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Cryptonym: TARBRUSH

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A black propaganda program run by the Mexico City station during the 1950s-1960s.


Nikolai Leonov was the Third Secretary and Assistant Cultural Attache in Mexico City in the 1960s (more recently, a member of Russia's Parliament). Leonov was a TARBRUSH target at least three times. When Fidel Castro was arrested in Mexico in 1956, Leonov's card was found in his wallet. In May 1963, the Mexico City station placed a news article stating that there was a Soviet-Cuban plan to finance the subversion of all of Latin America with Leonov in charge of arms smuggling into Central America. In Oct 63, the Monterrey base sent 500 invitations to a fake lecture by Leonov on the Soviet role in national liberation struggles in Latin America.

1994.04.22.16:13:50:540005 Reel 53, Folder G - NIKOLAY SERGEYEV LEONOV.

8/1/63, Army Intelligence accepted the May 1963 Leonov event invented by the Mexico City station as authentic.

New York Times obituary for Fernando Barrios Gutierrez, 11/1/00: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/01/world/01GUTI.html

Late November 1963: The arrest of Castro in 1956 was conducted by the same man who interrogated Sylvia Duran after 11/22/63, Fernando Barrios Gutierrez (LITEMPO-4). He remained friends with Castro.


12/5/63, memo from Gerald Gardyne: This almost illegible document shows that there was a “black propaganda operation” being waged against Leonov by the Monterrey station in 1963.

104-10218-10023: COMMENTS RE LEONOV

On 6/29/64, the suggestion was made to use the CIA program TARBRUSH to tie Leonov to the “subversion of Mexico somehow".


May 1965: Chrono on Leonov created by SR/CI/K Joe Horner: Leonov is described by AESTORAGE as "an officer of the Fifth Dept. (Latin American) of the FCD. He was an employee at the Soviet Embassy in Mexico from July 1953 to October 1956. He then returned to Moscow and entered the KGB Intelligence School in ca 1958 and graduated in 1960. He was assigned to the 5th Dept, FCD from graduation from the Intelligence School until his assignment to Mexico in 1960. He speaks excellent Spanish...(regarding) the calling card found in address book of Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz when he was arrested by Mexican police in June 62, there is some question as to whether this card was planted there and used for newspaper publicity (indistinct marginalia follows)...May 1963: Subj served as interpreter during Castro's visit to the Soviet Union while he was on home leave..." Discussion of TARBRUSH incidents throughout the memo.


Comments prepared circa 1969 by AC/WH/1 Ernest Tsiberdouss: "The search team that arrested Fidel Castro (in 1956) and did the interrogation was LITEMPO-4 (now an important Station contact) and only about four years ago or so told COS about the calling card of LEONOV."

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Bill Simpich

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