Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Two lives spent in the shadows"

Lost for decades in the shadows of Cold War spookery, the tale of Mikhail and Yelizaveta Mukasey has been blasted over state-controlled media this year. Yelizaveta's death this fall, as a 97-year-old widow, gave Russian officials the chance to trumpet the derring-do of the two star agents.

The story has found an eager audience. If there's one thing Russians love, it's a spy thriller, especially one that conjures up the proud days of the Soviet Union and the fading glory of World War II. Add a touch of Hollywood stardust, and so much the better.

Despite the surge of interest in the couple, hard facts are scant. Anatoly Mukasey, their 71-year-old son, says intelligence officials told him it would be 150 years before the Russian state would divulge the full extent of his parents' missions. All that remains now are the stories they told their children, and the fragmentary memories they eventually set in print. Shown above, the Moscow graves of Mikhail and Yelizaveta Mukasey.

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