret stuff
that you need.
Some of the information
Gordievsky would have known and provided
would have been the identities
of Brits or Americans
secretly working for the Russians.
And as a KGB officer
working overseas,
Gordievsky would have been trying
to actively recruit foreigners
to work for the Russians.
[Hansen] Sometimes,
they would meet in safe flats.
And sometimes, depending on the situation,
it could be a brush contact
in the middle of Copenhagen,
where one thing left his hand
and was given to another guy
going the other way.
In the middle of the road,
so to speak.
He knew the names of several agents
in Norway, Sweden, UK.
He passed on the names of 200 people.
In 1978,
Gordievsky is called back to Moscow.
His period in Copenhagen is over.
The great advantage for Oleg Gordievsky
of going back to Moscow
was that the third department
of KGB foreign intelligence
included Britain as well as Scandinavia.
So Oleg Gordievsky was able
to use those years in Moscow
moving from the Scandinavian desk
to the British desk,
to the immense surprise
and joy of MI6, British intelligence,
to get posted to Britain.
[reporters chattering]
[man 6] And in the 1980s,
I was Margaret Thatcher's
what we call private secretary
for foreign affairs and defense.
Advisor on foreign affairs and defense.
She knew, certainly more than I did,
that there was a single source,
but she didn't know his name.
There was no need for her to know.
Our services provided Gordievsky
with information
which he could give back
to the Soviet Union
to convince them what an active,
efficient spy he was being in London.
At the time, Margaret Thatcher,
she was very fiercely anti-Soviet.
And this was the time
when Margaret Thatcher
was described as the Iron Lady.
President Reagan spoke
about the "evil empire."
In your discussions
of the nuclear freeze proposals,
I urge you to beware
the temptation of pride,
the temptation of blithely
declaring yourselves above it all
and label both sides equally at fault,
to ignore the facts of history
and the aggressive impulses
of an evil empire,
to simply call the arms race
a giant misunderstanding,
and thereby remove yourself
from the struggle between right and wrong,
and good and evil.
[Goodman] He saw the Russians
as the great baddies,
and he was very, very vocal in speeches,
certainly early in his presidency,
explaining just how bad
the Russians were.
Leonid Brezhnev,
the leader of the Soviet Union,
and Yuri Andropov,
the head of the KGB,
had become convinced with
the advent of the Reagan administration
that there was a genuine
serious chance
that in the near future, that the West
is gonna launch a nuclear war.
[reporter] Politicians were seeking
agreement on modernization of forces
by the deployment
in West European NATO states
of over 500 new American
tactical nuclear missiles.
From inside the KGB residency
in London,
Gordievsky saw telegrams,
flash signals from Moscow Center
to others around the world,
describing how a NATO exercise
was actually a camouflage
for what they believed
was a mobilization
for a first strike on the Soviet Union.
This was the so-called NATO
Able Archer exercise of November, 1983.
We cannot relax our vigilance
because the Warsaw Pact
military machine
continues to grow, even today,
Able Archer itself,
that version in 1983,
was a command post exercise,
where people were designed
to portray themselves
as the prime minister,
as very senior political leaders.
And once more, that fed into Brezhnev's
idea of paranoia.
Why would a war game
have a prime minister
simulating some sort of nuclear war
with the Soviet Union?
[Stout] If they think war's about
to start, they might preempt it
and be the ones who actually start a war
that, in fact, nobody wanted.
When the scale of Soviet fears
became apparent,
that was decided
it would be no longer prudent
to go down that route,
because it really would convince
the Soviet Union
that they might be attacked.
And it was very helpful to know
from Gordievsky
that this was a fear, a real fear.
But what Gordievsky was very,
very good at doing
was convincing the West that,
actually, their rhetoric,
the "evil empire" speeches
that Reagan was making,
were being misperceived in the East.
And so, actually, part of the great value
of his intelligence
was to persuade the Brits
and the Americans
that they needed
to tone down the language
and to not portray the Russians
as these nasty, evil people.
So this is stunning information,
and that's probably
the single most important thing
that Gordievsky is able
to provide to the West.
Here was a man,
because of his own intelligence
and his capabilities,
was able to give this very broad picture.
He was absolutely invaluable.
The name Oleg Gordievsky
could never have slipped out
of Thatcher's mouth
because she never knew the name.
But she knew Oleg Gordievsky.
She regarded him, without any doubt,
as a hero.
So as Oleg said, "I'm Bond, James Bond."
