Sergei Kourdakov, a former KGB agent and Soviet naval intelligence officer, defected from the USSR at the age of twenty. A year later we met at my Federal Government office in Washington DC. We were watched and followed. “Even you could be spy,” Sergei whispered. My book, A Rose for Sergei, is the true story of our time together.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Sergei Kourdakov – What Happened?

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing author George Yuhasz (via email) for my blog. My first post was about his award winning children’s book, Imagine That. The second part of the interview covered his Special Agent days when he met with Soviet defector Sergei Kourdakov. After all was said and done, I just had to ask him one last question . . .

Mr Yuhasz, what was your take on what happened to Sergei Kourdakov?

I have not drawn any conclusions about what actually happened to Sergei. I did not have access to police and intelligence files. However, my professional training and experience while working as a private investigator having looked into a number of suspicious deaths (Including Jimi Hendrix) does direct me to ask questions using different paradigms. In this case, the fraud triangle of motive, opportunity, and payoff is a useful tool that may be applicable. I hope this brief exercise illustrates my misgivings in regard to the Kourdakov homicide investigation and demonstrates that more could have been done to bring a true closure to Sergei’s death.

Was Ann Johnson the only person in the hotel room when he died?

Was Ann Johnson actually with Sergei when the gun discharged?

What was Sergei’s blood/alcohol level?

Did Ann and Sergei check in to the hotel together or did one or the other check in individually?

Were the occupants of neighboring rooms during Sergei’s stay interviewed?

Was the reception clerk interviewed?

Was the hotel reservation made my phone and if so, by whom?

Was the maid(s) who cleaned the room interviewed?

Were phone calls to the room and outgoing calls from the room obtained and checked?

What forensic tests were conducted in the hotel room, i.e. fingerprints?

What was the background and training of the coroner?

Was an autopsy or other examination/tests performed?

What was the degree of involvement of the Johnson family with the organization, Underground Evangelism?

During the time of Sergei’s death, the cold war was at a high intensity and the Soviet Union was acutely sensitive to criticism, especially from its own citizens. Threats and intimidation were primary tactics utilized to suppress dissent perceived to be detrimental to their world standing and future ambitions. Killing someone who the KGB perceived as a grave threat was always an option. Sergei has several major strikes against him. He was a notorious defector and had become a public figure openly criticizing the Soviet regime. Another was that he had been trained as a radio officer and had served aboard submarines and trawlers, both types of vessels employed for spying by the Soviets. Finally, his soon to be published book, the prospect of which would most certainly raise the ire of Politburo apparatchiks, loomed large.

Underground Evangelism ultimately profited handsomely from sales of Sergei’s book, published posthumously.

The local law enforcement agency initially handling the Kourdakov case seemed to come to a quick resolution of COD [Cause of Death]. Heavy caseload? Outside pressure?

GeorgeYuhasz is a former U.S. government special agent and contractor, and has worked in the private sector as a private investigator and security consultant. A graduate of American University's Schools of International Service and Government, he also holds a M.A. degree in psychology from the University of Northern Colorado.

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Once again, thank you George Yuhasz! Your detailed responses to my questions about Sergei Kourdakov are greatly appreciated. I also believe the investigation into Sergei’s death came to a quick resolution. Definitely, more could have been done.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Imagine That | Sergei Kourdakov & The Special Agent

On this blog post I continue my conversation with Author George Yuhasz. A recent Twitter exchange with him carried this message, “We have something in common regarding Sergei.” Now that got my attention! I jokingly tweeted back, “If you knew Sergei, I’m going to fall off my chair.”

It turns out that he had met Sergei. And just like that the Twitter connection wove back through the years and linked to a specific time and place: 1972 in Washington, DC. I wanted to know all the details. “How, what, where, who do you work for?” It turns out this award winning author was a former Special Agent … who actually knew quite a lot about Sergei Kourdakov.

I didn’t fall off my chair when I read his response to my questions, but it was a good thing I was sitting down. His intriguing story about “meeting” Sergei is fascinating.

