Notes on Exposure of the Enemy’s Set-Ups

November 1, 2018

Notes on Exposure of the Enemy’s Set-Ups
Top Secret

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Exposure of the Enemy’s Set-ups [Dangles] in the Process of Development of Persons of Interest to Intelligence


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Journal no. 174/79-2Icc

Publication no. 6/20


The clash of the two world systems has intensified in recent years. The imperialist countries are blocking progress. The socialist countries’ intelligence play an important role in exposing the imperialists’ aggressive plans.

Above all they help recruit people sympathetic to socialism.

Enemy intelligence’s primary goal is to prevent penetration; they organize set-ups for this purpose to gather intelligence, expose intelligence agents, paralyze their activity and organize provocations as well as disinformation.

A document of British counterintelligence illustrates the important role set-ups play. Quote “We must always have in mind the opportunity of setting up highly-qualified double agents of such value to socialist intelligence agencies that in time they will transfer them from official communication with the local mission to the intelligence network.”

There has to be constant vetting of agent networks’ acquisitions and persons of interest to intelligence to expose set-ups.

Each new contact has to be carefully analyzed by agents as to their behavior, and they have to vet persons of interest thoroughly.

Methods of Penetration

Enemy intelligence organizes their efforts in characteristic ways:

– use of especially prepared staff official or agent

– recruiting an intelligence operative from a socialist country and setting them up to recruit others

– re-recruiting an exposed agent from a socialist country

This textbook will not look at the last category, just the first two.

Enemy intelligence gathers a lot of data on prospects and puts them under surveillance when they come to their country; they study their work regimen, behavior at work, personal life, relations with others in their foreign colony.

They then make contact through official state work, diplomatic receptions, during movie showings, press conferences etc. Sometimes they use public places and pretend to run into a prospect accidentally. It could be a restaurant, cafe, park, museum, athletic club, etc.

Example: Intelligence officer Stoyanov in 1968 met a local lawyer, “Veronets,” who tried to convey his progressive views; then reported to the rezidentura and got approval for another meeting. But he failed to vet Veronets and get info from him at several meetings. He noted that Veronets gave him info on Catholic trade unions and asked where he got it; he said through the head office of the city association of Catholic trade unions. At the next meeting Veronets pointed out a woman “Soroka,” and said he got it from her and introduced her. She said she was the deputy secretary of the association of Catholic trade unions and had to keep contact with foreign diplomatic missions.

But the Center could not verify them, and the rezidentura didn’t vet them. Stoyanov returned to the Motherland and turned Veronets and Soroka over to another agent, Georgiev. Soroka then tried to recruit Georgiev; then the rezidentura got to work checking him and analyzing the info and realized it all came from Italian counter-intelligence.

The agent should have realized that Veronets’ claim to get “interesting info” at the very first meeting should have been a tip-off. That would have avoided two months of Italian agents working over these Soviet agents.

Example of another complex set-up from autumn 1943. Guber, a lieutenant in the German army, voluntarily turned himself over at the Soviet-German front. He was put in a POW camp, educated in anti-fascist school, recruited to help education German POWs.

“In the labor camp, ‘Guber’ took part in the exposure of two underground fascist groups that had tried to make contact with Germany. He recommended himself as a progressive person, an opponent of the Hitler regime.”

“After the war, ‘Guber’ was released from labor camp, but in 1950 Soviet intelligence began to train him for the purpose of placement in the FRG for illegal work. ‘Guber’ received operational and technical training.”

They created a legend for his stay in the GDR as a refugee from the FRG. Real facts of his biography were used, his address in Munich, his father’s name Wilhelm, a dentist, who had died early in the war; he said he had been drafted in the German army in 1943 from his third year in Jena university medical school.

The Center decided to check this, found the father, but not Guber himself; they also found his supposed address had been bombed out. A neighbor said Wilhelm had really been killed in bombing but had no children.

In 1945, the British took the whole archive of Jena University but ingenious operatives were able to find an old accountant who used to issue ration cards to the students and had lists of them; there was no Guber, and no evidence that students in the 3rd year were even drafted. When they were drafted, they had bonus bread ration cards and then he would have listed their name; he didn’t have anyone similar to Guber.

Guber was arrested and confessed that he served with the German military in Africa, had been captured by the British and trained and sent to the Soviet-German front to give himself up as a POW/intelligence agent.

So the British cleverly fooled the Soviets figuring that with a huge flow of POWs, the Soviets would think Guber was “natural”.

