Imants Lešinskis

Imants Lešinskis
Imants Lešinskis

Spouse(s)Rasma Lešinska
ChildrenIeva Lešinska
Espionage activity
AllegianceSoviet Union
Service years1956–1978
RankMajor of the KGB
Other workPeter Dorn

Imants Lešinskis (born 1935) was a Latvian former KGB agent and double agent for the CIA who defected from Soviet Union to the United States in 1978 while working for the United Nations in New York City.[1] His daughter, Ieva Lešinska, who defected with him while visiting Lešinskis in the US, made a film about her relationship with her father called My Father the Spy.[2][3] His work mainly consisted of denouncing and defaming Latvians domestically and abroad perceived as anti-Soviet.[4][5]


Imants Lešinskis was born in 1935, in Riga, Latvian SSR. In 1956 Lešinskis was blackmailed into joining the KGB as an informant.[6] In 1960, during the 1960 Summer Olympics, under the cover of working for a newspaper called the Homeland Voice, he was tasked with contacting Latvian athletes on the Australian Olympic Team. Instead, however, Lešinskis approached the American embassy in Rome seeking political asylum. His request was turned down, but instead he was offered a job working as a CIA informant, which he accepted.[7] In 1976, Lešinskis and his wife, Rasma Lešinska, were posted in New York City as part of the Soviet mission to the United Nations, with Lešinskis working as a translator.[8][9] On 3 September 1978, while still posted in New York City, he and his family defected to the West by driving themselves to Washington, D.C. and turning themselves in to the United States Department of State.[10][11] After his defection, Kofi Annan, who would later serve as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, sent a letter asking why he didn't show up to his UN post.[7] In 1982, Lešinskis testified in a court case, Kairys vs. I.N.S., in which a man named Liudas Kairys was accused of working at the Treblinka extermination camp during World War II for the SS. Kairys claimed that the evidence was fabricated by the Soviet Union and Lešinskis told the court about how the Soviets did such in other cases, but did not comment on the specific case.[5][12] He died in 1985.[7]


  1. ^ "Geopolitics, History, and the Holocaust | Khrushchev picks enemies". haolusa.org. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  2. ^ "My Father The Spy | Nacionālais Kino Centrs". Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  3. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (2020-06-16). "'My Father the Spy' Review: To Embrace a Parent or Denounce Him?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  4. ^ "CIA AND NAZI WAR CRIM. AND COL. CHAP. 11–21" (PDF). Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  5. ^ a b Enstad, Robert (24 June 1982). "Ex-KGB spy testifies in Kairys 'Nazi' trial". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  6. ^ "KGB defector talks about former job in 'ethnic espionage'". Christian Science Monitor. 1984-06-14. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  7. ^ a b c Smith, Benjamin (2001-07-06). "How a Double Agent's Daughter Dealt With Life After Defection". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  8. ^ Goshko, John M.; Writer, Washington Post Staff Writers; a Washington Post Staff (1978-09-19). "Soviet Translator at U.N. Defects". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  9. ^ "Newspaper Reports KGB Agent Defecting". The Tampa Tribune. 19 September 1978. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  10. ^ "Latvians report defection to U.S. of Major in KGB". Montreal Gazette. 19 September 1978. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  11. ^ "KGB Major Defects". Casper Star-Tribune. 19 September 1978. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  12. ^ "Man Accused Of Being Nazi Guard Ordered Deported to Soviet Union". AP NEWS. Retrieved 2021-02-09.

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