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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Saturday, 9 April 2011
How PM Menzies nearly sabotaged the Petrov defection, first hand account
Mood:  sharp
Topic: big media

The Corporate media are so biased to their political heroes - like long serving Prime Minister Robert Menzies - it is virtually axiomatic.

Today Menzies features prominently in The Australian's coverage of the old saw of the Petrov spy defection 60 years ago (!).

Talk about old fish wrapping.

If The Australian's research was any good they would quote from the first hand account of the spy who actually turned Petrov. Not haughty Colonel Spry head of then ASO. The actual spy who spoke Russian. The author, doctor and musician Michael Bialoguski, assisted in his account of the affair by the grandfather of this blogger at the time in 1955 (Sydney Morning Herald's Eric McLoughlin).

Some quotes regarding the incompetence of both Spry and Menzies by Bialoguski in The Petrov Story, (1955, publisher Mandarin Australia) at p137

"When I parked my car at Parliament House on this second call, I found myself within twenty yards of a Soviet Embassy car, just as the Ambassador, Lifanov, emerged from it. He was on his way, I discovered later, to pay his official farewell visit to the Prime Minister before his departure from Australia. All the time I sat in Yeend's office I could hear Lifanov's voice as he talked to Mr Menzies in the adjoining suite."

In this way the incompetent Menzies and his staff almost blew the cover of Bialoguski who was a regular at the Russian embassy functions with Petrov and other functionaries and a trusted member of the Russian speaking diaspora in Sydney. Suffice to say Bialoguski was disgusted his dangerous work and his life was treated with such contempt. No wonder he wrote a book about it.

And this again at p140, referring to a messenger for Spry taking petty revenge on Bialoguski for going over his head to Menzies about the penny pinching and ham fisted support he was getting in his work of turning Petrov. Note Bialoguski's work, not Spry's. The quote:

" "He wished me to tell you that your services with the Department have been terminated and that you are to cease your activities forthwith. He also asked me to tell you that he is in charge of Security - not the Prime Minister."... [at p141] ...The fact that Colonel Spry could, with seeming casualness, say to me "get out", was in my opinion an admission that he had no clear idea of the complexities of the situation. 

By using some ingenuity, I could have gradually extricated myself no doubt, but the more thought I gave the matter, the more certain I became that my contact with Petrov and the Soviet Embassy should be continued. Personal pride entered into the situation to some extent, but there was also the overwhelming conviction that in the national interest it was necessary to succeed with the plan I had in mind. 

Something of what I felt ... is reflected in the following letter:

To the Director General, Secuirty ..."

Suffice to say Bialoguski remained on the Petrov case, and his motives may well have been more than pride (refer below) and he left for the UK after the Royal Commission.

At page 200:

"I was sincere when I spoke in these terms to Petrov. A new role had been thrust upon me, that, as it were, of Petrov's advocate, in the sense of counsel representing a client. In Petrov's mind I was the only person on whom he could depend. My duty, as I saw it now, was not only to see that Petrov defected, but also to see that he got a satisfactory chance to start his life anew."

In other words Menzies and Spry came within a whisker of sabotaging a defining moment in their own political and professional careers due to their arrogance and incompetence in relation to matters of intelligence. They almost blew the cover of the spy who turned Petrov because they had no sense of his key role.

So much for the heroes of the cold war lauded by The Australian newspaper today in a clumsy attempt to drag an ALP figure through the mud. This first hand account makes the cold war 'heroes' look like clods and fools.

And why was Bialoguski so committed to his infiltration of the embassy and turning Petrov? Refer page 10:

"I dislike fanaticism of any kind. This is why I'm ready to fight Communism, Fascism or any other totalitarianism built on fanaticism. ... in western democracies ... one great right remains - the right to raise one's voice in protest without fear of a bullet in the back."

 and page 12 of his young adult life in Vilna, Lithuania in 1940:

"The number and frequency of arrests grew, and many of those arrested were never seen again. Fear began to creep into daily life. Every one began to wonder who would be next on the list of the NKVD (the secret police, now the MVD).

... It did not greatly surprise me, therefore, when one autumn night the dreaded knock came on my door, and I was taken to the headquarters of the NKVD. 

I was seated facing the wall ... the "softening" process lasted several hours. ...[13] ...I knew, however, that this experience was the first, and possibly the last warning of things to come, and I made up my mind to waste no time in getting away from the Soviet occupation."

And particularly note the profound motivation for chameleon Bialoguski by deduction from this at page 56:

"The last few months of 1949 were a bad time for me personally.

I received a letter that my mother was dead. She had died with none of her family around her .... my father... was unable to be with us ...and he died sometime before her in a concentration camp.

My brother Stafan, too, had gone. ... he had escaped the German occupation and was in the Middle East. ... Now I knew that if ever my activities were revealed, there was no need to fear reprisals."



Posted by editor at 6:24 PM NZT
Updated: Saturday, 9 April 2011 6:50 PM NZT

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