[Walton] Gordievsky became
the resident designate within London.
You can imagine
that the champagne was flowing
in MI6 at that point,
where their asset became the person
nominated to be the head of the KGB
in London.
Sharing human intelligence
is often one of the most sensitive bits
in a liaison relationship.
Often, the source material itself
might be shared.
Gordievsky's material was shared
across the Atlantic,
but his identity was not shared.
Nonetheless, the CIA
I mean, it's an intelligence service
uh, they want to know what's going on.
After a time, it becomes very clear
that the British have a very well-placed
Soviet source of some sort or another.
And the head of S.E. division,
the division of the directorate
of operations
that conducts espionage
against the Soviet Union
and its Warsaw Pact allies
put someone in charge
of trying to figure out,
like, who is this source
that the British have?
And the key guy working on that project
to figure out who that Soviet source is
is a man named Aldrich Ames.
What Gordievsky did not know
was that CIA officer Rick Ames
walked into the KGB,
um, residency in Washington,
and started to offer intelligence.
[suspenseful music playing]
Aldrich Ames is a upper-middle-level
CIA officer
in the directorate of operations.
He spent his career
working against the Soviet target.
But, frankly, he's not a high flyer,
and he starts to spy for the Soviets.
Not out of ideological conviction.
It's just that he wants money
both for himself
and, more importantly,
to maintain the lifestyle of his wife,
who's used to having nice things.
And so he started spying
for the Soviet Union.
It knocked them for a loop. It really did.
Uh, to be simply given,
uh, the information,
in some cases, evidence
that half a dozen or more
KGB officers
were really working
for the SIS or the CIA.
[suspenseful rock beat plays]
[music fades]
In his very first sort of initial dump
of information to the KGB in Washington,
he betrays the identities
of 10 or 11 Soviet agents
working for the CIA.
I knew that they would be eventually,
perhaps not immediately,
but that they would eventually
be prosecuted.
And certainly that some of them
could be executed.
He tells the KGB as well
what the CIA knows
about this secret sensitive source
that MI6 has.
The Americans knew
some of the material,
but they didn't know
the identity of the source.
And by piecing together
the sort of material being provided,
by looking at who had access
to the material,
Aldrich Ames was able to identify
Gordievsky as the source.
[Ames] In the case of Mr. Gordievsky,
the SIS had never told us
who their source was.
We discovered this,
in fact, I discovered this.
I was able to put together some pieces,
uh, that allowed us to identify
who it was.
[Clinton] Three days ago,
an employee of the CIA, Aldrich Ames,
and his wife were arrested for spying.
The Ames couple caused significant damage
to our national security.
[reporter] Aldrich Ames
is the most damaging traitor
in the history of the CIA.
Hey betrayed Gordievsky's name.
He told the Russians who it was.
And the rest is history.
[Andrew] In 1985,
Oleg Gordievsky's
summoned back to Moscow
for what he's told to be important
discussions of briefings,
uh, prior to him formally taking over
as head of KGB operations in Britain.
[Morse code beeping]
When the telegram arrived,
"Come in two days to Moscow
for important conversations,"
I knew the wording.
Dozens and dozens were called to Moscow
for important sessions, and then shot.
He consults with his MI6 handlers,
and they all agree that
I mean, you can't ever
be certain of anything,
but if he goes back
and everything's okay,
he'll become the resident.
He'll have access to everything
about KGB operations
in all of Great Britain.
On the other hand,
if this really is bad news,
he goes back and he's likely
to end up dead.
In the end, they give Gordievsky
the decision.
It's his decision to make.
And he decides
that he's gonna risk it,
and is gonna go back to Moscow
and see what happens.
[Walton] Operation Pimlico
had been carefully organized
with his British handlers
to exfiltrate Gordievsky
from the Soviet Union
if he got into trouble there.
The way Pimlico worked
was every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.,
somebody from the MI6 station
in Moscow
would look at a particular bakery
on Kutuzovsky Prospekt,
and if they see a man there
with gray pants and a gray hat
and carrying a plastic grocery bag
from Safeway,
that's the signal.
And they're supposed
to respond to the signal
by eating either a Kit Kat bar
or a Mars bar.
[Gordievsky] I thought I should be
a courageous man.
It's what I felt.
[Andrew] Oleg said to me, however,
"I just felt that something was wrong."
And I vividly remember this phrase.
He said
"The palms of my hands felt sweaty."
