Santa Claus with a virus. Why was Anatoly Baronin called the “master of espionage”?

Weekly “Arguments and Facts” No. 03. Either a bus, or a vision. When will the modernization of public transport reach cities and villages? 01/19/2022

“Spymaster” in the & nbsp; & shy; 1970s, the German magazine Stern dubbed it. For & nbsp; any scout, this is a failure. But Anatoly Baronin, even after such fame, he didn go into the shadow.

He was born in 1932 g. in Moscow. His father served in the state security agencies, and little Tolik dreamed of becoming an intelligence officer. But after school he graduated from an economic university, began to work in specialty.

The proposal to go to & nbsp; work in & nbsp; bodies came unexpectedly. The training at the intelligence school was very thorough, the most experienced diplomats shared their skills. As Baronin himself recalled, one of the courses was given by the famous Anatoly Dobrynin, who for two decades was the USSR ambassador to the USA: diplomats, and  sometimes  better». After graduating, Anatoly Viktorovich was a resident of Soviet intelligence in Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia for many years.Operations, in which Baronin participated, are still classified as  secret. But something was revealed nonetheless. They said, “master of espionage” obtained a strain of Ebola for the USSR, when very few people knew about this virus. But that's not entirely true. Ebola hemorrhagic fever is named after a river in the Congo, in the region of which in 1976 for the first time, an outbreak of a disease was recorded that killed an entire village in a matter of days – 280 people. The events, in which Anatoly Baronin participated, happened 6 years earlier in Nigeria in the village of Lassa. Its inhabitants died out in a couple of days from an unknown disease similar to typhus. And the first to die were doctors from the United States, who did not know what they were doing in the Nigerian wilderness. This raised suspicions that the Americans were testing biological weapons on Nigerians. 

Baronin recalled that the Center's task to obtain a deadly strain was met with grumbling, but successfully completed. Then the Soviet mission of doctors worked in the country, and he chose a partner among them. “The two of us went to look for this village, located 1200 km from the capital. We got permission to examine the bodies of the dead. The results are null. It turned out that they needed blood samples taken from the patient before his death, – said the scout. – I had to go around a lot of public and vile places to find at least some clues… Finally, in  one of bars we met aboriginal doctors, who said over a glass that they had a lot of test tubes with blood, but for some reason they were not allowed to take them for analysis. I pretended not to believe it, and began to laugh them. It came to the conclusion of a bet. After the next bottle at our expense, one of them ran to the hospital and showed triumphantly a test tube with red liquid».

It was not the Ebola virus, but its"little brother" – arenavirus, later called “Lassa fever”. When the case of Ebola in the Congo attracted the attention of the whole world, doctors qualified African tropical viruses as a deadly threat to all mankind. And in the USSR, thanks to the work of Colonel Baronin, a similar virus has been studied for 6 years already.

Did he believe that the outbreak in Africa was the result of American testing of bacteriological weapons? “Probably not – wrote Anatoly Viktorovich. – They probably didn't want to let the genie out of the bottle. Nevertheless, then the whole village died out. Why don't I think it was a test? After all, the first to die from this disease were the Americans themselves – a doctor and two nurses. And  the outbreaks of bird flu and rabid cows in Western Europe had a different attitude. “We are talking about the artificial origin of these diseases” hellip; “Bush's Legs” it’s necessary to promote, and & nbsp; someone there breeds chickens. It's the same with mad cow disease. Europe refused to buy American meat – mad cow disease immediately appeared. 

