How a KGB Assassin Used the Death of His Child to Defect
Bogdan Stashinsky was forced to work for the KGB against his will and became one of the most wanted assassins in the world. This is the story of how he put it all on the line to escape.By Serhii Plokhii, Poltico.com
January 05, 2017
Shortly before 5:00 a.m. on August 10, 1961, Bogdan Stashinsky was waiting near his apartment building in Moscow to be picked up by his case officer, Yurii Aleksandrov. Before leaving, he put his household effects in order and destroyed the list of code phrases that he and his wife Inge had used in their correspondence over the past six months, he in Moscow where the KGB kept an eye on him and she in East Berlin where she had gone to have their newborn son. The only incriminating evidence remaining was what he carried on him—the identification papers and documents, issued in the names of his numerous aliases that he was taking to Berlin against the orders of his case officer. If they were discovered, the KGB would have no doubt about his real intentions.
He was risking his life to escape the suffocating embrace of the KGB, the ultra-secretive Soviet spy agency that had ensnared him when he was 19 years old and made him one of the highest-profile assassins in the world.
The story of Stashinsky’s defection from the KGB—which has never before been told in such detail—started when he fell in love with Inge Pohl, an East German woman, in the spring of 1957. A son of Ukrainian patriots, and forced to spy on the anti-Soviet underground under the threat that his entire family would be arrested for helping the nationalist underground, he was now in his seventh year of working for the Russian security agency. In the fall of 1957, he had ambushed the editor of a Ukrainian émigré newspaper on the stairs of a Munich office building and killed him with a top secret spray gun that fired cyanide. Two years later, in October 1959 he scored an even bigger success, assassinating the top leader of the Ukrainian resistance hiding in Munich, Stepan Bandera, in the same way. He had told Inge nothing about his work for the KGB.