The Death of Sergei Tretyakov & Spook Flame Wars

Sergei Tretyakov, the Russian traitor / US patriot (whatever you prefer), died June 13, 2010, at the age of 53. The Russian “illegals” were rounded up on June 27. The two week gap is exactly the same as the amount of time President Obama is said to have known of the Russian spy ring. What I suspect is that the order to round up the Russian spy ring was issued immediately after President Medvedev’s visit to Silicon Valley in order to provide a source of leverage in case the autopsy found Tretyakov’s death to have been unnatural. It was only on July 9 that Tretyakov’s death – of natural causes – was announced by his biographer (hagiographer) Pete Earley. The same day, a federal court ruled the Russian spy ring were not guilty of espionage, paving the way for the US-Russia spy swap, the Anna Chapman personality cult and the patriotastic karaoke songs with Putin.

Neither Russia nor the US has any interest in rocking the “reset” boat, so the affair slipped by smoothly. Medvedev wants to modernize Russia and keep the US out of its sphere of influence in Eurasia; Obama wants Russian support – or at least acquiescence – on Afghanistan and Iran. (The “bad cop” of the tandem, Putin, did make some Aesopian comments regarding how “traitors always end badly”. This was a publicity stunt. Tretyakov almost certainly died naturally, as his wife and Earley claim: he had health problems – including alcoholism and smoker’s bronchitis, according to a (self-claimed) retired colonel from Russian intelligence – so the “massive cardiac arrest” story does make sense.)

Finally, while I know this might not be news to many of you, far from all spooks are the professional sleuths of James Bond fantasy. Judging from the fascinating discussion at Pete Earley’s post on Tretyakov’s death, some of them are paranoid, petty, ultranationalist nutjobs (at least the ones that care to comment on blogs). Many of the American commentators there suffered from the risible delusion that Tretyakov somehow did Russia a favor by betraying its secrets to the US (because, of course, what’s good for America must be good for everyone).

Pointing out the obvious – that while Tretyakov may have been a US patriot, he was certainly a Russian traitor – got me labeled as a “useful idiot” (along with the sane “Nicholas Arena“, a “former intelligence officer”) by one Brett Kingstone, an FBI-connected Orlando realty dealer*. One of Tretyakov’s fans, “Victoria Spain”, even references the “Final Phase” conspiracy theory – first expounded by the Soviet traitor Anatoly Golitsyn – that the FSB control Islamist terrorists, the USSR never collapsed and Putin is planning to invade Europe.

Not that Russia’s “intelligence” appears any more acute, judging from the comments of a “Colonel (Ret.)“: through he reveals some interesting anecdotes about Tretyakov (apparently, he was an alcoholic “stooping balloon on skinny legs with scraggy arms” and part of the SVR’s privileged, incompetent “nomenklatura” caste who never did any serious fieldwork), he frequently retreats into a “whataboutist” anti-American rant. Quite crude and Soviet.

* In other spook-related business, I’ve also Facebook Friended Anna Chapman &  tried to do same with Anna Fermanova (she rejected my advances).

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Anna Chapman “friended” you on Facebook? How cool is that! I think Anya is the unsung hero of this spy saga, because it was her quick thinking and reactions (buying the cellphone, calling her dad, etc.) that bought enough lead time for their handler to escape from Cyprus. I wonder who will play her in the movie version. Maybe Emma Watson?

    • Not that cool. I Friended her. (I did have one Friend in common with her beforehand, which isn’t that surprising since I’m a Russian-American in the Bay Area).

      Cyprus is a virtual Russian colony. I doubt hustling the handler out presented any great difficulties to Russia’s intelligence services.

      Emma Watson would be a good choice. They’ve even both been stripped bare before the press by paparazzi / former husband!

      • you are both retarded

      • The name Chapman was garnered from a husband that she used while undercover in Britain. In addition, it is documented that she was “stalking” Prince William by hanging out at his party haunts. It is very easy to imagine her poisoning “Willie Boy”.

  2. “and the patriotastic karaoke songs with Putin.”

    not karaoke, they sang to live music 🙂

    Also, there’s a theory that the mysterious handler was the traitor Putin mentioned and the US deliberately allowed him to escape.

  3. Oh, how rude! Where did they (KGB, SVR, FSB, whatever) find such English words for the author of this garbage to describe the legendary Russian spy Comrade J ?
    Didn’t even bother to correct misprints… Guys, you are losing your grip.

  4. What a BS!
    I am Sergei’s neighbor. I’ve known him for nine years. He had quit smoking long before we met and, sorry for disappointing the author of the libel (his word), but Sergei was most certainly not an alcoholic. He was funny, friendly, hospitable, full of positive energy, good- tempered, good- humored, very smart and yes, extremely pro-American. We all loved him! And we are so sorry for this loss!

