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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Posthumous Justice For Anti-Soviet Spies?

Forty years after four Russian emigres were executed by the Soviet government on charges of being American spies, former members of the group that sent them are demanding that Russia clear their names in recognition of their struggle against communism.


Alexander Makov, Alexander Lakhno, Dmitry Remiga and Sergei Gorbunov were executed in 1953 after they were caught parachuting into the former Soviet Union with radios and guns.


While the men were trained by U. S. intelligence agents, they did not spy for the Americans, said Boris Miller, a former member of the group, the National Labor Alliance, which was formed in 1930.


"They were tried as American spies but they came to Russia to help their motherland", said Miller, who spoke at a news conference this week with his wife, Natalya Makova, Alexander Makov's daughter.


So far, however, Russia's intelligence remains unconvinced by their argument that those who once suffered for anti-Soviet activity should now be regarded as heroes, as members of the former labor alliance maintain.


"Everybody fighting against the Soviet system is now considered a hero", said Yury Kobaladze, spokesman for Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, the successor to the KGB's foreign operations.


"It's like Alice in Wonderland - looking through the wrong side of the mirror", he added.


Kobaladze said that many people from the National Labor Alliance cooperated with Hitler, even if they hated fascism, to fight against communism.


Miller denied the allegation. "Our slogan was that we were against fascists and Bolshevists", Miller said. "We shut down our operations during the war".


While Kobaladze said that the four men should not have been shot, he said it is "ridiculous" to contemplate the possibility of now clearing their names.


"They were parachuted in with radios and guns", Kobaladze said. "Whatever you think about the Soviet state, it was a state with obligations to protect itself".


"They were all victims of the Cold War, but it's ridiculous to make them heroes now", he added.


During the Cold War, 14 members of the group trained by U. S. intelligence were parachuted into the former Soviet Union to form "small cells" to try to subvert communism, Miller said.


Some of those caught were allowed to live because they "cooperated" with the KGB, one such man, Mikhail Kudryavtsev, said at the press conference which was held on Wednesday.


Kudryavtsev said he parachuted into Kuban, Russia, from an American plane in April 1953. Captured, he spent the next year in Lubyanka prison. He has lived in Moscow since then.


"I think it's difficult to imagine how strong we felt", Kudryavtsev said, adding that they joined the NLA because they loved Russia.