Putin's Career Rooted in Russia's KGB By David Hoffman
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, January 30, 2000; Page A1
DRESDEN, Germany – In the gray villa at No. 4 Angelikastrasse here, perched on a hill overlooking the Elbe River, a young major in the Soviet secret police spent the last half of the 1980s recruiting people to spy on the West.
Vladimir Putin looked for East Germans who had a plausible reason to travel abroad, such as professors, journalists, scientists and technicians, for whom there were acceptable "legends," or cover stories.
The legend was often a business trip, during which the agents could covertly link up with other spies permanently stationed in the West. According to German intelligence specialists who described Putin's task, the goal was stealing Western technology or NATO secrets. A newly revealed document shows Putin was trying to recruit agents to be trained in "wireless communications." But for what purpose is not clear.
Putin defends the Soviet-era intelligence service to this day. In recent comments to a writers' group in Moscow, he even seemed to excuse its role in dictator Joseph Stalin's brutal purges, saying it would be "insincere" for him to assail the agency where he worked for so many years. Fiercely patriotic, Putin once said he could not read a book by a Soviet defector because "I don't read books by people who have betrayed the Motherland."