[Hansen] After returning to Moscow,
he noticed, uh, very quickly
that, uh, something is wrong.
First, as he's going through
passport control,
the man from the KGB border guards
looks at his passport,
notices his name, and then makes
a telephone call to somebody
to report
that Gordievsky has arrived.
Normally, he would be picked up
by a colleague from the KGB.
But when he arrives,
there's no one to pick him up.
So, again, that's a little bit odd.
When he arrives home,
he discovers unambiguous proof
that something bad is going on.
The door has three locks,
but he and his wife lost the key
to one of those locks,
and they don't actually use it.
But he notices that
that lock is locked.
[Hansen] Which could only mean one thing.
Someone had been inside.
His first thought is, of course,
"This is the KGB."
"This is the work of the KGB."
[Gordievsky] My flat was bugged.
My telephone was listened to.
And probably there was even television
into my flat.
So I was watched and listened by them
all the time.
The pretense they used to call me
was a series of important meetings
with important people.
And it never materialized.
No meetings, no appointments,
no discussions.
Other small, suspicious moments.
Nothing happens on Tuesday.
Nothing on Wednesday.
He spends the entire week
just waiting, and nothing happens.
The KGB didn't know for a fact
that Gordievsky was a British agent.
If they had known,
they would have arrested him
at the airport.
They would have put him in jail.
They would have given him
a fake trial.
And then there would be
the swift walk to an execution room.
He would have to kneel down,
and he'd be shot in the back of the head.
Simple as that.
But they didn't, which, for me,
shows that they have had suspicions,
but they didn't have proof.
[Stout] And he's waiting for, you know,
the hammer to fall somehow.
Something finally happens.
He is notified by Kryuchkov,
who's one of the deputy chiefs
of the chief directorate.
So a big dog in the KGB.
He says, "Hey, come with me."
"We need to go out of headquarters,
and we need to have a meeting about
some strategies we're thinking about
for arranging high-level penetrations
of the British government."
[Gordievsky] They found a cottage,
special KGB cottage
outside the compound
of the first chief directorate,
foreign intelligence.
In the beginning, there was pretense
that it was something
Just a neutral discussion
about something business-like.
But then they put drugs
in my drinks.
Then, eventually, they interrogate.
My personality was changed
immediately, profoundly.
I lost control of myself.
I started talking.
My thinking was strange.
And it lasted probably something like
at least five hours.
And that, in such a state,
I was interrogated by them,
they knew something.
But not enough
to start to prosecute me immediately.
They were desperately
looking for more evidence.
[ominous music playing]
It was very bad.
And then two, three days later,
when I started to recollect
the whole content
of the interrogation
uh, I realized that it was
I was under strong suspicion,
and my life was under
uh, was in great danger.
I was finished.
When I started to think what to do
just to wait for the proper interrogation.
Maybe it was torture.
Or to try to escape.
And I decided to try to escape,
knowing that it was a great risk
and the chances were not high.
And he realizes that his only hope
is to activate Pimlico,
activate the exfiltration plan,
and escape the Soviet Union
with the help of his British friends.
[tense music playing]
Oleg saw this individual,
but wondered if he had actually seen him.
The MI6 officer put his hand
in his inside pocket,
pulled out a Mars bar.
Others say a Kit Kat.
And started eating it.
So Oleg knew that he had been spotted.
And so began the greatest escape story
in the entire history
of British intelligence.
And the British Embassy,
they now know that Gordievsky
wants to leave the Soviet Union,
that the Russians are onto him.
[suspenseful music playing]
Nobody who's been under KGB surveillance
has ever been successfully
exfiltrated from the Soviet Union
up to this point.
So he and MI6 have always known
that if they had to activate
the escape plan,
they were fighting really long odds.
[Andrew] Pimlico was an operation
of some importance,
that Margaret Thatcher,
the prime minister,
had to authorize it in person.
I was instructed by somebody
that it was absolutely essential
to contact Margaret Thatcher.
When I said she's in Scotland,
he said, "Oh God."
Um, and I said, "Should I telephone?"
He said, "No, no, no!
Don't telephone."
"For God's sake.
You'll have to go up to Balmoral
and speak to her in person."
"Don't tell anyone
what you're doing either."
I got there.
The Queen's aide
was busy on the telephone
with one of the Queen Mother's aides,
discussing the very serious subject
of whether the Queen could borrow
the Queen Mother's video tape recorder.
But in the end I had to say,
"I'm going to see her
whether you want me to or not."
"And so I'm going now,
and I will find her."
