300,000 Ruble Hospital Bill Tips Off Police to Beria Hoax

Had he gotten away with it, Igor Bely would have been remembered as the head of the Soviet Union's most covert security agency, whose feats included saving the world from nuclear obliteration and killing feared state police chief Lavrenty Beria.

In the end, however, a 300,000 ruble hospital bill that he tried to pass on to the taxpayer gave him away.

Igor Bely was a pseudonym used by Georgy Zherebchikov as part of an elaborate hoax to achieve fame and prosperity by passing himself off as the head of the long-disbanded Special Military-Political Counterintelligence Agency, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported.

Zherebchikov was detained in the Central Military Clinical Hospital No. 2 in January. Authorities became suspicious when the bill for his treatment, equivalent to about $12,500, was sent to the city in the name of the fictional Bely. The nature of his illness was unclear.

Zherebchikov, as Bely, made his claims in a 2006 book titled "The Conspiracies of Satan: The Confessions of a Counterintelligence Officer," which is still on sale over the Internet.

The book contained several factual inaccuracies, the paper said, including a claim that Bely had set up a meeting between Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and U.S. President John F. Kennedy to prevent the Cuban missile crisis from escalating. It was actually Georgy Bolshakov, the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate at the time, who organized the meeting, the paper noted.

Zherebchikov also claimed that in 1953 Bely shot Beria -- the chief of the security services and police -- in his Lubyanka office. Accounts published since the Soviet collapse have Beria arrested on Khrushchev's orders in a Politburo meeting, with war hero Marshal Georgy Zhukov as the arresting officer.

If convicted of fraud, Zherebchikov faces up to 10 years in prison.