By Michael Smyth
One of the great difficulties of the Mikhail Lennikov case is the shortage of detailed information and direct evidence of exactly what he did - or didn't do - for the KGB for five years.
Lennikov, of course, is the failed refugee applicant now seeking sanctuary in an East Vancouver church in defiance of a deportation order over his past employment by the KGB, the notorious spy agency and secret police of the former Soviet Union.
Former Conservative MP Ted White, who represented North Van for 11 years in the House of Commons, says the public is denied all the pertinent facts in cases such as these.
"It was very, very frustrating when we had these types of cases where we could not release the files because of privacy laws," White told me on CKNW radio.
"I had similar cases where they would go to a church. The church would support them and they would claim sanctuary there. I had the files that showed what bad guys they were. But I couldn't release them."
For anyone interested in this case, I encourage you to read the Federal Court judgment against Lennikov, which at least provides the bare-bones facts. You can find it here:
You'll find a lot of intriguing information there, including:
Lennikov did not fear for his personal safety if he refused to join the KGB, testifying that "he did not really fear for his life, but more for his career propects" if he turned the job down.
His career did prosper after taking the job, as Lennikov was twice promoted within the KGB, rising to the ranks of Senior Lieutenant and Captain.
He was not only a KGB interpreter (often the only thing reported in news stories) but also gathered personal information on students at Far Eastern State University, assessed prospective KGB informants in Japan and supervised the collection of intelligence on visiting Japanese businessmen.
Even before he was hired by the spy agency, Lennikov passed on information about his fellow university students to the KGB, something he felt duty-bound to do as leader of Kom So Mol, a Communist Youth League.
Meanwhile, consider this perspective of Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk, chairman of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association:
"The KGB enabled the Soviet regime to indulge in the mass imprisonment, murder and enslavement of millions of innocent men, women and children. These secret police forces spied upon, exiled, tortured, murdered and oppressed their fellow citizens, not only in times of war but also during times of peace. Any person who was a member of these formations, or affiliated ones, simply by assisting in their functioning, made it possible for such war crimes and crimes against humanity to be perpetrated."
This was not lost on the Federal Court, which ruled Lennikov "must have known that the information that he gathered was being used by the KGB for espionage purposes."