Saturday, May 10, 2014

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Peter Worthington lived an exceptional life as a soldier and a journalist. An epitaph is HERE - S.L.

This is the second of three of excerpts from Looking for Trouble, the memoirs of the late, legendary Canadian journalist Peter Worthington, now available for the first time as an ebook.

One day in 1965 in Moscow, where I had opened the first Canadian news bureau for the Toronto Telegram, my Russian translator Olga suddenly blurted: "Boss, are you a Communist?"

Startled, I said: "No! Why do you ask?

"Because", said Olga, taking a deep breath, "I want to escape this prison of nations. Will you help?"

For some time, Olga had been talking in riddles, dropping hints, making provocative comments. Once when I had remarked on her relatively good life in Moscow, she replied: "It is better to be a free sparrow than a caged canary." I had ignored all hints, aware they might be a trap.

But I began thinking long and hard about Olga's request. Things started to fall into place - especially her nervousness when the topic of the KGB came up, and her irreverence, ill-disguised contempt and enigmatic remarks about the merits of the Soviet system. I think I knew from the start I would have to help her. Once the ice was broken, she relentlessly pursued the topic.

Back in Toronto to appear on the CBC's Front Page Challenge, I went to see Leslie James Bennett, the head of RCMP counterespionage whom I had met before coming to Moscow. He told me that Olga's husband, Vadim Pharmakovsky, a naval officer seconded to GRU (Military Intelligence), had worked for the Soviet spy Col. Penkovsky, who had been a CIA and British Intelligence double agent, and that I was almost certainly being set up. For God's sake, be careful, Bennett urged. Olga was almost certainly a double agent.

Read the rest of it HERE

Worthington died a year ago, on May 12, 2013. All proceeds of book sales will go to a memorial fund in Worthington's name at Toronto General Hospital's Supportive Care Unit in Heart Failure. (Read Part One HERE.)

The anecdote about Olga's defection reminds me why I stayed outside the system, after my retirement from The Machine. The only way to make change or progress is from without. The thing is too tangled and Byzantine to make any headway from within.



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