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, January 2, 2018

Sergei Kourdakov … He Promised Me

It happened a lifetime ago, forty-five years to be exact.  January 1, 1973 is the date that Sergei Kourdakov’s life tragically slipped away from a single gunshot to his head.  It is also the date that strange stories began to circulate about what really happened that night.  Some of those stories contradict what I personally know about Sergei, and they don’t add up.  Apparently I’m not alone in my thinking.

Journalist Emma Best recently published a fascinating and informative report about Sergei Kourdakov.  Part Two of her report discusses Sergei’s death: FBI file reveals numerous contradictions in the curious case of Sergei Kourdakov.  At the end of the report you can read the actual FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

After reading all of the released documents and newspaper articles, a few things jumped out at me. The female skiing companion in Sergei’s room the night he died is referred to as Sergei’s “fiancée.”  If you follow my blog, you’ll know that Sergei and I openly dated while he was in Washington, DC.  We planned to spend Christmas together with my parents, but they were living on a secure Air Force Base in Massachusetts, and access for Sergei was impossible.  As a result, Sergei planned a ski trip in California with friends.  Before Sergei left he gave me the telephone number of the family he was staying with so we could talk on Christmas day.  It would be highly unlikely for Sergei to give me the phone number of his “fiancée.”

Another part mentioned in the article is the Russian roulette theory.  I don’t know what really happened the night Sergei died, but I do know he would never have taken his own life.  He would not have foolishly waved a gun around.

Excerpt from A Rose for Sergei

Chapter 18 – Home for the Holidays

December 1972

We spent the rest of the afternoon curled up on the sofa talking and trading stories about our lives.  Sergei always loved to talk about his life in the United States; everything was new to him.  He avoided discussing his life in the Soviet Union.  We were comfortable, holding hands and kissing, trying to enjoy every single minute we had.  It seemed like no topics were off limits.  I asked him something that I was wondering about.

“Sergei, do they really play Russian Roulette in the Soviet Union?”

“Yes, they do,” he replied as he looked at me curiously.  “It is very dangerous game.”

“Have you ever played Russian Roulette?”

“Yes.  Why are you asking me this question?”

“Because I don’t want you to ever do that again, that’s why.”  He looked perplexed and was non-fazed by my comment.

“It is okay, I played Russian Roulette in the USSR when we had a lot of vodka to drink.  I was very stupid then.  I am not stupid now,” he casually replied as he seemingly brushed aside my concern.

I was not satisfied with his answer because he didn’t seem to be taking me very seriously.  “Sergei, please listen to me, I’m serious.  Please don’t play that game again.”


He still hadn’t convinced me so I punched him lightly on his arm with my fist so he would look right at me, see my concern, and know I was serious.  “I really mean it, don’t play Russian Roulette again,” I managed to say as firmly as I could.  He grabbed his arm and rubbed it dramatically, pretending I had mortally wounded him.

“Why is this concern?” he asked as he tried to hold back a smile.

“Because I love you, and I don’t want anything to happen to you.  That’s why.”

“Okay, I promise.  I will never do that again.”

* * *

 A Rose for Sergei (eBook only)

will be FREE

 on Amazon from January 4-6, 2018 

Click Here to Link to Amazon US


  1. Kolleen,

    A few days ago, on Jan 01, I mentioned to my wife that it was the 45th anniversary of Sergei's death. Ironically, it was on that same date that I finally had opportunity to go through some of the information that had been provided to, which you referred to in this blog.

    I haven't gone through everything yet, but one thing caught my attention.

    In your book you wrote that you last saw Sergei on a Sunday in December. Checking a calendar, this appears to be Sunday, Dec 17, 1972. He told you he was going to CA for the holidays.

    According to Joe Bass' newsletter, printed April 1972, he has Sergei in Washington, D.C. from Nov 14 - Dec 18, as a guest at Fellowship House International. Then, from Dec 18-26 to Denver CO, as "a house guest of Pastor and Mrs. Charles Blair, of Calvary Temple."

    In your book, you had indicated that Sergei had provided you with the phone number of where he would be staying in CA. You dialed that number on Christmas Day, which was answered by a "pleasant sounding gentleman," who put
    Sergei on the phone.

    This doesn't make sense. According to Bass, Sergei was in CO on Christmas Day, and didn't make it to Los Angeles until Dec 26, where he remained until Dec 30.

    Assuming that the number you had dialed was a CA phone number, then Bass's timeline is off. What does this mean? I'm not really sure, but I don't trust Bass.

