Philby’s widow publishes book about legendary spy
MOSCOW (AP) _ Nine years after the death of legendary British spy Harold ``Kim″ Philby, his widow has published a book, seeking to dispel some of the myths about Philby’s personal life.
``Very many books have been written about Kim ... and I have read so many lies and contradictory statements, that I realized that nobody knows anything about his personal life,″ Rufina Pukhova-Philby said Thursday.
``He is often talked about as a unique spy, but I wanted to tell about him as a person,″ she said at a news conference presenting the book.
Pukhova-Philby, who is half Polish and half Russian, married Philby in 1970. She was his fourth wife.
The newly published volume also includes Philby’s own memoirs and letters. But on about 150 pages _ several chapters at the end of the volume _ Pukhova-Philby recalls their nearly 20-year marriage, starting with their first meeting near a Moscow subway station in July, 1970.
``The sun was dazzling, and I was wearing dark glasses,″ she wrote. ``Kim, introducing himself, asked me: `Please, take off your glasses. I want to see your eyes.′
``I met his request, without thinking anything of it. Kim didn’t impress me at all: I saw a middle-aged man with a kind but rather rumpled face. How could I imagine that this meeting would change all my life?″
Just weeks later, Philby proposed, speaking in broken Russian, which for once didn’t make his future wife laugh.
One of history’s most successful double agents, Philby passed British and American secrets to Moscow while working at the top level of MI6, the British intelligence service, for two decades, until the mid-50s.
The KGB gave him a full ceremonial funeral after his death in 1988 at age 76, and despite political changes in post-Soviet Russia, the nation’s secret services still revel him as a hero.
``There is a double standard in intelligence work, and we can’t get away from it,″ conceded Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service spokesman Yuri Kobaladze. ``Those who work for us, we consider heroes, and those who work against us, we consider traitors.″
But Russians insist that unlike other KGB collaborators, Philby never received any payment from the Soviets. They say he worked for Moscow out of a belief that Communists were trying to build a free and just society _ until the gap between his ideas and Soviet reality became too much to bear.
``He was a tragic figure,″ former KGB station chief in London, Mikhail Lyubimov, said Thursday. ``Communist ideas, all that he read in Marx _ of course, it differed radically from what he saw in our country. ...And when he saw all that, he felt that he was surrounded by an iron wall.″
Philby also had his share of runs-in with KGB officials, Pukhova-Philby said. At one point, the usually calm Philby nearly threw out of their apartment an official who wanted him to sign a letter denouncing Soviet dissidents.
Philby spent his last 18 years living in Moscow as a recluse, disillusioned with communism and battling alcoholism, Pukhova-Philby wrote. He got ``annoyed at the pompous speeches″ and turned off the television when it broadcast endless addresses of Soviet leaders.