Posted on December 12, 2018
The Russian president has expressed pride in his record as a communist KGB officer in Dresden in the 1980s. His Stasi pass was found during research into the close co-operation between the KGB and Stasi. Mr Putin, then a KGB major, got it in 1985. It got him into Stasi facilities, but he may not have spied for them. In a statement on Tuesday, the Stasi Records Agency (BStU) said that Mr Putin “received the pass so that he could carry out his KGB work in co-operation with the Stasi”. Stasi was actually the nickname for East German Ministry of State Security (MfS) agents. It was notorious for its meticulous surveillance of ordinary citizens, many of whom were pressed into spying on each other. “Current research gives no indication that Vladimir Putin worked for the MfS,” the BStU statement said.
He witnessed protesters occupying the Dresden Stasi headquarters, while communist security forces came close to opening fire on them, on 5 December 1989. Jubilant East Berliners had already breached the Berlin Wall in November. Mr Putin was fluent in German at the time and has said he personally calmed the Dresden crowd when they surrounded the KGB building there, warning them that it was Soviet territory. During his KGB service in Dresden Mr Putin was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1989 he was awarded a bronze medal by communist East Germany – officially the German Democratic Republic (GDR) – “for faithful service to the National People’s Army”, the Kremlin website says.