I explained the situation to her.
She instantly gave her authority,
and I returned to London.
Uh, I'm still waiting to be repaid
for my expenses.
[tense music playing]
[Walton] MI6 hid the plan within a copy
of Shakespeare's sonnets.
And it was used with secret ink
that, when put in water,
would be exposed
and the plan would be revealed
of where exactly
he should make his way to.
[tense music continues]
I started to think about the route,
to think about the tickets.
I started to think about how to get rid
of the KGB surveillance.
I started to think about
how to send to the KGB
false, um, signals.
When I was on my way
to a railway station
to buy a ticket in advance,
a few days in advance,
and when I had to shake off
the surveillance on the way there,
it was exciting.
[suspenseful music playing]
Any number of things could go wrong.
So he's really a bundle of nerves.
He spends these last couple of days
He spends some time with family.
He spends time with his old friend
Mikhail Lyubimov.
Suddenly, he phoned me up
and appeared.
So there was a bottle of vodka
in his hand, opened.
Big bottle.
And he was drinking. Nervously drinking.
"So, you see," he said,
"terrible thing happened."
"They recalled me back to Moscow.
I am here now."
"It's very bad. My career is over."
Something like this.
I tried to calm him down.
He was scrambling.
And he was in a very bad state.
It never came to my head
that a friend of mine
and my comrade in arms
can be recruited by the British.
I had no doubts, I tell you frankly,
because if I had doubts
I would shoot him.
[Gordievsky] I tried to say goodbye.
I kissed the children.
And I kiss the wife and said goodbye.
And But I was not in the position
to tell them more
because my wife didn't know
about my contact with the British.
I didn't want her to carry
that heavy burden
of knowledge and responsibility
for what I had done, that's why.
I love my family,
my children and wife, so much
that it was a terrible shock for me.
If he told her, she would then have become
liable to being accused of treachery.
And so he didn't.
She's going off on holiday.
She had no reason to think
that there's anything more
than a very brief absence
from each other.
And so she gave him a kind of conventional
sort of brief kiss on the lips.
One evening,
when it was time for me to go,
I quickly left the building.
I was heavily under surveillance,
There were agents behind me.
Two cars all the time.
Quickly crossed, and practically ran
through the across the road
and disappeared in the park.
And in the park, when I was barred
by the trees from the surveillance,
I started to run.
They didn't see that I was running.
So I shook them off.
Reached a railway station.
Caught a train.
And I stayed on the train
the whole night.
Meanwhile, a convoy of two MI6 officers,
their wives and a baby,
in two different cars,
are on their way to meet him.
[Andrew] The cover story
was relatively straightforward.
They had to put in the minds of the KGB
a reason why the wife, uh,
was traveling with her MI6 husband.
Why she would be there with the baby.
It was understandable that
if she was there,
well, the baby would go along
rather than being left behind.
So knowing that the embassy was bugged,
she kept complaining
about headaches and so on.
And, "Oh!" you know.
So the reason in her particular case
was to go to a doctor
who was actually known
to the embassy in Helsinki.
[suspenseful music playing]
Being exfiltrated
is extraordinarily stressful.
That's what happened here
with Gordievsky.
He gets off the train station
in Leningrad
and gets on a bus going to Vyborg,
which is the last city in the Soviet Union
before the Finnish border.
And he's let off about one kilometer
shy of the meeting point.
On my way to the direction
of the border,
it was a great chance
to be discovered or caught.
[Stout] He walks that last kilometer
to the place he's gonna be picked up,
and he hides himself and waits.
We were anxious. It was a very,
very risky thing they were engaged in.
It might all go wrong.
People might get killed.
It might break off
diplomatic relations with the UK.
All sorts of things were possible.
[Gordievsky] When I was waiting
for the British car to pick me up,
eaten by, uh, thousands of mosquitos
in the very high grass at the time.
Very humid and warm.
I waited for several hours
for the cars.
And I was getting more and more nervous.
Two minutes later, the cars arrive,
and I was put into the boot of the car.
[Andrew] He found in the boot of the car
what he expected:
a metallic blanket to put over him.
Then he found a sedative
and he took the sedative.
Eighty seconds,
and they were out of there.
But the dangerous moment
was a series of security stops.
[Walton] In the distance,
the border guards surrounded the car.
They had the necessary paperwork.
They were in a diplomatic car.
Things seemed to be going to plan.
And then the sniffer dogs
started smelling around the car.
