"The following is a complete, unedited, unverified interview, portions of which were utilized in the Red Files PBS broadcast. Statements therein are the sole opinion of the interviewee, and do not reflect the views of PBS, DDE or Series and Web Site producer Abamedia, which are not Responsible for the interview content."


Interview with Konstantin Gyanov
KGB Sport Security

Konstantin Gyanov being interviewed for the filmInterviewer: Before athletes went to international competitions, they went to Lenin's tomb, visited leadership, got instructions?

Gyanov: For that you need to return to that country which we don't longer have for already about 10 - years. Then we had our own traditions, our instructions, our established order. Because I worked, came to sport in the eve of the Olympics, I certainly attended all major competitions. When I had relation to athletes, I certainly always where around. When they were going to large competitions, only on large. There were more than 1000 of different competitions per year, were athletes went, teams, delegations, separate track and field athletes or separate somebody. There were no special problems there. Only when there was a world championship, Europe championship, Olympics, large Universities, then, yes, that was. Then they were assembled somewhere in a hall in the Sport Committee, leadership of Sport spoke to them, then in an organized way we went to visit Lenin's Mausoleum.

Interviewer: Were they told, that they go as representatives of their people and how they should behave?

Gyanov: What to talk, there was not a talk about that. Certainly, what to say or how - how to behave. They were considered as representatives of a great power. There was the Soviet Union, they are representatives of the great power. You know, that competition was going on not only somewhere in the field of technology, space, arms, but there was a competition between America and the United States in the field of sport as well. Before 1952, SU did not take part in the Olympic Games. Yet after 1952 as soon as we came for the first time, immediately won more different medals than anybody else, so to say, from the very first Olympics. So, two or three, I already don't remember details now, I need to look the history somewhere, so, on about three first Olympics, all Soviet Olympic teams won after international competitions. Before that, the Americans completely dominated. Later somewhere, in Munich or at one other Olympics, certainly there was something American. I understand, and American athletes did not cover that. Our shops were special: you come, pay and leave. There is a mark on every commodity, a special pass, special monitoring, television, cameras, watch. Ours did not know about that, often burned on that, they were put under trial. In order for that not to happen, such an instructing [was held]. That is natural.

Interviewer: Did instructions have an imprint of the political environment?

Gyanov: Well, naturally, naturally, how else could that be? It was the Cold War imprint, so to say, I think. It was in our country and from their side, it was in America. It was in Germany, so to say, Cold War. They had a ban for professions. We had dissidents of some kind appearing, work with them was being held. There was a competition of systems, in the spirit of the Cold War, and for an athlete, once he was shown there, that was taken into account.

I would like to say just one thing. When we talked last time, we have already noted, who amazing that athletes, garbage omitted, worked nearly for nothing. And won more medals than anybody else. More than everybody else. And we knew, our services knew, that there were approaches, there were cases when they were persuading athletes to stay and some certain provocations. But during all time of going out, we had almost no such complications or problems. As I earlier said, there was a problem in Montreal with Nemtsanov, a water jumper, who stayed in Montreal. Then Protopopova with Belousov stayed. Other than that there was not. Chess player Spasskiy was let to go; he left himself. When he married a French woman, he stayed in France, and adopted a citizenship and remained a citizen of Soviet Union, in general. And then Gata Kamskiy, chess player stayed with them in America. It was later, when the gates were open and whoever wanted began to go whenever wanted and wherever wanted.

Interviewer: Why so few athletes left?

Gyanov: Well, I say two cases. There were no more. Well, why, perhaps they were well worked with, he-he. Or they liked it here. Conditions were created. They saw somewhere. Nobody prohibited them to contact foreign athletes, then, so to say, they walked there somewhere, I don't know, embracing each other's shoulders, and everybody saw everything and knew. But no, it did not entice them; they returned, nearly all. Both that hockey players, although there were suggestions. But in TsSKA they were mostly officers then, so discipline, education I believe, was such.

Interviewer: Anatoliy Firsov was a star. Was he pressed to stay?

