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1971: Foreign Office names Soviet superspy

The British Government has named the Soviet defector who last week exposed dozens of Russians alleged to be spying in the UK.

Information from Oleg Lyalin - supposedly a member of the USSR's trade delegation in the UK - led to the expulsion of 105 Soviet officials from Britain on 25 September.

Mr Lyalin, 35, is a senior officer in Russia's intelligence service, the KGB. He was due to appear at a London magistrates' court at 1030 GMT on a drink-driving charge, but failed to appear.

He is now understood to be under the protection of British counter-espionage agents along with his secretary, Irina Teplyakova, who has also defected.

Remanded on bail

A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed the pair had sought political asylum after Mr Lyalin's arrest in Tottenham Court Road, central London, on 30 August.

He was remanded on bail of 50 which was paid by the Soviet trade delegation.

His hearing today in Number One Court, Marlborough Street, lasted only long enough for him to be reported absent.

Charles Shearer - the police officer who arrested the Russian - was in the courtroom.

"Up till this morning I did not know that the man I arrested was a spy - it was only when I read the papers today that I twigged," he said.

If Mr Lyalin's allegations are correct it will be a huge blow for the KGB's operations in the UK.

The Soviet Union has responded with the expulsion of 18 British embassy staff from Moscow and surveillance of all UK subjects in the country is reported to have been stepped up.

In Context
British security services recruited Oleg Lyalin in May 1971 after they discovered he had been having an affair with his secretary.

When he was arrested for drink-driving, the trade delegation member knew he would not benefit from diplomatic protection and sought help from MI5.

He was the first Soviet intelligence agent to defect since World War II.

It was a huge embarrassment to the Soviet authorities and the pair were forced into hiding in fear of KGB retaliation.

They married, changed identities and moved to Bournemouth, but the relationship only lasted a few years.

Mr Lyalin died in February 1995.

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