At this point, something absolutely
incredible happened,
which the history of espionage
doesn't have any comparisons to.
Thinking rapidly of what to do
The wife of one of the MI6 officers
starts distracting the dogs,
or trying to distract the dogs
with onion and cheese-flavored
potato chips.
They had shut off the engine.
And I heard the dogs sniffing.
This manages to draw one of the dogs,
but another dog is uninterested
in potato chips
and is sort of approaching
the back of the car.
So she goes to plan B.
[Gordievsky] But then the ladies,
brilliant English ladies,
they started to change nappies.
[Stout] And the baby actually needs
to have their diaper changed.
So there's a nice sort of smelly
residue then, uh,
which she throws down,
and the dog is sort of disgusted,
as I think you and I would be,
and wanders off and doesn't show
any further interest in the car.
They go to the final checkpoint.
The guy takes their passports,
looks at them okay.
Um, and before he hands them back,
there's a phone call in his guard shack,
and he picks up the phone and he talks.
Meanwhile, everyone in the car
is just having a heart attack.
Turns out to be nothing.
He hands their passports back.
[Gordievsky] So the car started to go.
[suspenseful music playing]
[music fades]
They changed the music inside the car,
put on the Finnish composer
and starts to play
his composition, "Finlandia."
["Finlandia" playing]
Which means, to the secretly hidden
guy in the trunk,
that now we are safe in Finland.
["Finlandia" continues playing]
[Gordievsky] And I realize,
"Now I'm free,"
and Sibelius started to be played.
It was a miracle.
After arriving in Finland,
uh, two cars were waiting.
In one car, you had two
British MI6 people.
In your other car, you had two
Danish Police Intelligence Service guys.
The Danish Security Service waited,
supplied him with a fresh passport,
put him into the car,
and then [mimics engine]
up through Finland.
From there, he was taken to Norway.
And then from Norway,
flown back to London.
[Gordievsky] There is no regret at all
about what I did with my life,
and how I change it,
and how I had to flee
and now live in another country,
not at all.
For, uh, the KGB,
uh, Gordievsky's escape
was an extraordinary humiliation.
This terrible Pimlico, uh, escape,
it was an adventure.
It was a very adventurous, uh, operation.
But it was not professional.
You can't export your agents
in the back of the car.
This is rubbish
for any intelligence officer.
[Gordievsky] I didn't betray the country.
I didn't betray the people
of the Soviet Union.
Russian people or the peoples
under the umbrella of the Soviet Union.
I think I betrayed the regime
and the Soviet Communist system,
which was illegitimate,
wrong, and in many periods
of the Soviet history, even criminal.
For the Russians,
he was a traitor, obviously.
Understandably. For us, he was a hero.
And, um, I and we consider
the Gordievsky recruitment
and the Gordievsky case
as one of the best,
perhaps the best Western intelligence
operation during the Cold War.
I think he played
an absolutely key role
in bringing the Cold War to an end
and replacing it with a much calmer,
more measured relationship
between East and West.
After his escape,
he was introduced to the prime minister,
uh, Margaret Thatcher.
He later was introduced
to President Reagan himself
on the basis of the valuable
intelligence that he had provided.
And his intelligence fed directly
into the key decision-makers
in the later stages of the Cold War.
When we met Oleg Gordievsky
for the first time in 1986,
what mattered to him most
was actually his family.
The first thing he thought about
every morning
was how he would be able
to get his family with him.
[reporter] Together at last,
the Gordievsky family
in a country garden in a secret location
in the south of England,
finally free from the threat of the KGB.
Oleg Gordievsky last saw his wife, Leila,
and their daughters,
Anna and Maria,
six years ago.
I'm immensely happy and delighted,
and feel an immense relief
and satisfaction.
And, uh
But still feeling sometimes
that maybe it is a dream.
Maybe it is a nice dream.
Maybe I'll wake up,
and it is all not true. [laughs]
- I hope it is true.
- [Leila] Wake up!
- [both laugh]
- It's not dream.
- I'm here.
- Thank you.
[Andrew] Oleg Gordievsky is 83.
I mean, he's by now,
uh, not tremendously active.
He lives in England still,
under increased security.
He was sentenced in
to execution in absentia
and has lived with that over his head.
But there is a compensation for it,
because I have the lovely feeling
of enjoying freedom,
democracy, and civilization
of the British Isles.
Maybe not enough adventures,
but so many other good things.
So on balance, it's not so bad.
[theme music plays]
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