On February 25, 1987, Gennady Varenik, a Soviet intelligence officer, was executed for being a double agent.
In 1981, Varenik arrived in Bonn, West Germany, in the guise of a correspondent of the main Soviet press agency, TASS. His real mission was to enlist agents for the KGB and to organize meetings of USSR agents at secret addresses, and he had been performing those tasks without any serious trouble until the spring of 1985.
In March 1985, the KGB gave Varenik $7000 for operating expenses, and he spent it to buy expensive furniture for his house. Some sources say that his wife was to blame for that embezzlement – she found the cash, thought that her husband had been paid for some job, and took the money without a second thought. Varenik understood that he was not able to pay that debt. Frightened and not knowing where to get the money, he made up his mind to enlist for the CIA.
In April that same year, Varenik got acquainted with CIA agent Charles Leven, also disguised as a journalist, and started to work as his informer under the alias “Fitness”. The CIA paid Fitness for any information that seemed to be reliable. Trying to gain favor with his new superiors, Varenik reported about not only the real actions and intentions of the USSR secret services, but also about rumors he heard from fellow agents, portraying those rumors as the solemn truth.
The amount of the useful data that Varenik brought to CIA was quite large. He named the aliases of about 170 Soviet agents who worked in Germany, described the techniques of Soviet secret service recruitment and told everything he knew about the KGB operation “Rian” – an operation to prevent the USA from using nuclear weapons.
Nevertheless, soon after the recruitment, Varenik warned Leven that the USSR was going to unsettle the relations between the USA and Germany by exploding several mini-bombs in German restaurants located near US military bases, and blaming German terrorists for the explosions. Varenik said that he himself was to be the co-ordinator and one of the executors of this operation, and was terrified by the necessity of murdering innocent people.
Leven believed Varenik and reported the upcoming terror act to CIA headquarters. Some of the CIA officers questioned the veracity of the data, but the majority of them were sure it was true, because such plans suited the KGB just fine. Leven’s report was passed to the White House, and when then-President Ronald Reagan read it, he called the USSR “an evil empire.”
CIA headquarters ordered its German branch to check the named restaurants, and soon received the message that Leven’s information had been confirmed. On November 4, Leven and Varenik met for the last time to discuss the upcoming terrorist acts, and Varenik said that he was going to East Germany for instructions. In fact, he was going to Moscow for a promotion.
When, on November 9, 1985, Varenik returned to the USSR, he was arrested right at the airport and charged with high treason. Two years later he was executed. Nowadays, his widow and relatives are trying to change the public’s opinion about him, but in all the history books, he is still labeled as a traitor.