Nurses at the bed with a patient affected by the Ebola virus. Republic of Zaire, 1976 Photo:

4 coups and 1 war

And & nbsp; nevertheless, he was from & nbsp; “romantic” generations of Soviet intelligence. Somehow, in one of the African countries, Baronin needed to find an approach to an official from the presidential entourage, who treated the USSR badly and ignored receptions at the embassy. Baronin found his weak spot – the official was a father of many children. On love for children, they "accidentally" and   agreed. “He invited me to home. On my way to visit, I already knew almost everything about his children, so I grabbed a corresponding gift for each. Saying goodbye, I felt like Santa Claus, – recalled Anatoly Baronin. – In addition, I found out all the dates of birth and tried not to miss them. Moreover, my relationship with the children was extremely sincere, and they really fell in love with me, and the owner and even more so. He invited me to visit his work. Just at this time, representatives of our embassy were trying to get a reaction from the leadership of the host country on one important issue of international politics. And and sipping coffee with he, I notice the minutes of the meeting of the Presidential Council on this topic on      I have to read upside down, I try my best to hide my interest, but, apparently, it doesn’t work. But, instead of hiding the document, it makes it possible to finish reading it, and even turns to the next page, where the ending».

Baronin said that his work is very reminiscent of the film “TASS is authorized to declare.” “True, in reality, events did not unfold in Africa, as in the film, but in a different place. Although the rest of everything is built on concrete events with a little conjecture Yuliana Semyonova. The director of the film was a friend of mine who knew what I do… As for the rest, I had to witness four coups d'état and  one civil war». 

In a frame from the film “TASS is authorized to declare” hellip; – prison in one of the African republics. Vakhtang Kikabidze (left) as CIA agent Glubb and Yuri Solomin (right) as Soviet resident Colonel Slavin. Photo:

The first time this happened was in 1966. in Ghana. Then he walked through the streets under bullets, “to report the real picture.” During another putsch, in Nigeria, a Soviet resident was nearly shot by a military patrol. “Fortunately, an officer drove up, quickly figured everything out, apologized for his subordinates, saying that you would take from them, illiterate. In the end, I still had the strength to joke that I almost got a bullet from my own, Soviet, machine gun. They laughed, hugged, and I, covered in a cold sweat, offered to give them a lift to the post, and at the same time drop in to our house for a bite to eat. Word by word – got talking… Of course, our hospitality could not do without a hundred grams. As a result, we managed to learn a lot of interesting and useful things. That's just his wife almost to to frightened death by an unexpected visit of the military with machine guns», – many years later, Baronin recalled with a smile.

The Americans tried to liquidate it twice by setting up a car accident: “There was a device that damaged the front wheel tire, and then on the track, having heated up, it burst. Only by a lucky chance did everything end well. And my friend and colleague after such a “sabotage” ended up in a hospital in a serious condition. 

From Liberia to Ukraine

When, in 1971, a Soviet defector and traitor Oleg Lyalinhanded over our intelligence officers around the world to the British, Baronin was also on the declassified list. They studied together at the language courses at  forest school”, they did not know each other's real names, but by photo Lyalin identified the resident. It was then that there was a publication in a German magazine. Baronin was recalled to Moscow and was kept  in quarantine for a year and a half, but then he again went on a business – resident in Liberia. His experience and knowledge of West Africa was too unique.

In the mid-1980s, he returned to the central office in Moscow waiting the next assignment – to Turkey. But  with he was played a cruel joke by his worldwide fame. The Turks in & nbsp; 1986 denied entry to Baronin: they say, Ankara & nbsp; & ndash; not & nbsp; African outback, we will not allow Soviet intelligence to frolic here. And just at that time they began to create branches of PSU in the soviet­republics. He was offered the choice of heading the newly minted intelligence services of Estonia or Tajikistan, or becoming deputy head of the service in Ukraine. The Baroninas rented out their Moscow apartment and left for Kiev. 

After the collapse of the USSR, Anatoly Viktorovich retired at 59 years. «At first I thought – who to be? Went to one desk – I feel it smells of theft. Went to another – the same impression. It also looked a bit – I decided: no, I will not break away from service», – confessed later scout. As a result, he took up teaching work, taught future Ukrainian spies the basics of skill. Baronin died in Kiev on July 29, 2019. And now then there is then called the legendary Soviet spy other than Ukrainian.


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