Russian President Vladimir Putin's carefully crafted image as a former KGB "super spy" in the former Soviet Union is a fabrication, according to a report by the German newspaper Der Spiegel.
According to the stories surrounding Putin, the current leader of Russia went on top-secret missions during the 1980s, during which he met with and armed terrorists from the Red Army Faction (RAF) in Germany. He was also reportedly involved in meetings in which the assassination of Deutsche Bank CEO Alfred Herrhausen and similar acts were discussed, as well as the defense of a KGB office in East Germany from looters.
The stories paint a picture of Putin as a master spy and a key figure in the KGB in the 1980s. However, evidence verifying the tales has proven elusive for researchers, until now.
One of the primary anonymous sources has been revealed to be Dietmar C., a criminal whose history includes convictions for bank robbery and making false statements. While the anonymous source behind the stories about Putin was reportedly a member of the RAF, C. was never part of the terrorist organization, casting further doubt on the claims of Putin's association with the group.
Instead, the Der Spiegel investigation found that Putin's time in the KGB was far more mundane than heroic. One former associate at the KGB's Dresden office said that Putin's "work consisted primarily of endlessly reviewing applications for West German relatives' visits or searching for potential informants among foreign students at Dresden University."
Another KGB official from the Dresden office, Horst Jehmlich, told Der Spiegel that the Russian President was little more than an "errand boy" during his 16 years with the infamous intelligence organization.