The spy who was sent into the cold
Soviet agent who fed secrets to the British reveals he now lives on state benefits
He is one of the last of the Cold Warriors. Victor Makarov was spying for Britain in Russia long before the two agents Sergei Skripal and Igor Sutyagin, who were handed over in Vienna this month in the latest spy swap.
But, while Messrs Skripal and Sutyagin, unexpected beneficiaries of the Anna Chapman spy saga, can look forward to comfortable new lives in Britain, Mr Makarov was rewarded with two decades of misery.
"He is valuable to the UK and they will look after him," Mr Makarov said of Mr Skripal, his fellow old-boy from camp Perm 35. "He'll be given somewhere to live and he'll be able to find a job if he wants one. I have nothing against him, but I have been valuable, too." Mr Makarov fed Soviet secrets to Britain more than 20 years ago and, like Mr Skripal, spent years in an Arctic labour camp as a result.
Three years ago, from his tiny house in northern England, Mr Makarov spoke of his fears that the KGB would have its revenge on him. "They will try to shoot me in the back of the head, but they might use poison," he said, in the feverish climate that followed the assassination of his fellow exile Alexander Litvinenko. "They never forget. When I was at the KGB in the 1970s they were still chasing people who had betrayed them 30 years before."
The Russian state has not caught up with Mr Makarov, but he has other troubles. The former code-breaker exists on disability benefits, rather than the pension he believes has been denied him. And, at 55, he has given up applying for jobs after being overlooked for positions ranging from bus driver to security guard to refuse collector. Worst of all, he has now lost his house – bought with a £65,000 "pay-off" he extracted from the security services several years ago – after his failure to keep up repayments on a home-improvement loan.
The gifted linguist, who graduated from the KGB Academy in the same year as Vladimir Putin, now lives with his rescued dog in a one-bedroomed housing association flat.
It is a far remove from the future he dreamed of when he first fell in love with Britain – without ever having visited this country – a quarter of a century ago. By then, the idealistic young officer, who translated secret messages intercepted from foreign embassies, had become disillusioned by what he was learning about Soviet oppression. He contacted MI5 and began passing over KGB intercepts of messages, including details of disputes in the Reagan White House over Moscow, the Israeli siege of Beirut and Zairean opposition attempts to kill President Mobutu.
He and his fiancée, Olga, dreamed of defecting to Britain and starting a new life together, but, before they could do so, in the mid-1980s, Mr Makarov was betrayed by a friend and sent to Perm 35 – the last Soviet Gulag. He never saw Olga again. After five years in prison, he was released under an amnesty and quietly brought to England in 1992 by MI6. His triumphant reception quickly evaporated: he spent most of the following years in squalid "safe-houses". His protests about MI6's "broken promises" of a new identity, a house and a pension led him to a hunger strike outside Downing Street and the unusual lump-sum concession in 2001.
An inveterately stubborn man, who has suffered mental health problems throughout his difficult time in the UK, the former spy has been left to create his own new identity.
"He has been shabbily treated [and] I don't know why," says the intelligence expert David Kahn. "My feeling is that British intelligence wrung him dry and then didn't support him."
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Gay couple buy JebBushForPresident.com web domain, and refuse to sell
Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: We are currently looking for a Geog...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...