Elena Kosova Scout: general information
- Full name: Elena Alexandrovna Kosova
- Date of Birth: June 6, 1925
- Date of death: February 21, 2014
- Place of birth: –
- Roast: –
- Wes: –
- Brief biography: Elena Kosova is the daughter of a general who commanded the internal troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, was the first Soviet woman to work at the UN.
- Education: After graduating from high school against her father’s will, she successfully passed the entrance exams, enrolled in a two-year course of foreign languages at the MGB Higher School and began to study English thoroughly. Having passed the final exams, Elena almost immediately became an employee of the “American” department, created in 1947 by the Information Committee, which was engaged in military, political and scientific and technical intelligence.
It is unlikely that Margaret Thatcher, hosting a sculptor in London, suspects that Madame Elena is a former Soviet spy. The “Iron Lady” is gracious and thanks for the gift – a bust, which she places on her desk.
She gained world fame as a sculptor. Today, his works are in the best museums of Europe – twelve in Hungary, three in France, eight in Russian museums. Twelve personal exhibitions, about sixty sculptural portraits! Thatcher, Brezhneva, de Gaulle, Kennedy… It seemed that the life of this charming woman is transparent and well known. But, as often happens, this is not true.
The fact that Elena Kosova, a foreign intelligence officer, knew only a limited circle of friends and colleagues, including, of course, her husband Nikolai Kosova, an intelligence officer, a brilliant journalist, the vice-president of the Association of Foreign Correspondents at the UN. Together with him, Elena Aleksandrovna visited foreign business trips in various countries of the world, including the “field” of the New York residency.
She was the first Soviet woman who worked at the UN, was a member of the group of Vladimir Barkovsky, who was engaged in scientific and technical intelligence in the framework of a project that played an important role in the creation of nuclear weapons in Russia.
Many episodes of works by E. Kosovo is still not secret. Count her – dozens of successful operations and one failure. But who, including herself, could have guessed that after many years she would find this profession – a peaceful one?
As a rule, female scouts combine their “main work” with some creative activity, under the guise of which they perform on the world stage. Of course, if you have talent. For example, a dancer-agent or an actress-spy of high class. It was a lot. But in order to become in demand in a very specific field after a successful career, and even prosper in it – such unique units!
Zoya Voskresenskaya is involuntarily remembered, but she was known only in the Soviet Union as a writer. His books are included in the list of compulsory reading for schoolchildren. And here it is.
“The hot trenches of the Cold War” taught Elena to remember faces, the smallest details, to see in a person what is hidden from outside eyes – the skill of the Kosovar officer was useful to the Kosovar sculptor. And among the family relics, the letters of the legendary detectives of the Cohen couple and the prison drawings of Rudolf Abel remained in memory. After all, in her life, the professions of a spy and an artist were so closely intertwined – she was always interested in unraveling the mystery of the inner world of her characters.
S OXFORD ACCENT
Elena Alexandrovna was born on June 6, 1925 in the family of a border guard commander. During the Civil War, her father participated in the famous campaign of the Taman army – from the Taman peninsula through Tuapse to join the main forces of the Red Army. He eventually graduated from the Military Academy named after M. V. Frunze, who fought on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War, was awarded many awards, including the Order of Suvorov, for military service. After the Victory, the general held a number of high posts in the border troops.
After graduating from school, the girl enrolled in a two-year course of foreign languages at the MGB Higher School, although her father warned her that wealth was not a woman’s path. But it was not possible to convince the master. Elena successfully passed the entrance exams and began to study English.
It was easy. There were six English teachers in the group of five people, and almost all of them were professors. The requirements are huge, and what you wanted, the country needs high professionals! Students listened to American radio, learned to write quickly.
It is interesting that for half a year they were not explained the meaning of the English words that they memorized: at first they practiced only pronunciation.
“In those years, immediately after the war, the country needed professional intelligence officers”
English in the group was taught by Jack London and other recognized classics. Controls were made according to economic texts, which are studied in England only by certain types, “bowlers”. In general, the “English” instilled in young people the correct, beautiful, even refined, but, alas! obviously not colloquial speech – and after all, it’s not far from failure in a foreign country!
From the memoirs of Elena Alexandrovna: “In those years, immediately after the war, the country needed professional intelligence officers. And especially in women who were recruited into the organs, as later into the cosmonaut corps. We were not asked what language we want to learn, we looked at external data. I was sent to an English class, and two years later I spoke with the purest Oxford accent. But in achieving perfect pronunciation, our teachers did not take into account one thing: that they are preparing scouts, and not high-class simultaneous interpreters. My speech was too literate and so literary that when my husband and I came to work in New York, at first they simply did not understand me. It took some time to switch to spoken English.”
By the way, Elena met her future husband, Nikolai, precisely at the courses – he graduated from them two years earlier, and worked in the First Main Directorate of the MGB (intelligence abroad) – but he did not lose ties with the Higher School and often visited friends . That’s how we met. They began to meet, went to the cinema, to the skating rink, just walked around the city. True, sometimes Kolya mysteriously disappeared without warning.
