Notorious British traitor George Blake has been buried in Moscow with full military honours following his death at the age of 98.
The MI6 double agent, feared to have sent 600 spies to their deaths by betraying them to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, died on Boxing Day and was laid to rest today at Troyekurovskoye cemetery alongside other KGB icons.
Blake – officially a retired colonel in Russian foreign intelligence – was given a military salute before his coffin was laid in the ground, it is understood.
The funeral was attended by many serving and retired spies led by Russia‘s top spy Sergei Naryshkin, the head of the SVR – the successor to the Soviet-era KGB.
Military honours: George Blake is laid to rest in Moscow today following his death at the age of 98, more than five decades after he escaped from prison in the UK
George Blake, pictured, is seen in Britain as a traitor who may have sent hundreds of spies to their deaths, but is feted as a hero in Russia where he lived after escaping prison
‘For seven decades, his life was tied to Russian, Soviet intelligence,’ Naryshkin said in a eulogy to Blake.
‘He chose the path of a decisive and uncompromising fight for the highest humanistic values, for a just and free world.
‘His memory will remain in our hearts.’
State media did not specify if Blake’s British sons – Anthony, James and Patrick – had attended the funeral which was supervised by the Russian secret services.
Patrick is an Anglican priest, who had worked as a missionary in South America. Blake also had a Russian son, Mikhail, a university teacher.
Russian president Vladimir Putin – himself a former KGB agent – had earlier sent a telegram to Blake’s relatives and friends offering his condolences.
Soldiers wearing face masks march alongside the pall-bearers at Blake’s funeral today following his death on Boxing Day
A portrait of Blake is held up at his funeral, which was attended by serving and retired spies
Russia’s top spy Sergei Naryshkin (pictured), the head of the SVR – the successor to the Soviet-era KGB – gave a eulogy at Blake’s funeral
Blake was the last survivor in a line of British spies whose secret work for the Soviet Union humiliated the intelligence establishment when it was discovered at the height of the Cold War.
The 98-year-old Dutch-born spy had been living in Moscow since he escaped from Wormwood Scrubs in 1966.
A turncoat MI6 officer, he had been serving a record 42-year sentence for handing over secrets to Soviet intelligence.
After joining MI6 in 1944, he became a committed Communist after reading the works of Karl Marx during a spell in a North Korean prison.
Following his release, he returned to British intelligence but passed secrets to the Soviets while deployed by MI6 in Cold War Berlin.
Blake was eventually exposed by a Polish defector and brought home to the UK, where he was sentenced and jailed.
Britain says he exposed the identities of hundreds of Western agents across Eastern Europe in the 1950s, some of whom were executed as a result of his treason.
After his escape, he spent the rest of his life in the Soviet Union and then Russia, where he was feted as a hero.
Britain says Blake (pictured in 2001) exposed the identities of hundreds of Western agents across Eastern Europe in the 1950s, some of whom were executed as a result of his treason.
Reflecting on his life in an interview in Moscow in 1991, Blake said he had believed the world was on the eve of Communism.
‘It was an ideal which, if it could have been achieved, would have been well worth it,’ he said.
After Blake’s death, the Kremlin published a message in which Vladimir Putin paid tribute to an ‘outstanding professional of special courage’.
‘Throughout the years of his hard and strenuous efforts he made a truly invaluable contribution to ensuring the strategic parity and the preservation of peace on the planet,’ Putin said.
‘Our hearts will always cherish the warm memory of this legendary man.’
The SVR earlier announced: ‘The bitter news has come – the legendary George Blake is gone…. He died of old age, his heart stopped.’
The ashes of two other Cold War British spies who died in Moscow – Guy Burgess, in 1963, and Donald McLean, in 1983 – were returned to Britain.
Kim Philby, who died 1988, was buried at Kuntsevo Cemetery in Moscow.