for 70 years mines of secrets –

Cunning and ingenuity, sophisticated tricks and childish mistakes sometimes coexist in acting of the secret services and of the people they want to serve. In February 1970, the SID, Defense Information Service, captured a non-commissioned officer of the Italian armed forces as he was leaving the Soviet Union embassy in via Gaeta in Rome. Instead of the uniform, the soldier wore civilian clothes, but the detail was not enough to prevent him from being arrested on charges of having been in the offices to reveal news on state security.

Although 51 years later, in 2021, the delivery of classified documents may have occurred in the suburbs, if the allegations are confirmed, it seems strange that Captain Walter Biot, imprisoned in recent days, has deluded himself not to be discovered in supplying them directly to an official of the Russian Federation with diplomatic immunity. In Rome for decades that embassy, ​​which remained in the same place following the end of the USSR, considered both the representation of a foreign country and a reservoir of secrets. It would be curious if the Italian counterintelligence did not try to prevent flaws in the system in that direction, as Moscow does with many foreign offices. That a non-commissioned officer or an officer could have overlooked a detail of some value.

At the dawn of the Cold War, the Italian Communist Party above all he sent Matteo Secchia, brother of the deputy secretary Pietro Secchia, to bring confidential information to the embassy. But Moscow assigned the roles of genuine spies to non-Communists. And even in a Rome where the important cameras would become those of Cinecitt, not the ubiquitous ones today for video surveillance, there was no lack of precautions. In view of the elections of April 18, 1948, the PCI secretary Palmiro Togliatti asked for an interview with the Soviet ambassador Mikhail Kostylev. It took place on March 23 in a secret place near Rome, as it seemed inappropriate, in that moment of pre-electoral tension, to risk a meeting in a party or Soviet embassy headquarters becoming public knowledge, Victor Zaslavski recalled. in the book Stalinism and the Italian left, published in 2004 by Mondadori.

This is also why it is the most secluded and most congenial place at the crossroads between diplomacy and secret agents, in Rome, for the Russians from a historical point of view was Villa Abamelek, the residence of the ambassador. The Soviets welcomed top leaders of Italian politics to dinner every November 7, the anniversary of the October Revolution. For some years now, when the villa hosts the reception for the Federation’s National Day presided over by Vladimir Putin in June, invited diplomats from at least one NATO country have been instructed not to enter with their mobile phone on or on. The fear that the memory will not remain private.

The writer learned as a chronicler, in the early 1980s, that he was in the Municipality of Rome permission had been denied by the Soviets to have a tunnel dug under the enchanting garden of the Janiculum for the trains of the railway ring, a local transport route. The Brezhnevian vigilance believed that the tunnel could be used for wiretapping.

The embassy in via Gaeta can be found in the newspapers when sectors of the extreme right Italians did not know that in the next millennium they would become pro-Putinians. I threw a Molotov cocktail at the embassy of the Soviet Union, said the former leader of the Youth Front Gianni Alemanno, as a student put under arrest for this, in an interview with Claudio Sabelli Fioretti in 2009.

On Villa Abamelek, on the other hand, 800 kilos of documents exist in the Moscow Archive of Ancient Acts. Many may be on Semen Semenovič Abamelek Lazarev, the prince who left the property on the Janiculum in inheritance to the Russian Academy in Rome before the 1917 Revolution. Perhaps the papers on Vitaly Yurtchenko, number 5 of the KGB, are not in that archive. July 1985 disappeared after leaving the villa during a memorable and enigmatic trip to Rome. According to the official Soviet version, he had to walk to the Vatican Museums: he reappeared weeks later in the United States. First, as a name in the newspapers, as a transfugee in custody by the CIA, the Central intelligence agency, which collected revelations and passed them on to the press. Then, he spent more weeks, inside the Soviet embassy in Washington, in front of reporters and televisions: Yurtchenko claimed that he was kidnapped in Rome, transported to the United States and subsequently managed to escape from the kidnappers of the American secret service. He returned to Moscow. Without receiving, then, signs of dishonor from his country.

April 1, 2021 (change April 1, 2021 | 23:55)

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