One day after class, one of the teachers proudly said that the graduates of the Higher School are already engaged in independent work and many of them are abroad. For example, Kolya Kosov flew to America, he will translate for Molotov himself! Nikolai Kosov, indeed, was Molotov’s translator, he accompanied Khrushchev and Bulganin on business trips.
On the day of Elena’s last state exam, the young people decided to get married. Their love story seems to have been written by Shakespeare. “… Sometimes I didn’t understand who I was to him – mother, wife, daughter. He was the most dear person to me … We are probably from that ancient Greek legend about the androgyne, which was divided into two halves.
After graduating from school, Elena Kosova worked in department “B” of the Committee of Information (as foreign intelligence was then called) and led the American direction. Two years later, in 1949, Senior Lieutenant E. Kosova and her husband went on a business trip to the United States, both as Russian correspondents for TASS. The young woman received a new name, an operational pseudonym – Anna.
THREE LIVES OF ANNA
Once, Elena Alexandrovna was surprised to state that she had lived not one, but several lives. How did you have enough energy and time for everything? After all, not one job, but several. Not one face – a string. Not just one legend – but a “collected works”, and how important it is not to confuse anything, not to forget, not to stray, not to break, finally, from fatigue and constant stress!
- According to the “legend”, the spouses were TASS employees, but due to circumstances, Elena had to first work as an interpreter in the USSR mission to the UN. That was the “first life”, official. The fact is that the state, according to the boss, was overcrowded, and in order to make room for Elena, he would have to fire a black American woman who, by the way, has three children. Kosova, of course, refused such castling.
- Then she was promoted, appointed as a “political officer of the second stage.” For the first time, a Soviet woman was entrusted with such a high post in the United Nations. “I was entrusted with the African section of the non-self-governing territories,” she later recalled, “and I made presentations, did analysis and generally performed my official work in such a way that no one could find fault. When I was given a separate office, the door would not close there. Everyone came in endlessly, like in a zoo, to stare at me.
Bust of intelligence officer and writer Zoya Voskresenskaya (Rybkina) by Elena Kosova
English has long become her own language, it was interesting to work, people from various countries worked in the section – England, Austria, Poland, even China. At the end of work, they went home, Elena said goodbye to them until tomorrow, and “Anna” appeared, who was to have a daily “voyage” to the residency. There has always been a lot of work.
In addition to “Anna”, several other operational officers of the residency worked in the New York office of the UN, with whom she could freely communicate in the off-duty atmosphere of a restaurant or club. However, within the walls of the UN, stuffed with the equipment of special services, free communication was excluded.
Since only she had a car (she once learned to drive secretly from her dad), after the end of the working day she put one of her colleagues – operational officers of the residency, into her Buick, and they drove together to the Soviet Consulate General , where “Anna” began the second working day. By the way, for Soviet citizens working at the embassy, she was also “closed”, officially responsible for the archive of the economic department there.
A priori, it is believed that a woman in intelligence plays the role of a “seductress”, a bait, a kind of enchantress, to whom a lover will immediately tell all his big and small secrets. But this is not always the case. And although Elena Alexandrovna was simply irresistible in her youth, she did not have to charm anyone. Moreover, with a large choice of informants – as in the case of “Anna”.
She had to perform difficult and risky tasks – in intelligence, every day is fraught with risk to one degree or another. In particular, to keep in touch with two agents – a woman from the delegation of one of the European countries to the UN, as well as an American who worked in an important government agency.
Her informants in the “second, secret life” were, at first glance, ordinary women. The meeting of two ladies, their casual meetings in a cafe, hairdresser, confectionery or store, as a rule, did not arouse suspicion in the American counterintelligence. One hug or handshake – and a small capsule in the form of a film in your pocket! However, one must be extremely collected: after all, any oversight could cost both Elena and her counterpart dearly.
Thanks to this connection, the Center regularly received valuable information from “Anna” regarding the positions of NATO countries on global world problems.
And copies of secret American developments lay on Kurchatov’s desk. Of course, Senior Lieutenant Kosova did not know the whole picture of the battle for Los Alamos, but a very colorful mosaic was formed from small pieces of glass.
From the memoirs of Elena Alexandrovna: “An atomic war was being prepared, and we knew for sure that around April 1949 the United States wanted to drop a bomb on Russia. And we were faced with the task of nothing less than saving our homeland, so that we could not think of anything else. American counterintelligence was furious. Every person from the Union was relentlessly watched. Draconian measures were introduced to move Soviet diplomats, the number of which was reduced to a minimum – the rest were even forbidden to leave the city.
In New York, I did not work at a technical job, but at an operational one. She was a liaison in the Barkovsky group (it was he who was involved in the atomic bomb).
He gave me instructions – for example, to print a letter with gloves, to leave it in a certain place in another area, to meet someone. This happened as needed. In addition, I remember something happened to the operational secretary of our residency. She was hurriedly sent home. And I was assigned to carry out its functions. To do this, I had to learn how to type on a typewriter … “
It happened, even with her husband, at home, she could not talk about work and “anything like that at all.” It used to happen that he returned from a mission, and Nikolai was worried, he needed to know whether everything went well – she would nod to her husband, and nothing more. They learned to understand each other without words, from a half-look.
