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Igor Gouzenko

Igor Gouzenko was a Soviet file clerk who defected to Canada in 1945, bringing with him much evidence as to Soviet espionage activities in the west.

Gouzenko was born January 13, 1919 in the Soviet Union. Joining the military at the start of the Second World War he was trained as a cipher clerk and posted to the Soviet embassy in Ottawa. During his time sending coding messages he laerned much of Soviet espionage activities in Canada.

In 1945, hearing that he and his family were to be sent home to the Soviet Union, and dissatisfied with the quality of life and the politics of his homeland, he decided to defect. He went to the RCMP but his story was not believed. He then went to the Ottawa Journal newspaper, but the paper's night editor wasn't interested, and suggested he go to the justice ministry, where nobody was on duty. Terrified that the Soviets had discovered his duplicity, he went back to his apartment and hid his family in the apartment across the hall for the night. Gouzenko watched through the keyhole as a group of Soviet agents broke into his apartment and began searching through his belongings.

The next day Gouzenko was able to find contacts in the RCMP who could understand his evidence, which led to the arrest of twelve Soviet spies and to a royal commission on espionage in Canada. Even more importantly it alerted other countries around the world, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, that Soviet agents had almost certainly infiltrated their nations as well.

Gouzenko and his family were given another identity by the Canadian government out of fear of Soviet reprisals. Little is known about his life afterwards, but it is understood that he settled down to a middle class existence somewhere in Canada. Gouzenko managed to keep in the public eye, however, writing two books, This Was My Choice a non-fiction account of his defection, and a novel The Fall of a Titan which won a Governor General's Award in 1954. Gouzenko also appeared occasionally on television, always with a white cloth draped over his head.

Gouzenko died of natural causes in 1982