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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A KGB Hero is Honored in Royal Fashion

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It was once Colonel Oleg Gordievsky of the KGB. Today it is Sir Oleg Gordievsky KGB after the queen honored the former Soviet intelligence officer by appointing him Knight Governor of the Most Distinguished Order of the Bath at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace. Others who have been invested into this ancient order have included the late Ronald Reagan, Caspar Weinberger and Sir Bob Geldof.

"I'm delighted to be able to put the letters KGB after my name," said Sir Oleg, speaking from his top secret MI5 safe house at 25 Rosewood Villas, Cheltenham. "Even since I was a boy growing up in a crumbling pannelny dom in Nizhny Strashnov, I dreamed of such an honor. To be a knight of chivalry became the goal of my life.

"I read stories about Rapunzel letting down her silky hair from the turrets of her castle or about the heroic exploits of secret orders like the Knights of the Vine, who operated entirely at night in expensive restaurants, where they rescued priceless bottles of wine from confinement in cold, damp, badly lit cellars. Of course, that was all just childish fantasy. But in real life, to be in the KGB became my only professional ambition -- a kind of complex."

Sir Oleg entered the KGB as a talented young college graduate in the early 1970s. Despite rapid promotion, he became disillusioned with life on Lubyanskaya Ploshchad when he realized that it was never going to provide him with boxes at Ascot racecourse, Centre Court seats at Wimbledon or completely free access to the British secret service, even though the latter was explicitly mentioned in his compensation package.

So in 1985, he moved to Britain. Twenty years later, he had all three. Now he is a British KGB as well, the icing on Sir Oleg's life cake. He is the only retired colonel in Cheltenham to have both KGBs.

"I'm over the moon," said this now fully anglicized Russian, grinning impishly over a cup of Tetley's Oop North tea (with milk and four sugars). "It's almost like hearing that England has won an international soccer match."

The rarely awarded KGB is used to honor exceptional individuals who have rendered important nonmilitary service to the queen in Britain or another member of the Commonwealth.

Ian Mitchell is an author and freelance journalist.