The Center regularly received valuable information from “Anna”. However, only now the general public has learned about the heroine of domestic intelligence
A high position in the UN, work in the residency and “to divert eyes” in the archive … what else? In such a multi-layered structure, there is not enough “cherry on the cake”. And found it! In her free time (and was there any?), the young woman reincarnated as a mass entertainer for diplomats. Organized amateur performances, sang, danced. She herself admitted that she had enough strength for everything – “the feeling of patriotism always gave great energy.” Perhaps someone will consider the phrase pompous, but for many generations of Soviet people the concept of “patriotism” was not something abstract or abstract.
“Anna” and “Yan” spent seven long years in the USA filled to capacity with operational assignments, many meetings, trips and daily risks.
“MOM IS A COOK? WHAT IS IT?
It is generally accepted that there are no former intelligence officers, even if they officially leave the profession.
“At the age of thirty, I found out that I was expecting a child,” Elena Alexandrovna recalled. “That changed everything. I decided to dedicate myself to him. My mother was sick, there was no one to help. And in general, I would not trust my son to anyone … I came and asked to be released for three years. And at the Center they offered me to quit, and then, if I want, to return whenever I want … “
But she never returned, however, intelligence remained forever in her life – after all, she was the wife of a scout. And twelve years of service is not so easy to forget.
On the next business trip, to Holland, Elena accompanied Nikolai exclusively as a wife. But this is only at first glance. And although she was not directly involved in operational work, she helped her husband, a resident of Soviet foreign intelligence, to the best of her ability and ability. Either he instructed her to “get to know” the wife of a foreigner, to conduct an initial study, then at the reception to “talk” to any married couple, or even “insure” him himself during complex operational activities.
After all, it is not always possible to do everything yourself – Nikolai was closely watched. Who is this Russian? In the States he was a correspondent, in Holland already as a diplomat!
A little son once asked his mother what she was doing. Elena Alexandrovna hesitated for a moment: “I’m a cook, son.” She really enjoyed cooking for her husband and son. And only after some time, the grown-up Nikolai Jr. found in the “American chest” some documents that shed light on his mother’s profession. He did not reveal the secret to anyone, but he admitted to his parents that he was surprised and proud of both dad and mom. However, this was not the only reason to be surprised.
“Joint of roads”, “crossroads”, “moment of truth”, even “accident” – everyone calls it differently. However, they say that nothing happens by accident. While still in Holland, Nikolai Antonovich somehow introduced Elena to the wife of a Bulgarian diplomat, who at that time was attending the Dutch Academy of Arts. The diplomat’s wife persuaded Elena to go to classes with her and try her hand at modeling, because it is so interesting, especially since today an unusual model is a sitting black man!
“When I sculpted it,” E. Kosova said, “the teacher immediately announced the decision: I was accepted for the second year. They even issued a document that I was a second-year student at the Academy of Arts. Alas, I didn’t have to go there again, first my son fell ill, then something else happened, and sculpture receded from me for a long time. But for myself, I found out that I can.”
However, “what she can do” was clear before. Once, having arrived with her little son in a rest house near Moscow, she fashioned a snowman in the yard with a surprisingly “live” face. Local policemen, seeing this masterpiece, carefully transferred the “sculpture” to the courtyard of their department and admired it until the end of winter…
The next experience brought Elena Alexandrovna a stunning success. It was in Budapest, where Nikolai Kosov was appointed the official representative of the KGB of the USSR in Hungary. At fifty, she found a second calling, simply by picking up a piece of clay. And it all started with love – to Shandor Petofi.
THE SECRET OF HER YOUTH
At her own risk, Elena created a sculptural portrait of S. Petofi, a poet, rebel and incomparable lyricist. It was followed by a sculpture by Oran Janos, donated to the local museum. The artistic audience was delighted. Art historians and journalists highly appreciated the work of an unknown Russian master.
From that moment she finally believed in her own strengths – experience, impressions, thoughts, feelings, in a word, everything that had accumulated over many years – she began to embody people of interest to her in sculptural portraits. She was driven by the joyful power of her imagination.
For contemporaries Elena Kosova was only a sculptor
And there were many things. And the secret of youth, which she revealed to journalists, turned out to be surprisingly simple (“you just need to cut off everything superfluous!”). And a portrait of Vladimir Mayakovsky, which moved his American daughter, Patricia Thompson, to tears. And sculpting lessons from the famous Hungarian master Olchai-Kish Zoltan – four years of training only in technical skills! Six solo exhibitions in Hungary. Recognition at home – since 1984 she has been a full member of the Union of Artists of Russia … And – portraits, portraits. Maybe the time will come, and her portrait will remain in good memory for posterity?
Elena Alexandrovna outlived her husband by five years, and not a single day passed that she did not remember Nikolai. The only thing that supported her all these lonely years was the thought that they had done everything they could for their country. Jan and Anna were inseparable from her fate – they knew, “Where the Motherland begins.”
Elena Kosova died on February 21, 2014 after a short illness. She was buried in Moscow at the Troekurovsky cemetery, where many legendary scouts are buried.