Tyne & Wear

Former KGB spy Makarov claims MI6 thwarting job attempts

Viktor Makarov
Image caption Mr Makarov said the UK security services believed he was still an enemy agent

A former Soviet spy faces a life of poverty because UK secret services are preventing him getting a job and his benefits have been cut, he claims.

Ex-KGB agent Viktor Makarov, who now lives in Haltwhistle, Northumberland, was smuggled into Britain by the MI6 intelligence agency in 1992.

But he was "still suspected of being an enemy agent" by the UK, he said.

MI6 said it never commented on staff or agents and the Foreign Office said it could not discuss intelligence issues.

Mr Makarov had been arrested on suspicion of spying for the British but released from a labour camp under an amnesty during the Glasnost era in 1992.

Image copyright Courtesy of Viktor Makarov
Image caption Viktor Makarov joined the KGB security agency in 1975, aged 20

Having been brought to Britain by MI6 he expected to be offered a job in intelligence but was abandoned, he said.

His attempts to get work, including a job as a refuse collector, have been thwarted by the UK security services, Mr Makarov claims.

"I haven't received any answer, any reply for my application," he said.

"I could have been, ironically, worked as a benefit fraud investigator but, again, my application was not answered."

Image caption Viktor Makarov went on hunger strike for the first time in 2005

After a legal battle with the British government in 2001 Mr Makarov accepted a settlement of £65,000.

Four years later he went on the first of two hunger strikes outside the Ministry of Defence, demanding to be classed as a defector and be given a pension.

Speaking to the BBC's Newsnight programme at the time, historian David Khan said Mr Makarov "was an asset to the UK government, no doubt about it".

"The United Kingdom took the information that Viktor Makarov had, wrung him dry and left him to hang out in the cold," he said.

Mr Makarov's benefits have now been cut by 40% and he cannot afford to live on £125 a week, he said.

He had been receiving Employment Support Allowance but no longer meets the criteria for the replacement benefit.

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