On January 13, 1954, Khokhlov bent a alike for West Germany. Aback he accustomed in Frankfurt, he busy an accommodation and bided his time. By mid-February, he was accessible to act. But he was about to act in a way that his superiors in Moscow did not foresee.
Khokhlov took the tram to the eastern outskirts of the burghal and proceeded to Okolovich’s collapsed on the additional attic of his building. He rang the doorbell, and the aperture opened center to acknowledge the oval-shaped, bespectacled face of his ambitious target. “Georgi Okolovich?” Khokhlov asked, already alive the answer. “Yes, I am he,” replied Okolovich, who opened the aperture to let him in.
Once inside, Khokhlov told Okolovich that he had been ordered by Moscow to annihilate him. But, Khokhlov reassured him, “I can’t let this annihilation happen.” Khokhlov warned Okolovich that Moscow would absolutely accelerate others afterwards him who would accept no advisedly about commutual the mission.
Okolovich was agnostic at first, but he anon accomplished that Khokhlov could calmly accept dead him afresh and there. This fact, forth with the absorption the Soviet abettor was acutely expressing, was abundant to argue Okolovich of the added man’s sincerity. He agreed to advice Khokhlov but brash him to acquaintance American authorities. The two men agreed to accommodated afresh the abutting week, by which time Okolovich had abreast his CIA contacts about the meeting.
Ultimately, Khokhlov was apprenticed to a safe abode in the city, area he was subjected to a alternation of connected and astute interrogations by men who had a adamantine time assertive the adventure he was telling. At one point, one of the agents, articular alone as “Leonard,” fabricated a point of attractive up Nicholai Khokhlov’s name in the Moscow blast directory. Aback the abettor told him that the band had been disconnected, Leonard accused the Russian abettor of lying and of actuality a bulb beatific by the Soviets to advance apocryphal advice to Western intelligence agencies. The abstruseness was austere up aback it was apparent that the Moscow agenda Leonard was application was anachronous and that Khokhlov’s buzz cardinal had aback been changed.
Still skeptical, the Americans beatific Khokhlov to Affected King, a refugee affected that fronted as a abject for American counterintelligence operations. For several canicule he was kept beneath bouncer while American and British authorities approved to adjudge what to accomplish of him. Finally, he was able to argue the Americans that he was cogent the truth.
Khokhlov’s affliction was far from over. The Americans transferred him to a baby country abode in the boondocks of Oberukzel, area he waited for chat of his family. As far as anyone knew, Moscow was blind of what was happening. Khokhlov hoped that with the advice from the NTS he would be able to acknowledgment to Russia and advance his awning as a loyal affiliate of Soviet intelligence, appropriately befitting his ancestors safe.
Khokhlov Goes Public
These hopes were burst aback associates of the CIA and Britain’s MI6 visited Khokhlov and abreast him that they were action to advertise about his alienation to the West in backfire for the kidnapping of an NTS abettor in West Berlin by Soviet agents the night before. One American in the room, a abettor colonel, told him bluntly, “We can’t accumulate bashful anymore. We’ve got to acknowledgment a draft with a blow.” The colonel ordered him to arise at a columnist appointment and acquaint his adventure to the world.
Khokhlov could not accept what he was hearing. “Do you accept what you’re saying?” he shouted. “My ancestors will perish!” The British abettor in the allowance responded matter-of-factly: “They actual apparently will die. There’s annihilation that can be done. We cannot save them.” The Americans articular that if he were to accomplish a accessible appearance of his alienation and his demolition of Operation Rhine, it could conceivably put abundant burden on Moscow to ensure his family’s assurance and possibly alike acquiesce them to accompany him in the West. It was bigger than nothing. Khokhlov agreed.
On April 22, 1954, the Soviet war hero, assassin, and captain of the MGB went afore an accumulation of reporters in Bonn. In a able statement, he appear his ambition to birthmark to the West and spelled out the affidavit why. He categorical Operation Rhine and his orders to assassinate Okolovich. Afterwards authoritative his announcement, Khokhlov captivated up pictures of his wife and son, argumentation with reporters to advice save his family.
In animosity of their assurances, the Americans were clumsy to assure his family. On the day afterwards Khokhlov’s announcement, Soviet authorities arrested Yana. For the abutting two years, Khokhlov fabricated the ambit on television allocution shows, magazines, and aldermanic hearings in Washington, aggravating to administer burden on Moscow to absolution his family. He endlessly toured the United States, speaking at gatherings about altitude abaft the Iron Curtain and impressing aloft his audiences the charge to abide the attempt for abandon in Europe and Russia.
In the autumn of 1956, as Soviet tanks rumbled into Budapest to drove the Hungarian uprising, Khokhlov alternate to Europe to assignment with Okolovich and the NTS. The abutting year he alone acquainted the acrimony of his above masters. On September 15, 1957, afterwards speaking at a Russian advocate movement appointment in Palmengarten, Khokhlov took a few sips from a cup of coffee. He anticipation afresh that it tasted peculiar. Not connected afterward, he recalled, “A aberrant weight afflicted my abdomen and heart.” He became anemic and nauseated. Afore long, he was in a hospital bed in Frankfurt.
At first, doctors assured that Khokhlov was adversity from astute gastritis, and articular that all that was bare was a brace canicule of rest. But gastritis could not explain the change in his bark appearance or what happened aback he woke up with a aberrant sensation, action as admitting his apperception was “disintegrating.” He got out of bed to glimpse in the mirror; he couldn’t accept what he saw. There were atramentous and dejected swellings all over his face, and his beard came out in clumps aback he ran his duke through it. He seemed to be melting afore his actual eyes.
The culprit was thallium, a radioactive aspect acclimated in the accomplish of high-density glass, gamma radiation apprehension equipment, and nuclear medicine. It was additionally acclimated in the conception of insecticides and rat poison. Aback ingested by humans, thallium causes the beard to abatement out, amercement borderline nerves, and destroys the victim’s white beef and cartilage marrow. The doctors believed his case to be hopeless. Nevertheless, they proceeded with the alone accepted analysis to action thallium poisoning—blood transfusions. To the abruptness of his doctors and friends, Khokhlov began to boring action off the furnishings of the poison, but the attempt larboard him a bones of his above self, bald, thin, scarred, and disfigured.
But Khokhlov remained. Not alone did he accomplish a abounding recovery, but he went aback on the speaking ambit and connected his action with the NTS. Eventually, he was abiding by accompany to annulment Yana in adjustment to accomplish activity easier in Russia for her and their son. He confused assuredly to the United States and became a assistant of attitude at California State University in San Bernardino.
Khokhlov would alive to accept the achievement of seeing the USSR assuredly deliquesce in 1991. Until his afterlife in September 2007, he connected to allege out on contest accompanying to Russia and the post-Cold War era, including the annihilation of above Soviet abettor Vladimir Litvenenko, who was dead with a baleful dosage of polonium-210 that he additionally ingested through a cup of coffee. In animosity of all he had gone through, Khokhlov captivated fast to the affect bidding in his memoirs: “I do not affliction the decision, for there could be alone one.”
Originally Published February 2010.
This commodity aboriginal appeared on the Warfare History Network.