Industrial espionage, reconnaissance on foreign territory, sabotage — on all these fronts of an invisible war, people used their weapons, sometimes deadly. While the familiar household items served Soviet and American spies, some of their “accessories” became part of our daily life. Nikolay Bolshakov, the author of diletant.media, talks about the most interesting such non-children's toys.
“They caught us,” said Jonathan Powell, when FSB operatives discovered that one boulder in a Moscow public garden was not just a stone, but a real spy machine of British colleagues. The former head of the Prime Minister’s Office, Tony Blair, admitted that a member of the British embassy had installed a reading receiver in the park, which automatically recorded information from a pocket carrier.
The scheme of actions was extremely simple: a man recruited by British intelligence approached at the appointed time with a personal computer in his hands and brought it to the spy stone - the information came through a wireless connection. Then, by chance, a scout walked past the device under the guise of an embassy employee who downloaded the information received. The transfer of information took a few seconds, the signal was almost elusive, but the Russian counterintelligence was able to detect it. After this scandal, which rapidly grew into an international one, four diplomats of the embassy went home from Russia. This story clearly shows how sophisticated espionage methods are. To get secret information, spies pretend to be inconspicuous city residents, and their accessories are disguised as ordinary things.
The very stumbling block discovered in 2006
In 2006, a spy device in the form of a stone from Britain was found in Moscow
The so-called "bugs" were used by spies wherever possible. It's no secret that the secret services secretly and generously allocated money for these developments. Nevertheless, it was not until 1972 that the bugs were widely publicized when, before the presidential elections, the Watergate scandal thundered all over America. The then Republican President Nixon tried to eavesdrop on conversations of a team of Democrats with the help of these devices in the room of the Watergate Hotel. They would let know what the politicians from the opposite camp were talking about. However, five suspicious people, one of whom participated in the Nixon election campaign, were inappropriate. As a result, the crisis ended with the resignation of Richard Nixon. But this incident launched a huge flywheel: bugs began to be massively practiced all over the world and still do not go out of fashion.
Perhaps the most famous bug was the one that was hidden in an American coat of arms carved out of wood. Russians managed to make a microphone in the form of one inconspicuous detail. He was given as a gift to the Americans at the Yalta Conference in 1945. For eight years, the bug was supplying Soviet intelligence with information from the American embassy in Moscow until it was noticed.
Watch camera company Steineck
The 1972 Watergate scandal made “bugs” popular in espionage
But the bugs have long left the zone of strict secrecy of the special services. Today, listening devices are listed as simple goods, subject to the laws of supply and demand. The market for these "gadgets" has millions, if not billions of dollars.
Spying was not limited to bugs alone. Achievements of radio engineering and microelectronics gave us all sorts of hidden video cameras, secret tape recorders, headphones and cryptographic machines. Special attention is given to watch-camera from a small German company "Steineck Kamerawerke". They were developed in 1948 and were regularly used for surveillance, but photographs had to be taken at random. The film was shaped to match the clock - in the form of a disk that can fit eight shots. But the real spy miracle of technology was a pocket Xerox!
It looked like a pocket Xerox "Alycha"
The Steineck Kamerawerke watch camera was capable of making up to 8 shots
Initially, a pocket Xerox was in service with Western intelligence services since the 1950s, but, of course, its development also came to the Soviet Union, where domestic counterparts appeared. The copier looked like a cigarette case, inside which was a lot of interesting things. So, if you attach this slightly open box to the document and stretch it along its entire length, then the built-in camera will fix everything. At the same time placed inside the bulb illuminated the sheet at the time of shooting. A pocket photocopier made it possible to copy an A4 sheet in three rolls, and as many as 30 pages of text could fit on 1.5 meters of film. By the way, a similar principle is used in the products of the known company Xerox.
But real spies were limited not only by bugs and dummy cigarette cases. If the Center instructed to destroy any target, then it was necessary to use weapons. So, the umbrella, stuffed with deadly poison, became the perfect murder weapon. According to the investigation, it was from him that the Bulgarian dissident and writer Georgi Markov died in 1978 in London. Faced with one random person on the street, Markov felt a slight injection in the shin from his umbrella. A day later, he managed to tell about this episode, died from the strength of the action of ricin, which is six times stronger than potassium cyanide. In addition to a poisonous umbrella, agents used small camouflaged pistols shooting prussic acid. Also the glove-pistol and the lipstick pistol have entered the history.
Soviet tape recorder "Maison" - the pride of the KGB
The real pride of Soviet intelligence is the Mezon tape recorder. Specialists and scientists from the KGB tried to make the recording not carried out on a magnetic tape, but on a thin steel wire. This greatly simplified the work for a spy, because few would have thought that the negotiations of military persons were encrypted in an inconspicuous wire.
Dissident Markov died from an injection by the poisoned tip of an umbrella
Who knows, maybe you have an imperceptible black box hidden in your car, if you are, of course, a major politician or diplomat. But do not worry, because now the bugs are used most often for self-defense, and listening is illegal.