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Suvorov, Viktor (Vladimir Rezun)   Aquarium. The Career and Defection of a Soviet Spy (1985)(1)

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look and the glance over the shoulder are our 
enemy, and we shall punish you as severely for that as for 
major errors of principle in your work. You must not 
look like spies. Your open, honest-looking faces were 
one of the most important factors noted by the selection 
board. We study thousands of officers who are potential 
candidates for the GRU for a long time. Sometimes we 
keep candidates under observation for several years, 
during which each of them makes several flights in civil 
aircraft and in civilian clothes. The one who is stopped by 
the police as he is boarding a plane is no good for us. We 
need the sort of people to whom the police pay no 
attention. Now take a look at yourselves: the pleasant, 
rather simple-looking faces of working-class or peasant 
lads. Not a single intellectual in glasses and nobody 
looking like James Bond. That's excellent. It means that 
the selection board is doing its job properly. 
'Least of all should you resemble spies by the methods 
you employ. The authors of detective stories always 
depict the intelligence officer as a brilliant shot and an 
expert at breaking his opponents' arms. The majority of 
you have come here from the middle ranks of military 
intelligence in Spetsnaz units in the Army or the Navy. 
There, of course, it was certainly necessary. But here in 
the intelligence service of the General Staff we are not 
going to teach you to shoot, to use your fists or to split 
bricks with the edge of your hand. You have reached the 
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highest level of intelligence work, where all you need is 
your head. You will engage in very serious operations 
and if your stupid head lets you down some time, no 
amount of skill with a gun or your fists will help you. An 
officer who has exposed himself through his own mistake 
is no longer capable of obtaining secret information, and 
in that situation a gun won't help him. 
'Japanese tricks for self-defence and attack and guns 
and knives are a sort of safety belt for someone working 
at a dizzy height above the ground. We simply don't 
provide you with such a belt! The fact is that it is only 
those steel-erectors who make use of a safety belt who 
fall from high places. One day they forget to do up their 
belt and down they go. But those who never wear a 
safety belt never fall. Because they are always conscious 
of the fact that they are not strapped on. So they are 
always very careful. The safety belt reduces that constant 
caution. 
'If your head lets you down, you will have hundreds of 
professional policemen on your tail with cars, helicopters, 
dogs, gas, weapons and the last word in equipment. No 
gun is going to help you in such a situation. So we don't 
give you one. We deprive you of every kind of illusion. 
Every one of you can rely only on his own head, his own 
intelligence. You may as well know now that there is no 
safety belt. One mental error, and you're down the chute. 
This is the essence of the way we differ from the popular 
idea of a spy in dark glasses. And the achievements which 
our service has to its credit without recourse to dark 
glasses, sharp shooting or mighty blows with the hand are 
tremendous. The subject for today's six-hour seminar is: 
methods of penetration by agents.' 
We started to study our notebooks. The training of 
officers in the GRU is radically different from what is 
written in novels. In the course of the next three years at 
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the Military-Diplomatic Academy we were to hear quite a 
few surprising things. 
Man is capable of performing miracles. A man can swim 
the English Channel three times, drink a hundred mugs of 
beer, walk barefoot on burning coals; he can learn thirty 
languages, become an Olympic champion at boxing, invent 
the television or the bicycle, become a general in the GRU 
or make himself a millionaire. It's all in our own hands. If 
you want it you can get it. Most important is to want 
something: the rest depends only on training. But if you 
simply train your memory, your muscles or your mind 
regularly, then nothing will come of your efforts. Regular 
training is important, but training alone decides nothing. 
There was the case of the odd character who trained 
regularly. Every single day he lifted a smoothing iron and 
continued this for ten years. But his muscles got no 
bigger. Success comes only when the training, of 
whatever kind (memory, muscles, mind, willpower, 
stamina), takes a man to the limit of his capacity. When 
the end of the training becomes torture. When a man cries 
out from pain and exhaustion. Training is effective only 
when it takes a man to the very limit of his capacity and 
he knows exactly where the limit is: I can do two metres 
in the high jump; I can do 153 press-ups; I can memorize 
at one go two pages of a foreign text. And each new 
training session is effective only when it becomes a battle 
to exceed your own achievement on the previous day. I'll 
do 154 press-ups or die in the attempt. 
We were taken to watch future Olympic champions in 
training. There were fifteen-year-old boxers, five-year-
old gymnasts and three-year-old swimmers. Look at the 
expression of their faces. Wait until the final moments of 
the day's training, when you can see on a child's face the 
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grim determination to beat his own record of the day 
before. Just study them! One day they will bring home an 
Olympic gold to offer to our red flag with the hammer 
and sickle on it. Just look at that face: so much tension, 
so much pain! That's the road to glory. That's the path to 
success. To work only at the very limit of your capacity. 
To work at the brink of collapse. You can become a 
champion only if you are the sort of person who, knowing 
that the bar is about to fall and crush him, nevertheless 
heaves it upwards. The only ones who have conquered 
themselves, who have defeated their own fear, their own 
laziness and their own lack of confidence. 
Our 'elephant' had taken us to see young sportsmen in 
training for the Olympics. 
'That's the way our country trains the people who are to 
defend its reputation in the world of sport. Do you really 
think that our country would take the training of our 
intelligence officers less seriously?' 
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7 
What happened in February 1971 was something never to 
be forgotten. The head of the GRU, Colonel-general 
Peter Ivanovich Ivashutin was promoted to the rank of 
Army General. There was great rejoicing in the 
Aquarium. The whole General Staff was delighted. It 
meant that military intelligence was on top. The Chairman 
of the KGB Yuri Andropov remained just a Colonel-
general. A real slap in the face. 
We knew that the Central Committee of the Party was 
heaping coal on the fires of conflict and that there was no 
way of avoiding a scrap between the KGB and the GRU. 
The balance between the KGB and the Army had been 
upset, and now the Central Committee was correcting the 
mistake. Very quickly there was a purge in the middle 
levels of the KGB and sweeping changes took place 
among the KGB major-generals and colonels. At the 
same time officers and generals of the GRU, of the whole 
General Staff and Soviet Army, were being promoted. 
For example, the commander of the North Caucasus 
military district, Lieutenant-general of Tanks Litovtsev 
became a Colonel-general. I wondered if he remembered 
the difficulties he had had at the beginning of his career? 
Someone then gave him a helping hand, at the risk of his 
own future. For that I had been made captain before my 
time. But no doubt the general himself had secretly 
helped and was still helping somebody or other, otherwise 
there would have been nobody to back him up. And 
today he wouldn't have been a three-star general. Good 
luck to him. 
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In February 1971 the KGB and the GRU were at each 
other's