Thursday, July 29, 2010
Ryszard Kuklinski, 73, Spy in Poland in Cold War, Dies
By JAMES RISEN
Published: February 12, 2004
WASHINGTON, Feb. 11— Ryszard Kuklinski, a former Polish Army officer who secretly served as one of the C.I.A.'s most important spies behind the Iron Curtain during the cold war, died Tuesday in his adopted American homeland, United States government officials said Wednesday. He was 73.
His death came at a military hospital in Tampa, Fla., following a stroke on Feb. 5, said Jozef Szaniawski, a long-time friend, The Associated Press reported.
During some of the darkest days of the cold war, when Moscow was trying to defend its Eastern European empire against growing grass-roots demands for freedom and democracy, Colonel Kuklinski covertly provided the United States with critical information that may have staved off a Soviet invasion of Poland. He also gave the Central Intelligence Agency advance warning of Poland's plans to impose martial law in order to crack down on Solidarity, the dissident movement in 1981.
On Wednesday, George Tenet, the director of central intelligence, issued a public statement calling Colonel Kuklinski ''a true hero of the cold war to whom we all owe an everlasting debt of gratitude.''
An army colonel on the Polish general staff who also acted as a liaison with Moscow, Colonel Kuklinski spied for the C.I.A. from Warsaw for nine years in the 1970's and early 1980's. Under the code name Gull, he became one of the C.I.A.'s most productive agents, handing over thousands of secret documents as well as insights into the plans and intensions of the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet-dominated military alliance then confronting NATO.
Fearing that he had been compromised, Colonel Kuklinski eventually asked the C.I.A. to help him escape from Poland, and he defected in 1981, just as the martial law that he had predicted was imposed. The C.I.A. secretly resettled Colonel Kuklinski and his family in the United States, where he was still living under cover in 1989, when Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe and Solidarity came to power in Poland.
Yet he was not welcomed home as a hero in the newly democratic Poland and instead found that many Poles, particularly in military and intelligence circles, remained deeply ambivalent about his actions. Late in his life, he was finally able to return to Poland, but some Poles still felt he had betrayed Poland, not just a ruthless Communist regime.
Lech Walesa, as president of Poland from 1990 to '95, never pardoned Colonel Kuklinski but said he had ''achieved great things.''
Born in Warsaw on June 13, 1930, Colonel Kuklinski began his second life as a spy in August 1972, when he sent an anonymous letter to the United States Embassy in Bonn while he was on a boating trip through northern Germany. As a military officer, he said he wanted to speak to another military officer in order to propose a grandiose conspiracy between the Polish and American militaries, in which they would work together to sabotage the Soviets.
Instead the Americans sent two C.I.A. case officers posing as Army officers. He was finally convinced to stay in place and spy for the United States, but it was not until the next year that he was told that he was dealing with the C.I.A..
Despite surveillance from Polish security services, the C.I.A.'s clandestine methods enabled him to communicate effectively with American case officers for years without detection, and over time he provided more than 35,000 pages of ''highly classified Soviet documentary intelligence,'' the C.I.A. later said.
While many spies on both sides of the Iron Curtain were motivated by greed, Colonel Kuklinski seemed to be one of those rare men who spied in order to help liberate his country from Communism. He was sickened by the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and by the use of Soviet troops to shoot at striking workers in 1970. And he felt that Poland was vulnerable in a Soviet attack on Europe because any American nuclear response would hit Poland, not Soviet territory.
In September 1981, nine years after he began secretly providing information to the C.I.A., he wrote in a letter to a C.I.A. case officer code-named ''Daniel'' that he had ''boundless faith in the rightness of what I am doing.'' He added: ''Nobody and nothing could possibly change my mind or lead me off the chosen path. . . . I was additionally convinced that I am not alone traveling the road, that the nation desires freedom from the shackles of Communism imposed from the outside.'' The letter to the C.I.A. is published in a new biography of Colonel Kuklinski, entitled ''A Secret Life'' by Benjamin Weiser, a reporter for The New York Times.
