It’s a smear campaign: Palestinians dismiss claims Abbas was 1980s KGB spy

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was a Soviet-era KGB agent in the 1980s, it has been claimed. He was said to have been code-named “Krotov” or “Mole” and worked in Syria under Mikhail Bogdanov, now Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s Middle East envoy. It is not clear what work he did for the Soviets. However, the Palestinians have dismissed the report as a “smear campaign”. Mr Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said it “falls under the framework of Israeli absurdities which we have got used to”.

There’s a clear trend of attempting to damage Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) by various elements, including Israel … this is another attempt to slander him

Mohammed al-Madani, a central committee member of Mr Abbas’s Fatah party

The claims were made by Israeli researchers studying documents which came from Soviet-era defector Vasili Mitrokhin and are held at the University of Cambridge. “In 1983, he (Abbas) is listed as being groomed by the KGB under the codename Krotov, the mole,” one of the researchers, Isabella Ginor, said. The report was aired on Israeli TV just as Mr Putin tries to organise a summit between Mr Abbas and the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The researchers say it means Russia may still be able to influence him at a time when the Kremlin is increasingly asserting itself in the Middle East.

We don’t know what happened later on and if Abu Mazen (Mr Abbas) went on with his service or work for the Soviets. But now that he is head of the Palestinian Authority, this can be a lever on him.”

Researcher Isabella Ginor