I have been doing quite a lot of reading about the Spanish Civil War recently, and I’ve found a name cropping up that I realised rang a bell. For instance –
“Most ominous of all was the arrival of Alexander Orlov … the NKVD officer who was to take charge of the secret police”, “The secret police were taken over by Orlov and his NKVD agents … and it soon became the communists’ most feared weapon”*
Orlov is, of course, known to us now as the loveable meerkat who has won our hearts with his appearances on the telly and is set to become one of our best-selling authors, with his recent autobiography
We have grown used to powerful Russians exerting influence over important areas of our national life – Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, Alexander Lebedev at the Standard and Independent – but this seems a step too far. I was thinking of exposing this pesky herspetid as a KGB agent, when I realised that the Sun newspaper (ever vigilant) had beaten me to it – The real life Alexander Orlov.
But I wonder if there is previous evidence of meerkat infliltration of the Soviet secret police? I have always been curious about the strange appearance of “Iron” Felix Dzerzhinsky, the much-feared founder of the Cheka (the foreunners of the NKVD, KGB etc.). The slender, elongated body – the beady, close-set eyes – that tufty little chin beard. That smile. (I note in passing, incidentally, that Dzerzhinsky’s wife was one Zofia Muszkat. Too close to be above suspicion, I think.)
*From Antony Beever’s The Spanish Civil War (Cassell, 1982)