Gyanov: Yes, we knew. It is probably unethical to talk about that yet. All people are alive, all work. But we knew that there were approaches, and not only to hockey players, but also to figure-skaters, skaters, boxers, weight-lifters. Approaches were on one hand to get an athlete and on the other hand to annoy Soviet Union. At that time they ventured for certain provocations to make a person to stay there, you know, what a scandal would have started after that.

The whole world then wrote about Nemtsanov; that was the first case. But later, when they figured out Nemtsanov proved to be an empty thing. He got engaged with a girl, but he was supported there both by special services. They needed that. Both Canadian and American services participated in that when he defected. A girl, whom he fell in love with and who promised to marry him, abandoned him. And he turned out an empty thing. Nobody, not needed to anybody. Yet such approaches, suggestions took place. We knew about that, that's why we worked, that's why there was instructing. That's why in general, he-he, they did not stay somewhere. We consider that we work from our positions; American or British special services work from their own positions, that is natural. We protected an interest of the country, that country, which we represented. Protected, I believe, in an appropriate way.

Interviewer: About hockey players. How you specialists learned about approaches, what they did?

Gyanov: How they learned, so to say, well, every special service has its methods, his means of work, that is one. The second - we were constantly in touch with a coach or a leader of a delegation, somewhere with somebody. Everybody had undergone instructing, and they were warned in advance that if there will be an approach, if, then. Even we, special services told that when instructed. Somewhere I personally spoke between them, several athletes. We told, "If there will be similar approach, come and tell to your coach. Tell to your coach and consult with him. You are a boy, you are young yet, you are somewhere."

A coach, of course, must have reported to the leader of delegation, from there we learned as well, naturally, and took appropriate measures through interaction. Again it went through the administration, through coaches in order to prevent. We could have stopped that Nemtsanov even at that moment, but we had learned late, with a little lag, after he had already left.

Interviewer: Could those who were approached be punished, refused of foreign travel?

Gyanov: That did not happen, especially if we knew that he had officially come and told, then there were no problems. And were nearly did not have refused hockey players. More often it was a coach or a massagist or somebody else who turned out to be refused, when we got some or another signal, most frequently related to speculation, or when we checked some his suspicious contact with a person from the West whom we suspected of something. During that time a person became refused.

In hockey were nearly did not have refused people. The first to defect was Mogilny. It was already when perestroika was underway. He stayed himself. Gata Kamskiy was similar, but that was already in the eve of gates opening, and that was not given special attention. If that was earlier, then, of course, conclusions would not be very pleasant both for coaches and leaders of the team, who accompanied?

Interviewer: When it was a time to go serve in the Army, how TsSKA and Dinamo used their privileges to recruit?

Gyanov: A mechanism was very simple. When a young man scores 19 (now 18), he must go to the Army. It is Constitution, it is a law, which obligates a young man, if he does not have a special waiver, to go to a Military Commissariate. A Military Commissariate is the Army's; they all already know everything. And even if he has initially got not to Moscow to play for the central TsSKA or Dinamo club, he is getting into Army clubs, which exist in Kalinin, Kazan, Ryazan. They also play, play at all levels.

Naturally, everybody knew that if Ragulin played somewhere in Voskresensk [town], in "Khimik" [team], he would be recruited to the Army, and having played 2-3 months in a team of some unit he would also be [in the central TsSKA team]. That is simple. For Dinamo it was a little bit more complicated. They could hire him to work for them, as if they enrolled him. Or to ask via Military Commissariate to recruit some or another player. Dinamo belongs to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and there are also troops there. Internal Troops, and they are getting recruits via Military Commissariates as well. For police they recruit themselves, but for Internal Troops they recruit via a Military Commissariate. So what? There is no special complication here.

Interviewer: Do you remember Tarassov?

Gyanov: I knew him personally, very well.

Interviewer: Did his character become a reason for his firing?

Gyanov: It was his age which became a reason for his firing. I believe so. I knew Anatoliy Vladimirovich personally. We often went to hockey together, especially during last time. He did not miss a single game. I also went often, but I am just an amateur, earlier went both in hockey and ski. Sometimes we even sat next to each other.

