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A secret package arrived at CIA headquarters in January 1958. Inside were two rolls of film from British intelligence — pictures of the pages of a Russian-language novel titled “Doctor Zhivago.”
The book, by poet Boris Pasternak, had been banned from publication in the Soviet Union. The British were suggesting that the CIA get copies of the novel behind the Iron Curtain. The idea immediately gained traction in Washington.
“This book has great propaganda value,” a CIA memo to all branch chiefs of the agency’s Soviet Russia Division stated, “not only for its intrinsic message and thought-provoking nature, but also for the circumstances of its publication: we have the opportunity to make Soviet citizens wonder what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read.”
The memo is one of more than 130 newly declassified CIA documents that detail the agency’s secret involvement in the printing of “Doctor Zhivago” — an audacious plan that helped deliver the book into the hands of Soviet citizens who later passed it friend to friend, allowing it to circulate in Moscow and other cities in the Eastern Bloc.
The book’s publication and, later, the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Pasternak triggered one of the great cultural storms of the Cold War.
Shadowed by Secret Servicemen President Barack Obama arrives at Schiphol Airport to attend the Nuclear Security Summit in the Hague earlier this week. The crisis over the Crimean peninsula has cast a shadow of its own over Obama’s agenda. He planned to discuss further sanctions against Russia with European leaders; but Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and other economic considerations will complicate the conversation. And while international events have demanded the president’s attention lately, a key part of his domestic agenda is in the news as March 31 approaches—that’s the deadline by which uninsured Americans have to sign up for health care coverage.
Photo credit: Peter Dejong/AP
It was one of the biggest heists in history, fleecing half-a-billion dollars from people around the globe, and almost no one—except a small group of thieves, their confederates and the white-hat computer sleuths chasing them through cyberspace—knew it was taking place.
In January, federal investigators announced that Aleksandr Andreevich Panin, a Russian national who was the mastermind behind the crimes, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud. Panin’s capture was far more than just another tale of a crook who found illicit riches online. His case reveals many alarming details of a lawless underground flourishing in the darkest corners of the Internet, where hackers peddle off-the-shelf software that, for as little as a few thousand dollars, allows even the most unsophisticated computer novice to start emptying the bank accounts of people they’ve never met, or even seen.
No longer does someone bent on Internet crime have to dedicate weeks to writing code and testing programs, or even have the basic knowledge required to do so. Anyone can become an expert thief in a matter of minutes by using programs sold through hacker websites. The illegal programs—known as malware toolkits or crimeware—have their own brand names, like ZeuS, SpyEye and the Butterfly Bot.
Newsweek: Is negotiation with Russia possible at this point?
Tymoshenko: Yes, but the negotiations should not be between Ukraine and Russia. World leaders should understand that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine concerns the entire world.
Newsweek: How can world leaders help Ukraine?
Tymoshenko: By negotiating. We have the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances [a 1994 agreement between Russia, the United States and Britain guaranteeing the territorial integrity of Ukraine in return for its renunciation of nuclear weapons]…. British and American military forces are the guarantors of peace in our country. This is not a reason to start a war; the agreement should prevent a war from happening.
With Ukraine’s fugitive president on the run, visitors treated themselves to a tour of his massive personal estate over the weekend.
Brendan Hoffman, on assignment for Getty Images, Instagrams his personal experiences of a photojournalist on the ground in Kiev, Ukraine.
“In the words of the popular proverb, Moscow was the heart of Russia; St Petersburg, its head. But Kiev, its mother…”— James H. Billington, The Icon and the Axe
With 50 dead in Kiev, Ukraine must choose between Russia or the West—unless Putin chooses for them.
Photo credit: Konstantin Chernichkin/Reuters