Sparrows and Ravens
In 1964, The French Ambassador to Moscow Maurice Dejean was left spellbound as an alluring girl nearly half his age invited him to her bedroom. He had only met her a couple of hours back at a friend’s luncheon meeting and she seemed to be ‘head-over-heels’ in love with him. Within hours, he was in her apartment making love.
The girl was Larissa Kronberg. And far from getting infatuated by a middle-aged man, she was an actress cum KGB agent who was tasked with having sex with him so he could later be blackmailed into giving up French secrets. And it worked well for nearly 6 years as the ambassador continued to give the confidential information the KGB wanted.
In KGB terminology Larissa Kronberg was a real-life ‘sparrow’. And she was trained in a school called State School 4, a classified specialist training school for women agents who were taught to seduce their targets with sexpionage. Said to be located near the city of Kazan, southeast of Moscow, the school's cadets were mostly female Russian army soldiers who entered the intelligence corps, but there were also male cadets called ravens.
The story of State School 4
The theme of this secretive school was first adapted into a movie named Red Sparrow, a 2018 American spy thriller film directed by Francis Lawrence and written by Justin Haythe. The story was based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Jason Matthews. The movie tells the story of a Russian intelligence officer, who is sent to make contact with a CIA officer in the hope of discovering the identity of a mole.
And author Jason Matthews on whose book, the movie is adapted and who himself had worked as a CIA agent for 33 years says that such a school actually existed during the cold war. As Jason says.
“These women were trotted out in very controlled circumstances in Moscow. They were trained in being alluring and assigned to foreigner-only hotels to spring a blackmail trap on a target.”
Although the majority of the recruits were female Russian Army soldiers who entered the intelligence corps, college students were also sometimes selected due to their youth and based on their ideology, aspirations, intellect, beauty and knowledge of foreign cultures. They will be investigated thoroughly up to the last two generations before they are selected to be the eyes and ears of the Kremlin.
The Recruited Girls Followed a Brutal Schedule
Once recruited, the cadets are made to adopt a gruelling daily schedule which included strenuous physical training, firearm training, martial arts, and hand-to-hand fighting competitions, according to reports from former agents.
And then along with the physical training, came the sex training. These girls are made to watch hardcore pornography which included exotic positions from the Kama Sutra and sex tips picked up by Soviet officials ‘residing’ in other countries. These agents are also made to expose or get raped before a class and also film the compromising actions of other cadets in an attempt to improve their blackmailing skills. They also learn how to pop a champagne cork and serve caviar according to the ‘culture’ of the subject.
The agents were therefore deprived of their personal freedoms and turned into agents of the state, with the ultimate aim being ‘to do whatever it takes to ensure the entrapment of the target’.
As Jason says.
“A typical day was watching naughty films, studying languages, learning how to dress up and instruction on how to elicit information from the target. Once trained, they were given sexy lingerie and dispatched to the five-star hotels around Moscow to await their targets.”
And their targets are mostly, influential, powerful, lonely men sitting all alone in the bar after a tiring day at work. At such a time, a beautiful Russian girl who is madly ‘infatuated’ by them is more than welcome. And it will not be long before the ‘lucky’ meeting in the bar ends in the bedroom promptly bugged with cameras and audio equipment set up by KGB agents recording the whole episode.
And after the fun, comes the sting of the blackmail that forces the subject into submission and traitory.
Is the School Still Existing?
Jason believes the school is no longer in existence now as he says.
“While sparrows definitely existed during the Cold War era, there’s less information available about the use of sparrows today. I don’t know if there still is an operating Sparrow School, but I imagine honey traps are still used.”
While the State School 4 might have been closed during the late 80s of the cold war, sparrows continued to operate luring important men and women into honeytraps. The most recent example is that of Anna Chapman. Her marriage to an Englishman granted her dual citizenship that allowed her to work at Barclay’s Bank. She travelled freely between Russia and England giving valuable information of economic policies to the Russians.
She was eventually caught in June 2010 in the United States resulting in the busting of a spy network involving nine other spies. The subsequent month, she was deported to Russia as part of a spy exchange deal between the US and Russia. Needless to say, she was rewarded with a medal by the Russia government and soon became a celebrity hosting her own talk show across the country.
As author and security specialist Nigel West says rightly about sexpionage.
“It’s still going on. It’s really very effective. There’s no limit to the stupidity and vanity of men."
Something to Ponder About
Sexpionage is defined as the use of sexual activity, romance, intimacy or even romance to conduct espionage activities. This is a well-documented phenomena in many cultures and have been since ancient history. These spies often led double and triple lives with their exploits hardly coming to the forefront even after being exposed.
Do you know about any famous ravens or sparrows used during the cold war?
Let me know in the comments
About the Creator
I am an executive who likes spending time reading and writing about almost everything under the sun.I love writing within the cusp of relationships, history, and creativity where boundaries are blurred, and possibilities are immense.