Enemy intelligence will create events to make contact if they can’t do so naturally. They will create fictitious agencies, “progressive” publishing houses, etc. to attract the socialist intelligence agencies who want to use such organizations for their own purposes, and also to take over progressive movements by planting their own agents in them.

Sometimes an enemy agent will try to interest socialist intelligence by saying he has a job in a facility of intelligence interest, even if he has no access to intelligence. They might speak of their ties to intelligence or counter-intelligence or police which they broke off to become progressive.

In 1969, the Hungarian intelligence agent Janos who worked as an engineer of a Hungarian trade agency in England met “Gretta,” a technical secretary of the West German embassy at a reception hosted by the British Foreign Office.

“‘Gretta’ expressed progressive views and reported that she was 26 years old, was unmarried, and was the daughter of wealthy parents, but had broken off [relations] with them and had gone to England. In London, she found a job at the FRG embassy.”

She tried to convince Janos she was interested in him but was disappointed that he was married. She kept meeting with him. She said she had to type a lot of documents but didn’t read into them. Janos didn’t bite. Then she said she could go back to Germany and get a job in the foreign ministry with her connections. She shared some tidbits on German-British relations from deciphered correspondence. Janos still didn’t bite.

“‘Gretta’ reported to the intelligence officer that she had to type a large quantity of documents for the advisor, but she typed mechanically, not reading into them. Since Janos did not react to this, at the next meeting, she gave him to understand that if he wanted, she could return to the FRG and get a job there at the Foreign Ministry, as she had good connections. Once ‘Gretta’ shared with the intelligence officer several interesting reports about mutual relations between the FRG and England, noting that she learned about this from encoded correspondence of the ambassador with the FRG foreign ministry.”

Her insistence and aggressiveness and broad hints of collaboration only made Soviet intelligence suspicious, so when they put her under surveillance they discovered she contacted Biarits, an official of German security. They found it obvious German intelligence was trying to plant her.

Sometimes the enemy sent plants that were so obvious that they would be deliberately exposed, thus making the socialist intelligence agencies reluctant to cooperate even with real prospective helpers.

In 1968, the Czech Embassy in France received three issues of a classified journal on aviation of interest to military intelligence. They were unable to find out anything about the sender. Then “Albert” came to the Czech Embassy to ask if the three journals were received. Agent Novak spoke to him but was evasive and then he didn’t return or give his address; the Czechs were maybe over-cautious but they couldn’t verify him.

Enemy counterintelligence sends anonymous letters to organize provocations and set up plants. They may even try to recruit agents not for their own country but others.

At a diplomatic reception in Ankara at the US Embassy, Polish intelligence officer Dombrowski met “John,” a journalist who came from a meeting of the Central Treaty Organization (the Baghdad Pact, dissolved in 1979) from West Germany where he was based. John expressed anti-American views and said he had only come to the meeting to annoy Nixon. He planned to gather materials that would expose the US role in the Near and Middle East. He said he was for closer relations with the socialist countries.

John passed very interesting information about the meeting to the intelligence officer; this impressed Dobrowski and “dulled his vigilance.” He kept passing info, refusing compensation but then let drop one day that his wife was seriously ill and her treatment ate up all his savings and he needed to ask the agent for cash. Then he started receiving payments but the rezidentura noticed his info was of little value and not secret. Once he said he was going to travel to the Near and Middle East and could perform tasks; once he got an assignment, however, he said his trip was cancelled. This put up red flags, he was vetted again and from newly-arrived info it was determined he was a CIA agent.

Enemy intelligence also uses these methods on agents they’ve detected from socialist countries:

– closing their eyes to real reasons of motivation and calling on patriotic sentiments;

– intimidating with prospect of police or court prosecution or firing from their jobs with kompromat;

– exposure to his homeland’s intelligence.

The enemy puts great psychological pressure on them; even the most thorough training can’t predict changes in behavior so watch for them.

Example from Cuban rezidentura in Italy: in 1970 Rodriguez, a Cuban intelligence officer met “Bertran,” a local journalist in Venice.

Bertran offered Rodriguez to meet his friend, the journalist “Sart”; he said he had been a member of the Communist Party in France, fought in Spain in the International Brigade, then settled in Italy and joined a socialist party but had Marxist views. Sart offered to hand Rodriguez interesting information; Bertran then “characteristically” began to avoid meetings with Rodriguez. But Sart had nothing substantive, and soon Rodriguez was expelled from Italy; Sart was an Italian CI agent.