Perhaps his greatest contribution to the United States came in December 1980, a time when Solidarity was becoming an increasing political problem for both the Polish leadership and the Kremlin. Colonel Kuklinski warned the C.I.A. that Moscow was on the verge of invading Poland in order to crush Solidarity.
The information came in time to allow the outgoing Carter administration to warn Moscow, both publicly and privately, against taking military moves against Poland. In the end, the Soviets stayed out.
In a statement on Colonel Kuklinski's death, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser to President Carter, praised Colonel Kuklinski and said that he ''decided to help America better understand Soviet planning, thereby increasing America's ability to deter Soviet aggression.''
In 1981, he provided the C.I.A. with the Polish government's secret plans to impose martial law.
Other information he supplied included Soviet contingency plans for war in Europe, details about advanced Soviet weapons systems and about the construction of three hidden bunkers in Russia, Poland and Bulgaria, where the Soviet command and control was to be based in wartime.
But in late 1981, Colonel Kuklinski became convinced that he had been betrayed when a senior Polish military officer told him that a source in Rome had revealed that the C.I.A. had obtained Poland's plans for martial law. Colonel Kuklinski quickly contacted the C.I.A. and escaped to the West.
Colonel Kuklinski was sentenced to death by Poland's Communist government in 1984. He visited his homeland in the spring of 1998, for the first time since fleeing, months after a court cleared him of the treason charges.
Colonel Kuklinski is survived by his wife, Joanna, and a grandson.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Interview: Poland's Jaruzelski Again Denies Seeking Soviet Intervention Against Solidarity
Poland's last communist leader, Wojciech Jaruzelski, in September
December 12, 2009
A document recently appeared in Poland purportedly containing a transcript of a December 1981 conversation between Soviet Marshal Viktor Kulikov and Polish communist leader Wojciech Jaruzelski.
The two men discussed the tense political situation in Poland, the need to declare martial law, and the possibility of a Soviet military intervention. The document seems to show that Jaruzelski requested Soviet military aid, which he has always denied.
RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent Yelena Vlasenko spoke with the 87-year-old general to get his reaction to the fresh document.
RFE/RL: Where did the stenograph that was published in the bulletin of the National Memory Institute come from?
Wojciech Jaruzelski: I was recently on a well-known program on Polish television moderated by a well-known journalist, and I spoke in detail about this topic.
First of all, I said that I get very angry when I talk about this because -- although it isn't fashionable these days in Poland -- I always stress: I admire the great Russian people and Russia. I love Russians. And I also admire Marshal Kulikov, my friend, who fought on the territory of Poland.
So it is painful for me that it was precisely from this source that some sort of type of supposed documents emerged that people are saying will be used by a court that will decide whether I should be tried for treason and so on.
Now, to get to your question: Twelve years ago, in 1997, there was an international conference near Warsaw at which there were representatives of Russia (including Marshal Kulikov), America (including [Zbigniew] Brzezinski), Solidarity (including [Tadeusz] Mazowiecki), and the former Polish authorities, including myself. There an aide to Marshal Kulikov named Anoshkin sold an American journalist -- for dollars -- the working notebook that he used during Marshal Kulikov's visit to Poland from December 7 to December 17, 1981.
President General Wojciech Jaruzelski, Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, and his adviser Bronislaw Geremek (left to right) during the first multiparty session of the Polish parliament in Warsaw on July 4, 1989.And in that notebook -- it has been published here, by the way -- there is not a single word about this conversation with me. There isn't a word about my conversation with USSR Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Baibakov, in which conversation Marshal Kulikov also participated. There isn't a single word.
Twelve years pass -- 12 years! -- and suddenly a stenograph appears from this same Anoshkin from my conversation with Marshal Kulikov on the night of December 8-9. I think it is surprising that so many years have passed and now suddenly there's such an awakening. Where is this coming from?
The Key Statement
And now for the content of this. I am not saying this is a forgery. I am saying that it is written in such a way that it can be interpreted in various ways. And I think the main thing is the final word -- I don't remember it, but he wrote that at the end of the conversation Marshal Kulikov asked me if he could report to Brezhnev that we have made the decision to introduce martial law. And my answer was: "Only if you provide us with help."