    • I’m sure S. may have been very nice in person (why not?) and no doubt very pro-American (no shit!), but that does not change the fact that he was also a traitor.

      Had S. been a true Russian patriot who genuinely disagreed with Yeltsin / Putin, he’d have resigned in protest and gone into a comfortable retirement. Had he truly respected human rights, he’d have never joined the SVR in the first place (especially not during the reign of Brezhnev).

      As a casual observer, I suspect the real reasons for S.’s defection were far more banal: e.g. something to do with personal animosities within the SVR (on this count I find Colonel (Ret.)’s explanation quite logical). His post-defection platitudes about the love of American liberty and concern for his daughter’s future sound like ex post facto justification, and probably more for his own conscience than anyone else.

      If you consider Colonel (Ret.)’s claims to be libel – I’m not claiming anything myself for the simple reason I have no first-hand knowledge of S. – I’d be interested to hear your explanation of why someone with access to the finest US healthcare died at the age of 53 of a heart attack.

  5. Mark Sleboda says

    I must concur with Eric – I too am wholeheartedly sorry that Tretyakov died of natural causes in the USA…..He should have met his end being shot in front of a firing squad of his peers in Lubyanka as a despicable traitor to his motherland…

  6. Theory of Relativity:
    “One man’s occupier is another man’s liberator.” (Putin)
    “One man’s freedom-fighter is another man’s terrorist.”
    “One man’s traitor is another man’s patriot.”


    • Good ol’ double standards, nothing new here. They were around for millennia, they will always be as long as humans themselves.

    • you kgb retard: “Yalensis says:
      August 21, 2010 at 4:23 am”

  7. Tretyakov is no ordinary spy of the Communist era. He is the first KGB/SVR officer, who was actively spying for the new Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, to defect to the USA. According to a senior FBI agent involved in the case, Sergei Tretyakov “has been by far the most important Russian Spy that our side has had in decades…I can tell you this man saved American lives.”

    It has taken again a courageous Russian defector, who risked his life for many years for the benefit of freedom, to reawaken America to the fact that in addition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the world remains a dangerous place. We learn painfully that the New Russia has not shed entirely its expansionist and authoritarian tendencies. The new subtle threats to former Soviet Republics, such as the Ukraine and Azerbaijan over natural resources and “privileges in the area,” not to mention the recent War on Georgia, remain serious threats to peace and world security.(See also, Death of a Dissident by Alex Goldfarb.Death of a Dissident, the Poising of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB)

    I will not divulge here what specific intelligence Tretyakov provided to the United States, but will let the reader enjoy thoroughly the suspense packed in this book. And yet, the discerning reader will learn that the perceptive and resourceful Comrade J (Jean) Sergei Tretyakov has additionally provided nuggets of intelligence and geopolitical insights into some of the countries in this very volatile part of the world, where natural resources abound. Even on Turkey, an old friend of America, but now a country that is drifting away from the West by the inadequate diplomacy of short-sighted politicians, Tretyakov provides information about attitudes that are worth studying by Western diplomats.

    In short, this is without reservation a thumbs up review for a very powerful book. Pete Early’s book is highly recommended, not only for avid readers of Russian espionage, but also for the informed public in general, not to mention American and Western policymakers—who need to study this book the most!


      Yes, Eric, you’re absolutely right. It has taken again a courageous American defector , who risked his life for many years for the benefit of freedom, to reawaken Russia to the fact that the world remains a dangerous place. We learn painfully that the US has not shed entirely its expansionist and authoritarian tendencies. The new subtle threats to the whole world over natural resources and “privileges in the area,” not to mention the recent War on Terror, remain serious threats to peace and world security. (See also selected speeches by Osama bin Laden).

      But I wouldn’t go as far as to give thumbs up to all bin Laden’s speeches, sorry.

      Eric, tell me this please: do you actually believe all the crap you wrote or someone made you do it?

      • Come ON! Are you working for KGB/SVR/FSB, whatever? Are they paying you? How much? I know from Sergei’s book COMRADE J that Russians are generous.
        And, by the way, are you American? I don’t think so.
        Best regards,
        Putin/Medvediev puppet!

        • Thank you “Eric”, I think you answered “kovane”‘s question well.

          Anatoly – thank you for the enjoyable and informative post & the links. The dates of events you mentioned in your post, indeed, are a food for thought. (the discussion on that book-sale site was also fascinating)


          • Yeah, the dates are the more intriguing aspect of this case, I think.

            A prominent defector dying at 53 of a heart attack is suspicious. Hence informing Obama of the spy ring immediately after S.’s death?

