MOSCOW -- Veteran KGB agents and a Hollywood agent have revealed plans to sell Soviet spy tales for movies, books and television.
'Due to the reforms which are going on in our country, many of our veterans are now in a very difficult situation,' said retired Col. Anatoly Privalov, explaining the decision by the KGB Foreign Intelligence Veterans Association to go commercial.
At a news conference Wednesday, four former KGB colonels -- each with 30 years or more in the spying business -- held up under bright television lights and persistent questioning without confessing the revelations they hope to sell to the West.
'When we finish our work, there will be no unanswered questions,' said Igor Prelin, whose three years for the KGB in public affairs, movies and television -- following 27 years in espionage -- brought him to the project.
Tales to be told include the KGB's 'bizarre relationship' with Lee Harvey Oswald, John F. Kennedy's assassin, and the 'real' story of the atom bomb spy ring involving Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed by the United States in 1953 for passing nuclear weapons secrets to the Soviets.
Other U.S., British, Canadian, NATO and Soviet spy stories make up a list of projects being developed by KGB veterans and their agent, Brian Litman, president of Entertainment and Communications Holdings Organization.
The 500-member KGB veterans group even formed a commercial arm called 'Intel' to market memoirs, scripts, and other 'intellectual properties.'
'We have 10 manuscripts written by members of our association,' Prelin noted.
Some projects sound innocuous enough, such as a documentary on the women of the KGB foreign intelligence, but Litman promised 'astounding new material ... that will shatter myths and create new controversies.'
However, before the various secrets are revealed, they will be submitted to an 'editorial committee' of current Russian spies to make sure no state secrets are being compromised, Privalov said.
The retired KGB general who chairs the veterans group, Vladilen Fyodorov, said in a statement that the group consulted Russian Central Intelligence Chief Yevgeny Primakov before signing the agreement to have Litman's company market their work.
'Right now it is difficult to say what is and what is not secret in the Soviet Union,' said Privalov, deputy chairman of the group. 'We have to take each case separately.'
Litman acknowledged that he may be unable to prove or disprove the former agents' revelations, but he called them 'people very much responsible for shaping the history of the world during the Cold War' and said the depth and breadth of the research available gave the project 'enormous possibilities.'
Two of the former agents hinted that their tales would shed new light on shadowy events that still stir controversy. Oleg Nechiporenko said his book will reveal details of his KGB contacts with Oswald two months before Kennedy was killed. Anatoly Yatzkov suggested that the untold story of the Rosenbergs was forthcoming.
Nechiporenko -- who began talking to U.S. officials this year -- said he is amazed that 'during 30 years nobody asked about the content of our meetings with Oswald' on Sept. 27-8, 1963, at the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City where Nechiporenko worked.
But Nechiporenko said he was 'very surprised' to learn of Kennedy's assassination and said his talks with Oswald gave no indication Kennedy was in danger. Nechiporenko refused to say much more except that his book 'will shed new light on the facts ... of the Kennedy assassination.'
Litman interjected, 'It would be premature to discuss his involvement and his meetings until the book comes out.'
Yatzkov, who served the KGB in the United States beginning in 1941 and later in Europe, said he found nothing strange in the current turn of political events that found him sitting next to a Hollywood agent ready to transform his Soviet espionage experiences into profits.
'Of course I don't miss the Cold War and thank God it's over,' he said. 'It's difficult to say I was working against America. I was working for the Soviet Union in order to balance those powers.'
Privalov defended the agents' marketing plans, saying, 'The idea that people involved in espionage are very rich is simply a myth.'
He said, 'One of our activities is publishing the memoirs of our spies ... This is historic information. And, yes, of course we're going to get something in return.'
Litman declined to release financial terms of the deal. He also denied his company would end up serving as an apologist for Soviet spying, saying his 'company is interested in identifying information, stories, amazing events and corroborating that information with other known information to create entertainment.'