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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ames' Russian Victim Was U.S. Spying 'Jewel'

NEW YORK -- The Russian spy who was executed as a result of Aldrich Ames' betrayal was America's most valuable Cold War informant, Time magazine reported Sunday.

CIA Chief James Woolsey told Time in its Aug. 8 issue that General Dmitry Polyakov was the "jewel in the crown." His work "didn't just help us win the Cold War; it kept the Cold War from becoming hot," Woolsey said. "Polyakov's role was invaluable, and it was one that he played until the end -- in his own words -- for his country."

From 1961 to 1980, Polyakov supplied the CIA with 25 file drawers' worth of secrets. One item was a shopping list -- several inches thick -- of military technologies sought by Soviet spies in the West. The document helped advisors persuade President Reagan to press for tighter controls on Western sales of military technologies, Time said.

Polyakov also provided papers documenting China's split with Moscow that helped pave the way for Henry Kissinger and President Nixon to open relations with China in 1972, according to the magazine.

Other purloined documents included a monthly classified journal in which Russian military leaders expressed their fear that victory in a nuclear war was not possible, and data on antitank missiles which allowed U.S. forces to defeat those weapons when they were used by Iraq in the Gulf War, Time said.

A description of Polyakov's methods reads like something out of a John Le Carr? novel. He would speak into a hidden tape recorder on a riverbank in New Delhi while his CIA contact pretended to fish. He would photograph documents with self-destructing film, then hide the film in hollow, fake stones and drop them in meadows for pick-up by U.S. spies.

Polyakov was ordered to return to Moscow in June 1980 and disappeared. In January 1990, Pravda reported that he had been killed in 1988 for espionage.