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, October 1, 2018

Sergei Kourdakov – A Mystery That Needs to be Resolved

One has to be adventurous to date a Soviet defector.  Add the letters KGB to the mix, and intrigue and mystery take over.  Sergei often told me he was being watched and followed.  I accepted that.  There was also a part of me that didn’t want to believe him.

Ruggedly handsome and tall with huge broad shoulders, Sergei Kourdakov had a weight lifters build.  By the age of twenty he’d already lived a life that most could not imagine.  The physical scars, bullet and knife wounds from tough-guy fights and bad decisions in the Soviet Union were hidden under his shirt.  The unseen scars, the ones that make us who we are, were the reasons for defecting.  He dreamed of freedom and a new life in the United States.

Sergei was an ex-KGB Soviet defector who, through the strangest turn of events, showed up in my Federal Government office in the fall of 1972—a year after his defection.  Me…I was twenty-one, petite, and worked as a secretary.  I was known as “Sam” at my office.  It was a nickname that was hard for the Russian to comprehend.  “But you are girl,” Sergei noted when he shook my hand.  I noted that he didn’t release my hand when he held onto it.

We saw each other as often as possible over the next few months.  I quickly learned that Sergei had to “sweep” my apartment in Arlington, Virginia each time he entered.  He wouldn’t be able to sit down and relax if he hadn’t inspected every possible hiding place for unwelcome intruders.  There were other safety checks, tricks of the trade, or as the intelligence community called it…“tradecraft.”  In response to my questioning looks, Sergei always simply stated…“Even you could be spy.”

Our plans to spend the Christmas holidays with my family fell apart due to unforeseen circumstances.  My parents were living on a restricted U.S. Air Force base and Sergei would be denied access.  Not wanting to keep me from family, Sergei made arrangements to visit friends on the West coast.  Broken hearted, Sergei and I said our goodbyes and planned to meet up after the New Year.

The phone call came on New Year’s Day.  But it was not from Sergei.

What really happened?  Those three simple words have haunted me for the better part of forty years.  It wasn’t a dream.  He existed.  We existed.  This I know for a fact.  But what actually happened in the end leaves me wishing it were nothing more than a dream…for this is a mystery that needs to be resolved.

Sometimes, when I try to put the pieces together it comes out more like a game of Clue—it was Colonel Mustard, with the candlestick, in the library.

In reality it goes more like this.  There was a body.  There was a gun.  There was an unlikely accident.

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This short story (nonfiction) about Sergei Kourdakov is one I wrote for a local writing contest.  Since the contest is over, I’m free to publish it on my blog.