        • Oh, good one, Eric!
          Hey, guys, did you know we can skip all the lengthy and time-consuming political debating points, citing of sources and facts, and all that nonsense, and just proceed to the following:
          “You’re a KGB agent!”
          “No, YOU’RE a KGB agent!”
          “How much are they paying you to say that?”
          “Nothing, because your mom turns tricks at the Lubyanka and gives me all the money. ‘Cause I’m her pimp, see…”
          “Oh yeah? Well, you’re not even an American. You some kind of Russkie??”
          “Not at all. I am a citizen of the world….”
          [cue the finale to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony…]

    • Mark Sleboda says

      As a US military vet, myself, it never ceases to amuse me hearing someone extoll America’s invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan (along with active and covert military operations in Yemen, Somalia, Colombia and a dozen other countries) ,with a network of well over 1,100 military bases around the world, a military budget more than the rest of the world put together, the world’s largest dealer in arms, regular use of depleted uranium ammunition poisoning land and people for generations, and using their intelligence services for routine programs of targeted assassinations (by drones throughout the Islamic world) and covert regime change (the colored revolutions in Serbia, the Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Moldova, attempted in Iran, etc..) yet in the same breath accuse Russia of aggressive and expanionist policies. Irony truly knows no limits and hypocrisy has no bounds…

      @Eric – I just wanted to say that that was a nice shill for Tretyakov’s book. Working an advertisement into a flagrantly pro-imperialist and Russophobic rant on a blog like this takes a certain amount of chutzpah and snake oil grease. We wouldn’t want the traitor’s widow and family to go without the lifestyle they have been accustomed to since he prostituted his service, his country, and its people out to sell a lurid tell-all, now, would we…? Do you know when the made for TV movie is coming out, I really wouldn’t want to miss it?

      • You are blind…

      • That was a great reply, Mark. My respect. (No irony, I promise!)

      • “Mark Sleboda says:
        August 21, 2010 at 7:40 am”, kgb retard, find testimony of defector stanislav lunev before the House National Security Committee about russian nuclear suitcase bombs all over the u. s.

      • You say that you are a military veteran. I visited Romania in 1975 aboard a U.S. warship. The people were not jumping up and down for Communism. The museums used to be churches. You call Tretyakov a prostitute. We spread the right of “jerks like you” to critisise a free nation at the expense of one which has killed millions of people in an attempt to redefine what is a normal society.

    • peace militant says

      You know, Azerbaijan is the one making threats against Armenia. The oil projects coming online to serve the US/EU/Israel are going directly to rearm. Of course, NATO has always been complicit in the extermination of Christian nations to appease the Islamists (Istanbul pogroms, Assyrians in Kurdistan, Serbs in Kosovo, etc.) Who is truly lighting the fires here?

      • OK! I got it now. You are Muslim. Good for you. By the way, Sergei Tretyakov saved thousands of US lives by submitting info on Kosovo.

        • Mark Sleboda says

          Eric – Newsflash, the Kosovar Albanians are Muslim too…and it is well known that the Kosovo Liberation Army worked actively with Al Queda for years of their terrorism against Serbia. The US government, itself, officially listed the KLA as a terrorist organization right up until they bombed Serbia (a war crime that much to my chagrin and shame I participated in as a member of the US military at the time) when they then reversed themselves and supported the KLA and helped them establish a Kosovar Albanian protectorate out of Serbian territory.
          The Chief PROSECUTOR of Slobodan Milosevic for the United Nation’s International Criminal Tribinal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Carla del Ponte, has also documented how Kosovar Albanians ran organ smuggling rings where they harvested body parts from captured Serbian and Russian citizens for sale to rich Arabs.
          I have no doubt that secrets that Tretyakov sold the American government may well have saved the lives of many Americans in Serbia. Of course those same sold secrets also betrayed to death many Serbs and Russians who lived and fought along side them.
          So, to summarize – like everyone on this blog has been trying to pound into your and the traitor’s widow’s thick skulls – Once Tretyakov betrayed the country and people of his birth and sold out to the Americans – he more than likely saved American lives and at the same time condemned many Russians to death. Therefore, Americans (some but certainly not me) could very well see him as a hero of sorts, while for Russia he is most certainly a despicable traitor….

          May I also say, that, depsite my own opinions of all of this sordid business – I (and Russia) do not succumb to the racist base instincts of condemining all Muslims for the actions of a fundamentalist few. Where as you. from your multiple comments above, (and from the furor over the “Ground Zero Mosque, many Americans as well) seem to despise and demonize all Muslims. I am just curious, why do you think that is?