Practice shows that to plant agents, the enemy uses people who could be of interest to a socialist country and who are attractive in their personal qualities and behavior. He is very cautious at first when he expects he is being vetted. If more attention is paid some characteristics of a set-up can be observed. The planted agent usually has a legend of “intelligence opportunities”; he can offer info but it loses its value quickly; he tries to appear as someone willing to do anything to fulfill the recruiter’s requests. To increase trust in himself, he shows great interest in the socialist countries; he tries to create conditions where the intelligence officer will become dependent on him or owe him something. Sometimes he displays excessive bravery and boldness and careless attitude toward security and doesn’t behave conspiratorially enough. He keeps trying to get new assignments even though he hasn’t performed the past ones.

He can be pushy, excessively curious and nosy about his personal life. He inserts fake biographical details and sometimes mixes them up or contradicts them. He tries to get him involved in immoral actions that might compromise him. This is the first signal of a provocation.

Methods and Means of Detecting the Enemy’s Set-Up

The enemy tries to disorganize the work of legal rezidenturas through surveillance, forbidding travel to certain regions etc. and also tries to plant its agents. Therefore, all measures must be taken to prevent infiltration.

Vetting targets

Above all have the Center use its operational registries. Use official options like open reference materials, press, parliamentary reports, directories, foreign ministries, universities, political parties, telephone books, etc. Check the connections existing officers have with the local population. Through neutral connections, get info on family, work, education, career, political views, material situation, recreations, relatives, character. Always maintain conspiracy when obtaining such background info. Have a plan to mask and legend your interest in the target.

Using existing operational and archival materials, plants can sometimes be exposed. Don’t expose yourself using official sources.

Examples: In the Soviet embassy in Bern, “Mertens,” recommended as an organizer of a new opposition Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (now CDU) party in West Germany was received by an embassy official; he gave him his party program and told him the party sought Soviet government assistance. Mertens then asked for a visa to the USSR in order to personally get financing for the party. Then he went to the Czech Embassy in Switzerland and asked for a transit visa referencing his talks at the Soviet embassy which hadn’t had a result yet. The Center determined upon a check that Mertens was a member of the Nazi party and collaborated with West German CI. Likely he was a plant. He had thought the CDU would interest the Soviets; FRG CI feared planting him in the GDR thinking he’d be exposed there, and so tried through Switzerland.

In a hospital in Mexico, where doctors from a socialist country worked, a certain “Juan” was admitted, regularly visited by “Pedro” who gave himself out as an Iranian foreign ministry official. Pedro, in talks with Juan’s doctors, would try to turn the conversation to international topics. The rezidentura checked them out, didn’t find anything. Intelligence officer Sabo learned from a local citizen Sanchez who worked as a guard at the hospital that Pedro was a local CI agent and he had seen him in police uniform. This helped the Soviets to avoid a set-up.

Study of the target

Gather personal impressions of the target to see how to influence him. Despite the increasing importance of using recruiter agents, development of persons of interest is also applied more widely especially in countries with difficult conditions. A lot of preparatory work has to be done, personal vetting activities, working out a legend for plausible acquaintance, determining base for meeting places etc. Keep to strict principles of conspiracy.

In Africa and the Near East, often intelligence officers visit people’s homes or invite them to their homes but that exposes them to members of the family and neighbors and increases risks that local CI will notice.

Example of failed plant: a NATO official in France who was target by a Soviet officer went to his home, then the man’s child, who studied in an international college, told his friends that a foreign visitor had come who brought tasty candies. The college head then told NATO security, and the plan failed.

But in African countries and oriental countries especially with small capitals, meet in homes. Better to make contacts without intermediaries to lesson chance of exposure. Meet those who already have a lot of foreign contacts so you don’t stick out and avoid suspicion from local CI. Some targets may expose you by themselves making open phone calls or sending letters with their intent. There are some techniques to avoid this to be discussed in another subject heading.

Intelligence agent Klaus who worked in Rome as the first secretary of the GRD embassy met and successfully developed friendly relations with “Irwin,’ first secretary of the US Embassy. A check determined that Irwin wasn’t related to American intelligence. But he didn’t hide the contact and CI found out. “Stanley,” the second secretary of the US Embassy, came to a dinner with Klaus and after that Irwin avoided meeting Klaus or inviting him over. Stanley then kept trying to get information out of Klaus. Thus CI had used the connection to set-up the GDR intelligence.

Tell the target it’s in his own interests to maintain secrecy; observe the target to check his information also check the person who gave you the lead to him. Note contradictions and evasions in his conversation; attempts to change the subject i.e. on autobiographical details and connections; and masking of his hostility; also nervousness, atypical agitation; artificial loquaciousness; excessive pushiness, etc.