    Also, it appears that no one knew about you during those early days. Bass never contacted you, nor did the authorities reach out. What does that mean? Again, I'm not sure. But, I'm glad that you came forward with your account.

    Some things I wish I could do:

    1. Interview the family he was staying with on Christmas.
    2. Interview the family he stayed with in CO.
    3. Interview Ann Johnson, who was with him on the night of his death.
    4. Obtain either the recorded interview, or recorded interview transcript of Ann Johnson that was taken by Bass' investigators. That would be like gold.

    I was disappointed that no news agency picked up on this story on the anniversary of his death.


  2. Dane, you bring up some very good points and questions. A lot of things don’t make sense about what happened to Sergei Kourdakov. You’re right, I was never contacted or interviewed during the investigation into Sergei’s death. It was as if I didn’t exist, or maybe Joe Bass didn’t want me to exist.

    Looking back through letters and notes that Mr. Logie (my former boss) provided me, you would be correct to say that I last saw Sergei on Sunday, December 17, 1972. Sergei did tell me he was going to California for the holidays. Mr. Logie drove Sergei to Dulles Airport on December 18 and wished Sergei well on his trip to the “west coast.”

    Before Sergei and I went our separate ways for the holidays, he left me a phone number to reach him on Christmas day. He wrote down “Johnson Family” and a phone number on a small slip of paper which I carried in my wallet. I did indeed call that number on Christmas day and spoke with Sergei. I believe the number I called was in California because that is where the Johnson family lived. I have no explanation as to why Joe Bass provided a schedule that had Sergei in Colorado on Christmas day, other than to say that schedules do change.

    Interesting to note, Sergei had copies of the photos of us together that are posted on my blog page. I wrote our names on the back of each photograph. Anyone going through his possessions after his death would have found these and known that I did exist.

    Yes, absolutely, I wish you would interview the families you mentioned! I know you would do a great job. -Kolleen

    **Note: Dane Cramer is an author and investigator! (In his comment above it should read instead of

  3. (Comment from reader not made public due to its personal content.)

    My reply to M.:

    Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story with me. I’m truly sorry for what happened, I know it had to be difficult just to write everything down. As hard as it may be, it looks like you are taking the right steps to move forward.

    Heartfelt best wishes…you are stronger than you realize.


  4. So many unanswered questions - I am no investigator, but I have very serious misgivings about Joe Bass's role in all this - there is a copy of the death certificate available online stating that Joe Bass registered the death. Ann Johnson's parents are mentioned as being very involved in the church - would evangelical Christian parents in 1972 have allowed their daughter to go away on her own with a boyfriend? And surely it would be very easy to establish whether or not Ann Johnson's family were staying at the hotel on the night Sergei died? The questioning, taping of interviews and ascertaining whether Ann Johnson was Virgo intacta, all of which were instigated by Joe Bass, would have been traumatic and show no compassion to Ann herself. And why, after threats to his own life, and being very recognizable, did Sergei go into unknown territory? He would have been safer at home with the Johnsons.
    The only thing I feel sure of is this - Sergei would ultimately have returned to you, as he had chosen you, an independent woman with an apartment and her own life, for himself. I think Ann Johnson was too young for a relationship, and was certainly never his "fiancée". I think they may have had some sort of dalliance before he met you, but he was never serious about her. He might have been wondering how to leave the relationship without upsetting and offending her family. At the age of 17,I was very "hearts and flowers" and it is very easy to make something out of nothing if you are attracted to someone. Sergei would have come back to you after his vacation.

    1. Posyzadok,

      I agree with you, there are so many unanswered questions regarding Sergei Kourdakov. When Muckrock shared all the FBI papers about Sergei on their website they definitely brought the Johnson Family into the public eye again. I also find it hard to believe that a family so involved with the Evangelical church would agree to a weekend trip for their teen daughter with a “boyfriend.” My book certainly tells a different story about Sergei though, and would make some question the Ann Johnson “fiancée” part revealed in the FBI documents.

      Yes, it must have been traumatic for Ann to undergo a medical exam and the interrogation type interviews. They were forced upon her, and I’m sorry she was subjected to that type of treatment.

      Even though Sergei’s life had been threatened, I never felt he wanted to hide behind closed doors. He wanted to live his life as free as possible in the U.S. I saw first-hand how difficult that was for him…it was heart breaking to see him check for intruders each time he came to my apartment.

      Thank you for taking the time to write your comment and for your kind words about Sergei and me. I take them to heart.