    • 1. That his defection benefited the US isn’t a question.
      2. According to you, S. revealed: most countries (inc. Russia) act to further their national interests. What a “reawakening”! I take it all back, S. is right up there with Sorge and Canaris!
      3. See also The Specter That Haunts the Death of Litvinenko by Ed Epstein.
      4. I scanned through Comrade J at a bookstore about a year ago. Some of the stuff about spycraft was interesting, but nothing one can’t find on the Internet. Otherwise, self-glorification, wild claims (Soviets spread idea of nuclear winter!), and unsupported accusations. None of this is new to Soviet defectors, as seen with Aleksandr “Putin is a Pedophile” Litvinenko, Anatoly “News Lies for Old” Golitsyn, Oleg “BBC are Commies” Gordievsky, Stanislav “KGB Suitcase Bombs” Lunev, etc.

      • So, Litvinenko used “radiated milk” on his bowl of Cheerios. The British cows are at fault.

    • stanislav lunev is another “post-communist” defector (1992)

  8. grafomanka says

    So Tretyakov betrayed Russia because he was ‘worried about his daughte’s future’… Fancy that Chapman’s father out of concern for his daughter’s future got her a nice and warm position as a ‘Russian spy’ in the US 😉

    • That reminds me of an excellent joke:

      Khrushchev and Kennedy are having a bet whose spies are more loyal. They get on the top of the Empire State Building, Kennedy calls his best CIA agent and orders him to jump off the roof. The agent is blanching, but can’t disobey the order of the President. He starts to take a run, but stops at the last moment. He tells Kennedy: “Mr. President, I’m sorry, I can’t do that, I love my family too much”. Khrushchev flashes a smirk, calls his best KGB man and orders him the same. The agent immediately starts running and jumps off the roof. Guards manage to catch him at the last moment. Amazed Kennedy asks him: “Why did you do it?”. The agent replies: “I love my family too much!”.

  9. Discussion of what makes a traitor and whether a traitorous act has led to the greater good always brings the unschooled nuts out of the woodwork. Yalensis is right: few things are so annoying or frustrating as to be trying to substantiate a point with solid, incontestable facts – only to receive a reply which wants to know how much the KGB is paying you. ‘Cause, see, only real patriots argue for free. Those who pose rational arguments that tend to make the OTHER SIDE look like they might have a human or nationalistic logic chain instead of the greedy, atavistic instinct of insects are KGB agents, Muslims or Muslim KGB agents. It’s like self-parody, and wonderfully amusing provided you’re not one of the principals in the argument, but are just watching the stupidity unfold.

    Excellent rebuttals both, Mark. Probably wasted on those whose heads are too full of bile, unfocused venom and misplaced my-country-right-or-wrong for facts to have any impact, but appreciated by observers for their precision and cool, academic detachment. Nice job.

    Kovane, that was funny. Here’s my favourite Russian joke, although it has nothing to do with the intelligence services. A mother gives her small child a handful of kopeks and tells him; “Misha, go to the store and buy a copy of Pravda for your papa, a copy of Komsomol Pravda for yourself and a copy of Izestia for me, and come straight back.” As he leaves the flat, he meets his father on the stairs, coming up. His father says, “Where are you going?” Misha replies, “Mama sent me to the store to buy newspapers”.

    “We have a radio; what do we need newspapers for?” asks his father; “give me the money!” He takes the kopeks from Misha and goes back down to the street to buy beer.

    Misha goes back to the apartment. His mother asks him, “What happened? Where are the papers?” Misha explains that Papa intercepted him and took the money. His mother sighs, gives him some more kopeks and says, “Go to the store and buy a copy of Komsomol Pravda for yourself, and an Izvestia for me”. Misha asks, “What about Papa?”.

    “Your papa can wipe his ass with the radio”.

    • Good one! 🙂 Here’s another classic Russian joke on a similar topic:

      Father and son are walking in a park. Son says: “Daddy, I’ve heard that vodka has gone up in price. Does that mean that you’ll drink less?” Father looks at him with tenderness in his eyes and replies: “No, son. That means that you’ll eat less.”

      PS: Anatoly, sorry for off-topic comments.

  10. Well, if golitsyn is wrong, why does he have a 94 percent accuracy rate?

    If you have problems with his theories, can you cite some debunks of them? I would like to read them.

  11. There’s a problem. The “official cause of death” was released after an autopsy which stated that he had choked to death on a piece of meat. The fact that the wife stated conclusively that he died of a heart attack now “opens a can of worms”. EMT’s were called and they tried to revive him. I would think that they would have picked up something. There is something unusual in this. Usually spy teams have a wife who is working with the KGB to keep an eye on the husband.