17:44 GMT20 January 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Legendary Soviet spy George Blake, whose work contributed to securing strategic parity between the Soviet Union and the United States, was buried on Wednesday with military honours in Moscow, a Sputnik correspondent reported.

    Blake, a former UK intelligence official and a retired colonel of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), passed away last Saturday, aged 98. Russian President Vladimir Putin, himself a former intelligence officer, expressed his condolences to Blake's family and friends.

    Blake was laid to rest at the Troyekurovskoye cemetery's Alley of Heroes under the name of Georgy Bekhter, which he used while living in the Soviet Union and Russia, to the sound of the Russian national anthem and shots by the honour guard. The grave is surrounded by various wreaths, including from President Putin.

    Meanwhile, SVR head Sergey Naryshkin described Blake's life as a fight for just and free world.

    "He chose for himself the path of the unwavering and uncompromising fight for the highest humane values, for a just and free world. He faced severe challenges, spent many years on the cutting edge of the invisible front, worked himself to the limit of human strength and ability and preserved the faith in his ideals, his convictions and high values," Naryshkin told journalists.

    The Russian foreign intelligence chief reminded that Blakes's bronze portrait was a part of the monument to the country's intelligence officers throughout the centuries that was inaugurated at the service's headquarters in September.

    "And his memory will live on in our hearts," Naryshkin concluded.

    Born in 1922 in the Netherlands, Blake moved to the United Kingdom in 1942 and in 1944 joined the Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6. Blake was deployed to Seoul in 1948 to gather intelligence on the Soviet Far East and Siberia. After the Korean War broke out, Seoul was seized by the forces of Kim Il Sung, and Blake was sent to an internment camp. During that time, he made contact with and offered to cooperate with Soviet intelligence.

    After the war's ended in 1953, Blake returned to London and served in the MI6 headquarters, sending to Moscow classified information, such as the defence ministry's intelligence reviews, as well as information on how well the UK and the US were informed about Soviet military secrets.

    However, in 1961, after having been exposed by Polish defector Michael Goleniewski, Blake was arrested and sentenced to 42 years in prison. Four years later, Blake escaped from prison and made his way to the Soviet Union, where he lived as Georgy Bekhter.

    For his services to the Soviet Union and Russia, he was awarded the rank of foreign intelligence colonel and other honours, such as the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Banner and the Order of Friendship.

    funeral, Intelligence, spy, George Blake
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