Best Defense

The tradition of Russians dying in D.C. hotels in murky circumstances

The other day a former Putin spokesman died in a DC hotel. He was 57 years old. Seems young to me for a heart attack.

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The other day a former Putin spokesman died in a DC hotel. He was 57 years old. Seems young to me for a heart attack.

This reminded me of poor old Walter Krivitsky, a top Soviet intelligence official who defected after his friend and colleague Ignace Reiss was machine gunned in Switzerland in 1937.

American officials didn’t take very seriously Krivitsky’s warning of an impending treaty between Stalin and Hitler. He wound up dead in a hotel near Union Station.

Krivitsky also may have tried to tip off the Americans that a British journalist in Spain was working for the NKVD. He apparently didn’t have the name of that reporter. We now know it was Kim Philby.

Photo credit: Barna Rovács/Wikimedia

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. @tomricks1

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