Letters

Dear Editor



I was passed a copy of your 8th issue. I think your publication is in extremely bad taste. To denigrate respected members of our society like Judge Kriegler is shameful and to suggest [suggest? – Ed.] that Rembrandt was involved in scurrilous under-hand deals over the Ayres aircraft takes real nerve; to lay in to CNA’s monopoly is totally un-South African.
Keep it up.
The Aviator.
PS – According to the SAAF, their light plane squadron (42 Squadron) completed over 1000 hours of surveillance flights during the elections, using 1960s Cessna 185s equipped with loud-hailer and camera systems. The value of each Cessna would be about R160 000. [Compared to Rembrandt subsidiary ASAT’s Ayres which, with surveillance equipment, are for sale at US$1,8 million each.]


Shovelling . . .

Your revelations are blissful but, alas, the stench remains.
J.C.
Swellendam


A spy called Ludmilla

My letter is prompted by your broadcast on Leslie McKenzie’s phone-in programme and the anecdote you quoted regarding Harry Oppenheimer’s son-in-law, Gordon Waddell being seen by a British journalist in Moscow attending the Bolshoi ballet during the 1970s – and its implications.
I thought you might be interested in the less well-known remainder of the story, even if it is of little current significance.
The South African “Cold War” with the Soviet led to a professor of geology called Smirnoff being posted to Lesotho during those years. The interpreter for the Russian was a man called Levchenko, who was accompanied by a beautiful wife called, as in all good spy stories, Ludmilla.
At that time, proving that ultra Marxism could co-exist with ultra capitalism, there was much pondering in Moscow and the [De Beer’s] Central Selling Organisation (CSO) on how to bridge the political gap, keeping their fairly natural association apart.
Diamonds in the old USSR were a strategic mineral and, as such, fell under the old GRU (Military Intelligence). British Intelligence had already identified the interpreter, Levchenko, as a Soviet Military Intelligence officer during that man’s service in India several years earlier. Truth being stranger than fiction, Ludmilla was, in fact, a ranking colonel in the same Soviet service and ran the entire Smifnoff operation in Lesotho.
The project involved Smifnoff being permitted to travel each month with Levchenko and Ludmilla to Mafeking, the travel visa being obtained via De Beers’ contacts in the South African Immigration Department and Bureau for State Security (BOSS). It was done on theexcuse of having samples of Lesotho material assayed by the scientific-ally well-equipped De Beers’ laboratory. In this way the contact was set up for Waddell and, later, Oppenheimer himself, to obtain reciprocal visas to visit Russia, ostensibly to examine, at first hand, Russian diamond mining operations. In reality it was, as you rightly staed, to come to an agreement suiting both the Soviet and De Beers; all related to the international marketing of diamonds.
Levchenko and wife Ludmilla suddenly disappeared from Lesotho, with no trace of their having left through normal diplomatic or immigration channels.
Mike Bowery
Petervale


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