The Russian Committee for State Security, KGB cultivated former US President Donald Trump as an ‘asset’ for nearly 40 years and he proved to be a valuable one in promoting anti-Western Russian propaganda in the United States, a former KGB operative told The Guardian. Yuri Shvets, who was posted by the Soviet Union in the 1980s, compared the former Republican leader to “the Cambridge five”, the British spy ring that passed secrets to Moscow during the World War II and also during the early cold war. He told the media outlet about Trump that KGB ‘played the game as if they were immensely impressed by his personality’.
Shvets is also a key source for a new book by journalist Craig Unger, ‘American Kompromat’ detailing the decades-long relationship between Trump and Russia. Unger, whose previous books include ‘House of Trump’ and ‘House of Putin’, in the new book explains the connection between the two by interviewing former Russian and US operatives. ‘American Kompromat’ also reportedly details the KGB’s attempts in the 1980s to cultivate dozens of unwitting businesspersons in the United States as critical Russian assets. It further explores the relationship of former US President with the convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein.
Unger told the media outlet, “Trump was the perfect target in a lot of ways: his vanity, narcissism made him a natural target to recruit. He was cultivated over a 40-year period, right up through his election."
Now 67-year-old, Shvets told the media outlet over a telephonic conversation that what Russia pulled off with Trump was is an “example” of how people were recruited when they just youngsters but eventually grow up to be in important positions. The former KGB operative said, “something like that was happening with Trump”. As per the report, Shvets who was a KGB major had a cover job in Washington for the Russian news agency Tass during the 1980s before moving to Washington permanently in 1993 and gaining American citizenship.
Unger has reportedly described that Trump first came under the Russian radar when he married his first wife, Ivana Zelnickova, a Czech model in 1977. At the time, he not only became the target of a spying operation monitored by Czechoslovakia’s intelligence service in cooperation with the KGB. Three years later, he had opened his first major property venture, the Grand Hyatt New York hotel near Grand Central station. For the hotel, he purchased reportedly at least 200 television sets from Semyon Kislin, a Soviet émigré who co-owned Joy-Lud electronics on Fifth Avenue.
Now, Shvets has revealed to the media outlet that according to him, Joy-Lud was controlled by the KGB and Kislin worked as a so-called “spotter agent” who first identified Trump, a young businessman and a potential asset. However, Kislin has reportedly denied any relationship with the KGB. The 67-year-old also revealed that when Trump visited Moscow and St Petersburg with Ivana in 1987, he was flattered by KGB operatives who floated the idea of Trump getting into politics.
Unger, whose book has detailed the turn of events, said, "He was an asset. It was not this grand, ingenious plan that we're going to develop this guy and 40 years later he'll be president.”