«RED AND BLACK» of Martha Peterson

In the mid-1980s, the staff of Group "A" (special force unit "Alpha") of the KGB carried out more than a dozen seizures of American spies from among Soviet citizens. Most of them are on account of the department, which was headed by Vladimir Zaitsev.

However, even before those events, Vladimir Nikolayevich had the opportunity to take the most direct part in the seizure of the US Consulate vice-consul Martha "Marti" Peterson, who had shown a desperate resistance.

In the famous TV-series "TASS is authorized to state..."  (1984), it was told how the KGB officers exposed the enemy agent "Trianon". In life, he was Alexander Ogorodnik ("Trigon"), an employee of the Office of Foreign Policy Planning Department of the Foreign Ministry.

A noteworthy detail: the development of operation "Ogorodnik" was overseen by Aldrich Ames, in the future - the "supercroft" of Soviet intelligence in Langley, who transmitted information about many American agents.

The fact that the employee of the central apparatus of the CIA Ames was instructed to complete the recruitment of the Trigon testifies to its importance as a professional in the eyes of the CIA leadership and the trust that was given to him, which in many ways prevented him from revealing him as an "agent of Moscow" in time.

When arrested in the evening of June 22, 1977, Alexander Ogorodnik committed suicide. According to Vitaly Boyarov, Lieutenant General of the KGB, who directed the operation, he used a capsule with a poison hidden in a fountain pen.

But the game with the Americans continued. The fact that the CIA was not aware of the death of Ogorodnik, allowed the KGB to conduct Operation Setun-2, during which on July 15 at 22:35 on the Krasnoluzhsky Bridge, while laying a hiding place for the late Trigon, Marta Peterson was detained. She was tracked from the embassy, ​​but at the last session at the cinema "Russia" at the movie "Red and Black", the experienced spy changed her clothes and radically changed her appearance.
- Due to the complexity of the solution of the forthcoming task, it was necessary to create additional prerequisites that would guarantee the unconditional success of the operation,-  Igor Peretrukhin, veteran of the KGB recalls the prehistory of the capture. - The fact is that we had a precise map  drawn up by the Americans with routes of the spy's movement at the bridge itself and of the place where the container with information was filled. This place was in a rectangular opening of the right tower of the bridge from the Novodevichy Convent. The bridge was built in 1912. Its solid coastal structures are made of granite blocks, which made it practically impossible for us to use any technical means and devices. Near the opening, between the tower and the railway tracks, in the middle of the pedestrian passageway, was a hatch with a massive iron lid, through which one could get to its base (tower), under the bridge. This had to be used. In the gazebo constructed for this purpose, two external surveillance  officers were to be accommodated at high altitude, equipped with a laryngophone telephone connected to the headquarters. The capture of the spy was to be carried out at the signal "There!"

Since it was difficult to observe the surroundings in the dark, it was decided to install a tank night vision device on the large high crane of the building under construction on the opposite side of the Moscow River. It was not without curiosity. An employee who, in the process of preparing for the operation, was to climb the ladder with a device to the crane, stopped suddenly about halfway. He did not expect that the amplitude of rocking the crane would be so great - about one meter. He did not answer inquiries on the radio. Then the team followed the descent, but it did not react to it either. There was a pause. Then the "steeplejack," having adapted himself to an unusual phenomenon for him and gained strength and courage, quickly climbed up and reported his difficulties from the cockpit. All present sighed with relief.

It was planned that the radio-ether, as before, would be "dead."

All preparations were completed on time. The seizure team was again headed by Colonel Vladimir Ivanovich Kostyria, and by the surveillance and technical support, the deputy chief of the Seventh Department, Major-General Mikhail G. Kalabashkin, was in charge, "- says Igor Peretrukhin.

...The first public mention on the fact of the operation "Setun-2" appeared in the newspaper "Izvestia" on June 13, 1978 (there was published a photo of Marta Peterson in the KGB).

We offer readers of the "Spetsnaz of Russia" and the magazine "Razvedchik" a literary article by Pavel Bezgolosov, dedicated to "Setun-2" and the capture of Martha Peterson.


You can see a lot of things in the Seventh Department - both literally and figuratively. At least because this The seventh management, the "Seven" in common speech among collegues, is called "outdoor surveillance".

It's official. And it is also defined in a slightly different way - as a "black hundred". And, what is most ridiculous, both that and other name absolutely correctly reflect the specificity of my place of service. Because people from the "Seven" are engaged not only in following and monitoring of some people of particular interest to the Office, but also when, for "Time X" comes, they take such negative characters out from our society. Again, as they say, they "take".

