Dmitri Polyakov
Dmitri Fyodorovich Polyakov (July 6, 1921 - March 15, 1988) was a Soviet Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

, a high-ranking GRU
GRU or Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye is the foreign military intelligence directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation...

 officer, and a prominent Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

SPY is a three-letter acronym that may refer to:* SPY , ticker symbol for Standard & Poor's Depositary Receipts* SPY , a satirical monthly, trademarked all-caps* SPY , airport code for San Pédro, Côte d'Ivoire...

 who revealed Soviet secrets to the Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

. In the CIA he was known by code names BOURBON and ROAM, while the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 (FBI) knew him as TOPHAT.

Early life

Born in 1921, in Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, he graduated from Sumy Artillery School in June 1941 and served as an artillery officer in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and was decorated for bravery. After the war and his studies at Frunze Military Academy and GRU Training Courses, he joined Soviet Military Intelligence, the GRU
GRU or Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye is the foreign military intelligence directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation...

. His first mission was with the Soviet delegation to the Military Staff Committee
Military Staff Committee
The Military Staff Committee is the United Nations Security Council subsidiary body whose role, as defined by the United Nations Charter, is to plan UN military operations and assist in the regulation of armaments....

 of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 in New York from 1951-1956.


On his second assignment there, in 1959-1961, he approached FBI counterintelligence agents to offer his services as an informant. His follow-up overseas assignments included Rangoon, Burma (1965-1969) and New Delhi
New Delhi
New Delhi is the capital city of India. It serves as the centre of the Government of India and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. New Delhi is situated within the metropolis of Delhi. It is one of the nine districts of Delhi Union Territory. The total area of the city is...

, India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 (1973-1976 and 1979-1980) where he was posted as Soviet Military Attaché.
Some in the CIA feel that Polyakov became a mole because he was disgusted with the corruption of the Soviet Party elite. Victor Cherkashin
Victor Cherkashin
Victor Ivanovich Cherkashin , born in 1932 in the village of Krasnoe in the Kursk region was a counter-intelligence officer of the KGB. He joined the KGB in 1952 and retired in 1991. He was the case officer for both Aldrich Ames, a CIA counter-intelligence officer, and Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent,...

 suggested that he was embittered because Soviet leadership denied him permission to take his seriously ill son, the eldest of three, to a hospital in New York where he could get adequate medical attention. This son died as a result of the illness and soon after, Polyakov began his informant
An informant is a person who provides privileged information about a person or organization to an agency. The term is usually used within the law enforcement world, where they are officially known as confidential or criminal informants , and can often refer pejoratively to the supply of information...


For 25 years, he remained a CIA informant as he rose through the ranks, eventually becoming a General. CIA officers speak in superlatives about the kind of information he provided. Sandy Grimes said of him, "Polyakov was our crown jewel,... the best source at least to my knowledge that American intelligence has ever had and I would submit, although I certainly can't be certain, but the best source that any intelligence service has ever had." James Woolsey
R. James Woolsey, Jr.
Robert James Woolsey Jr. is a foreign policy specialist and former Director of Central Intelligence and head of the Central Intelligence Agency .-Early life:...

 said of him, "Polyakov was the jewel in the crown." According to all accounts, he was not interested in money, but was acting purely from principle.

Among the important information Polyakov provided:
  • Evidence of the growing rift between the Soviet Union
    Soviet Union
    The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

     and China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

    . This information played a crucial role in President Richard Nixon
    Richard Nixon
    Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

    's decision to open diplomatic relations with China in 1972.
  • Technical data on Soviet-made antitank missiles. While the US never fought the Soviet Union directly, knowledge of these weapons proved invaluable when Iraq
    Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

     employed them in the second Gulf War
    Gulf War
    The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

  • Proof of spying done by Frank Bossard
    Frank Bossard
    Frank Clifton Bossard was a British Secret Intelligence Service agent who provided classified documents to the Soviet Union in the 1960s. MI6 recruited Bossard in 1945, stationing him in Bonn, Germany, with a large entertainment budget. When Bossard returned to London in 1961, he found his...

     for the USSR.

Arrest and Execution

In 1980 Polyakov retired, and as an avid sportsman, wrote articles for a Soviet hunting magazine. In 1986 Polyakov was arrested by the KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

. His contacts at the CIA had no information about what might have happened to him. Only later, it became clear that he was betrayed by both Robert Hanssen
Robert Hanssen
Robert Philip Hanssen is a former American FBI agent who spied for Soviet and Russian intelligence services against the United States for 22 years from 1979 to 2001...

 and Aldrich Ames
Aldrich Ames
Aldrich Hazen Ames is a former Central Intelligence Agency counter-intelligence officer and analyst, who, in 1994, was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia...

. In 1988 Polyakov was sentenced to death for treason and executed.


CIA officer Jeanne Vertefeuille said, "He didn’t do this for money. He insisted on staying in place to help us. It was a bad day for us when we lost him."
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