Captain of the Main Intelligence Directorate Maria Dobrova, aka Glen Morrero Podeschi and Agent Macy, during the Cuban missile crisis, when the world was on the brink of war, warned Moscow about a planned nuclear strike from the United States. A year earlier, she had reported to the Center about the impending US invasion of Liberty Island. And this is only a small part of what Maria transferred to Moscow. Its activities have not yet been declassified.
In Miss Macy's Salon
- How did she manage all this? - I ask retired GRU colonel Vladimir Ivanovich Banshchikov, whom I met several years ago at the Officers' House at a meeting on the occasion of the Day of Military Intelligence.
- Hard to say. She took a big risk then. I was not familiar with her. First learned the story of Agent Macy at the intelligence department of the military academy. Then our senior teacher told us about Maria Dmitrievna, her heroic life and tragic death. The fact is that in the 1960s he was an employee of the Soviet residency in New York and knew Agent Macy very well. He showed us her photograph then. You will not find her anywhere, she is in the special storage of illegal intelligence.
Beautiful middle-aged woman, fashionably dressed. She then owned a prestigious beauty salon in New York. It was considered an honor to visit Miss Macy as the wife of high-ranking State Department officials, businessmen and senior officers. Gossips often blurted out their official secrets. The owner of the salon managed to recruit some ladies.
The luxurious unmarried Miss Macy also fell for the officers of the nuclear submarines, who sometimes entered the salon without their wives. After a whiskey offered by a lovely woman, they often bragged and blurted out things that should have been kept quiet.
She managed to recruit a senior officer of the Union of South Africa Navy. From him, she learned about the existence of electronic surveillance from an American super-secret base for ships and submarines plying in the Southern Hemisphere. I can’t voice, for obvious reasons, all the information that Macy found out.
Long way to explore
- Around this legendary personality, especially her death, there are a lot of absurdities and legends, - Banshchikov continues his story. - Maria Sukovkina (she is Dobrova by her husband) was born in 1907 in a working class family. In the early 1930s, she graduated from the higher courses of foreign languages at the Academy of Sciences in Leningrad, began to work at the academic department. In 1937, Maria lost her husband, who served as a border guard in the Far East (he went missing), and soon a young son died of diphtheria. In order to somehow survive the grief, the woman volunteered for the front in Spain, for more than a year she served there as a translator. She was awarded the Order of the Red Star for her bravery, heroism and the fulfillment of special assignments. Returning to her homeland, she entered the Leningrad University, graduated with honors in 1940 and remained to work at the Department of French Philology. With the beginning of the war, Maria went to work in the hospital as a nurse and spent all 900 days of the blockade there.
- And how did she get into intelligence? - I ask Vladimir Ivanovich.
- In the summer of 1944, Maria was invited to work at the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and soon she began working at the Soviet embassy in Colombia as an assistant-translator. And when she returned to the Union, she entered one of the institutes of the Leningrad branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences. In July 1951, Dobrova, as it seemed to her, was unexpectedly summoned to the intelligence department of the Leningrad Military District and offered to work in intelligence abroad. After special training, she left for Western Europe for intermediate legalization. She was being trained for illegal work in the United States. I had to master the profession of a cosmetologist.
- In May 1954, Maria Dobrova arrived in the United States under the name Glen Morrero Podeschi. According to legend, her father is Cuban American, her mother is French. She told the authorities that as a child she lived with her parents in Colombia, then they moved to Paris. The necessary documents were corrected to Maria without any problems. Determined to be true to the legend, she continued her studies and soon received her business license. It took three years to open a beauty salon and find clients. Soon, rich fashionistas from all over New York poured into Mary's salon. Everyone knew that Miss Macy only buys skin care and cosmetics in Paris.
That's when Maria Dobrova started recruiting those who are greedy for an impressive wad of dollars. The money was initially supplied by the Soviet residency in New York. On the instructions of the Center, the intelligence officer met with Agent John, a former employee of the US State Department, and at the time of their meeting an employee of the presidential administration, and became his curator. John gave her important information that President Kennedy had approved the CIA's plan to invade Cuba. It was 1961. It was at this time that Maria managed to transmit to the Center many encryption programs with invaluable information.
