In the modern era, are there people who were secret agents before they started to play politics and get elected as the primary executive power holder such, as but not limited to, the position of president/prime minister? Or is Mr. Putin the only ex-secret agent ever do so in modern history?

Answer Parameters:

  1. By modern era I mean starting from 1800 until today.

  2. By real secret agents I mean someone like Mr. Putin. He was a real secret agent because he joined the KGB and was on a mission as a KGB agent.

  3. People who just got assigned head of the intelligence department without serving as a spy prior to this don't count.

  4. As for diplomats, I'm sure plenty if not all of diplomats do spy on the country they are assigned to, at least to a certain degree. If he was known to be a secret agent disguised as a diplomat then he can be counted.

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    yuri andropov, at least – Dmitry Korolyov Dec 12 '16 at 15:49
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    though, he wasn't a secret agent in the pure sense. He was once the head of the KGB, and (by many sources) was quite qualified in this sphere, but he had got to the head post of the KGB from other fields (he was an ambassador to Hungary etc.), though those "fields", like diplomacy, are always and everywhere highly intervened with secret services – Dmitry Korolyov Dec 12 '16 at 15:52
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    George HW Bush was director of the CIA in the late 70s, if that counts. – rougon Dec 12 '16 at 16:08
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    @rougdon: director of CIA is a public figure, not a "secret agent". – Alex Dec 13 '16 at 2:44
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    You should be more specific about what is a "secret agent". People like KGB chiefs and CIA directors are not "secret agents". – Alex Dec 13 '16 at 2:46

First of all, you should have detailed what did you mean with the term "modern era".

If this is related only to the post 1991 period, then there are numerous examples. Here is a list of some of such examples:

  • Sergey Stepashin, who had served as the head of the FSB before he became the Prime Minister
  • Mikhail Fradkov, currently he is the head of the SVR, and there is no direct mention that he was a secret agent before, but he was a Soviet diplomat during the USSR era, so one can be almost 100% sure, that he had a direct relation to secret services
  • Yevgeny Primakov he was the Prime Minister and before that was a "secret agent"

These are only few, the most public and sort of famous. If I recall anyone else I'll edit the answer to add them to the list.

If you was asking about the Soviet era too, than I can name, at least, Yuri Andropov, who had been a diplomat and the Party officer (almost 100% sure that he had direct relation to secret services) before he became the General Secretary of the Party — de-facto and it might be de-jure the head of state in the USSR, I'm not an expert in the Soviet Constitution.

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  • Nice answer. Any non-Russian/non-Soviet examples? – Alex Dec 13 '16 at 2:42
  • @Alex, sorry, I thought that would be enough, since the question was tagged only with the russia tag. That is I supposed it is only about Russia – Dmitry Korolyov Dec 13 '16 at 16:22
  • Yes, but still interesting whether this is a unique feature of Russia or not. – Alex Dec 13 '16 at 17:12

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