And since they answer us that there won't be any help, where is the logic? There won't be any help; we aren't sure of our strength, which is why we are asking for help. They refuse it and I declare martial law. That means that either I wouldn't introduce martial law, logically, without that help which had been refused, or I declare martial law and it is a suicidal, bloody misadventure. Neither the first nor the second thing happened.
This is the crucial moment: we could settle this with our own resources. It is very sad for me that former citizens of the Soviet Union, military people whom I respect -- we fought together! -- now are playing a role in getting a Polish court to charge me with the most serious crime. After all, I think they should be grateful to me and the Polish armed forces in general that we ourselves did what they would have had to do sooner or later so that a civil war did not develop. And that was a real threat. Civil war. The collapse of the state and the infrastructure. Naturally this had to be prevented.
The world was divided into two antagonistic blocs and Poland occupied a key geopolitical location. If such a misadventure, a civil war, had emerged here, they would have come. And there didn't need to be any declaration "we are coming or we are not coming." Because around our borders, everywhere, there were hundreds of thousands of tanks, divisions, and so on.
And we knew that, without a request from us, if such a situation evolved, it would have happened that way -- logically! Because this was the result of the fact that we were in a bloc and there was another bloc and if some destabilization had occurred in the bloc that we were in, naturally, you have to resolve that.
I am not accusing the former Soviet Union or its leadership of wanting this. For them, this was also a black scenario. A black scenario! But there would have been a moment when this would have become unavoidable. And that's why, in order to make sure things didn't get to that point, we declared martial law and by doing so we saved the Polish people from misfortune. And I think we also provided great help to our friends -- friends at that time -- who did not have to enter into Poland and deal with all the consequences.
Avoiding Civil War
RFE/RL: The most serious accusation against you is that you requested the intervention of Soviet troops in Poland before you declared martial law. Is this untrue? Did you ever say these words?
Jaruzelski: I did not say the words requesting the introduction of Soviet troops. I calculated that we would settle this with our own resources, but I described for Marshal Kulikov the situation, the very difficult situation that could have developed in various ways, very dangerous ways.
But we were in a position to settle it. You could draw basically any conclusions from these words. For instance, if I am saying that the situation is very serious, it must mean I expect them to help us. But we didn't need that help.
Look at how the martial law occurred. It went by, one might say, smoothly. There were hardly even any strikes. The army was respected and we knew that. But if there had been help, considering the mood of the Polish people and its history, it would not have been martial law. It would have been war. It would have been a war, and part of the Polish armed forces would have resisted. And I might have gotten a bullet in the forehead if I had requested that help.
You have to look at this according to the overall logic of this subject and not take isolated phrases from unofficial texts. You know that in the Soviet Union bureaucratic matters were handled very strictly. Every document, even the numbering of the pages, registration, and all sorts of other measures.
But now it turns out that a marshal's aide for 28 years has been holding in his pocket some sort of stenograph and he suddenly now decides to declare it in order to give the Polish court the grounds to put me on trial. This is sad, and I would add is unworthy. I don't want to talk about it anymore, because it is painful.
RFE/RL: Do you remember the name of the American journalist who received the original notebook? Maybe this is all originating with him?
Jaruzelski: I think his name was Kramer, [Mark] Kramer. I'd say that the fact that such notes are sold for dollars, and that American journalist later handed it over to the Polish side, to the institute that organized the conference. That's how I know that it was sold for money. Kramer told his Polish partners that himself.
Pressure To Declare Martial Law
RFE/RL: If I may ask a few more questions. First, has your opinion of Solidarity changed over the last decades? And second, how do you see the dynamic of Polish-Russian relations now?
Jaruzelski: That is a very broad theme. My attitude toward Solidarity, of course it has changed. In 1981, there were ten million of them, including very radical forces who wanted to take power by force. They, with their strikes and other means, brought the economy to ruins. There was anarchy, and so on. There were also remarkable people among them, honest people. But they had already been pushed aside and the radicals already had the decisive voice.
