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.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Persecutor by Sergei Kourdakov | Controversy

Controversy is defined as a prolonged, public and heated disagreement.  It is also a powerful motivator.  For those who are new to my blog, here’s a very quick synopsis to catch you up.  For those who know my story, I have some new information about Sergei Kourdakov.

This story begins with Sergei Kourdakov’s book, The Persecutor.  Raised in Soviet orphanages, Sergei was plucked from obscurity to work with the KGB in breaking up Christian meetings of “Believers.”  After reading confiscated religious material, and literally feeling the hand of God hold him back from beating a woman, Sergei had a change of heart.  At age twenty he defected.  His leap to freedom from a Soviet trawler (1971) left him battered and close to death on the rocky shores of Tasu Sound in Canada.  A year later he came to the United States to work with a group called Underground Evangelism.  During that time he wrote his story in a book that was published under three titles:  Sergei, The Persecutor, and Forgive Me, Natasha.  Published in several languages, his book is still a top seller around the world.

The story doesn’t end here.  Sergei’s book about becoming a Christian brought hope to many who read it.  It even inspired the making of the documentary film, Forgive Me, Sergei.  It was not the original intent of the film to discredit Sergei . . . but it did.  In part, interviews done in Russia cast some doubt about Sergei’s story.  For me, it cast some serious doubt about the Russians who were interviewed.  How likely were they to admit on film that Sergei was a KGB defector?

End of story?  Not yet.  This is where I come into the picture.  I met Sergei at my Federal Government office in Washington, DC.  In the Fall of 1972 we were both twenty-one.  I heard Sergei’s story first hand, in the privacy of my apartment.  I would have known if he was lying.  I saw the countermeasures he took when he suspected we were being followed.  That’s why I was perplexed when I watched the documentary film.  The controversy surrounding Sergei and his book motivated me to speak up.  It was at that point that I felt compelled to write A Rose for Sergei—a story that I had essentially kept a secret for forty years.

Now the story takes another turn.  The Russian interviews in the documentary film also caught the attention of Christian blogger Dane Cramer.  Aside from being an author, Mr. Cramer is trained in deception detection.  He states, “From the first time I watched the documentary, my trained senses had caught bits and pieces of information that suggested a conflict in what was being said.”

In his February 8, 2017 blog post, titled Sergei Kourdakov and the Quest for Truth, Mr. Cramer assesses each Russian interview in the documentary film.  He provides a fascinating and detailed report based on each interview.  Mr. Cramer’s quest for the truth is a must-read for everyone who is interested in Sergei Kourdakov’s life.


  1. When I met and talked with Sergei, I found nothing deceptive or disingenuous about him. Up until his defection his story is not unique. Many such survivor stories were written and distributed as "samizdat" — hand-written and copied dissident literature.

    Several issues bear on Sergei's story: Resurgent nationalism in Russia demands that the evils of the Soviet Union be denied—even as they are being repeated today. Christian witnessing and charismatic experiences are rejected by many groups in the United States. I suspect that is because such experiences frighten some people's ego-selves.

    One can hardly doubt Sergei's seeing the humanity of his victims, his decision to defect, or his decision to witness his experiences. Anyone saying his book must be a lie because it made money, would have to apply that same principle to books by the Clintons or Barack Obama.

    Charismatic experiences are unique to the individual. I have had them, so I know how impossibly difficult they are to explain and for others to grasp.

    1. Keith, thank you for commenting on this controversy! My note to readers - Keith Kenny’s career with the CIA as an Intelligence Analyst spanned more than 40 years. He is well informed about Sergei Kourdaov’s background. Keith is also my brother. Re-missioned from the intelligence field, Keith now writes Science Fiction. Check out his fascinating SciFi stories here:

  2. I really enjoyed your post, Kolleen, and the post of Dane Cramer. Wish I had seen this on my dashboard sooner... :P
    Thank you so much for putting it up, and know that there are many others who hold Sergei in high esteem and belief despite the alleged "evidence" against him. May the Lord bless you in this journey to keep the truth alive!

    1. Emily, thank you for all your support and kind words! I really enjoyed Dane Cramer's post too. Fascinating for sure.