Robert Lockhart – for Russian friends Roman or Romochka – came to the Russian Empire in 1912 as a consulate. When he first heard that he was going to Moscow, he was sincerely delighted: it was better than Panama or Chicago, so far from his home.
In Moscow, for the first three days, Lockhart had fun – he went to restaurants, drank until the morning and learned all the delights of entertainment establishments. When the delegation, with which he arrived, went back home, the diplomat first went to the consulate, where he was to work for the coming years. Imagine his surprise when he came to the address: the office was in the consul’s apartment, located on a “miserable side street.” “There was no courier or doorman. The doors were opened by the servants of the consul, and in her absence I myself “, – recalled Lockhart in his book” History from within. Memoirs of a British Agent. The job was simple: sitting in the office, where he mostly pasted stamps and tapped on a typewriter, translating foreign reports and making copies of various questionnaires.
The luxurious Metropol, in which Lockhart settled, had to be changed to a simpler apartment a week later: after all, the vice-consul’s salary did not allow him to live in such an expensive hotel – a week cost Lockhart more than his monthly salary. It was decided to live with a Russian family in order not only to significantly save on living, but also to learn the language. Then many families accepted foreigners and taught them Russian, but for the most part the living conditions were not the most comfortable. Lockhart was lucky: he ended up in the Ertel family, namely, to the widow Alexander Ertel, prose writer and friend Lev Tolstoy… “She was a plump little woman in her fifties, a little fussy, but a born teacher. Ms Ertel was interested in literature and politics. She had a spacious apartment on Vozdvizhenka with a wonderful library, ”he wrote in his book. Lockhart recalled this time with rapture, saying that it was a wonderful period of his life in Russia. He progressed quickly in learning the language and pretty soon spoke it fluently. The more he knew, the more he understood that he was living in a family of intellectuals who were vehemently opposed to the tsarist government: the Briton wrote that they could discuss, until late at night, behind a samovar, how to save the world with the help of the revolution.
Lockhart also communicated with fellow countrymen, but these two parts of his life did not intersect: outside of business relations, the British did not particularly want to communicate with Russians, because, in his words, they considered them “immoral savages.” The first British the diplomat met were the Charnock brothers – one of them, Harry, was the director of a cotton mill in Orekhovo-Zuevo. He firmly believed that Russian workers, who preferred to spend their weekends in drinking, could be raised by football, so the plant had its own team – the Morozovtsy CSR.
Here it is worth a little step back from the story about Lockhart and say a few words about the club. The British arrived in Orekhovo-Zuevo in 1840: Ludwig Knopp built the first paper mill for Savva Morozov, a former serf. The Charnocki brothers arrived in Russia a little later, and they also brought football with them: advertisements were placed in English newspapers that the factory needed employees who could play the ball across the field. Trainings and matches were held long before the appearance of the Morozovtsy CSR club, but in 1909 the team, with the governor’s approval, was officially registered. The first charter, drawn up by the Charnok brothers, stated that only employees of Morozov’s factories could become its members, having paid a membership fee of 10 rubles (the money went to the form and landscaping of the site).
The first appearance of the Morozov team took place in August 1909 – they played a match with the Moscow team from Sokolniki. The newspaper “Russian Sport” admired the half-English team: discipline, costumes, first impression – everything was great. A little later, in the fall of the same year, the Moscow Football League was created, which included the team from Orekhovo-Zuev.
Let’s go back to Lockhart. In the “English colony” there were rumors about the diplomat that he was a brilliant football player, so the Charnocks invited (apparently out of friendship, because the vice-consul was not a factory employee) to join the team. Surprisingly, Lockhart had never played football before – his brother was fond of it. In the club, no one knew about the service in counterintelligence: there they talked about him only as a womanizer and a socialite with many acquaintances in higher circles.
He gave his word to the Charnocks that he could be counted on – because of this, some other Moscow team, which was entirely made up of the British, had to be turned down. Lockhart later admitted that he did not regret his decision for a second: this experience became for him a very important part of his Russian upbringing.
“I am afraid that this experience has brought me more benefit than my club,” he wrote in his book. – I hardly coped with the assigned place in the team. Despite this, the matches were very interesting and enthusiastic. In Orekhovo we had to play in front of a crowd of ten to fifteen thousand people. With the exception of losses to foreign teams, we rarely failed. Of course, the Charnoks’ experiment was crowned with complete success. If it were borrowed by other factories, then its influence on the character of Russian workers would be very significant. “
Lockhart played for Morozov for about a year – he devoted himself completely to the cause, giving all his best on the field without a trace. Having become the champion of Moscow, he finished his football career: “I still keep my gold medal of the 1912 Moscow League championship. This medal is one of the few things that I have preserved from that distant time … The spirit of striving for victory reigned in the team. English fans could learn from the support and enthusiasm that we felt from the audience. ”
The reason why he retired was not only in his marriage, but also in his desire to conquer the merchants and the nobility – connections in these circles were simply necessary for work in counterintelligence. Lockhart focused on this, and by 1914 he had informants reporting on the turbulent situation in factories, villages and the upper strata of the population. He telegraphed about riots, discontent, socialist agitation and concern of the population and the authorities about a possible coup; received copies of numerous secret resolutions, and also met missions that were engaged in propaganda among Russians.
