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.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Blame It On The Blizzard | Investigating Sergei Kourdakov

There was a lot of snow to shovel out of our driveway this week—over 40 inches.  Snowbound for five days means extra time for internet browsing, which can be okay.  I found some books for my to-read list, and sparkly jewelry to pin on my “Have a Heart” board on Pinterest.  I blame the idle hours online on the Blizzard of 2016 (aka Snowzilla) that hit the east coast.  At least we had electricity.

That snow-stuck-at-home internet searching also led to finding some pretty harsh comments about Soviet KGB defector Sergei Kourdakov, author of The Persecutor.  Some proclaim that Sergei and his book are all a lie.  Those beliefs are exactly the reason why I wrote A Rose for Sergei.  Those beliefs are why I told a story that I kept to myself for over forty years.  Those beliefs are why I finally had to speak out.

I’ve mentioned it before in my blog—that Sergei’s background was thoroughly checked out by government agencies.  I don’t think that fact sinks in with some people, or that they fully understand what “checked out” implies.  Investigating Sergei’s background was not a simple call to the KGB to ask them to verify Sergei’s employment.  Sorry, I’m being facetious.  I wonder if people have any idea what that type of investigation entails.  The INTEL, or intelligence gathering, was ongoing and the information received corroborated Sergei’s story.  Over the course of several months the facts maintained their integrity.  Sergei Kourdakov was telling the truth.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Red Sparrow | A Rose for Sergei

I recently finished reading Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews.  It’s a fiction spy vs. spy thriller.  Mr. Matthews, a former CIA operative, gives you an inside peek at clandestine goings on in the world in his award winning first novel.  He had me at espionage.  I’ve always loved mystery and intrigue.

One of my favorite lines from Red Sparrow:

“We cannot have foreign diplomats harmed on the streets, even if they are meeting with Russian traitors,” said Egorov with a snort.  “The FBI will start mugging our officers in Georgetown if this happens again.”
—Jason Matthews

This passage caught my attention because of my own true story, A Rose for Sergei, about meeting and dating Soviet KGB defector Sergei Kourdakov.  Sergei’s cautious actions were very similar to the people in Red Sparrow.  I wasn’t completely surprised at some of the things Mr. Matthews talked about because of where I used to work.  His book, however, was an eye-opener for me concerning all the foreign agents strolling around.  My heart raced when I read how they stealthily conducted surveillance.

My take-a-way from his book?  I now realize why I never noticed anyone following Sergei and me, even though Sergei warned me.  I wasn’t trained in that area, but Sergei was.  He knew.  My heart-stopping moments when reading Red Sparrow?  I also now know why Sergei Kourdakov always insisted that I drive, and why he slid out of view in the car seat whenever we went out.

Red Sparrow is an incredible read, one that I can highly recommend.  Excellent book Mr. Matthews!  You gave this writer the chills.

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Monday, January 4, 2016

Sergei Kourdakov - January 1

In the early morning hours of January 1, even in my deepest sleep, I’m startled awake.  It is the same time each year.  And I know.  Sometime after midnight, forty-three years ago, a shot was fired and Sergei Kourdakov fell to the floor.  One fatal gunshot wound to the head.  I was more than 2000 miles away at the time, but uneasiness had nagged me during the days leading up to that very night.  Did I by some means sense that, when we parted for the holidays, it would be the last time I would ever see Sergei alive?  I block those memories from my mind each year, or at least I try to do that, as I prepare for the holidays.  But somehow those thoughts find me.  I don’t think I’ll ever truly know what happened that night.