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Newsbud Exclusive- KGB Swallows: Russian Intelligence & The “Honey Trap”

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Newsbud Exclusive- KGB Swallows: Russian Intelligence & The “Honey Trap”
Professor Filip Kovacevic
May 8, 2017



On April 24, 2017, the Russian media reported that the Soviet actress Larisa Kronberg passed away in Moscow at the age of 88. She was the last living protagonist of one of the most successful Soviet counterintelligence operations during the Cold War: the secret recruitment of the French ambassador to the Soviet Union, Maurice Dejean, a leader in the French Resistance during the Second World War and a personal friend of the French president Charles De Gaulle.

Every intelligence agency keeps track of the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of potential high-level recruits. Soon after Dejean's arrival to Moscow in 1955, the KGB took notice of Dejean's proclivity for extra-marital affairs with much younger women. The general Oleg Gribanov, the head of the KGB's Second Chief Directorate, whom many noted experts and historians, including the U.S. scholar Edward Jay Epstein, consider the grand master of Cold War counterintelligence, devised a plan on how to use Dejean's weakness against him and in favor of the USSR foreign policy interests.

In his book Deception, Epstein claimed that the long-time CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton had thought of Gribanov as his main Soviet antagonist. Their relations seemed to partake something of that epic fictional struggle between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty. In the end, Angleton was fired by the CIA leadership, which had no patience for his multi-layered and complex counterintelligence tactics, without ever convincingly defeating Gribanov.

Gribanov's plan involved using the so-called "honey trap" or "a swallow" (in KGB terminology), a beautiful woman who would sexually compromise Dejean and then, under the threat of a public revelation, he would have no way out except to cooperate with the KGB agenda. It is likely that Larisa Kronberg was chosen because she was one of the most beautiful Soviet actresses at the time and was known in France because she received an award at the Cannes Film Festival for her role in the 1954 Soviet film "A Big Family."

Introduced to each other by mutual friends, Dejean and Kronberg began spending a lot of time together, and when, sometime in 1958, Dejean's wife was out of Russia, Gribanov decided it was the time to close the trap by catching Dejean and Kronberg in flagranti. According to the account that was later published by the KGB defector Yuri Korotkov, who took part in the operation, two KGB officers, one playing the part of Kronberg's jealous husband and the other the part of a witness, broke into the apartment where Dejean and Kronberg were having sex and made an angry scene.

The "husband" threatened that he would report Dejean to the Soviet police, but, in accordance with the KGB scenario, Dejean was allowed to escape from the apartment and get to the French embassy. It was also arranged that on the same evening Dejean would have a scheduled meeting with Gribanov who was presented to him as the adviser to the Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev and whom, predictably, he asked for help. The rest, of course, is history.

The Russian sources claim that while under the KGB control, Dejean was successful in stoking de Gaulle's animosity toward NATO which ultimately led to the French withdrawal from the NATO military command in 1966 and the removal of NATO Headquarters from Paris to Brussels. When Korotkov's account became known in the West in 1964, Dejean resigned his position in Moscow, but seems not to have suffered any further sanctions in France.

In my opinion, this was so because he was far from being the only pro-Soviet political figure in France of the 1960s. It could also be that the extent of his betrayal was judged to be negligible, or was already known to the French authorities even before Korotkov's defection. It is worth remembering that the defection of a KGB major Anatoly Golytsin in December 1961 led to many revelations concerning the KGB penetration of the Western military, security, and diplomatic structures. Dejean could have been one of those KGB sources uncovered by Golytsin. In the end, even after his resignation, Dejean did not drop out of de Gaulle’s circle of friends and later he directed the association for the French-Soviet cooperation until his death in 1982.

On the other hand, it is not clear how Kronberg became involved with the KGB and why she accepted to play the role of "a swallow." The Russian media reports that as the reward for the successful Dejean operation, she received a golden Swiss watch with diamonds. In addition, it appears that Dejean was not her only "target." Her friend Tatyana Konyuhova stated that for Lori [that is how close friends called Kronberg] "life was like a game." Perhaps she worked for the KGB not only for monetary rewards and privileges, but also for adventure and thrills. Be that as it may, she took her secrets to the grave.


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https://www.newsbud.com/2017/05/08/newsbud-exclusive-kgb-swallows-russian-intelligence-the-honey-trap/

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