By character he was a despotic person - despotic, but he was an outstanding coach, outstanding! he created a team of Soviet Union and under him the hockey team did not lost nearly a single game. Olympic Games and world championship and Europe championship - it all was under Tarassov. That his character was tolerated, everybody understood that his character was bad, stiff, cruel, but he was needed, needed to hockey. And hockey players did not simply tolerated, they considered that as an honor to be under his command. He kept them all in a fist and was making outstanding players from them. A hockey school in Soviet Union is the Tarassov's school, now it is already gone? Tarassov left. Tikhonov was moving along Tarassov's track. And now, whenever we played during three last years, we do not win anything.

Interviewer: Tarassov's desire to play with professionals?

Gyanov: Under Tarassov there was a number of games with professionals which ended both in fighting, or loss or win. But he insisted, and I somewhere, sometime had a talk about that the level of hockey players must be raised. We met at Olympic games. Earlier professionals did not play for America or Canada at the Olympic games. They considered themselves above that. So, when the Soviet team won a world championship or Olympic Games, yet the Western press wrote, "So what, these are amateurs, students," even though they are generally all candidates. Later they all played for professionals. There for Tarassov told, "Let us play with these". In 1976, I think, and in 1978 they played several games here in Moscow and there. I think, that did not prevent. They compared forces and grew mutually. Ours both won and lost to the Canadians and the Americans.

Interviewer: If a Soviet and an American athletes became friends, were they watched?

Gyanov: I met with Ter-Ovanesyan, and we were together in foreign trips. Nobody interfered with him in that. But one should understand, if you know specifics of work of any special service, everything could be in its field of view and under control, just in case, by mistake.

I will not call names, but there was such a case. KGB spotted a meeting of one coach, a major coach, which needs to travel, with a Canadian of an American, also a coach. On the language of special services, it looked like if transaction of something occurred. Professionals must check, what was that, what kind of transaction? With an open meeting there would not be any problem, came in, told, met, said. But here the person was refused about half a year or even more, until were checked him. Later it turned out that that person, whom we did not know, brought a souvenir from a friend of our coach. When that was clarified, the person became eligible for traveling again, traveled. But during a period of checking of this signal or similar ones. As far as Ter-Ovanesyan, no, did he ever was refused or did he had any obstacles to him? No, there were no problems.

Interviewer: Athletes complained that control was very tight.

Gyanov: One can not judge a hammer for driving nails down, one must judge the one whose hand holds this hammer. Therefore special services or all others were reflections of their system, the country. Yes, certainly, now it possibly can be said, that there is no need to supervise, but then it was also from the Western side as well. We are repeating that the Cold War was going on. It is for athlete an Olympic slogan is most important is "Not victory but participation." For special services it is "Working with a contingent." Well, doctors have a proverb "Don't make a harm". And an employee of a special service, I believe, also should have the same slogan, "Don't harm". You must know, you must monitor, but not prevent neither growth of him as an athlete nor growth of a coach nor his ability to go out. But at that time they could not think differently. One can blame Soviet Union, but to equal extent one can blame both America and England and Germany. There special services worked with no less intensity.

Interviewer: Did you like America?

Gyanov: I was in America three times. For the first time or yet earlier, in Austin, Texas, we came with a junior team of athletes. There was a very large delegation. It turned out that in this city of Austin we were the first Russians to step on this land. And our plane was late by four or six hours and people, the Americans, waited a whole night. They came and there was such a kindness, everybody watches and shows, "Russians, Russians, look, they are same as we are." That was very great and I believe that even now everybody needs to say "They are same as we, and we are same as them." I had another occasion. In this city nobody walks and there are no buses. Everybody drives by car, while we in Russia are used to walking. I went out and somewhere across a park, about one kilometer. One driver stopped immediately, a kind of "Why do you walk?" "Well, I am Russian, live in the university." - "Russian, sit down, I will drive you to the university". We go. We know, how strict is their road police in America to violators of traffic rules, yet he goes on a red light, goes with violation of all rules. A policeman stops him immediately, asks papers. He says, "Look, it's a Russian." A policeman, "Russian!? Come on, go." Both began to smile, shook hands and went their ways. That was both good and pleasant. A guest.

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