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Nikolai Khokhlov

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Nikolai Khokhlov

Nikolai Evgenievich Khokhlov (Cyrillic: Николай Евгеньевич Хохлов) (7 June 1922, Nizhny Novgorod - September 2007 San Bernardino, California) was a KGB officer who defected to the United States in 1953. He testified about KGB activities. The KGB tried to kill him unsuccessfully using poison.


  • Family background 1
  • NKVD career 2
  • Assassination mission 3
  • Poisoning by thallium 4
  • Life in the United States 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • Books 8
  • External links 9

Family background

Khokhlov's parents divorced when he was very young; he was not well-acquainted with his father, who later served as a commissar in the Red Army. During the Battle for Moscow, the elder Khokhlov was transferred to a penal battalion because he had made unfavourable remarks about Joseph Stalin. Khokhlov's father died in the battalion.

His stepfather, a lawyer, volunteered to defend Moscow in 1941 and died in action almost immediately. As Khokhlov later put it, "The army needed cannon fodder".[1]

NKVD career

In October 1941, Khokhlov, then 19 years old, was member of an NKVD quartet who were trained to commit a spectacular attack against Nazi officers during their victory celebration in the occupied Moscow. The mastermind behind the plan was Mikhail Maklyarskiy, a senior NKVD official. The four young agents would have played a vaudeville group on the celebration; Khokhlov was chosen for his role on his whistling abilities. During the training he had his first great romance with fellow agent, singer Tasya Ignatova. After the German retreat from the outskirts of Moscow, the deadly show was cancelled.[2]

Nikolai Khokhlov was a member of a successful military unit that fought behind the enemy lines during World War II. He was disguised as a Nazi officer after parachuting into German-occupied Belarus. He played a part in the assassination of Wilhelm Kube, the Nazi Gauleiter of Belarus. After the war, Khokhlov became the prototype for the main character in a 1947 Soviet film, Feat of a Scout ("Подвиг разведчика").

Assassination mission

In 1954, Khokhlov was sent by the [4] His wife was arrested and sentenced to five years of involuntary settlement in the Soviet Union, in retaliation.

Poisoning by thallium

Khokhlov was treated for thallium poisoning in Frankfurt in 1957,[5] as a result of a failed assassination attempt by the Thirteenth Department of the KGB.[4] This case is often claimed to be the first radiological attack by the KGB, especially when comparison with Alexander Litvinenko poisoning[6] needs to be drawn, although it remains unclear what isotope was used, if any.[7] Former KGB officer Stanislav Lekarev claimed, however, that Khokhlov was poisoned by radioactive polonium (not thallium), exactly as Litvinenko was.[8] Litvinenko's poisoning was also initially mistaken for thallium.

Life in the United States

From 1968 to 1992, Dr. Khokhlov taught undergraduate and graduate psychology classes at California State University, San Bernardino, retiring as a professor emeritus in 1993. In 1992, Russian President Boris Yeltsin pardoned him, and Khokhlov returned to Moscow for a short stay, for the first time since the 1950s. He later made an e-mail contact with, then eventually met, his son in Russia of whom he had not been previously aware. In the United States, Khokhlov married again. With his second wife Tanja, he had two daughters and a son, Misha, who died several years later due to a kidney failure.

In 2006 Khokhlov made a comparison between his poisoning half a century ago and the murder of Litvinenko. "The situation within Russia today is very perilous. There are no more laws, and no more order. Putin brought back many KGB, and there are too many KGB at the top, the old dinosaurs who cannot get rid of old habits", he added.

Nikolai Khokhlov died of a heart attack in San Bernardino, California, in September 2007. He was buried next to the grave of his son.

See also


  1. ^ Andrew Nagorski: The Greatest Battle, 2007, pp. 198-199
  2. ^ Andrew Nagorski: The Greatest Battle, 2007, pp. 196-198
  3. ^ Times Online
  4. ^ a b *Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West, Gardners Books (2000), ISBN 0-14-028487-7
  5. ^ Meeting with past (Russian)
  6. ^ Alex Goldfarb and Marina Litvinenko. Death of a Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB, The Free Press (2007) ISBN 1-4165-5165-4
  7. ^ Category: Radiation Basics
  8. ^ Who Killed Litvinenko? - Russia on YouTube


  • Nikolai Evgenievich Khokhlov. In the name of conscience . Translated by Emily Kingsbery. New York : David McKay, 1959. In the name of conscience (Russian)
  • Boris Volodarsky. Nikolai Khokhlov ("Whistler"), Self-Esteem with a Halo . Vienna-London : Borwall Verlag, 2005. (English)

External links

  • Obituary
  • A brief history of Soviet torturers and assassins, some of whom had second thoughts. By Katya Drozdova, Hoover Institute
  • Newspaper Article: Times Online
  • I led KGB hit squad by Ros Wynne Jones
  • One more time on the Alexander Litvinenko case by Vadim Birstein
  • Interview to Radio Free Europe
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