Ames Likely Exposed US Mole at Spy School, Says Retired KGB Man
MOSCOW — HIDDEN in a forest northwest of Moscow, close to the dachas of Soviet Army marshals and Communist Party Politburo members, are the modern multi-story buildings of the Andropov Red Banner Institute, or as it is more prosaically known to its inhabitants, School 101.
Here the Soviet Union's best and brightest were trained to become foreign intelligence agents of the 1st Directorate of the Committee on State Security, the KGB. In the mid-1980s, some 300 students entered each year to study everything from Persian to the careful courtship of a prospective agent. The students were known to each other and to almost all their instructors only by code names, protecting their identities before heading off to posts around the globe.
It was in this school for spies, in one of its highest positions, that the US Central Intelligence Agency managed to place one of its own recruits. The identity of that man was apparently one of the most important pieces of information sold to the KGB by Aldrich Ames, the CIA agent who allegedly betrayed his country for seven years before his arrest last month.
According to a former KGB official who served as a senior instructor at School 101 and who has been publicly critical of his previous employers, the CIA's man at School 101 was Viktor Piguzov, a KGB agent with an undistinguished career in the field who managed in the early 1980s to secure a powerful spot as the head of the Communist Party's branch at the school.
In that position, Piguzov had access to information that would have made him one of the most valuable assets of the CIA. ``He was among a very limited number of people who knew the real names of the students,'' says Alexander Morozov, a veteran KGB agent who was deputy head of the school's intelligence department, in a Monitor interview. Piguzov knew the students' assignments upon graduation and had full access to KGB secret documents and files that were sent to the Red Banner Institute, according to Mr. Morozov.
Then, in late 1986, Piguzov disappeared. ``Very soon we got the news that he was arrested as an American spy,'' recalls Morozov. After a six-month investigation, Piguzov was examined by doctors to certify his sanity, sentenced, and ``shot dead.''
Morozov now understands that Piguzov was exposed by Mr. Ames, a veteran CIA counter-intelligence officer who was arrested on Feb. 21. According to the court documents and to news reports in the US, Ames is suspected of betraying 10 Soviet and Eastern European agents since he began spying for the KGB in 1985. Among those were eight Soviet agents, including two KGB officers who served in the Soviet Embassy in Washington, a senior counter-intelligence officer, and a nuclear weapons specialist.
The exposure of Piguzov is the first concrete indication of the kind of damage that Ames allegedly did to the CIA's intelligence operations against the Soviet Union. It provides a window as well into the depth of anger within the intelligence community that is reserved for Ames and his Colombian-born wife, Maria, for their alleged treachery.
From 1983 to 1985, Ames was chief of a counter-intelligence arm of the CIA's Soviet/East Europe division, giving him access to the names of agents such as Piguzov.
According to Morozov, Piguzov had been an agent for the CIA for at least 10 years before he was betrayed by Ames. He was apparently recruited while serving as a KGB agent in Southeast Asia, after which he was transferred to the education department of the 1st Directorate, and ultimately to School 101.
A German shepherd
``The rumor was that Piguzov was meeting his CIA contacts in Moscow,'' recounts Morozov, whose thick glasses contribute to his distracted, professorial air. ``For this purpose, he used his dog, a German shepherd, which could smell small packages left for him in the park.''
Morozov himself arrived at the school in 1981 after a long career as a KGB agent serving in places such as Egypt and Jordan, capped by a key role as deputy head of the KGB station in Kabul, Afghanistan, from 1975 until just before the Soviet invasion of that Central Asian nation in 1979. He retired at the end of 1986 and has written numerous articles on the history of the Soviet involvement in Afghanistan, a subject on which he lectured at School 101.
Previously published accounts of the school by KGB defectors have placed it in its old location, near Balashika outside of Moscow. The old site, set in a forest, has since 1980 been turned over to the KGB's commando training school, says Morozov.
The new site, equipped with modern four-to-five story buildings, is located beyond the end of the subway line that ends at Medvedkovo, in the city's northwest district.
They knew Rosenbergs
The students, recruited from elite colleges and institutes as well as from other branches of the KGB, go through a curriculum covering a range of subjects, including intelligence, counter-intelligence, cryptography, the use of cameras and computers, and scientific-technical intelligence. The latter course had among its instructors the two KGB agents who were the case officers for American atomic bomb spies Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. At school ``jubilee days,'' the two men would reminisce about the triumph of gaining access to the secret of the atom bomb, Morozov says.
But the salad days of the KGB, whose foreign arm is now called the Foreign Intelligence Service, are over. According to published reports, the school has only 50 students now, with most young potential recruits lured away by the money offered by foreign companies or Russian entrepreneurs.