1.  In what capacity did you meet Sergei? What were your initial thoughts about him?
I actually met with Sergei twice socially with a senior DOD agent to whom I had been assigned. I was new to the intelligence community and was being given opportunities to engage in OJT [On-the-Job Training] activities outside of classroom studies and briefings in order to gain experience. Because I was young, it was thought that I could relate more easily with Sergei in a “soft” situation and that more could be learned about him in the process. My role was to keep him talking and on point in regard to specific areas of interest. The former was easy; the latter proved to be more challenging.

The first meeting took place at the Marriott Hotel Restaurant in Rosslyn, VA near Key Bridge and the Adams Street Apartments where I was living at the time. The second meeting took place at the Grog and Tankard Bar on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown. I found Sergei to be quite affable and extremely likeable. We bonded, or so it seemed, quickly and found common ground on a number of topics, especially sports. However, he discovered soon after first meeting that I had little interest in organized religion and appeared to be disappointed. My partner did engage him further on this subject because of the link to Sergei’s KGB history. One of the goals was to obtain as many names as possible for cross referencing and verification purposes, as well as to identify potential future Intel sources. I wrote the summary reports of these meetings (Part of my training), which were passed on for analysis and evaluation, particularly pointed toward assessing the veracity and consistency of the information provided by him during formal interviews.

Sergei would express great concern over being followed and watched constantly. I noticed that Sergei’s eyes were always moving, examining everything around him. My partner, Jack, disclosed to me later that Sergei was not under surveillance and if he was being followed it was likely the KGB. Sergei was all about staying out of Soviet hands and I had a strong impression, as did many others on our side, that he would do anything to avoid being returned to the Soviet Union. A couple of times Sergei tested our reactions by making a provocative comment. “You are spy. Yes?” I remember him remaining silent and staring at me and also that I smiled and replied, “Yes. But we are all on the same team. Yes?” Sergei’s response was to roar with laughter and order more drinks. You could not help but like Sergei but there was an underlying edge to him that left me feeling uneasy. I spoke with Jack about this and was told he shared my feelings about Sergei and to only regard him as a source, nothing more. “He could charm a king cobra” was Jack’s assessment. This statement was not lost on me because Jack had spent time in India. Before taking on this new job, I had worked undercover as a special agent with the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, now DEA. However, I sensed at the time that playacting in the intelligence world was going to take on altogether different dimensions going forward in my career.

2.  I know you were not involved in the official interviews with Sergei – But did you or your co-workers believe his story about defecting from the Soviet Union?
In the final analysis, Sergei’s story about defecting from the Soviet Union was considered credible as far as I know. There were inconsistencies in his story and it appeared that he exaggerated his status with the KGB. Self-aggrandizement was certainly part of his psyche. However, one thing that must have been focused upon during debriefings and interviews was his service as a radio officer. According to Sergei, he had served aboard a submarine and a trawler, both sensitive posts. I do not know what information he provided about this part of his career. However, it seems that a tremendous amount of attention was given to other areas of his life and that little, if much of anything, was mentioned of his radio officer service in pubic accounts. Curious. When Jack and I attempted to get him talking during our meetings about radio operations, Sergei changed the subject. I don’t know exactly what Sergei divulged in the “official” debriefings and interviews, particularly about Soviet radio operations. Was all the hoopla about the KGB and hardships and obstacles he faced because of his defection some kind of smokescreen initiated by him and/or our government? Why? For what purpose? Or, did the U.S. government merely debrief him for all useful information and then cast him aside?

George Yuhasz is a former U.S. government special agent and contractor, and has worked in the private sector as a private investigator and security consultant. A graduate of American University's Schools of International Service and Government, he also holds a M.A. degree in psychology from
the University of Northern Colorado.

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Thank you, George Yuhasz, for taking the time to answer my questions for this interview. I truly enjoyed reading about Sergei Kourdakov from your perspective. I did know that Sergei was very concerned about being handed back to the Soviets. He was cautious and on the lookout all the time. However, I never observed that boastfulness, that false bravado side of Sergei. He was quite the opposite whenever we were together, very down to earth in fact.

