The “Petrov Affair” started in April 1954 when Vladimir Petrov and his wife Edvokia defected to Australia. The affair finally finished today, the 11th of December 1955; a day after the Federal Election in Australia when Robert Menzies was elected.
The Events That Saw It Unfold The Petrov Affair occurred around the 3rd of April last year, when Vladimir Petrov, who was the cause of the Petrov Affair, defected to Australia under top-secret conditions. On arrival in Sydney, he was taken to a safe house on Sydney’s north shore. Only 3 or 4 Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, ASIO, officers knew about his defection to Australia, his wife Evdokia didn’t even know about this! Once the soviet embassy was aware of this defection, they accused the Australian Authorities of kidnapping him.
Reason For His Defection One of Petrov’s main reasons for defecting here to Australia was to secure Ron Richards’, ASIO Deputy Director, secret documents containing evidence of Soviet espionage and infiltration of the Australian Government agencies. Richards was in charge of this operation and made the one of the possible code words for the defection “Cabin Candidate”. Another reason for defection was that he feared being arrested and killed by the Russian Government after he was associated with Beria and that if he went back to Russia, he would be purged as “Beria Man”.
What Menzies Did About It Robert Menzies, the Prime Minister of Australia at the time, caused a stir when he announced to the House of Representatives that Petrov brought with him documents that revealed Soviet Espionage in Australia. He called a Royal Commission to investigate these allegations. Herbert Evatt, The Opposition Leader at the time, accused Menzies of arranging the defections to coincide with the election. After this happened, Menzies ended up winning the election, even though everyone thought Labour was going to succeed. Menzies denied that he had advanced knowledge of Petrov’s defection to Australia, but he did not deny that he exploited it.