SpyCast 8.2.22
Ep 550 | 8.2.22

“Becoming a Russian Intelligence Officer” – with Janosh Neumann

Show Notes


Janosh Neumann (LinkedIn; Website) joins Andrew (Twitter; LinkedIn) to discuss life in the FSB. He was born in the Soviet Union to parents in the “business.” 

What You’ll Learn


  • Why Jan defected to the United States
  • How you get recruited and trained as a Russian intelligence officer
  • What it is like to recruit and run agents in Moscow
  • His take on what he did for the Russian state


  • Learn to connect with anybody
  • Making a life-changing and potentially life-ending decision

And much, much more…

Episode Notes

Have you ever wondered how a Russian intelligence officer is trained? Ever wondered what it would be like to be a defector? Ever wondered what it’d be like to be given three choices, shoot yourself, get shot, or go on the run?

If so, you’ll enjoy this week’s episode with Jan Neumann, who was born Alexy Yurievich Artamonov in the former Soviet Union. 

Jan’s father was a KGB internal affairs officer, and he would go on to join one of its successors, the FSB, or Federal Security Service, in which his wife also served. He speaks about a number of projects he is involved in, here in the States, where he now resides.


Jan is the Co-Founder of RealSpyComics, which will be the first independent comic publisher dedicated to telling true intelligence stories. The International Spy Museum is a partner on this venture, because if there is one thing, we have a lot of – its spy stories!

Quote of the Week

"I'm not a big fan of ballet, but one of my sources was a big ballet fan. So, I had to go to the Bolshoi Theater, watch this again, and again, and again, I had to do some learning to be able to talk to the guy. And same thing was happening with the art as well. so going to some galleries and talk to the people, be sure that they're using at least same terminology as they are, to be able in the future to support the conversation, be interesting to this person whom you're trying to approach." – Janosh Neumann


Headline Resources

Andrew’s Recommendation

  • Russian Intelligence, K. Riehle (NIU, 2022) [download entire book here for free)


Beginner Resources


  • Putin’s People, C. Belton (William Collins, 2021)
  • Return of the Russian Leviathan, S. Medvedev (Polity, 2019)
  • Near & Distant Neighbors, J. Haslam (FS&G, 2016)
  • The New Nobility, A. Soldatov & I. Borogan (Public Affairs, 2010)


  • Spymaster: My 32 Years in Espionage Against the West O. Kalugin (Basic, 2009)
  • Special Tasks: A Soviet Spymaster, P. and A. Sudoplatov (Little Brown, 1994)



Primary Source Collections [All Wilson Center]

*Wildcard Resource*