Intelligence officer Stavinsky who worked as a correspondent in a Scandinavian country met a local journalist “Orvid” who was checked out. He was known to democratically minded persons in the country and in socialist diplomatic circles as progressive, and worked with papers in England, FRG, and Scandinavia.

The rezidentura studied him. In talks with Stavinsky, Orvid asked him sharp political questions; made contact with foreign diplomats and journalists eagerly – these were warning signs. Several agents were deployed to meet with him; material from the Center added to this; one of the agents heard Orvid let slip his hatred of communists who belonged in Russia in his view. He was then dropped.

Study and vetting of persons of interest

In difficult settings, especially the capitalist countries, you need to have rezidentura put under clandestine surveillance certain trusted government officials. The US, France England, FRG and other imperialist countries have put in measures to isolate officials from socialist institutions from government officials in their countries with classified information. Due to a presidential decree, under a loyalty oath, every official has to report his contact with socialist states. In France, the foreign ministry employees have to report on all countries with foreigners and emigres.

Under these conditions, attempts to contact such officials leads to exposure; therefore other trusted locals must be used to make the approach to them; it’s easier for them to collect info.

Only verified, loyal and ideologically compatible intelligence officers of socialist countries can take part in vetting a target of recruitment. They have to have certain skills and also personal and work skills to do this, or undesirable consequences occur.

Example: Soviet intelligence officer Ivanov who worked in a West European country got from his agent Molodoy, with whom he had long been out of touch, a report that the cousin of agent Savva worked in the foreign ministry and had documents about the League of Arab Nations. Molodoy gave a good recommendation of the cousin and said he would cooperate with intelligence for material gain. He was checked out and put under surveillance. It turned out Molodoy was a CI agent using Savva as a dangle.

The rezidentura of Bulgarian intelligence tried to acquire an agent at a West European foreign ministry. But because of difficult conditions and active work of local CI, it was found that she was a dangle. The rezidentura got a tip about a typist called Liviya, age 25, single, but it wasn’t prudent to work her up as her contacts would become known to CI. The rezidentura had information that Liviya was the school friend of the wife of a tested and loyal agent, Georgy. He was a doctor with a private practice and no relationship to the government. Therefore contacts with him weren’t as difficult, so they decided to use him to check out Liviya. He said she was progressive and positive about socialist countries. She was attracted to a co-worker who was married with children but had an affair with him. He dropped her after she had a child by him. So her material situation was worse, and Georgy worked on her politically, although once she called him a communist. He said he wasn’t but shared some of the CP’s ideas. Liviya began to tell him of the material she typed at the foreign ministry. He was able to get information from her and ultimately documents and she was made an agent and valuable info was acquired.

Special vetting activities

These are used to check agents or confidential connections when there is suspicion they are part of local CI. They have to be customized individually and devised inventively to disguise themselves. Surveillance of both the target and the meeting place are needed to detect possible hostile persons or ambushes.

Example: In a Latin American country, Czech intelligence officer Marek who worked as director of the consular department of the Czech Embassy, noted “Armando,” an employee of a local insurance country who officially meet Marek through his work and displayed great sympathy and provided some information that was of operational interest. There was no reason to suspect him of CI connections. At first Armando was reluctant to have meetings but then promised to provide some materials about the situation in the country. Two other rezidentura agents were sent to meet him, not Marek, whom he didn’t know, and they discovered CI had the place under surveillance. Armando kept calling Marek at home and work after that to ask for a meeting but Marek said he was busy.

Several days later, Armando showed up at the Czech Embassy with “secret materials”; Market refused to take them and said he wasn’t involved. Thus Armando was exposed as a dangle.

Another example involved “Charles”, a Belgian foreign ministry official at the international fair in Leipzig, and Petrov, the Soviet intelligence officer who made contact with him. Charles seemed honest and progressive but doubts arose because he complained of lack of cash but had a nice suit etc. The info he passed was either uncheckable or didn’t check out. Charles was put under surveillance but nothing was found after the meetings with the Soviet. Then they followed him in the evening leaving work or going to work in the morning. Then they found him meeting in the park with a CI agent an hour before work.

“By analyzing and re-checking data received from a target for recruitment development, it can be determined how honestly and consciously he fulfilled the intelligence officer’s request, whether he hid information, which the enemy’s counterintelligence is not interested in disclosing (for example, in indicating close friends of a neutral person, the target of the recruitment development does not name his contacts working in important targets, scientific research centers, in government offices where secret information is concentrated, etc.). On the basis of this and through conducting additional vetting activities it can be determined whom intelligence is dealing with: a dangle or an honest person.”

