KGB Gives U.S. Devices and Plans Used to Bug Embassy

<i> From Times Staff Writer</i>

The KGB, which never previously admitted bugging the vacant new American Embassy in Moscow, last week turned over the plans and microphones used to bug the building from basement to roof.

Robert S. Strauss, U.S. ambassador to Moscow, said in Washington on Friday that Vadim V. Bakatin, the new head of the Soviet spy agency, gave him the blueprints and devices in a meeting in his office.

“This is the most amazing thing that’s happened to me in my life,” Strauss said he told the KGB chief, with whom he has become close friends.

Strauss said Bakatin summoned him to his office and said, “There’s something I want to give you. I don’t know how long I’m going to be here, but I want to deliver something to you. I think it’s something that will be helpful. It ought to be done.”


According to Strauss, Bakatin took from his safe a thick file and a suitcase-like kit full of high-tech devices and said: “Mr. Ambassador, these are the plans that disclose how the bugging of your embassy took place, and these are the instruments that were used. I want them turned over to your government, no strings attached.”

In 1985, the eight-story building that was to have been the new embassy was found to be riddled with eavesdropping devices. Since then, the White House, State Department and Congress have fought over whether the building can ever be made secure or whether it should be razed and rebuilt.

Congress last month appropriated $220 million for a new building and suggested that parts of the current building be leased to U.S. companies.

When Bakatin expressed hope the building could be used again some day, Strauss said he responded, “Mr. Bakatin, if I were to try to use that building, people would believe that you’d given me three-fourths of them and kept a fourth back.”