A man identified as a Soviet intelligence official has defected to the West in Athens, Greece, with his son and a Soviet woman, U.S. intelligence sources said yesterday. He is the second intelligence official to defect there in nine months.
The sources identified the defector as Viktor Gudarev, 50, and said he was a member of the state security organization, the KGB, and not a member of the GRU, the Soviet military intelligence agency, as earlier reported.
The State Department refused to comment on Gudarev, whose rank and importance remain unclear. He was not listed among Soviet diplomats stationed in Athens; he previously served in New Delhi, according to news agency reports.
One intelligence source said he understood Gudarev was considered more important to the West than the last Soviet defector in Athens, Sergei Bokhane, a military intelligence agent who fled in May. Bokhane reportedly disclosed the names of five Greeks spying for the Soviets.
But the source added that Gudarev appeared to be less of a prize than Vitaly Yurchenko, the high-ranking KGB agent who defected in Rome last July, came to the United States, and then changed his mind. Yurchenko escaped from CIA surveillance here in a Georgetown restaurant and redefected to the Soviet Union last November.
Gudarev took with him his son, Maxim, 8, and a woman who was identified in press reports from Athens as Galina Grumova. She was described as the son's nursemaid and Gudarev's lover. According to the reports, Gudarev left a wife and child in Moscow.
The reports said Gudarev, a member of the embassy's commercial mission in Athens since 1983, defected to the United States last weekend after other Soviet embassy officials sought to stop him.
It was not clear how the U.S. Embassy in Athens managed to get the three Soviets out of the country, but there is a U.S. Air Force base outside the Greek capital.
Gudarev is the third Soviet bloc person to defect in Athens in less than a year.