Russian President Vladimir Putin was portrayed as an elite KGB intelligence officer in the 1980s.
But a new report from Der Spiegel suggests he was never the super spy he was thought to be.
Her role mainly involved “mundane” administrative tasks such as sorting out travel requests.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was probably never the elite Soviet spy the world was led to believe, an investigation by German news outlet Der Spiegel has revealed.
Accounts of Putin’s exploits as an intelligence officer in the 1980s vary, and it’s a time somewhat shrouded in mystery, as he never commented on the period himself.
But many stories have portrayed him as a heroic figure, who, among other things, single-handedly defended KGB offices from looters and carried out top-secret covert missions such as meeting with members of the Army Fraction. Rouge, a terrorist group that wreaked havoc in West Germany and committed a series of kidnappings and assassinations.
But according to the Der Spiegel report, the majority of Putin’s work was really limited to “mundane” administrative tasks.
Quoting one of Putin’s former colleagues in the KGB office in Dresden, he says that his “work mainly consisted of endlessly examining requests for visits from West German relatives or searching for potential informants among foreign students of the University of Dresden”.
The report says Putin is rarely mentioned in the archives of the Stasi – the name of the East German secret police. In those that do reference it, it’s only in regards to things like his birthday or his administrative duties, none of which provide any evidence to back up the previously mentioned stories.
Horst Jehmlich, a former Stasi officer who also worked in Dresden, told Der Spiegel that Putin was nothing more than an “errand boy”.
Putin worked for the KGB, the intelligence service of the Soviet Union, for nearly two decades. He moved to Dresden, East Germany, in 1985, at a time when the country was on its last legs.
Just four years later, the Berlin Wall came down, marking the beginning of the end of the Cold War and taking a big step towards the reunification of Germany in 1990.
Officially, he retired from active KGB service with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
But Oleg Kalugin, a former high-ranking KGB officer and fierce critic of Putin, said in a 2015 interview with RFE/RL that Russia’s future leader had lied and was “just a major”.
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