General Wojciech Jaruzelski broadcasts the declaration of martial law on national TV on December 13, 1981.And, in connection with this, we had to declare martial law as a result of the meeting of the Solidarity leadership on December 11-12, on the eve, you could say, of the declaration of martial law. And as soon as we knew how that meeting was going, what it was threatening us with, then -- only at that very last moment -- we made that decision.
Before that, we tried very hard to avoid this decision and our talks with Soviet friends took place in this spirit. We constantly resisted, said we wouldn't declare martial law. We were even criticized for that at a Soviet Politburo meeting on December 10. There is a document saying, "Why don't they declare martial law?" And so on. And all the time we expected we'd be able to work things out with Solidarity. But that turned out to be impossible.
But then, step by step, we moved forward toward a shared vision of the development of the country. There were changes in international relations. The Cold War was ending. The blocs were dissolving, and conditions emerged for holding the roundtable and elections.
And I was the president during this period, during this, you might say, decisive period. So I also contributed to these changes. That's all about Solidarity. There are a lot of people that I respect, and I think it was their misfortune and our misfortune that in 1981 they were pushed out of the mainstream [of the movement].
Relations With Russia
As for relations between Poland and Russia.... As I already told you, I have tremendous respect for Russia and Russians. I love Russians, it is that simple. I know that this is very unfashionable in Poland and I am losing a lot of support saying this, but I emphasize this. I emphasize that this is unalterable.
Therefore I am always glad when our relations improve, when there is more interaction and cooperation. And I am upset when various conflicts arise, unnecessary conflicts that, for the most part, revolve around the assessment of history. And history can be evaluated in various ways. Only the facts are certain, but the evaluation of the facts is a subjective thing and it shouldn't influence today's relations.
And we have political forces that understand this, as well as those that do not. And this is where various conflicts emerge from. But I think that now we have arrived at a path where the current government understands that we must cooperate and improve those relations.
I am convinced that considering the logic of history, our common Slavic roots, our common interests, we shouldn't just be neighbors, but friends. I don't know if I'll live to see it -- probably not, since I'm 87 -- but I will be very pleased if this process moves forward in a positive direction and if we develop the very best neighborly and friendly relations with Russia.
RFE/RL: You just mentioned history and that reminded me of the recent statement by the Polish legislature about the 1940 Katyn massacre of Polish officers by the Soviet secret police and the Russian Foreign Ministry's quite harsh reaction. Do you have some advice on how we can look at the Katyn tragedy? How should we act?
Jaruzelski: First, put all emotions aside. Because it has already been discussed by the Soviet side, by the Russian side.... I am proud that I was the first to whom Gorbachev handed the official information that this evil deed was tied to an order by the [Soviet] NKVD and was carried out by NKVD forces.
The Soviet side handed me the lists of the murdered Polish officers. Then this was confirmed by [former Russian President Boris] Yeltsin. And it was confirmed by [Russian Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin.
Of course, you can still interpret various details about how it happened and what happened before that and what came after. But no one is denying the facts from their side or from ours. We are talking about various shades, about prosecutorial questions and, of course, you have to get to the bottom of them. Historians have to look into this.
But this must not influence relations between our countries. I always emphasize that the first victim of Stalinism was the Russian people -- the first victim. And then the others. I myself was deported after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and I lived in Siberia, in Altai Krai, in the taiga. My father was in the camps, and then he died and is buried there, in Altai Krai, in Biisk.
All this happened, but I have no bitterness. I have very warm relations with Russians, particularly average Russians, who always treated me with warmth and understanding. We were on the front together and that brings people together. We fought together and bled together.
The Soviet Union arranged it so that we had the most secure and convenient borders on the west, the Oder and the Neisse rivers. It guaranteed these borders to the end because the West, particularly the Federal Republic of Germany, did not recognize this border. And the only security was the Soviet Union. This was very important for us, and we respected them for that.
Moving Past Emotion
Now I would like to tell you a fact that might help develop a philosophy about how one has to look at history. In 1989 I made a trip to England. I was hosted by Prime Minister [Margaret] Thatcher at her residence at Chequers for official talks and she invited me personally up to the attic.
