At first glance, one of the most incredible elements of this memoir is the fact that a Soviet naval officer managed to jump ship off the coast of Canada and swim ashore to start a new life. As the cleverly titled documentary Forgive me, Sergei shows, however, other parts of the story turn out to be more questionable. Whilst training for the navy, he becomes a brutal persecutor of Christians, but then himself experiences conversion. The latter might of course have vested interest in labeling Sergei a liar, but the weight of the evidence is convincing and as a result of the interviews Caroline was increasingly convinced that the story did not hang together, even though this revelation is clearly painful for her.
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A Russian Naval Defector By all accounts, on the night of 03 Sept , Sergei Kourdakov, a Russian radio officer, jumped into the frigid waters from his ship and swam several miles to a Canadian shoreline. The distance he swam is disputed. What is not disputed is that he should never have survived.
Sergei prayed to God and eventually staggered to shore. He claimed political asylum, and after weeks of tense discussions, Sergei was relieved to learn that he was not going to be handed back to the Russians. Sergei Kourdakov became a Christian and was soon thrust into the spotlight.
Sponsored by an organization called, Underground Evangelism, Sergei eventually began to share his powerful testimony to large groups of eager Christians. His story was captivating. His testimony revealed that he had been a KGB operative, who personally led clandestine raids into homes of Russian Christians for the purpose of confiscating their religious material and beating them, sometimes to death.
A Mysterious Death On 01 Jan , Sergei was found dead in a hotel room in California of a gunshot wound to the head. His death was ruled an accident. However, he had claimed that he had already been contacted by the KGB, and had warned his friends that if he was ever found dead that it would be made to look like an accident. According to Wikipedia, the book was translated into at least fourteen different languages, sometimes titled, Forgive me, Natasha.
Millions of copies were reportedly sold. In , she read The Persecutor while on a mission trip to Siberia. While there, she attempted to search out some details of the book, but could not verify them. Years later, still taken by his story, Ms. In fact, she had claimed that she had had a vision from God in which she was a pen in His hand.
So, she began to interview people who were named in his book, or who had firsthand knowledge of his life. Eventually, she reached the conclusion that Sergei had lied about his past and his autobiography had been embellished. Her years of labor are summarized in the award-winning documentary, Forgive me, Sergei. For one woman in particular, it stirred up more than just emotions, it compelled her to write a book based on her very personal story with Sergei.
That book, A Rose for Sergei , was released in by author, K. Her story is an incredibly heart-warming — and heart-breaking account.
It chronicles her short time with Sergei. It is raw with emotion and shows a side of Sergei that probably only a few ever saw. I knew none of the above history as I was loaned a copy of The Persecutor in December of I have read many missionary accounts, and was interested in digesting another. Anxious to know more, I went online and quickly found Ms. I downloaded it and read it in two days.
It rings with sincerity and is a very believable account. Fueled by a thirst for even more information about this remarkable man, I found myself trolling the web.
It was then that I found the documentary, Forgive me, Sergei. Not knowing anything about it, I began watching. Soon, I was filled with confusion, then hurt.
Could it be that this man was no hero? It was not what I had expected to learn. As of 08 Feb , the entire documentary is available here. The Investigator Let me pause in this blog to introduce myself to those who may not know me.
I am first and foremost a Christian. I have served as a pastor and have done missionary work. I currently minister regularly in our local jail and at a drug rehab center. For the past 31 years, however, I have also worked professionally as an investigator. I do not claim to be an expert in this field. However, I suspect that I am further advanced in these techniques than the average layman. From the first time I watched the documentary, my trained senses had caught bits and pieces of information that suggested a conflict in what was being said.
This information came mostly in the form of body language, in which I have received some training to recognize. I noted that the body language of some individuals in the film did not always match the words being spoken. So, I watched the documentary again and picked up more inconsistencies. It soon had my full attention from a different perspective. Like a polygraph test, they are not admissible in court. Discovering one of these red flags does not necessarily mean that deception is taking place.