And the characters are different. Some who still hope for something or think that they are able to emerge victorious from the contest with the investigator, are mostly calm and polite. Such people are not rude, they do not frighten officers by the world community and by the public opinion of the West, do not swing their arms-legs near the faces of the officers of the capture team.

But more often, I mean my capture team, we were "invited" to deal with violent persons! With those who, for the totality of their deeds, either already have nothing to lose, or there those whom we take on espionage and treason to the homeland in the act. These, especially those from our own "office", traitors - theyfight back to the last, know that we do not have mercy for the turncoats! And we with such bastards completely and absolutely are not ceremonious. Therefore, most likely, this very second definition the "Black Hundred" appeared.

Why is it mainly my team that is invited on such "events"? I tell you honestly - I do not know! Rather, I did not know until the very last moment, until the day when we somehow sat behind glasses of tea with the guys from the Investigation Board. We drank, drank, talked about life, about that, about this, about foreign-domestic policy and the current situation. In general, almost like normal soviet people. Of course, with that an amendment that all we were from the Office and we all know and accept the rules of the game.

In general, after a few glasses, we discussed some moments of life and they shared with us the opinion of their bosses. And the opinion was very, very, at least, interesting for me! First, it was based on rigid and dispassionate statistics and, secondly, on personal observations of the behavior of persons under investigation during interrogation - those who were taken by my team subsequently somehow behaved very well. They cooperate with the investigation, actively repent, they are not particularly locked up during interrogations, in general, problems never arise with them. And it's valuable! And because no one needs an extra headache, the management of the Investigative Department issued a letter to the KGB leadership that, in especially severe cases, they entrusted the seizure to my team.

And who is our most important and most likely enemy? Correctly - the US, or "amerikosy", again, in common speech and local slang, Americans are designated. Well, and since Sherhan can not live without Tabaka (a jackal, a character from the collection of short stories "The Jungle Book" by Rudyard Kipling - Ed.), Then as the minions they always have Englishmen. Our glorious "D" division of the even more glorious "Seven" works over this sweet couple! And I, of course, work as a commander of the capture team. Please love and respect - the captain of the KGB Vladimir Zaitsev!


Having listened to the chief of the service and having understood the task, I appointed to my department a general briefing. 

- I bring to all the information that we are announcing an all hands' job. The case is under the control of the Chairman (of KGB), so I will not talk about it's importance any more. I ask all of you to take the situation not simply as an ordinary daily task, but to understand that we are carrying out a task of a state significance. Is everything clear? - I concluded a brief parting word before the direct distribution of duties. - All the personnel go to the barracks position. Captain Zaitsev to assign an enlarged capture team and report in two hours. That's all for now!


I personally tracked this blonde from the cinema "Russia". As part of the team, of course. And not just a team, but a strengthened team. With the accompanying all of our departmental instructions and photographic fixing rules, not only of everything suspicious, but in general of all that is possible. So, just in case, for you never know what will come in handy afterwards. If this would be my will and would be the availability of operational capabilities, I would in general filmed documentary multi-series films about each of our "clients"! From all sides and by a couple of dozens of cameras. In order not to miss a single nuance! But even now, personally convinced of the obvious, I still could not fully believe it!

It's one thing when "on the warpath" - for the fulfillment of an operational task - someone from the CIA employees who are already become known to us but still working in the US embassy under the cover and protection of a diplomatic post comes out to communicate with their recruited agent. Let the communication - for a meal or, conversely, a bookmark of a hiding place, one of those embassy employees come out who exactly is not known to us as a scout, but there is some reason to suspect him - that's normal.

This is our usual counter-intelligence practice, and this is perceived by everyone as commonplace and, by and large, commonplace. And quite another, when it suddenly turns out that under the guise of an absolutely law-abiding diplomat there is a well-trained and beautifully conspiratorized high-ranking intelligence officer who up to this point managed to fool all of our department!

With regard to this very Martha Peterson we had absolutely firm confidence that she was not involved in espionage! Why was such a confidence? Yes, strangely enough, from the rules of behavior common to all reconnaissance "behind en`emy lines". Each person has freedom of will and behavior, and in the same way every spy can behave this way, so and so, but with all of this she has the most severe restrictions on what she can not do under any circumstances!