There, in the attic of this ancient, ancient palace, there were many antique relics -- it was like in a theater. And there was a big table and on that table there was a folder, an old, brown folder. Do you know whose folder that was? I said, "How could I know?" And she said, "Napoleon's." "I've never brought a French person here," she said.
Imagine, 200 years had passed. France and England are in one union. World War I passed. World War II. The modern friendship. But still, everyone has a different opinion about that. For the English, he was a murderer and a man who brought a lot of harm. For the French, he was a hero. And you have to respect that, mutually. Is it worthwhile changing relations between countries over that? Over the interpretation of history?
This is a clear example. And there are a lot more of them. In the Soviet Union, in Russia, [18th-century Russian Count Aleksandr] Suvorov is a great general, a hero. But we always remember how during the Kosciuszko uprising he massacred the population of Praga near Warsaw. And what of this? Should this lead to conflicts between us now? Nonsense.
Most likely, there are forces that are interested in constantly enflaming such hatreds, such enmity. But I think they are the minority and that healthy common sense will prevail and that we will be friends. Our common fate is tied to friendly relations.
RFE/RL: Are the current authorities in Russia and Poland working toward such relations?
Jaruzelski: I think that, step by step, we are moving in that direction, both our side and the Russians. I respect the things Prime Minister Putin has said. I think that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and other politicians and historians have also expressed themselves correctly on this. But it is a complicated road and there are various obstacles. But I think the development of relations gives grounds for hope that things will keep improving.
The list of 21 demands presented by the Inter-Factory Strike Committee to the Polish government:
The Tasks of the Factories and Institutions on Strike, Represented by the Inter-Factory Strike Committee at the Gdansk Shipyard
1. Acceptance of free trade unions independent of the Communist Party and of enterprises, in accordance with convention No. 87 of the International Labor Organization concerning the right to form free trade unions, which was ratified by the Communist Government of Poland.
2. A guarantee of the right to strike and of the security of strikers and those aiding them.
3. Compliance with the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech, the press and publication, including freedom for independent publishers, and the availability of the mass media to representatives of all faiths.
4. A return of former rights to: 1) People dismissed from work after the 1970 and 1976 strikes, and 2) Students expelled from school because of their views. The release of all political prisoners, among them Edward Zadrozynski, Jan Kozlowski, and Marek Kozlowski. A halt in repression of the individual because of personal conviction.
5. Availability to the mass media of information about the formation of the Inter-factory Strike Committee and publication of its demands.
6. The undertaking of actions aimed at bringing the country out of its crisis situation by the following means: a) making public complete information about the social-economic situation, and b) enabling all sectors and social classes to take part in discussion of the reform programme.
7. Compensation of all workers taking part in the strike for the period of the strike, with vacation pay from the Central Council of Trade Unions.
8. An increase in the base pay of each worker by 2,000 zlotys a month as compensation for the recent raise in prices.
9. Guaranteed automatic increases in pay on the basis of increases in prices and the decline in real income.
10. A full supply of food products for the domestic market, with exports limited to surpluses.
11. The abolition of 'commercial' prices and of other sales for hard currency in special shops.
12. The selection of management personnel on the basis of qualifications, not party membership. Privileges of the secret police, regular police and party apparatus are to be eliminated by equalizing family subsidies, abolishing special stores, etc.
13. The introduction of food coupons for meat and meat products (during the period in which control of the market situation is regained).
14. Reduction in the age for retirement for women to 50 and for men to 55, or after 30 years' employment in Poland for women and 35 years for men, regardless of age.
15. Conformity of old-age pensions and annuities with what has actually been paid in.
16. Improvements in the working conditions of the health service to insure full medical care for workers.
17. Assurances of a reasonable number of places in day-care centers and kindergartens for the children of working mothers.
18. Paid maternity leave for three years.
19. A decrease in the waiting period for apartments.
20. An increase in the commuter's allowance to 100 zlotys from 40, with a supplemental benefit on separation.
21. A day of rest on Saturday. Workers in the brigade system or round-the-clock jobs are to be compensated for the loss of free Saturdays with an increased leave or other paid time off.