Weapons hidden by the Soviets in the British countryside during the Cold War are almost certainly still there, according to a leading historian.
The booby-trapped caches were routinely created near the main European cities, according to files given to the West by a former KGB archivist, Vasili Mitrokhin, who defected in 1992.
Historian Christopher Andrew, who has worked on the Mitrokhin files, told The Daily Telegraph: “Given that Britain was second only to the United States in terms of importance to the Soviets at this time, it would be remarkable if this tactic wasn’t deployed here.
“Of course by now they would not be easy to find and it is unlikely the weapons would be serviceable.”
In his notes, Mr Mitrokhin described how to find one cache near Berne in Switzerland.
“After taking 36 steps you will be at the point between two large leafy trees, the only ones in the sector. The distance between the trees is three paces. The area between the trees has been used for the cache,” the note said.
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There were also instructions on how to disarm the booby traps.
The weapons were designed to be available to Soviet agents operating in the West in the event of the Cold War turning hot.
Mr Mitrokhin become disillusioned with the Soviet Union and decided to use his position in the archives to secretly copy some of the thousands of files to which he had access.
Professor Andrew said that dissidents like Mr Mitrokhin “were all hoping that following de-Stalinisation, socialism with a human face would emerge”.
“When that didn’t happen, they could either stand up and be sacked or undermine the system from within,” he said. “I think the risks he took reflect the genuine beliefs he held.”Reuse content