KGB used passports from NZ

PHIL KITCHIN
Last updated 05:00 12/08/2014
Bill Sutch

BIG NAME: Bill Sutch was a former bureaucrat with a high profile and plenty of influence.

Bill Sutch
UNDER ARREST: Detective Senior Sergeant Colin Lines leads Bill Sutch to a car in the Aro Valley sting, September 1974.
Bill Sutch, Dimitri Razgovorov
ON THE RUN: Dimitri Razgovorov, a KGB officer, sprints down Aro St in Wellington when he realises Sutch has been arrested.

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KGB files smuggled out of Russia reveal a former Labour MP was an informant for the feared Soviet spy agency and was given the codename "Gerd".

The files say the MP was in contact with Yuri Drozhzhin, the KGB agent who handled former top government official Bill Sutch for several years.

The Dominion Post reported yesterday that Sutch was a 24-year veteran recruit of the KGB's before he was acquitted of spying in a trial in 1975.

The KGB records also reveal that its agents trawled graveyards to steal the identities of dead people so as to procure prized New Zealand passports during the Cold War.

Later, the KGB became nervous that agents wandering around cemeteries would be caught by SIS surveillance, and switched to looking through electoral rolls for potential passport names.

The KGB papers were given to British authorities by KGB defector Vasili Mitrokhin in 1992.

But details of KGB activities in New Zealand have only just been made public by the Churchill Archives at Cambridge University.

The Mitrokhin files say an unnamed Labour MP, born in England in 1926, was in contact with Drozhzhin during the KGB agent's Wellington posting.

He was given the codename "Gerd", and information passed to the KGB said he was also a member of Labour's executive committee.

The files say that by the 1970s New Zealand was "a base" for providing documents for KGB agents around the world.

One KGB agent, known as "Julien", whose real name was Vladimir Largin, used a passport issued under the name Patrick Cosgrove, from Castlecliff, Whanganui.

The agent operated with his wife and both renewed their passports in Europe before "Julien" worked on missions in Argentina, Venezuela, Guyana, Jamaica, Bolivia and Grenada.

The Mitrokhin papers do not specifically name Sutch as a KGB recruit, but clearly identify him by other details - including his date of birth, his PhD and when he retired - and say he was given the codename "Maori".

Sutch was arrested after he met KGB agent Dmitri Razgovorov one night in an Aro Valley park in Wellington in 1974.

Kit Bennetts, the SIS officer who caught Sutch meeting Razgovorov, said he was a brilliant and complex man.

"Bill Sutch would never have seen himself as passing over something like submarine plans [to the KGB].

"He saw himself as doing the best thing for New Zealand. He'd have thought what he was providing was in our best interests.

"We don't have to condemn him, but we should acknowledge what happened."

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- The Dominion Post

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