At the beginning of 1962, unfortunately, the GRU colonel Dmitry Polyakov, who had already stepped on the path of betrayal, became Maria's curator. In June, he betrayed Maria Dobrova and the illegal intelligence agent Maslova associated with her. The CIA leadership was in no hurry to arrest them, trying to find all the Soviet residency in New York. Maria and Maslov were under close surveillance. The scout did not even suspect that she was under the hood, and did not interrupt communication with the Center. By the way, the CIA was never able to decipher her reports. Maria used state-of-the-art gadgets, including a high-speed miniature transmitter that fired information in a split second. So 1962 passed.
- How did she withstand the hard days of the Cuban missile crisis? - I ask the colonel.
- Her colleagues in the residency and management were amazed at this woman's resilience. She behaved like all American women. In public, she expressed fear of a possible nuclear attack from Cuba, cursed Nikita Khrushchev, who brought the world to the brink.
Maria did not notice that she was being followed until neighbors informed the woman that they were interested in intelligence officers. Soon she herself figured out the FBI agents circling near her entrance, surveillance in the subway and supermarket. Finally, Macy reported the surveillance to the Center, although she could not figure out where she had pierced. She always worked cleanly. How did the scout know that the traitor was her curator?
The center already knew about Maslov's arrest. Mary was offered to immediately destroy all the evidence and urgently leave for Chicago, and from there to Canada, where her people were already waiting for her.
Last minutes of life
- She didn't manage to fly to Chicago?
- Why not? She managed to get the FBI agents through. On May 10, 1963 (it was Saturday), Maria left early in the morning with one shopping bag, supposedly for milk, bread and newspapers, walked past the yawning agents and dived into the subway. There I put on a wig and got lost in the crowd. I got on a bus leaving for Chicago. Arriving there, the scout booked a single room at the hotel and went to have dinner in the hotel cafeteria. And when she left, her heart skipped a beat: not far from the exit from the hotel, strenuously pretending to be bored, two bulwarks sprawled in their chairs. One of them was supposedly reading a newspaper, the other was defiantly sipping beer from an iron can.
How did they know about Chicago? Did Maslov betray her? After scrolling through all the options in her head, Maria hurried to the room. There she cut a passport in a false name into pieces and flushed them down the toilet. After that I locked myself in the room and did not leave for three days. The maid said she was sick.
On the evening of May 14, there was a knock on the door. Covering her throat with a handkerchief, Maria opened it. An inconspicuous man stood on the threshold.
- Miss Glen Morrero?
- To what do I owe this honor? She coughed, clutching her throat.
- Excuse for troubling. I'm FBI Special Agent Ronald Brighton, here's my ID. We found out that you are sick. We decided to help you.
“You are very kind, Mr. Brighton, but I don’t need anyone’s help.
- In that case, can I talk to you? This conversation will interest you.
- Well, come in.
The agent sat down in a chair, asked permission to light a cigarette and looked closely at the interlocutor:
“You see, I have been instructed to report that the FBI has detailed information about your secret activities on the territory of our country. We know everything about you. Who do you meet, from whom and how you get information. Take a look at these pictures.
He took a few pictures from his pocket and spread them out on the table.
- Here on the church fence you put a strip of chalk - a signal of a meeting. But Mr. Maslov erases it - the signal is received. We know who the late Glen Morrero really was and how you got her papers. As you can see, we have sufficient evidence to arrest you, initiate a criminal case, or organize a noisy trial. And you will be placed in an "apartment" behind bars for ten years. Do you need this? Please note that the case will be presented as if you extradited Maslov and confessed everything. At home, they will not forgive you for this. On behalf of the management, I offer you mutually beneficial cooperation: you disclose your residency to us and get a tidy sum. After that you can safely fly to Canada. When necessary, we will find you … Do you agree? Then sign this, - Ronald Brighton took out a contract form from his pocket.
- I should think…
- Sure. You have exactly one hour to think about it …
Banshchikov was silent for a few seconds and continued:
- Our agents put a bug in Maria Dmitrievna's room in advance. Thanks to this, we learned about the last minutes of her life. They just did not know, and for quite a long time that she had committed suicide, she threw herself out of the window. Her body was immediately taken away by FBI agents.
Maria never found out who betrayed her.