By and large, there are about the same restrictions for every ordinary staff member of any embassy, ​​only for spies they are more strict, and violation of the rules of behavior is punished more severely. And more quickly.

By her behavior, Peterson fit perfectly into the norms of everyday life as diplomat. She even allowed herself a little more than it should be and can be permissible for a diplomat at her level. Lover of good Moscow restaurants at the level of "Metropol" and "National", she could afford to spend night with a guard of the embassy she had just met, or to go "to the party" in the fellowship with unrecognized musicians or artists.

In general, the bohemian way of life, and no attempts to get acquainted with someone who really would be of real interest to American intelligence.

Martha was an interesting woman! I do not know how it corresponded to her image internally - spiritually and intellectually, I somehow did not have the opportunity to verify this circumstance personally, but with her appearance everything was in order! A chiseled, almost ideal medium-sized figure with long, usually blended hair, almost wheat-colored hair, it actually was, if not beautiful, then very, very nice. And I fully admit that she is all right with the intellect too.

A couple of times the Office offered her it's own people, but no further acquaintance was gained by further development: Martha behaved in such a way that it was clear that personal for her is personal, and work is a work.

Martha loved to drink. And not that she did not hide it too much, but she did not hide it at all! A couple of times waiting for the official car, she even fell asleep on the steps of the embassy after the next "sabantui" in it, and once nipped at the entrance to the restaurant, unable to get to her car. On that day, I personally watched this process from the other side of the street. In general, if she was not a drunker, then the lover to drink, and if not a slut, then a woman of a very free behavior!

We were wonder how her State Department keep her in such a responsible position? This can only be in one case - if she is a lover or protégé of some very big lump from the State Department or even from the White House itself.


By this moment we already knew almost everything. And my "D" division, together with all the officers of other divisions assigned to it, worked with no rest for a long time. Now we had just to take a messenger, and on this our participation may be considered complete. Then others will work: investigators will find out all the smallest details, analysts will compare facts and draw conclusions, but our work will already be done.

- Well, what can you say? - I asked my subordinate, the head of the department of the service Lieutenant Colonel Yerofeyev.

- What can I say, Volodya? - He sighed. - There's nothing to say! We pierced with this Peterson! And who would have thought, - he immediately flared up - that this person would be a spy! You know very well that she did not give us any reason for all the time! And you yourself know that we took it out of sight only six months later! And then on the orders of the head of the Office!

Of course, I knew the fact that the observation and "tight guardianship" with Peterson was withdrawn by the personal order of the head of the Seventh Department Lieutenant-General Alexei Beschastnov. And I even guessed the reasons why. For some reason I thought that this order was the result of my report at the instances about the reasons for her such free behavior. In it, I expressed the idea that Peterson has a high-ranking "patron" in the US, which blocks all incoming signals to the State Department about her "free" behavior in her spare time, and offered to transfer this information to the The First Main Directorate (Intelligence) for operational development.

What really were the real reasons - I was not informed about this, and I did not know this now, but the fact remains - Peterson was left alone, having moved out from under tight guardianship, being taken under supervision only from time to time or like now, in the time of announcement of a all hands' job. But during the all hands' job all the ambassadors are taken under supervision. And not only the ambassadors.

- You know, Victor, - I answered him, - everyone, as they say, are strong in the back of mind, but for the future it must be taken into account that this behavior, which violates all the regulations and all the norms of the diplomat's behavior, can not be anything but an attempt to close our eyes. After all, americans have their own service of external counterintelligence, that could not pass by such her behavior, and let's call things by their proper names, pass by such a defiant behavior! And if they passed by then something is wrong! Let's remember for the future!

- Do you remember how in my submission, you have sent information on this Peterson to check if she has a lover, - he answered me, - and what happened?

- The order by Beschastnov has happened. With the offer not to scramble for this anymore.

- I see, - sighed Victor. - That's always the case! First, for the sake of the common result we load own necks with a work of others, we get a recommendation not to bother where they did not ask, and then, when the hard time comes, all the bumps fall on us!


The commander is right, of course. And we had to remember this case. But that's just not for the future. And just for information.

- There will not be any more such a case, Volodya, - I told him then. - You know, they're not fooling us! Neither they, nor we do not repeat the operational combinations. Though it is necessary to remember. And it will be useful for young officers to know! You better tell me how it was yesterday?

I sighed in futility, and probably in the tenth time a day started telling.

