Europe

Kim Philby: Spy gets Russian government honour

Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov (L), intelligence agency head Mikhail Fradkov (R) and Philby's widow, Rufina Pukhova
Image caption Kim Philby's widow (C) was among those attending the Moscow ceremony

Russia has honoured British Cold War spy Kim Philby with a plaque at the headquarters of the country's foreign intelligence agency.

Philby, who defected to the Soviet Union in 1963, is depicted in a sculptured portrait on the plaque as the two-faced Roman god of gates, Janus.

Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov attended the ceremony in Moscow.

Philby passed secrets to the Soviets while working for British intelligence.

The plaque carried a quote from Philby saying: "I look back on my life as given to the service of a cause that I sincerely and passionately believe is right."

Philby, who died in 1988, was part of the infamous Cambridge spy ring.

He retired from British intelligence in the mid-1950s, but continued to work as a journalist until 1963, when fear of exposure led him to flee.

Accounts of his life in Moscow differ.

Western versions have portrayed him as lonely, disaffected and of little use to his KGB paymasters.

But state-run news agency Itar-Tass, in its report of Thursday's ceremony, described him as a "legendary Soviet intelligence officer".

Itar-Tass quoted the foreign intelligence agency as saying he spent his time in the Soviet Union "working with young intelligence officers, and he even created his own school".

Intelligence agency head Mikhail Fradkov unveiled the plaque at a ceremony also attended by Philby's widow, Rufina Pukhova.

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