However, experience has taught me that they are quite useful in pointing out possible problem areas in a testimony. I eventually focused on eleven interviews of the documentary. I separated each of these interviews into smaller video segments so that I could watch them closely and in slow motion. I also prepared transcripts for each video and began taking notes.
My findings of these eleven video segments are provided below. However, let me first describe a few of my handicaps in doing this: I do not understand the Russian language.
Therefore, I must rely solely on the subtitles for translation. A better translation of some words or phrases may influence my opinion of that segment. I am relying on the timing of the subtitles. If a subtitle flashes on the screen much too early or late, then any body language interpreted for that sentence may not be accurate.
I do not have the entire interviews. Observing a person prior to an interview helps to establish a baseline for that person. My opinions may be different if I could observe the interviews in their entirety. That being said, it is assumed that the editors of the documentary would not have put forth segments that least-supported the conclusions that they had reached.
Rather, the segments provided to the viewers would seem to be the most supporting portions. Click here for the transcript. Click here to watch the interview. Unfortunately, the viewer has no record to what activity she was referring. The camera angle is not optimum, showing only her side of face and back of head.
I detected no signs of deception. She also appeared to have been interviewed in order to determine if she had been aware of persecutions. It nearly always indicates that there is disagreement between the spoken words and a belief in those spoken words. See Interview 11 for a demonstration of how this can be true. Perhaps she needed to qualify her remark. Or, she may have been deceptive. In any event, I do not take that sentence at face value.
The first question that we have posed to this witness suggested that he had been with Sergei in the KGB. The witness answered the question with a question red flag and then denied it. The final question pointedly asked the witness if he had helped the KGB. The witness avoided the question and went on a small rant about how anything can be made into a book another red flag. Avoiding a question is a red flag to an investigator. It is my belief that people use avoidance when the truth of some questions are uncomfortable to provide.
This witness answered all questions directly, except those having to do with the KGB. This suggests to me that the interviewer has struck a sensitive area with this witness by questions that associate him with the KGB. This is an extremely interesting interview, and one of the most remarkable ones.
He displayed many, very rapid eye blinks as the questions are being staged. It is my opinion that the rapid eye blinks are a result of the stress of the questions. However, even without the rapid eye blinks, his responses were suspicious.
The witness was told that according to The Persecutor, his main job had been to fight with believers. Berenstennikov rapidly blinked 13 times in less then 14 seconds as he continued listening. Answering a question with a question does not necessarily indicate that one is being deceptive. However, three in a row had put me on high alert.
I believe in this case, Berenstennikov was clearly under stress and was buying time to develop an answer. Before Berenstennikov responded, he was reminded by the interviewer that these allegations were very serious. Indeed, they are. Implicating someone in the murder of innocent women and children is a very serious charge.
At this point Berenstennikov forced a smile.
Shelves: christian This was But this. This tells the story of a young boy raised under Soviet rule, who becomes one of their secret police and persecutes This was This tells the story of a young boy raised under Soviet rule, who becomes one of their secret police and persecutes other people. It was brutal.
Forgive me, Natasha and Sergei!
They appear in descending order from the most doubtful. I will write more later this week and answer some specific questions. He also shrugged several times, but I cannot be certain what he is saying at those precise moments. She had been accused of something she had believed was false and reprehensible, and she was obviously hurt. To ask other readers questions about The Serrgeiplease sign up. You are commenting using your WordPress.
Sergei Kourdakov and the Quest for Truth
After the war, Nikolai helped set up a military base and became the base chief. He was invited to live with a family who had known his mother. It was there that he learned to read and count. Sergei got along well with everyone in the family except with their son Andrei, whom he believed to be mentally handicapped. At the age of six, he decided to run away after Andrei tried to kill him by shoving his head into a filled bathtub. For ten days, he lived in Novosibirsk , thieving from food stands until he was caught and sent to the police.