The Americans”, the Fx cable TV series, is not so far from what was really happening during the cold war. According to Calder Walton of “Politico Magazine,” Soviet spies were very successful in bugging many sensitive US intelligence targets like US Embassies and even the Congress just like in “The Americans.”

A realistic scenario

The fact that the scenario is realistic should actually not come as a surprise because the series as created and produced by a former CIA officer Joe Weisberg.

It goes without saying that Weisberg based the series on personal experiences and knowledge gained during his time as a CIA officer. The fact that real Soviet KGB stories confirm that the scenario is realistic makes the series historically important since it sheds light on a part of history that is often unclear as it is surrounded by secrets and mystery.

Some recently released real Soviet KGB spy stories that confirm that the series’ scenario is very realistic are briefly analyzed in the following paragraphs.

The Illegals Program

This was the name given by the US Department of Justice to the network of Soviet KGB “sleeper agents” who infiltrated and blended in American society. These spies lived normal lives, had regular jobs and families in the US but were involved in espionage against the US whenever they were “woken up” by the KGB who gave them missions just like Elizabeth and Philip from“The Americans.”

If you think that this is far-fetched or unrealistic, you are absolutely wrong! There are many examples of such sleeper agents who were uncovered. A recent one is Albert Dittrich aka “Jack Barsky” who was a Soviet "sleeper agent" on a long-term mission to spy on the US.

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Dittrich recently wrote his memoirs and BBC reported on it.

Additionally, back in 2010 a couple a Russian spies who were “sleeper agents,” like Philip and Elizabeth, were arrested by the FBI. Their children had no idea of their parents’ activities just like Henry and Paige. Even though in the series Paige knows now, it was probably done to add more drama to the series. The significant thing is that they at least initially, presented a real situation with spy parents and children who do not know anything.

Soviets bugged US Embassy in Moscow

According to reports, after the end of World War Ii the Soviets bugged the US Embassy in Moscow more than 120 times. Bugs kept turning out everywhere, in new tables or even stationery.

The most famous bug was discovered in 1952. An electronic sweep found a bug hidden in a replica of the Great seal that was hanging on the wall of the office of the Ambassador. The replica of the Great seal was an official present to the Ambassador by the Soviets after the end of World War II.

This means that they were listening in to the Ambassador for about 7 years. This sounds very similar to what happened in “The Americans” when Philip managed to bug the office of the Director of the FBI with a bug concealed in a pen.

In fact, the Soviets had bugged all western embassies in Moscow and were listening in to what was being said.

Soviet spies bugged the Congress

This may sound unbelievable but it is true! In 1967 a TASS agency reporter who was a KGB spy managed to bug the Armed Services Committee of the Congress. Thankfully, the FBI was expecting a hit on Congress and was able to immediately find and disarm the bug.

After reading about the incident at the Congress, one can only think that what we see happening in the series is indeed very realistic and not far from the truth. This series is a must see for all those who like spy stories since it may be the most realistic spy series ever.