Thursday, January 31, 2008

American book accuses Ukrainian Canadian of being a Russian spy

I don't generally like to get political on this blog but being a writer ... a big ballyhoo about a book that reflects on the Ukrainian community will invariably be discussed here, even if it involves politics.

So. The US publisher of the book Comrade J has halted shipments to Canada, citing "legal considerations." Now isn't that interesting. (They might have saved themselves a lot of grief had they been more careful in separating fiction from fact, a problem fellow author Dan Brown ran into. But that's another story.)

What caught my interest is what appears to be the character assassination of a Ukrainian Canadian politician and community activist who seems to have a penchant for taking unpopular stands and asking inconvenient questions of the government... not least of all about Herbert Norman, a Canadian ambassador suspected of being a Communist sympathizer and whose demise remains shrouded in mystery.

The book is, not surprisingly, meeting with huge skepticism on this side of the border, although south of the '49 it seems to be regarded as gospel, largely due to the author's credentials.

I wonder if the author, credentials notwithstanding, simply didn't familiarize himself sufficiently with Canadian history and politics, not to mention certain dynamics within Canadian society that never seem to factor into the plans of our country's opinion-makers. Mind you, it's possible he did, but, of course, everything can't go into a book, so an author has to be selective.

According to this article in the Toronto Star:

The book alleges that [former Conservative MP] Alex Kindy provided information that wound up in numerous spy cables in return for thousands of dollars in cash. It says Kindy, codenamed Grey, was recruited in 1992 by Vitali Domoratski, a vice-consul actually working in counter-intelligence for the Russians from their embassy in Ottawa. ...

[The author] acknowledges that Kindy — a strident anti-Communist — was an unlikely mark for the SVR, the post-Cold War successor to the Soviet Union’s ruthless KGB. However, Domoratski reportedly thought Kindy was vulnerable because he needed cash for his re-election campaign. ...

Kindy is remembered as a blustery and oft-quoted maverick on Parliament Hill and an outspoken foe of Communism.

He was also critical of government efforts to prosecute Eastern Europeans for alleged Nazi war crimes. Kindy and another Tory MP, Andrew Witer, ... expressed concern at the time that politically motivated witch hunts would masquerade as the legitimate pursuit of international justice.


Of course, the book is about more than just Kindy. In fact, it implicates the United Nations as well as the United States. Nor does Russia get an easy ride, and understandably doesn't seem any too pleased about it either.

The National Post's article sheds a bit of light on the book's central figure ... who, no doubt, is chortling all the way to the bank.

Mr. Tretyakov turned double-agent in 1997 ... Citing a loss of faith in post-Soviet Russia, he spent three years turning over secrets to the United States before defecting.

Since Mr. Tretyakov changed sides, the U.S. government has set his family up. His wife likes to paint and drive her Porsche, and he enjoys watching television shows such as Seinfeld and driving his Lexus. Despite the luxuries, he told the author: "I don't care about money. No publisher alive has enough money to pay me for what I know. I am worth millions because I am Russian intelligence."

Indeed. Living in the lap of luxury and being able to skewer the world's major political entities? Priceless!

UPDATE: Some intrepid reporters at the Globe & Mail have been doing a bit of digging (which perhaps Mr. Earley should have done?) and has unearthed a few, um, inconsistencies shall we say, in the claims of this million-dollar spy. Who, interestingly enough, doesn't seem terribly anxious to substantiate them.

... Mr. Tretyakov has become noticeably less chatty with the Canadian media. He declined, through his publisher, a lengthy sit-down interview with The Globe and refused to answer specific questions during his brief telephone interview.

"I'm a professional intelligence officer - don't try to approach me from different angles," he said shortly before slipping into his next interview.

In other words, "Oh #$%^&* ... Busted!"

Full article here.

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