Friday, April 04, 2008

The Petrov Affair

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted
1954 Soviet Union diplomat, Vladimir Petrov, defected to Australia, admitting he was a spy. Information supplied by Petrov and his wife, Evdokia, included details on British spies for the USSR, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean.

On April 13, conservative Prime Minister Robert Menzies informed Parliament of the defection and announced a Royal Commission into Soviet espionage in Australia. The Leader of the Labor Opposition, Dr Herbert Vere Evatt, was one who attended the inquiry, with the purpose of exposing what he saw as a plot by PM Menzies.

Evatt's behaviour at the commission was noted by many to be very strange, and eventually his leave to appear was withdrawn. (It is now widely acknowledged that 'Doc' Evatt was suffering from early signs of mental illness.) Later, Justice Meagher of the New South Wales Court of Appeal observed in an address to the St James Ethics Centre, August 27, 1998:

"... Dr H. V. Evatt ... was the Chief Justice of New South Wales' Supreme Court from 1960 to 1962. When he was appointed he was suffering from advanced senility. He plainly could not manage the job. He was old and ill, uncomprehending and inarticulate, incontinent and barking mad."

Evatt, whose distinguished career included being the 3rd President of the United Nations General Assembly (1948) and helping to draft the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, dismissed the Royal Commission's report when it was handed down in October 1955, and rather foolishly went further. He told Parliament that Soviet Foreign Minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, had personally promised him that all claims about Soviet espionage in Australia were false. The House fell about laughing, Menzies saw his chance and called an election.

Evatt claimed it was Menzies politicking, and for many years some members of the Australian Labor Party continued the 1950s party line that there was no Soviet espionage in Australia, only Menzies's skill at working the electorate. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, this theory has been shown not to accord with the facts and has sharply declined in popularity.

The picture at right shows Mrs Evdokia Petrov, being 'escorted' by KGB goons to Mascot Airport in Sydney, to fly her back to the USSR. Alerted by the press, an angry Australian crowd assembled at Sydney airport, shouting and threatening the guards who literally pushed Mrs Petrov onto a BOAC Constellation. Eventually, she was taken off board at Darwin airport and able to remain in Australia. The Petrovs were set up by ASIO (Australia's spy agency) as 'Sven and Maria Anna Allyson', and lived in Bentleigh, a suburb of Melbourne ...

Categories: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker