Russia’s President Vladimir Putin warmly congratulated super-spy George Blake on his 90th birthday, lauding his contribution to East-West “strategic parity”.

The former MI6-officer-turned-Soviet-agent celebrated his birthday on Sunday at his spacious dacha (Russian word for seasonal home) outside Moscow in the company of his Russian wife, their son and his three sons from his first marriage in Britain watching a film the Russian television shot about his life.

“You and your colleagues made a great contribution towards peace, security and strategic parity,” Mr. Putin said in his message of greetings to Mr. Blake.

The Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) for its part titled its message to Mr. Blake “the birthday of a legend”.

Mr. Blake, who joined MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, in 1947, offered his services to the Soviet intelligence during the Korean War after he was imprisoned by the North Koreans.

He has always insisted he was guided by his admiration for Communist ideals, just as the famous Cambridge Five — a Soviet spy ring led by Kim Philby operating inside the MI6 at about the same time.

Mr. Blake said in a recent interview that his highest achievement was exposing a Western plan to dig a tunnel to East Berlin in the early 1950s to eavesdrop on Soviet communications. Soviet intelligence used the tunnel to feed disinformation to the Americans and the British for three years before “accidentally” exposing it to score a propaganda coup.

Betrayed by a Polish defector in 1961, Mr. Blake was sentenced to 42 years in jail, sensationally escaped from top-security Wormwood Scrubs prison in London five years later and was smuggled to East Berlin in a camper van.

In an interview to a Russian daily two years ago Mr. Blake predicted the end of the “American empire” and global triumph of Communism.

“The American empire will disappear because everyone who lives by the sword dies from the sword,” he told the Izvestia newspaper.

Even while conceding that the “Soviet project was doomed” because mankind “was not sufficiently moral to build such a society”, Mr. Blake asserted that time was on Communism’s side.

“One day I believe that the majority of governments will voluntarily choose the Communist model. Without violence, revolution or terror. Maybe it sounds like a Utopia but I believe in it. There will be no wars and no competition.”

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