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.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Persecutor | A Rose for Sergei

I’ve been planning to update the book cover for A Rose for Sergei for a while. Even though I was attached to the old cover I knew it was time to make the change.

Before the Covid19 pandemic lockdown, I had talked with the manager of a local bookstore regarding an author talk. After a quick discussion, I handed him a copy of my book. When he looked at the cover, only one word slipped out. “Oh!” Even though he was interested to know more about Sergei Kourdakov, that one word conveyed so much more. Note to self back then: Update Book Cover! 

A year has passed since that meeting. Over the lockdown I played around with a few different cover styles. Yes, I could have asked a designer for help. But all I wanted was a simple red rose along with a silhouette of St. Basil’s Cathedral. It was an easy project I could create myself. Yet, I procrastinated. 

A few weeks ago I received an email from Vince Stevenson requesting an author interview on his podcast, Boomers on Books. I went into overdrive to complete the new book cover design and uploaded it to Amazon just in time for the interview.

Heartfelt thanks to author Vince Stevenson for having me as a guest on his podcast. Vince is a pro at public speaking and interviewing. He is also quite the entertainer, with a quick sense of humor. I actually missed his remark during the live show when he said that a “spy” was asking a question in the comment section.

I was nervous in the beginning of the interview, but the time flew by quickly. Upon reflection … the podcast has reminded me of how much more there is to Sergei’s story. There are still answers to be found. 

Click below for the YouTube podcast.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Sergei Kourdakov | A Mysterious Life

Author Dane Cramer released a video on January 1, 2021 about some of the mystery that surrounds Sergei Kourdakov.

The YouTube video The Mysterious Life of Sergei Kourdakov release date also coincides with the 48th anniversary of Sergei Kourdakov’s death.  I hope readers will take a few minutes to check out Mr. Cramer’s video.  As always, his work is informative and professional!  It was a nice surprise that he included my book, A Rose for Sergei.

This past week the news has been filled with stories about Russian dissenter Alexi Navalny’s imprisonment upon his return to Russia, and how he wanted it known that he would not take his own life while in prison.  Mr. Navalny’s words chilled me.

Forty-eight years ago I had heard similar words from Sergei Kourdakov as he implored me to listen to him — Sergei was calmly seated beside me as he tried to make me understand what could happen to a Soviet defector.  I can still remember his somber face, the way he looked directly into my eyes as he spoke: “I would never take my own life.  I would never do that.  Do you understand why I am telling you this?”  I fully understood all too well what he was telling me.

I’ll be on the lookout for Mr. Cramer’s next video where he discusses Sergei Kourdakov’s death.

That is where the real mystery begins.

Sergei Kourdakov

Click Below for Video

The Mysterious Life of Sergei Kourdakov

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Click Below for Blog Version

(Includes all Russian Interviews)

Sergei Kourdakov and the Quest for Truth

Friday, January 1, 2021

Sergei Kourdakov | The Girl in the Room

New Year’s Day 2021 marks the 48th anniversary of Sergei Kourdakov’s death. From what we’ve read in police and news reports there was one other person with him the night he died. The girl in the room with Sergei was seventeen-year-old Ann Johnson. It was only a few years ago, though, that I found out that Ann claimed she was Sergei’s “fiancée.”

I was surprised about her “fiancée” claim because it was contrary to what I knew. I went back and re-read a newspaper clipping I saved from The Washington Post — Slain Defector Buried Here dated January 12, 1973: [Ann was] a young woman with whom friends said he [Sergei] enjoyed a “brother-sister” relationship.

Sergei and I had planned to spend the Christmas holidays together with my family in Massachusetts. Everything changed when we found out that Sergei would not be allowed onto the restricted USAF base where my parents lived. After that disappointing news, Sergei made arrangements to stay with the Johnson family in California. Sergei had given me the Johnson Family home telephone number so I could call him on December 25, 1972. It is highly unlikely that Sergei would have given me (his girlfriend) the phone number of his “fiancée.”

I believe it was Mr. Johnson who answered the phone on Christmas day. We wished each other a “Merry Christmas” before Sergei came on the line. That was my only contact with the Johnsons. It was also the last time I ever heard Sergei’s voice.

Of all the questions that I’m asked after people read A Rose for Sergei, there is always one that comes up repeatedly. What about Ann? Hmmm, yes. My question exactly – what about Ann?

Questions from Readers


Was Ann Johnson at Sergei’s funeral?



Do you think Ann was really Sergei’s fiancée?

I’m pretty sure she was not.


Wouldn’t a woman attend the funeral of the man she loved and was engaged to?

I agree, you would think so, but Ann wasn’t at Sergei’s funeral.  I was.


Have you heard from Ann?



Why do you think Ann Johnson hasn’t contacted you?

I don’t have an answer for that.

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Monday, December 21, 2020

A House is Not a Home | K. Kidd

I know many families who aren’t traveling for the 2020 holidays this year.  Just when we thought there was an end in sight, the Covid-19 pandemic took an upswing, cancelling travel plans all around the world.

