Evdokia and Vladimir Petrov in their safe house
Afanasy Mikhaylovich Shorokhov
February 15, 1907
|Died||June 14, 1991 (aged 84)|
|Other names||Vladimir Mikhaylovich Petrov|
According to his recently released secret British MI5 file, Petrov stated during his post-defection interviewing that his intelligence career was as follows:
Petrov also gave information about the defection of Burgess and Maclean of the Cambridge Five. Their escape had been handled by Kislitsyn, an M.G.B. officer who was in Australia when Petrov defected in 1954. Petrov also disclosed that Burgess and McLean were living in Kuibyshev in 1954. (National Archives Reference:kv/2/3440)
He decided to join the Soviet spy organization, the OGPU, in May 1933. He was subsequently admitted to the Special Cipher Section, which was attached to the Foreign Department of the OGPU. It was his status in this section which allowed him to learn many Soviet secrets by reading the top secret ciphers.
Petrov lived through the purges of Stalin under Yagoda, Yezhov, and Beria. Even though a great number of his friends, colleagues, and superiors were arrested and executed, Petrov escaped unscathed.
Having graduated from cipher clerk to full-fledged agent, Petrov was sent to Australia by the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) in 1951. His job there was to recruit spies and to keep watch on Soviet citizens, making sure that none of the Soviets abroad defected. Ironically, it was in Australia where events would occur which led to his own defection from the USSR. This came about through his association with Polish-born doctor and musician Michael Bialoguski, who played along in seeming to allow Petrov to recruit him to gather information, while at the same time reporting to Australian Security Intelligence Organisation on Petrov's activities.
Petrov applied for political asylum in 1954, on the grounds that he could provide information regarding a Soviet spy ring operating out of the Soviet Embassy in Australia. Petrov states in his memoirs (ghost written by Michael Thwaites) that his reasoning for defecting lay not in an imminent fear of being executed, but in his disillusionment with the Soviet system and his own experiences and knowledge of the terror and human suffering inflicted on the Soviet people by their government. He witnessed the destruction of the Siberian village in which he was born, caused by forced collectivization and the famine which resulted.
Petrov became an Australian citizen in 1956. He and his wife Evdokia's names were changed to Sven and Maria Anna Allyson. They lived a quiet suburban life in Melbourne. He died in 1991, and she died in 2002.
Petrov's defection has inspired a number of fictional works.