EU foreign minister’s husband shunned KGB approaches in 1980s

Peter Kellner

Peter Kellner

The husband of the recently appointed European Union minister for foreign affairs has acknowledged that the KGB tried to cultivate a relationship with him in the 1980s. Peter Kellner, who now presides over influential British polling company YouGov, is married to Baroness Ashton of Upholland (born Catherine Margaret Ashton), who assumed the prominent EU post on November 19. Intelligence documents show that British domestic intelligence agency MI5 had tagged Kellner and his wife as “communist sympathizers”, because of their anti-apartheid activism and long-term involvement with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, considered a “subversive” movement within the intelligence services. Kellner, who, like his wife, denied involvement with known communist groups, revealed that he was approached by a KGB operative at the 1984 Labour Party National Conference in Blackpool, England, which he was covering for leftwing The New Statesman & Society magazine. The KGB operative appears to have been Yuri Kudinov, Russian “newspaper correspondent” in London. Today, Kudinov chairs Russia’s National Reserve Bank, a private corporation owned by veteran KGB agent Alexander Lebedev. Kellner revealed that Kudinov took him out to dinner in Blackpool, and that the two of them “met again on at least two other occasions”, until Kellner “declined more regular contact”. In 1985, Kudinov was one of 24 Soviets expelled from the UK on allegations of spying. The 24 were named by Soviet KGB Colonel Oleg Gordievsky, who had defected to the UK earlier that year, after having operated as a double agent for MI6 since 1966.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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