In 1917, he left for England for a while, but on December 31 he was notified: sir, you are returning to Russia as the head of a special British mission in Moscow to establish unofficial relations with the Bolsheviks. “My position promised me a lot of difficulties, but I accepted my appointment without any hesitation,” he recalled. – First of all, it was necessary to obtain letters of recommendation to Lenin and Trotsky and install modus vivendi (Latin – literally “way of life”, is often used to denote an agreement or agreement that allows conflicting parties to coexist in the world. – Approx. “Championship”) with Litvinov “.
This visit to Russia was not easy for Lockhart: he did not recognize Moscow, which he remembered as a completely different one, did not recognize Petersburg; his activities did not always meet with the approval of the bosses who sent him on an important assignment, because the spy rushed between work and his personal feelings of what was happening; life went on in a state of protracted crisis. He talked a lot with the “allies” – the Americans and the French, who had arrived with approximately the same purpose.
Lockhart planned to leave, but did not have time – on the night of September 1, he was arrested. They came to him at night: when he woke up, the room was full of armed people, and the barrel of a pistol was aiming at his forehead. He was ordered to pack his things and was told that they would immediately be taken to the Lubyanka. Already at the office, Lockhart said that he had come to the country at the invitation of the government, and also declared an official protest against the arrest and asked for clarification, but no one wanted to listen to him.
In his pocket he found a small notebook in which he wrote down the funds he had spent in cipher. It’s amazing how the Cheka workers did not search his suit, but at that moment he was not thinking about a successful coincidence of circumstances, but how to get rid of it now. Lockhart didn’t think of anything better than asking to go to the toilet. There, the observers did not allow him to close the door, but the Briton was saved by the lack of toilet paper: with an imperturbable look, he took out a notebook, tore out the pages and flushed everything down the toilet.
In the morning they let him go home, and a couple of days later he read in the Bolshevik newspapers about the “Lockhart affair”: that he was accused of attempting to kill Lenin and Trotsky, which took place shortly before his arrest, organizing a military dictatorship, a desire to condemn the people to starvation and blowing up bridges.
Two people were sentenced to death, eight to a five-year imprisonment, four absent, including Ambassador Lockhart, were declared enemies of the workers, subject to execution when they appeared within Russia. Later he was arrested again – this time for a long time. Lockhart himself came to the Lubyanka: he asked the deputy. Chairman of the Cheka Peters to release his passion Muru Budberg (which we did). The Briton stayed in the Lubyanka for five days, and then spent another 24 in an apartment in the Kremlin. Together with him, two more ambassadors – France and the United States – were detained on the same charge.
At the trial, a version was outlined that Lockhart tried to bribe officers and soldiers of a company of Latvian riflemen guarding the Kremlin in order to carry out a military coup and overthrow the Soviet government. Also, foreign missions were credited with organizing arson and explosions of railways in order to cut off Petrograd from food supplies.
Lockhart and the diplomats were declared “enemies of the working people” and expelled from the country, their accomplices were sentenced to imprisonment, and some to be shot.
Most of the information from that case has not yet been declassified. But there are memories of the Latvian security officer Yana Buikisa on the disclosure of the “conspiracy of the three ambassadors.” According to them, Felix Dzerzhinsky sent him and another Latvian, Jan Sprogis, under assumed names to the anti-Soviet underground. They came to Lockhart with a confidential letter, they say, we are also unhappy with the Soviet regime. Also, the commander of the artillery battalion of the Latvian division, Eduard Berzin, was sent to the diplomat – he also later met with another British agent, Sydney Reilly, who handed over 1,200,000 rubles to the serviceman as payment for the overthrow of the government by the Latvian troops. This game with the ambassadors would probably have continued if it had not been for the attempt on Lenin’s life – this prompted the Cheka to act faster and more decisively.
Lockhart returned to his homeland and continued to serve in the Foreign Ministry, where during the Second World War he headed the Department of Political Intelligence. He also worked as a journalist and wrote books – this is the story of a spy who even managed to become the champion of Moscow and play for the oldest club in our country.