I was shocked to discover that Special Agent Yuhasz met with Sergei at the Key Bridge Marriott for a “soft” unofficial meeting. After reading that, it was no wonder Sergei thought I was a spy when we dined and danced at the very same place. I’m sure Sergei must have thought that was where all “spies” meet — when in fact it was only a coincidence that he and I went there too.

On my next post . . .

I have one more question for George Yuhasz.

“What was your take on what happened to

Sergei Kourdakov?”

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Imagine That – Interview with George Yuhasz

I happen to think that Twitter is an interesting place to find books. There are plenty of authors who tweet info about their books daily, myself included. A recent post of a children’s book with a colorful cover caught my attention. My quick check revealed it had won several awards and the author was a former Special Agent. (Hmmm, I wondered if our paths ever crossed in the Federal Government.)

After reading all the great Five-Star reviews on Amazon, I knew Imagine That: The Magic of the Mysterious Lights by George Yuhasz would make a wonderful gift. There aren’t too many children’s books that have a motivational message woven through the story … a message that it’s never too early to set goals, and that an education is important to reach those goals.

I bought the book and contacted multi-award winning author George Yuhasz for an interview!

1.  With your background, I would have thought your first book would have been a thriller/espionage. But it wasn’t, you wrote a children’s story.  I’m curious. Why were you drawn to that genre?
I was inspired to write this children’s book by my granddaughter. Her fascination with the night sky and its celestial bodies was both infectious and provocative. The story was written not only as a labor of love, but also in response to the opportunity to celebrate the sense of wonder and awareness of young children. I hope that you and the children you love enjoy this book.

It is a book enjoyed and found meaningful by children and adults of all ages.

3.  What surprised you the most after writing this book?
As a neophyte author and without any expectations, I decided to enter my book in some competitions to see how I might fare. I have been really surprised and pleased that the book has been recognized for literary excellence several times since publication in April 2019.

4.  If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Begin writing as soon as you can and write about whatever you want.

5.  Favorite book when you were a kid?
“THE SECRET GARDEN”   by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

6.  What did you want to be when you grew up?
A police detective or a government agent.

7.  Share something your readers would not know about you.
I have always had a strong interest in natural health. My grandmother was Native American and was a healer. She taught me much about the power of nature and ritual. About fifteen years ago, I decided to pursue formal training and became certified in several modalities: Traditional Naturopathy; Reflexology; Clinical Hypnotherapy. I am very proud of my herb and vegetable garden.

8.  If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

9.  What else are you working on?
I’m currently working on a suspense novel and another children’s book.

George Yuhasz is a former U.S. government special agent and contractor, and has worked in the private sector as a private investigator and security consultant. A graduate of American University's Schools of International Service and Government, he also holds a M.A. degree in psychology from the University of Northern Colorado.

George is a passionate advocate for the preservation and protection of our natural world. A proud father and grandfather, lifelong learner, and world traveler, he especially delights in sharing with children and adults his knowledge and enthusiasm for appreciating the joy and wonder of connecting with nature.

WINNER-Outstanding Children's Fiction Illustrated Category
FINALIST-Children/Juvenile Fiction Category
Awarded by the Independent Author Network 2019 Book of the Year Awards
Awarded by the Wishing Shelf Book Awards - 2019
DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE - Children's Inspirational Book Category
Awarded by the Independent Press Book Awards - 2020
Awarded by the Book Readers Appreciation Group - 2020

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On my next post,

I continue my conversation with George Yuhasz

and our surprise connection

with Sergei Kourdakov!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Sergei Kourdakov – The Other Story

Do you ever feel like you’re being watched? My true story, A Rose for Sergei, is about Russian defector, Sergei Kourdakov. In 1972 our worlds collided in Washington, DC. Sergei was ex-KGB. I worked for the Department of Defense. We were both 21 and we each thought the other was a spy. After all, it was Cold War times, and dating an ex-KGB defector was improbable. As our lives intertwined, I did find out what it was like to be watched and followed. And in real life, Sergei understood all too well that the people from his country never forget.

