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Colonel Sergei Tretyakov (born 5 October 1956[1] in Moscow, USSR) is a former Russian SVR officer who defected to the United States in 2000.



Tretyakov worked undercover as first secretary in the Russian mission at the United Nations for five years. In October 2000 Tretyakov defected to the U.S. with his wife and daughter, telling the SVR in a statement that "My resignation will not harm the interests of the country."[2] He also said that he considered it immoral to serve Putin's government [1]. The timing of his decision was partly affected by the death of his mother in 1997, as she was the last close family member still living in Russia the state could threaten.[3] It was not until January 2001 that his defection was first reported by the Associated Press,[4] whereafter the news was broken in the Russian media, which reported that Russia's Foreign Ministry was insisting on having a consular meeting with him in order to make sure he was not forcefully kept by the US side.[5]

In February 2001, his background as an intelligence officer was revealed by The New York Times.[6][7] After defecting Tretyakov was debriefed by both the CIA and FBI. He was given one of the largest U.S. financial packages ever for a foreign defector, over US$2 million, and resettled along with his family in an unknown location with a new name.[3][8]

He was reported to have been close to Sergey Lavrov, then Russia'a UN mission head.[9]

Book release

In January 2008 Tretyakov gave several interviews to publicize a book of his experiences, Comrade J.: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America after the End of the Cold War, written by journalist Pete Earley. Earley first met Tretyakov through an FBI contact at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner, Virginia; two FBI agents and two CIA were assigned to Tretyakov as an escort.[8] The SVR responded to the book's release by calling it "self-publicity based on treachery."[2][9] The book's release in Canada was delayed by the publisher because of legal considerations, namely Tretyakov's accusation that former Conservative MP Alex Kindy was recruited by an SVR officer at the Russian embassy in Ottawa and paid several times between 1992 and 1993.[10] When promoting his book, Tretyakov said that Russian intelligence was just as active now as in Cold War times, adding that he hoped his book would act as a "wake-up call" to Americans.[2]



  • Azerbaijan's UN ambassador Eldar Kouliev was a "a deep-cover SVR intelligence officer."[8]
  • Canadian MP Alex Kindy was recruited as a Russian spy.
  • "The KGB was responsible for creating the entire nuclear winter story to stop the Pershing missiles."[1] Tretyakov says that from 1979 the KGB wanted to prevent the United States from deploying the missiles in Western Europe and that, directed by Yuri Andropov, they used the Soviet Peace Committee, a government organization, to organize and finance demonstrations in Europe against US bases.[1][12 ][13 ] Misinformation based on a faked "doomsday report" by the Soviet Academy of Sciences about the effect of nuclear war on climate was distributed to peace groups, the environmental movement and the journal Ambio,[1] which carried a key article on the topic in 1982.[14]
  • Two chiefs of Putin's Federal Protection Service (FSO), Viktor Zolotov and General Murov, discussed how to kill the former director of Yeltsin's administration Alexander Voloshin.[15] They also made "a list of politicians and other influential Muscovites whom they would need to assassinate to give Putin unchecked power". However since the list was very long, Zolotov allegedly announced, "There are too many. It's too many to kill - even for us." An SVR officer who told about that story felt "uneasy" because FSO includes twenty thousand troops and controls the "black box" that can be used in the event of global nuclear war.[1]
  • A claim about privately owned nuclear weapons. Tretiakov described a meeting with two Russian businessman representing a state-created Chetek corporation in 1991. They came up with a fantastic project of destroying large quantities of chemical wastes collected from Western countries at the island of Novaya Zemlya (a test place for Soviet nuclear weapons) using an underground nuclear blast. The project was rejected by Canadian representatives, but one of the businessmen told to Tretiakov that he keeps his own nuclear bomb at his dacha outside Moscow. Tretiakov thought that man was insane, but the "businessmen" (Vladimir K. Dmitriev) replied: "Do not be so naive. With economic conditions the way they are in Russia today, anyone with enough money can buy a nuclear bomb. It's no big deal really".[1]
  • Disinformation over the internet. He often sent SVR officers to branches of New York Public Library where they got access to the Internet without anyone knowing their identity. They placed propaganda and disinformation to various web sites and sent it in e-mails to US broadcasters.[1] The articles or messages were not written by the intelligence officers, but were prepared in advance by Russian experts, often with references to bogus sources.[1] The texts were mostly accurate but always contained a "kernel of disinformation". The purpose of these active measures was to support Russian foreign policy, to create good image of Russia, to promote anti-American feelings and "to cause dissension and unrest inside the US".[1] Tretyakov did not specify the targeted web sites, but made clear they selected the sites which are most convenient for distributing the specific disinformation. During his work in New York in the end of 1990s, one of the most frequent disinformation subjects was the War in Chechnya.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Pete Earley, "Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War", Penguin Books, 2007, ISBN 978-0-399-15439-3, see copy of Tretyakov's passport on the back cover.
  2. ^ a b c "Russia calls spy defector's tales "treachery"". Reuters. 2008-01-28. Retrieved 2008-01-28.  
  3. ^ a b "Senior Russian spy's secrets revealed in new book". Reuters. 2001-01-28. Retrieved 2008-10-25.  
  4. ^ Schweid, Barry (2001-01-30). "Russian Diplomat Defected to U.S.". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-01-28.  
  5. ^ "Москва добивается от Вашингтона встречи с представителем России при ООН Третьяковым". NEWSru. 2001-01-31. Retrieved 2008-10-25.  
  6. ^ Risen, James (2001-02-10). "Russian Defector Was Spy, Not Diplomat, U.S. Officials Say". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-28.  
  7. ^ "Russian Spy Agency Dismisses Defector". Associated Press. 2008-01-28. Retrieved 2008-01-29.  
  8. ^ a b c d e Wise, David (2008-01-27). "Spy vs. Spy". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-01-30.  
  9. ^ a b "СВР России: американские "разоблачения" Третьякова - "пиар на предательстве"". NEWSru. 2008-01-28. Retrieved 2008-10-25.  
  10. ^ "Publisher puts brakes on book that contends former MP spied for Russians". Canadian Press. 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2008-01-30.  
  11. ^ Pete Earley, "Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War", Penguin Books, 2007, ISBN 978-0-399-15439-3, page 179
  12. ^ Opposition to The Bomb: The fear, and occasional political intrigue, behind the ban-the-bomb movements
  13. ^ 1982 Article "Moscow and the Peace, Offensive"
  14. ^ Paul Crutzen and John Birks, "The atmosphere after a nuclear war: Twilight at noon", Ambio, 11, 1982, pp.114-125
  15. ^ "One idea was to kill him and blame Chechen separatists. Another was to make his execution appear to be a hit by the Russian Mafia" (Comrade J., page 299)

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