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Igor Gouzenko

(1919—1982) defector from the USSR and author


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(1919–82). Born in the Soviet Union, Gouzenko was appointed cipher clerk in the Soviet embassy in Ottawa in 1943 as a member of GRU, Soviet military intelligence. On 5 September 1945 he took documents from the embassy indicating a Soviet spy ring operating in Canada. After initial failed attempts to defect, and an abortive Soviet attempt to seize him, he was taken into protective custody two days later. His defection was kept secret for five months, but on 15 February 1946 suspects were swept up and held for interrogation. The news of the spy ring created an international sensation, signalling the public beginning of the Cold War. Fearing Soviet retribution, Gouzenko and his family were kept hidden and he himself appeared in public wearing a trademark bag over his head. He published an autobiography, This Was My Choice, in 1948, and in 1954 he won the Governor General's Award for a novel, Fall of a Titan. He continued to warn of the Soviet threat, and launched lawsuits against writers who questioned his behaviour.

From The Oxford Companion to Canadian History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: History of the Americas.


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