- We put out a sign in the evening of July 14 and began to track all the cars that could receive the signal. The only foreigner who could take it off, passing it by her car in the immediate vicinity, was Martha Peterson. It was the next morning. We immediately blocked the entire "Victory Park" and all access roads to it by external surveillance. - I did not begin to add that because of this all our officers participated in the event for the last few days were in a state of "increased combat readiness" - for our service this fact was itself an implicit routine and banality. - I told you, you went with this to the boss.

- And then someone from there, - Vladimir added, pointing upward, - somehow decided that the one who arrives to put the container in the secret place will be sure to be a man!

- Yes! - I agreed. - And instead of a man comes a miniature girl with a reputation for drunkards and lovers of wicked life! Which, moreover, as an ordinary and normal Muscovite, arrives on public transport, and even dressed exactly the same as the average Soviet woman of her years.

- But you say that your guys saw her? - Interrupted Vladimir. - Why did not they react to it?

- Because there was no an order to a total verification of documents of everyone who walking around! - I snapped a tenth time a day answering the same question. - How can they react to it if they think that she was Russian?

- Yes! - Vladimir complained to me with dismay. - Failure! Peterson quietly threw a pine branch, under which the container was disguised, on the ground and began to walk through the park. And when she did not find the return container from the agent, she quietly took the branch and went away and nobody stoped her. And what are we going to do with this now?

- Well, since she has come to contact once, then she will come another day! I answered confidently. - She will definitely come! And this time she will not get away from us anywhere!


I was glad that we worked out the issues with the leaders of the teams of "toptuns" - professionals of external surveillance from our Office participating in the operation. If you understand that the object can be able to go to the cinema or to the theater, then one of yours must beforehand go to the cash desk for the ticket. In advance, close all the places along the route! And buy so that the object, going to the cash register, saw that your person was in it even before she appeared. In this case, you can be with the object in the same room without suspicion  - I instructed the officers more "for a tick" for the formal fulfillment of the instruction standards, knowing full well that they know everything, perhaps all the nuances of the "procedure" in their business probably better than myself.

- The object arrives by car to the cinema "Russia", - the radio came to life.

- Attention to everyone! Work from a distance, fix all the details, - ordered the commander of the surveillance team.

But now I have calmed down - it became clear that Peterson does not suspect anything and she is still playing her trick. After all, there is no difference between defiant behavior, clearly showing that this particular person can not be a spy, and the use of conspicuous clothing. Any bright or original clothing makes it so much easier to observe a person even from a distance, that it will never be worn by any person who is somehow involved in the work of special services.

It was on this evening that Martha put on a completely elegant cut white silk dress with large red flowers, easily discernible at a great distance. And, in fact, why should not she continue to use it - she does not know that we've got her" I thought.

- How do you like her hair? - asked the deputy, continuously snapping the camera literally every her step.

- I noticed, - I answered shortly.  This evening Martha's hairdo was in fact, if not the top of hairdresser's art, then in any way it cost the master who worked for it a couple of hours of work.

- The object enters the cinema, - the walkie-talkie came alive again. - The movie "Red and Black", the last session, the ticket was already available.

- Block all exits from the cinema! - I turned to the officer responsible for the interaction of the teams of outdoor surveillance.

- Send people inside! And to fix everything!

- The object disguised in the cinema room - after some time the radio was reported. - She's on the way out.

- Andrei! Full readiness! Do not miss her!

- She comes out.

From a parked car through the lens of optics, I perfectly saw Peterson. Now she was no longer a bright, freely leading foreign woman, but a high-ranking business woman dressed in a tightly buttoned black trouser suit from the administrative center of Moscow.

- Dashing, - I whistled after seeing that Marta managed not only to change her clothes, but also to change her hair, in just a few minutes in the dark cinema room. Her previously carefully arranged hair was now loosely spread over her shoulders, and in this completely transformed form, Marta slipped out of the cinema. Now she was already a woman in black.


All information was flown to the headquarters of the operation.

- The object is driving for the second hour, - I said shortly to a direct call to the chief of the department Lieutenant-General Beschastnov.

- Did he call up to you himself?? - Yerofeyev asked me again.

- Himself, - I replied curtly.

- Most likely, he warries us exactly the same as he is pressed from above, - he sighed. The same pressing like we are feeling but a scale is a bit more.

- Yeah - I agreed. - And they have the same stars on epaulets as we have with you, only these epaulettes without stripes.

- Report the information! - Yerofeyev threw it in the receiver without answering me.


Translation by Stanislav Stankevich

To be continued