Afghan step baffled many in USSR, defector says

In a Times of London interview published Tuesday, Ilya Grigorievich Dzhirkvelov, a former Soviet intelligence officer, said many middle-ranking Soviet officials could not understand Moscow's military intervention in Afghanistan.

Mr. Dzhirkvelov, a former KGB officer and Tass news agency correspondent who defected to London with his family in April, said: "We simply could not understand why the leadership [in the Kremlin] had felt it necessary to take such a senseless and irrational step. We thought it was complete madness." He also said Soviet officials of his rank were relieved at the US call to boycott the Moscow Olympics, since it might force the Kremlin to reconsider its policies.

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