On April 6, 1978, then-Deputy UN Secretary General and Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador from the USSR to the UN Arkady Shevchenko requested political asylum in the United States. For the first time in the history of the Soviet Union an official with a rank so high had become a turncoat.
The event was a scandal so huge it jeopardized diplomatic relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Then-General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev demanded in a series of appeals that the traitor be returned to the Soviet Union.
In 1975 Shevchenko was recruited by the CIA. Later in his autobiography he gave a detailed description of the information he leaked to the American intelligence services. He informed the CIA about any differences in the Soviet leadership, about talks on arms reduction; filed reports about the Soviet economy, and about shrinking oil deposits.
In 1977, the information leakage soon became increasingly noticeable. Although no one had suspected Shevchenko, he all the same asked the CIA to organize asylum in the States for him. He left his family behind and never contacted them. His wife soon committed suicide and his son had a hard time finding a job, and was never allowed to leave the Soviet Union. Such a fate lay in store for the families of anyone who fled abroad.
In the United States Shevchenko wrote books and gave lectures to American businessmen. Over the years he accumulated a huge fortune, but lost it in a divorce with his new wife, who, according to many sources, was a KGB agent hired especially to rip him off as punishment for treason.
Shevchenko died from cirrhosis and was buried in the United States. He had been sentenced to death by the Soviet court in absentia.