Dmitri Polyakov

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Dmitri Polyakov
(Russian: Дмитрий Фёдорович Поляков)
Born(1921-07-06)6 July 1921
Ukrainian SSR
Died15 March 1988(1988-03-15) (aged 66)
Cause of deathExecuted
Alma materGraduated from Artillery School in June 1941
Espionage activity
Allegiance Flag of the United States.svg United States
Service branch GRU
Service years1951–1980
Rank Major general (1-star general)

Dmitri Fyodorovich Polyakov (Russian : Дмитрий Фёдорович Поляков) (6 July 1921 – 15 March 1988 [1] ) was a Soviet Major General, a ranking GRU officer, and a prominent Cold War spy who revealed Soviet secrets to the FBI and the Central Intelligence Agency. In the CIA, he was known by code names BOURBON and ROAM, while the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) knew him as TOPHAT (Top Hat).

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a federal sovereign state in northern Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centers were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometers (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometers (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

Cold War Geopolitical tension after World War II between the Eastern and Western Bloc

The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states, and the United States with its allies after World War II. The historiography of the conflict began between 1946 and 1947. The Cold War began to de-escalate after the Revolutions of 1989. The collapse of the USSR in 1991 was the end of the Cold War. The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars. The conflict split the temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany and its allies, leaving the USSR and the US as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences.


Early life

Born in Soviet Ukraine in 1921, he graduated from Sumy Artillery School in June 1941 and served as an artillery officer during World War II and was decorated for bravery. After the war and his studies at Frunze Military Academy and GRU Training Courses, he joined Soviet Military Intelligence, the GRU. His first mission was with the Soviet delegation to the Military Staff Committee of the United Nations in New York from 1951–1956.

Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic one of fifteen constituent republics of the Soviet Union (USSR) from 1922 to 1991

The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, also known as Soviet Ukraine, was one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union from the Union's inception in 1922 to its breakup in 1991. The republic was governed by the Communist Party of Ukraine as a unitary one-party socialist soviet republic.

World War II 1939–1945, between Axis and Allies

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

The Military Staff Committee (MSC) is the United Nations Security Council subsidiary body whose role, as defined by the United Nations Charter, is to plan UN military operations and assist in the regulation of armaments.

GRU officer and double agent

On his second assignment to New York, United States in 1959–1961, he approached FBI counterintelligence agents to offer his services as an informant. His follow-up overseas assignments included Rangoon, Burma (1965–1969) and New Delhi, India (1973–1976 and 1979–1980) where he was posted as Soviet Military Attaché. Some in the CIA feel that Polyakov became a mole because he was disgusted with the corruption of the Soviet Party elite. [1] Victor Cherkashin suggested that he was embittered because Soviet leadership denied him permission to take his seriously ill son, the eldest of three, to a hospital in New York where he could get adequate medical attention. This son died as a result of the illness and soon after, Polyakov began his informant activities. [2]

New York (state) American state

New York is a state in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. In order to distinguish the state from its city with the same name, it is sometimes referred to as New York State (NYS).

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

New Delhi Capital City / District in Delhi, India

New Delhi is an urban district of Delhi which serves as the capital of India and seat of all three branches of the Government of India.

For 25 years, he remained a CIA informant as he rose through the ranks, eventually becoming a general. CIA officers speak in superlatives about the kind of information he provided. Sandy Grimes said of him, "Polyakov was our crown jewel,... the best source at least to my knowledge that American intelligence has ever had and I would submit, although I certainly can't be certain, but the best source that any intelligence service has ever had." [3] James Woolsey said of him, "Polyakov was the jewel in the crown." [1] CIA and FBI officials, including Deputy Director William Sullivan, believed that, at some point, Polyakov was turned by the Soviets and made into a triple agent who deceived the West with misinformation. [4] [5]

Sandra Grimes American intelligence agent

Sandra Grimes is a former CIA officer who participated in a small team that investigated and uncovered the actions of Aldrich Ames, a counterintelligence officer who was subsequently convicted of spying for the Soviet Union.

Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

The Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is a senior United States government position in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The office is second in command to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If the Director is absent or the position is vacant, the Deputy Director automatically takes on the additional title and role of Acting Director. The office is also the highest position attainable within the FBI without being appointed by the President of the United States. Responsibilities as Deputy Director include assisting the Director and leading prominent investigations. All other FBI executives and Special Agents in Charge report to the Director through the Deputy Director. From 1978 to 1987, the position of Deputy Director was not filled due to William Hedgcock Webster's decision to divide the Deputy's responsibility between three positions.

William C. Sullivan FBI agent

William Cornelius Sullivan (1912–1977) was former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) intelligence operations.

Among the important information Polyakov provided:

China Country in East Asia

China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion in 2017. Covering approximately 9,600,000 square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the third or fourth largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

Richard Nixon 37th president of the United States

Richard Milhous Nixon was an American politician who served as the 37th president of the United States from 1969 until his resignation in 1974. The only president to resign from the office, he previously served as the nation's 36th vice president from 1953 to 1961, and as a representative and senator from California.

Iraq Republic in Western Asia

Iraq, officially the Republic of Iraq, is a country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest and Syria to the west. The capital, and largest city, is Baghdad. Iraq is home to diverse ethnic groups including Arabs, Kurds, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans, Circassians and Kawliya. Around 99% of the country's 37 million citizens are Muslims, with tiny minorities of Christians, Yarsans, Yezidis and Mandeans also present. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish.

Arrest and execution

Polyakov was arrested by the KGB in 1986, six years after his retirement from the GRU. His contacts at the CIA had no information about what might have happened to him. Only later, it became clear that he was betrayed by both Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames. [6] In 1988, Polyakov was sentenced to death for treason and was executed.

KGB Main security agency for the Soviet Union

The KGB, translated in English as Committee for State Security, was the main security agency for the Soviet Union from 1954 until its break-up in 1991. As a direct successor of preceding agencies such as the Cheka, NKGB, NKVD and MGB, the committee was attached to the Council of Ministers. It was the chief government agency of "union-republican jurisdiction", acting as internal security, intelligence and secret police. Similar agencies were constituted in each of the republics of the Soviet Union aside from Russian SFSR, and consisted of many ministries, state committees and state commissions.

Robert Hanssen FBI agent who spied for Soviet and Russian intelligence services

Robert Philip Hanssen is a former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent who spied for Soviet and Russian intelligence services against the United States from 1979 to 2001. His espionage was described by the Department of Justice as "possibly the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history." He is currently serving 15 consecutive life sentences at ADX Florence, a federal supermax prison near Florence, Colorado.

Aldrich Ames Central Intelligence Agency counter-intelligence officer and analyst

Aldrich Hazen "Rick" Ames is a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer turned KGB double agent, who was convicted of espionage in 1994. He is serving a life sentence, without the possibility of parole, in the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute, Indiana, United States. Ames was formerly a 31-year CIA counterintelligence officer who committed espionage against the U.S. by spying for the Soviet Union and Russia. At the time of his arrest, Ames had compromised more highly-classified CIA assets than any other officer in history until Robert Hanssen's arrest seven years later in 2001.


CIA officer Jeanne Vertefeuille said, "He didn’t do this for money. He insisted on staying in place to help us. It was a bad day for us when we lost him." [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Elaine Shannon (24 June 2001). "Death of The Perfect Spy". Time. Retrieved 22 July 2007.
  2. Ann Blackman (6 March 2005). "Spooks, shadows, codes, and moles — Spy wars, from inside the KGB". Boston Globe. Retrieved 22 July 2007.
  3. "INTERVIEW WITH SANDY GRIMES". The National Security Archive. CNN. 30 January 1998.
  4. Fenton, Ben (4 October 2001). "FBI agent betrayed top spy". Daily Telegraph .
  5. Rothstein, Hy; Whaley, Barton (2013). The Art and Science of Military Deception. Artech House. p. 541. ISBN   1608075516.
  6. Bagley, Tennent H.Spymaster, Startling Cold War Revelations of a Soviet KGB Chief, Skyhorse Publishing Inc, New York, Delaware, 2013.