Alexey Kulak: biography, family, history of betrayal, photo
In 1984, Alexei Kulak was taken to his last journey in Moscow with great honors. Colleagues recalled the merits of the deceased: a responsible employee of the Moscow Institute of Chemical Technology. Mendeleev, an excellent specialist chemist, front-line soldier, a veteran of foreign intelligence. But now, many believe that he deserved, not honor, but the death penalty.
It turns out that an impeccable career and the official life of the hero are only the facade of a second life, a secret that he led in the United States during his work under diplomatic cover. Appeared after his death, publications indicate that the Fist was in fact a traitor. Moreover, the top leaders of the USSR knew this.
During the life of the spy, Alexei Kulak came under suspicion of the Soviet counterintelligence. Shortly after his departure from the United States (late 1970s), American writer Edward Epstein published an interview with a former FBI official. He mentioned two KGB officers who were recruited by American intelligence.The KGB knew nothing about them.
One of the recruits was a GRU general, Dmitry Kulikov, whom he managed to expose only when he retired. For 30 years, he passed on secret information to American intelligence. The second spy was never revealed. Epstein concluded that this is most likely a double agent.
In Moscow, they realized it was too late. Fist took his secret to the grave, leaving only questions: recruited him or he himself offered his services, exactly how he worked with the Americans, what information he managed to pass on. Alexei Kulak's biography is one of the most mysterious pages in the confrontation between the special services of the USSR and the USA during the Cold War era.
Where do spies learn?
Aleksey Kulak was born in March 1922 in a simple working family. He came to the service of intelligence as an adult. At the age of 30 he entered the KGB school. Fellow students were just beginning an officer's career, and he was already a military officer and had the highest Soviet military award. In 1941, after graduating from school, Aleksey Kulak went to the front as a commander of an artillery unit. For the combat exploits of the Fist they assigned to the highest award.
Work in the KGB
After the war, Alexei Kulak entered the Moscow Institute of Chemical Technology, defended his thesis and was invited to work in the KGB. In 1961, he went on his first overseas business trip to New York.
Aleksei Kulak was officially registered with the UN as a scientific consultant on the problems of atomic radiation in the USSR mission, but this was only a cover. His real task was to collect scientific and technical information and recruit people who possessed the necessary information. Alexey Kulak quickly mastered the new position and began making useful contacts.
Contact with the FBI
Kulak spent a lot of time in the company of US intelligence officers, but his colleagues did not see anything wrong with that. From these people came the information of interest to the USSR. The KGB hoped that the Fist is not wasting time. But this part of the scout’s work was the reason why he is considered a traitor today.
Just six months after arriving in America, Alexey Kulak offered his services to the FBI and became an American spy. His name was on the secret list of traitors transmitted by a CIA officer who came into contact with Soviet intelligence.But the list fell into the hands of Soviet intelligence one year after Kulak died.
Why did the Fist become a traitor? One of the versions: disagreement with the political course, in particular with the policy pursued by Nikita Khrushchev. Perhaps Fist took revenge on his colleagues and bosses, many of whom were younger than him, but moved faster in service. It seemed to him that he was undervalued. Other motives of betrayal: compromising evidence, threats and cruel coercion, money.
Alexey Kulak was listed as a UN worker and did not have a diplomatic status. That is, he would be threatened with a real sentence for violating American laws. And in the history of the special services, there are quite a few cases when foreign intelligence officers who fell into the criminal history were recruited in this way. After receiving the names begins observation and blackmail.
There were a lot of situations when Soviet intelligence officers were offered fabulous money for work in favor of the United States. Even Alexei Kulak could go on cooperation with the FBI for career reasons. He was used to being the first, and wanted to be a head taller than his colleagues in intelligence.
By the way, the leadership of the American special services did not have a unanimous opinion as to whether Kulak was an agent or an agent of the KGB. The FBI believed that he was a real spy, and the CIA doubted.Some former leaders of the American intelligence and today are convinced that Alexei Kulak was a real agent and did not transfer important inside information to the USSR.
Based on information received from Kulak, the FBI began to monitor John William Butenko, an American engineer of Ukrainian origin, who secretly supplied Soviet intelligence with information about the communications and control systems of the US strategic aviation command. In October 1963, he was arrested along with Soviet contactees. John Butenko for his cooperation with the KGB received thirty years in prison.
In 1967, Kulak was recalled to Moscow, and in 1971 he again came to the United States as a research assistant. His second five-year trip abroad began. All this time he remained a very valuable informant for the FBI. But how did Aleksey Kulak manage to avoid suspicion for so many years, how did he convey information to American intelligence?
Most likely, they used the full set of special devices of the American spy. Code tables, encryption and decryption radios, cryptographic pencils and carbon paper - equipment samples,which at various times were withdrawn from agents of foreign special services, are now stored in the museum of the FSB.
In 1977, the second term of the mission of Aleksey Kulak ended. Hero of the USSR returned to his homeland. Returning to Moscow is another mystery in this confusing story. The agent no longer contacted the FBI. The secret meeting was to be held in 1978, but the spy did not come to her.
After returning to Moscow, Kulak got a job as a teacher in his home university, although he could continue to work in the highest military posts or even stay in the United States altogether. It is known that he had cancer. Perhaps the spy just wanted to live a quiet life in the end. In 1984, Alexei Kulak died of a malignant brain tumor. None of his relatives left.