26 May 2006

Vasili Mitrokhin's first contact with MI6

I don't know if anybody else has noticed it, but there is a puzzling contradiction I have found about the date when Vasili Mitrokhin first made contact with the British and MI6.

On 27 January 2000, a BBC Radio 4 programme called "Document" was broadcast about the Mitrokhin Archive. Below is part of a transcript I made from a tape recording of the programme:

"In September 1991, 2 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a junior British diplomat in Latvia was surprised to find a quietly spoken Russian pensioner on the embassy doorstep. He was carrying a curiously filled shopping basket: on top were his salami sausages, but underneath were sample documents from his dacha archive."

Then on page 3 of a BBC PDF document, a press release, we have another reference to this point. In the relevant paragraph it reads:

'A turning-point came when valuable KGB archive material became available. "Vasili Mitrokhin was a KGB archivist who copied thousands and thousands of documents from about 1920 onwards," explains Moffat. "He made a copy of each document for himself and in 1991 smuggled the entire archive out of the Soviet Union to Britain.'

What concerns me is that both these references put Mitrokhin's approach to the British firmly in 1991. Is this a mistake, or is the "official" version a bit of disinformation to throw us off the scent? It is stated in the Introduction to The Mitrokhin Enquiry Report that Mitrokhin approached the British on 24 March 1992.

This point is not just of academic interest, as it does affect the story given to my jury that Viktor Oshchenko arrived in the UK on 31 July 1992, he gave my name, there was then time to investigate and set up an elaborate entrapment by 7 August, and I was arrested the next day. I suspect there was insufficient time to check on all the facts, set up my arrest, and then put me through a comprehensive police interview. My jury questioned the lack of evidence connecting Oshchenko to me, and they even asked 2 questions at the end of my trial about it.

This point could prove helpful to my case about exactly what was behind my arrest. If any of my readers can clear up this puzzle, about why there are different dates for Mitrokhin’s arrival at a British Embassy, then I would be very grateful for any information.