With Christmas just a few days away, and knowing I won’t be seeing all my family this year, I thought about a story I wrote in my writing group.  The topic was: Describe Your Childhood Home.  Now, more than ever, it seems like the right time to share this story.

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A House is Not a Home

Sit back in your chair, relax, stretch your legs out and get comfy while I take you on a virtual tour of my childhood home.  Stay alert though… because there’s a lot to tell you about my parents’ house.

My earliest memories are of lots of sunshine, and a swing set in the back yard.  I was four years old and had an older brother and sister, and a new baby brother.  My father flew jets on the Air Force base, and my mother took care of us.  I was too young to remember what the house actually looked like.  It had a roof and rooms.  But that swing set beckoned me daily to monkey climb all over it… that is until I fell and broke my arm.  To this day I still remember staring at the bright lights on the hospital ceiling as I rolled through the halls on a gurney.  Mom was at my side telling me I would be okay. 

I remember days filled with laughter and picnics on white sandy beaches when I was six… exploring caves even though we were told it was unsafe to do such things.  And the house had a roof and rooms.  I remember with such clarity the night I couldn’t fall asleep and told my parents about the large moving dark spot on the wall right above my head.  “Hush sweetie, go back to bed, it’s only moonlight shadows playing tricks on you,” Mom consoled.  It was a good thing I was insistent and Mom and Dad came to check it out.  When they flipped on the light switch in my bedroom they saw the biggest, meanest, ugliest black spider the size of a man’s hand just inches above my pillow. To this day my fear of spiders is off the charts.

By the time I was ten, I could draw you a floor plan of our house.  The kitchen was long and narrow with plenty of room for family meals.  The basement was open with space for toys.  The ceiling in the living room was vaulted and there was a ton of room for us to all play.  It was a good thing because I now have another younger brother and a baby sister.  That brings our family to eight members.  Holidays were like magic in our house and the laughter never stopped.  Throughout the years, the aromas of home-made bread, cookies, cakes and pies always filled the air.  And winters, oh how I loved the snow and ice skating with my family. 

At age twelve, you start to see more than just rooms in a house.  I suddenly appreciated the stunning views from the kitchen window and my bedroom window.  Snow capped mountains in the fall and winter looked like paintings drawn on these windows.  But they were the real thing.  Even today when the wind whips through my hair on a cool fall day, I’m instantly taken back to family picnics in the mountains.  As our family grew, so did the happy memories.  And the love and laughter never stopped.  Roasting chestnuts over an open fire didn’t mean roasting them in your living room fireplace though!  We had to duck for cover and roll when those chestnuts popped open and shot out at everyone.  It was just another Christmas filled with family fun times.

You look at your parents’ house differently when you’re a teenager.  By now everyone is getting older, and growing taller and taking up way too much space.  “Why does this house only have two bathrooms,” was a constant battle cry.  And the house seemingly shrinks right before your eyes.  But still, it is the same.  Every birthday is celebrated with a special, delicious, home-cooked meal and Mom’s to-die-for German Chocolate Cake.  Every Friday Dad prepared his famous hot and juicy hamburgers.  I think his secret was throwing in a little bit of bacon grease in the fry pan.

I remember that the curtains were always pulled back in the house to let in the light and to take in the view of the surroundings. On the weekends, I loved to sit in the living room, cradling a hot cup of coffee in my hands, while talking with everyone.  The view outside the wall of windows in that room was spectacular… especially in the winter time, when the pine trees next to the patio were covered in snow.  

The house seems even smaller when I’m twenty-one.  Life seems more hectic, for all of us, as we change with the seasons of life.  But inside the four exterior walls of the house, the same familiar family routines continue and happy memories are made.  This was the year we made the “Magical Christmas Show” movie.  I was the magician, and stopping and starting the movie camera made that an easy trick to pull off.

Fall is my favorite time of year, so I would be remiss if I did not describe the huge wrap-around front porch at my parents’ house.  Rocking chairs and a suspended porch swing decorated this area.  There was plenty of room for everyone.  This peaceful spot had become a favorite place to relax and share funny family stories.  The rooms in the house are bigger now and joyous laughter fills the air.  There is plenty of room in the house for all my siblings, their spouses and their children to run and romp.

Being raised in an Air Force family meant uprooting and moving every few years.  Therefore, the house I’ve described is actually a conglomeration of eight different houses.  Aside from the opening paragraph in this story, the other paragraphs each represented a different house comprised of the following locations—Arizona, Okinawa, Michigan, Colorado, Virginia, Massachusetts, Texas and finally Virginia again.  I actually never lived in the last three houses I talked about.  When I was eighteen I stayed in Virginia because I was already working full-time for the Department of Defense.

What I learned over the years from all these moves is that a house really is just a structure consisting of a roof, walls and multiple rooms.  It is in fact the people inside those walls that truly make a house a home.  And the two are very different.  Home is a place filled with loving parents and siblings, happy memories, and treasured moments of life.  A house is a place to keep your possessions.

My mother explained it this way.  Her favorite saying over the holidays was, “All hearts go home for Christmas.”  She was absolutely right… home is where your heart is.— Kolleen Kidd

* * *

May Your Heart Go Home for Christmas This Year

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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!