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A Rose for Sergei

Spring eBook Promotion - $0.99

May 7 – 10, 2020

Available from Amazon

Friday, January 10, 2020

Sergei Kourdakov … Life-Changing Words

When I was a child, I always had mixed emotions about New Year’s Day.  It was either, “Yaaay, Happy New Year,” or “Boo, I have to go back to school tomorrow.”  When I was in my late teens, and working full-time for the U.S. Federal Government, I felt the same way about New Year’s Day—glad to celebrate a new year but not ready to go back to work after a few days of holiday vacation time.

My way of thinking changed once again when I was twenty-one.  That New Year’s day, I was alone in my apartment in Arlington, Virginia.  I had just returned from visiting my family for the Christmas holidays.  While unpacking my suitcase the telephone rang, and I quickly answered, expecting to hear Sergei’s voice.  Instead I heard these life-changing words ...

“They got him!  They got Sergei,” my boss shouted into the phone.

Shortly after midnight on January 1, 1973, Sergei Kourdakov’s life ended abruptly.  He was just twenty-one years old.  It has been forty-seven years since the unexplainable happened.

That phone call … and those words … slip into my mind each year.

They got Sergei.

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A Rose for Sergei is Available From

Amazon (eBook & Paperback)

Barnes & Noble (Paperback)

Friday, November 8, 2019

Sergei Kourdakov | The Americans

When the award winning drama series, The Americans, aired on television in 2013, I couldn’t watch it.  I even blogged about it in my October 14, 2014 post.  After six years I caved in.  To understand my change of heart I’ll go back to the beginning.

No, there wasn’t anything wrong with my TV when The Americans series started.  It was the fact that I knew the story line was about two Soviet KGB spies posing as an American married couple living in the suburbs of Washington DC.  That was why I didn’t want to watch it.  The show was way too close to home.  And not because the fictional Russian couple in the series lived in a home in Falls Church, Virginia—a few miles from where I used to live.

The Americans show was too close for comfort because of my own true story about dating Soviet KGB defector, Sergei Kourdakov.  I was also in the middle of writing a book about Sergei when the show came out.  And honestly, I was pretty sure there would be scenes in The Americans that I really didn’t want to know about.

The show ended in 2018 and I held fast to my plan.  Not going there, I told myself so many times.  You can probably see where this is heading…so fast forward to the part where I recently caved in and ended up watching the entire series.  All 75 episodes.

The reason for my change of heart?  Whenever I talked publicly about my book, A Rose for Sergei, people commented that it sounded like something out of The Americans.  Then they wanted to know what I thought of the show.  I didn’t have an answer, but I now understand what they were talking about.  Yes, it is an amazing show, and it definitely holds your attention.

After watching The Americans I had a few sleepless nights, and there were some scenes where my heart raced.  Sergei Kourdakov often told me we were being watched and followed.  Sergei spotted it, but now I understand how I wouldn’t notice that.  The Russians/KGB were good at their tradecraft.

I tried to encourage my sister, Karen, to watch The Americans…even just a few episodes.  She had met Sergei and I thought she would find the show interesting.  Her answer, “I’m not going to watch that show, it’s too scary.”

Monday, February 18, 2019

Sergei Kourdakov: A Rose for Sergei: This Is No Ordinary Story!

One of my goals in writing a book about Sergei Kourdakov was to correct the misinformation about him.  On second thought, I’ll change that to, “my only goal.”  I was determined to write A Rose for Sergei, even though writing a book about anything was the furthest thing from my mind.  That’s why I was truly surprised when I received the following email:

“We are excited to announce that the book ‘A Rose for Sergei’ has won the Silver / 2nd Place award in the 2019 Feathered Quill Book Awards Program for the Best of Backlist* category! (*Not newly published.)

Comments from the Feathered Quill Book Awards Judges:

“Doing a simple search on Sergei Kourdakov produces plenty of information on his escape from the KGB, conversion to Christianity ... but the author, K. Kidd, knew him not only personally but romantically.  This is no ordinary story!”

“This is one of those stories that if it wasn’t true, it would make for great fiction.”

“Kudos ... for sharing the human side of one man who was determined, against incredible odds, to change for the better.”

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