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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ex-Russian operative led UN 'spy nest'

UNITED NATIONS - A former Russian top spy says his agents helped the Russian government steal nearly $500 million from the U.N.'s oil-for-food program in Iraq before the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Tretyakov, former deputy head of intelligence at Russia's U.N. mission from 1995 to 2000, names some names, but sticks mainly to code names. Among the spies he says he recruited for Russia were a Canadian nuclear weapons expert who became a U.N. nuclear verification expert in Vienna, a senior Russian official in the oil-for-food program and a former Soviet bloc ambassador. He describes a Russian businessman who got hold of a nuclear bomb, and kept it stored in a shed at his dacha outside Moscow.

An 18-month investigation into the oil-for-food corruption, led by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, culminated in an October 2005 report accusing more than 2,200 companies from some 40 countries of colluding with Saddam's regime to bilk the humanitarian program in Iraq of $1.8 billion.

"I got extremely disgusted with the Russian government, and I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel. I'm not very emotional. I'm not a Boy Scout," said Tretyakov, who was accompanied during the interview by his wife, Helen, and Earley. "Knowing people who are running Russia, I started feeling that it's immoral to help them. And finally in my life, when I defected, I did something good in my life. Because I want to help United States."

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I am a cantankerous man living and working in the Silicon Valley where reading books is an abomination that is virtually unheard of, frowned upon and may be detrimental to one's career. I avoid censure by never conceding that I ever read or owned a book in my life. If anyone accidentally glimpses my scant proficiency in any subject matter, I immediately accredit it to having glanced at DrudgeReport that day.

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