Yevgeny Ivanov (spy)

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Captain Yevgeny Mikhailovich Ivanov (Russian: Евгений Михайлович Иванов; 11 January 1926 – 17 January 1994), also known as Eugene Ivanov, was a naval attaché at the Soviet Embassy in London during the early 1960s, and was also engaged in espionage. His affair with Christine Keeler resulted in another of her lovers, John Profumo, resigning from the United Kingdom government, in what became known as the Profumo affair.

Early life and career[edit]

Ivanov was born in Pskov in 1926, the son of an army officer, he joined the Red Navy in 1944. Ivanov subsequently served as a gunnery specialist in the Far East and Black Sea fleets, he underwent training with the GRU (Soviet military intelligence), before being posted to London on 27 March 1960 as Soviet assistant naval attaché.

Ivanov was accompanied to Britain by his wife Maya, daughter of Alexander Gorkin, chairman of the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union. Ivanov's English was described as competent and the Russian couple were reportedly popular in diplomatic social circles.

Targeted by MI5[edit]

Ivanov became friendly with osteopath Stephen Ward after being introduced to him by the managing editor of the Daily Telegraph during lunch at the Garrick Club.[1][2] MI5 saw Ivanov as a potential defector and asked Ward to try to convince him to shift his allegiance to the United Kingdom.[3]

Ivanov was at a pool party at the Cliveden estate when Christine Keeler met John Profumo, the British Secretary of State for War.[4] Keeler's subsequent affair with Profumo went on at a time when she was also having sex with Ivanov; this was at a time when Cold War tensions were already heightened, just before the Cuban Missile Crisis. Ward and Ivanov are said to have asked Keeler to quiz Profumo as to when American nuclear missiles would be taken to then-West Germany.[4]

Profumo affair[edit]

When the Profumo affair became public, the ensuing scandal of Britain's defence minister having an affair with the mistress of a Soviet spy resulted in several far-reaching changes. On a personal level, Ivanov's relationship with Keeler caused Maya to leave him, while back in Moscow; the Kremlin failed to show him much recognition; the double rejection manifested itself in heavy drinking by Ivanov. Stephen Ward committed suicide.

Later years[edit]

Ivanov was recalled to Moscow in December 1962,[5] prior to the Profumo affair becoming public knowledge. Upon returning to the Soviet Union he continued his naval career, being assigned to the Black Sea Fleet,[6] it is not known whether Ivanov continued to work with the GRU but he was reportedly awarded the Order of Lenin. He did not remarry.

In 1994, Ivanov was found dead in his Moscow flat at the age of 68.


Ivanov's partially ghost-written memoirs The Naked Spy were published in 1992.[7] In the book Ivanov stated that he had been able to obtain significant military intelligence by accessing British political circles; however he claimed that his GRU seniors remained unaware of his relationship with Keeler until the story broke in the UK, since he saw no need to report upon a private relationship.[6]

Cultural references[edit]

Ivanov is portrayed by Jeroen Krabbé in the 1989 film Scandal and by Ian Conningham in Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage musical Stephen Ward the Musical, which opened at the Aldwych Theatre on 19 December 2013.

Peter Sellers portrayed Ivanov in British audio comedy Fool Britannia (1963).


  • Honeytrap (1987) by Anthony Summers & Stephen Dorril, Coronet Books, ISBN 0340429739.
  1. ^ Andrew Muir, A History of Modern Britain.
  2. ^ Captain Yevgeny Ivanov, page 7. The Naked Spy, Blake Harbacks Ltd, London 1992.
  3. ^ Summers & Dorrill, chapter 7.
  4. ^ a b Summers & Dorrill, chapter 8.
  5. ^ Los Angeles Times, 23 January 1994.
  6. ^ a b The Guardian, 11 March 2006.
  7. ^ New York Times, 20 January 1994.