One exception might be Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, which continues to take life-long care of the KGB’s old boys. One of them is George Blake, the Cold War double agent given a 42-year prison sentence in 1961 and sprung from Wormwood Scrubs in 1966, ably assisted by a petty criminal from Limerick, Seán Bourke.
Mr Bourke got Blake to Moscow, and stayed on for a while before declining a KGB pension and returning to Ireland, Soviet Russia not being to his taste.
Blake, however, lives on — thanks to the Kremlin’s Kim Philby Memorial Care desk — in a dacha outside Moscow, where he is celebrating his 95th birthday, and is sufficiently perky to laud Russia’s 21st century spies as selfless and courageous heroes of “a true battle between good and evil” who must save mankind from nuclear destruction. Whether Putin’s corrupt post-Soviet state, reverting to its Czarist habits, is to Mr Blake’s taste isn’t known, and it’s unlikely ever to be, given that some things in Russia haven’t changed.