Tag Archives: Russian spy

A Slave to Nightmares

Russian PassportRead more about Tom’s return to the US in A Person of Interest Part 1 and Part 2

Inside the walls of the days and nights of my past I became a slave to my nightmares. I had been in the shadows of the KGB for so many years their ghosts became real and they were the masters of my mind.   The encounter with the FBI raised my anxiety level. I sought psychiatric help. Stopped after one session after I found out how much it cost.

There was no place for me to hide. To run. I felt exposed. Scorned. An outcast in my own country. And I dared not reveal my secret life to my family. They would not understand.

I had always walked with confidence at my side – the two agencies took that away from me. No one, I believe, would read this prose without stamping it the work of a paranoiac. But, in the final analysis, it was my life. I know the truth.

Did the KGB make a conscious effort to follow up on the threat it had made to me in Moscow that, if I became a “tool of the capitalists” there would be repercussions?

Did the FBI interrogate me after my return?

And did the KGB walk in my footsteps when I walked the streets of Detroit?

It will be you who will judge and decide upon the evidence.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there appeared in a newspaper article published in the now free republic of Armenia that carried the headline: “What Happened to Basketball in Armenia…” In that article, which did not have a byline, the writer describes the rise and fall of the sport in Armenia and goes on to mention the names of some of the top players of the 1950’s. My name appeared in that list. For all of the others mentioned, statistics and playing information was recalled, but following my name, there were intimate details of my personal life in America. A good editor would have asked the writer: “What the hell does this all have to do with basketball” and edit the paragraph out of the story.

I do believe the KGB made a conscious effort to monitor my actions in America. It is obvious that the FBI also considered me a “person of interest” until, like their counterparts in Moscow, interest waned. But, the evil that lived and thrived throughout the 20th century – suspicion, ambition, greed, hunger, exploitation and segregation – lives on unabated in the 21st century.

Despite all of the political nonsense we hear today from those who would be president, even those who advocate “Making America Great, Again”, I have always cherished and loved my country and have celebrated its achievements.

I would say to those who celebrate our country and wish to “Make America Great, Again” that America Has Always Been Great.

Let us all work together to “Make America GREATER!”

Read more about Tom’s return to the US in A Person of Interest Part 1 and Part 2

 ***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

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A Person of Interest…Part 2

Armenian passport
Tom Mooradian’s passport: in Armenian and Russian

This is Part 2 of A Person of Interest. Read Part 1 here.

Do you not think that a man or woman who was born, raised and educated in the United States and disappeared for thirteen years behind the Iron Curtain, and then suddenly appeared in the United State would not raise J. Edgar Hoover’s eyebrows?

Would not the director of the FBI see “The Repatriate” as a possible “Manchurian Candidate”, waiting for someone to ring a bell or display a card so that the young man from Behind the Iron Curtain would execute his mission in the USA?

I was flown to Washington, D.C. and was met at the airport by one of the agents who drove me to the Mayflower Hotel. The next day, at about 9 a.m., the same agent drove me to a building where I was questioned about my life in the USSR. I answered the agency’s questions to the best of my knowledge. During the interrogation I also was given a lie-detector test.

I went along with my “hosts” through this process. Upon reflection I think it was because I had completely forgotten about my rights, after all, I had just graduated from high school when I had left America with the group of repatriates. I, and all of the teenagers who sailed on the Rossia, believed we could return to the States whenever we wanted to. To our dismay we discovered that was not true.

On day I-do-not-know-which, the FBI introduced me to a Russian-speaking interrogator. He began this session of questioning asking me about my life in the USSR, my travels, and then questioned me about the KGB and why I was permitted to leave when no others had. (I had been the first American to leave. Only a small group of French women who had gone to the Soviet Union with their Armenian husbands had returned to their homeland before I.)

That interview with the Russian brought back all of my nightmares. It reminded of what my KGB handler had told me back in Moscow: “Remember, Tommy, wherever you are we can reach you. Do not become a tool of the capitalist.”

The psychological effect of being in the same room with a Russian-speaking interrogator, his eyes and his glares, his sarcasm, his methodical questioning and degrading “the accused” to make him feel inferior, emasculating the “prisoner” ultimately unleashed the frustration, the hatred I had held back of the loathsome Soviet system …I fired back with a volley of four letter Russian words that I had picked up in the locker rooms of his country. He stood up slowly, deliberately, and I stood to confront him. There we were, toe to toe… A door behind me quickly opened and my “handler” rushed into the room and separated us…

Finally safe in my native land, the home of the free, I stood there thinking, I must be guilty. Why did they bring me here if I wasn’t “guilty”?

But of what?

Back in 1949, I was taught a life-and-death lesson by the Cheka. The Soviets stopped me from boarding a plane bound for Moscow from Yerevan because their pawns had informed them I was heading for the US embassy with some important papers. They tossed me in a truck and drove me to their headquarters. The Soviet interrogators told me that if I confessed they would be lenient. “We never arrest anyone who is not guilty…and we can’t release you, because our citizens would think that we are arresting innocent people.”

So, what do you confess to?

I wanted to scream. But, instead I bit my lip and waited from their next move.

Silence, at times, is a powerful word.

This is Part 2 of A Person of Interest. Read Part 1 here.

 ***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

Save

Save