John Watkins was a homosexual. He also was Canada's ambassador to Moskow, from 1954 to 1956. It didn't help matters much that Watkins was an admirer of the Soviet regime, and that he desperately sought out as many "friendships" as possible during his assignment.
Watkins was especially fond of his Russian best friend, Alyosha who had introduced himself as Alexei , a "historian" and a "consultant" to the Soviet foreign ministry. Watkins and became great pals and engaged in many fascinating discussions, about which Watkins could hardly contain his excitement in his dispatches back to Ottawa.
The only little problem with "Alyosha" was that he was not "Alyosha". He was Oleg Gribanov, the second-highest ranking official of the KGB's Second Directorate - the KGB department responsible for intelligence operations within the USSR. Gribanov conducted sophisticated operations to entrap and compromise Western diplomats.
The KGB was extremely successful in manipulating homosexual orientations in its espionage operations. Thus, while Gribanov enchanted Watkins with his heart-felt speeches about Soviet good intentions, he simultaneously succeeded in entrapping the Canadian ambassador in a homosexual liaison
The KGB photographed Watkins in a set-up homosexual encounter in a Moscow hotel room with a KGB plant and subsequently attempted to blackmail him to enlist his services.
Throughout these events, Gribanov posed as the sympathetic best friend, seeking to help Watkins out of his predicament. He informed the ambassador about the "outrageous" KGB operation against him and then consoled him that he (Alyosha) had succeeded in getting "the file".
Alyosha regretted, however, that he could only "hold the KGB off" if Watkins agreed to help make things "easier" for Dmitri Chuvakhin, the Soviet ambassador to Canada - Chuvakhin had a very "difficult" job in Ottawa, Gribanov told Watkins, and it would be a very good idea for Watkins to "be friendly to Chuvakhin".
These events occurred just before Watkins was recalled to Ottawa in April 1956. He went on to become Assistant Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs.
It was only in the early 1960s, after the defection of several KGB officers, that the ingredients of Watkins' Soviet odyssey became known. KGB Major Anatoli Golitsyn (who defected in 1961) and Yuri Krotkov, a writer who co-operated with the KGB (who defected in 1963) provided information about a compromised Canadian ambassador but could not identify Watkins specifically. KGB captain and CIA informant Yuri Nosenko did so upon his defection in 1964. The CIA informed Ottawa in August of that year.
Canadian security officials immediately investigated Watkins. The former ambassador, already retired, appeared to be co-operative. He admitted that he had been compromised, but he denied that he was an agent of influence. He was taken to a Montreal hotel room for a debriefing session. It lasted several days. He died.
The official version of events pointed to a heart attack suffered during a farewell dinner with friends in a restaurant. That coverup was blown two decades ago when journalists dug up proof that Watkins had expired while being interrogated.