“Special vetting operations through placing assignments to collect information on neutral persons are especially effective in those cases when there is the opportunity to determine if the enemy finds out about the interest of intelligence in these persons and whether he takes them on for development.”

Task the target with collecting material on a neutral person and see if he does it without informing the person or telling others. In Vienna, agent Shtaub met Jack, a journalist from the FRG who lived in Paris. It was learned that Jack disapproved of US militarist policy and was in France for a long stay, with his wife, and had material difficulties. He didn’t show any aggressiveness during meetings and returned to France. Belev, a GDR agent in France was assigned to make contact with Jack to check him out and had a good impression. He asked him to characterize four officials at a trade firm in the FRG in France. Among them was “Chameleon” who was said to be the FRG rezident in France; the three others were given for cover.

“Returning from the business trip, ‘Jack’ reported detailed information on these Germans, confirming what GDR intelligence already had.”

At the next meeting, Jack told Belev that Chameleon was a spy and likely head of FRG’s CI in France. Since his story was accurate, he was trusted more, but the Center said he needed more vetting.

Jack would sometimes go to a Scandinavian country on business; the agent asked Jack to find three Germans there, figuring that if he were a dangle, his interest in them would become known to the enemy, then through another rezidentura, this could be found out. Upon return, Jack provided detailed information on the Germans which confirmed what the GDR already knew about them. But after awhile the rezidentura in the GDR in Bonn reported that they had learned about the expression of interest to these Germans. Thus they were convinced that Jack was a dangle from FRG intelligence.

Bugging equipment and specially-equipped containers can be used to check a target. The Center can determine after the container has been in the hands of the target for awhile whether he gave it to others to open, or opened it himself out of curiosity.

Mavr, a code clerk at the foreign ministry came to the attention of the Cuban rezidentura. “In talks with the agent Gensolen, he extolled the achievements of the socialist countries in science, industry and culture. He agreed with the political line of the Cuban government, sharply criticizing the reactionary policy of the Americans and British.”

But he kept his views hidden to those around him. The Center didn’t have a file on him, he provided tips of people to recruit and even sold the code of the Spanish foreign ministry. Nothing seemed to be wrong but he seemed to know about conspiratorial work and it was decided to vet him. He was assigned at a meeting to pass a small suitcase to a certain person who was passing through the country, at a certain place and time two hours from the capital. If the person didn’t show up, he was to return the suitcase to Gensolen. He then returned the suitcase saying the guy didn’t show and the suitcase showed that he had tried to open it but had stopped so as not to leave a trace. From a bug in the suitcase it became clear he was working for American intelligence.

This shows that enemy intelligence is even willing to give up the secrets of another country, in the case Spain, to increase trust in the dangle.

Another trick is to compare the documents a target obtains and passes on with other copies obtained by other means. Hungarian intelligence officer Bela Kisha in London noticed Veb, an employee of a trade firm who indicated he was well informed and had ties with the military. The Hungarian established good relations with him and sometimes got information that seemed interesting at first glance, in exchange for cash.

But the Center said the information isn’t beyond what was already in the press. Once Veb promised to Bela Kisha that he would obtain a very important document, and Bela asked for a photocopy. He was then able to compare it to what the Center had obtained and saw it was forged. Bela insisted that Veb tell him the source and workplace, which he resisted but finally he gave the info, and there was no such person and the phone was someone else’s. So Veb was a plant either from British CI or more likely an adventurer just trying to get money.

Another method is to use the target’s own postal address and ask him to perform an assignment he can’t possibly do, but only with the help of a powerful intelligence service. Various methods have to be used to vet targets as any one may not turn up anything.


Such failures can lead to exposure even of the entire rezidentura and at least make work very hard; they happen when intelligence agents relax their political vigilance and are not concerned about constant improvement of their operational preparation or when they ignore the situation in the country, or fail to keep conspiracy.

“If through vetting measures the presence of a tie to counterintelligence is established with the target of development, then acquaintance with him should not be broken off immediately, since the agent may be deciphered. It will be more correct to conduct meetings with him less and less frequently and them stop them altogether.”

The intelligence officer has to be a psychologist who an analyze even trivial things that come up in vetting.

Just using one of these methods may not enable the officer to detect whether he is dealing with an honest person or the enemy’s set-up so he has to put an array of them into motion.