OTTAWA -- Igor Gouzenko, an obscure Russian cipher clerk whose defection in 1945 set off Canada's most celebrated espionage case in post World War II days, was buried Tuesday in an unmarked grave.
Gouzenko, who had so feared for his life for almost four decades that he never appeared for public interviews without a hood over his head, died Monday of an apparent heart attack, an associate said. He was 63.
'He died in peace. His family considered it a triumph really that he died peacefully,' said Toronto Sun Editor-in-Chief Peter Worthington, who said he had known Gouzenko for '17 or 18 years and kept fairly close contact.'
Gouzenko defected from the Soviet embassy in Ottawa Sept. 5, 1945, and provided the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with 109 documents that uncovered Soviet espionage activities in Canada.
Worthington said the 'quiet Russian service' was held in a 'little church ... a bit north of Toronto.' He said he was among 'a dozen or so' friends and relatives. There was no eulogy. 'No one spoke at the funeral.'
Gouzenko, whose final years were spent living with his family under an assumed identity, was buried in an unmarked grave. It was not known whether the family would mark his final resting place, or keep it secret. 'I don't know what plans they have,' Worthingtonsaid.
Another associate said Gouzenko had long suffered from diabetes and it had blinded him five years ago. .
'But he had seemed fine when I saw him Thursday,' investigative reporter James Dubro said. 'I had dinner with him and he was in a very effervescent mood. We had plans for some projects together.'
Gouzenko, 63, defected from the Soviet embassy in Ottawa Sept. 5, 1945, and provided the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with 109 documents that uncovered Soviet espionage activities in Canada.
Conservative MP Elmer MacKay praised Gouzenko as a courageous man whose bravery was never fully acknowledged. He said Gouzenko should be awarded the Order of Canada for his contribution to Canadian security.
Gouzenko, MacKay said, was disappointed in later years that the west had still not fully recognized the threat to its security posed by the Soviet Union. 'I don't think he felt sufficient weight was never given to evidence.'
He said Gouzenko's defection provided the first evidence of Soviet intent to crack the security systems of western governments.
'I think we should give him the award posthumously for the strength of his commitment and the fact that he was able to provide that kind of insight. We should honor him,' MacKay said.
A Royal Commission of Inquiry was set up Feb. 5, 1946, to investigate the evidence provided by the then 26-year-old Soviet cipher clerk.
The evidence indicated that as early as 1924 the Soviets were engaged in covert operations in Canada. The spy network was expanded with the arrival of Major Sokolov in 1941, after Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union.
The Soviet legation that opened in 1942 directed the spy network, which apparently involved several independent units, each reporting directly to Moscow.
Sergei N. Koudriavtzev, the first secretary of the Soviet legation, headed the military-intelligence unit, the documents showed. He was succeeded in June, 1943, by Col. Nicolai Zabotin, the new military attache who brought with him a young cipher clerk -- Gouzenko.
Gouzenko had access to information on the operations of Koudriavtzev's unit and most of his disclosures after his defection concerned the military network.
The most important single objective of this unit was to gather information on the development of the atomic bomb. Gouzenko's documents showed vital data had been obtained on the bomb and radar with collaboration of several Canadian informants and Allan Nunn May, a scientist who came to Canada from the United Kingdom in 1944.
May later was charged with espionage in Britain.
The most prominent Canadian charged in connection with Gouzenko's disclosures was Fred Rose, then a Member of Parliament from Montreal.
Rose was convicted of violations of the Official Secrets Act, sent to jail and upon his release deported to his native Poland.
Gouzenko, who lived in hiding and refused to have his picture published, wrote of his experiences in a 1948 book, 'This Was My Choice.' He later wrote a novel and was the subject of a movie, 'The Iron Curtain.'"
Dubro said he was 'deeply shocked' by Gouzenko's death.
'He still feared for his life even after all these years,' Dubro said. 'You mustn't forget that he was the single most important defector ever.'
Gouzenko was working on his memoirs, Dubro said, and was also considering a film project. He lived largely by a modest pension suplied him by the Canadian government.