Avakoum Zahov, the Soviet James Bond

Avakoum Zahov was a fictional secret agent who featured in the novels of the Bulgarian writer Andrei Gulyashki. Zahov made his first appearance in the 1959 novel The Zakhov Mission. He returned in the 1966 novel Avakoum Zahov versus 07 — in which he battles and defeats a British agent known as '07'.

image source: pulp curry

There have been persistent rumors that Gulyashki created Zahov at the behest of the KGB in an attempt to produce a Soviet James Bond. Details from an article by Andrew Nette:

Journalist and popular historian Donald McCormick was the first to raise the idea that Gulyashki was involved in a propaganda scheme to create a proletarian Bond. In his 1977 book Who’s Who in Spy Fiction, McCormick lists the Bulgarian as a ‘novelist who responded to the KGB’s request for writers to glorify the deeds of Soviet espionage and to improve its own image in the early sixties. The object was to popularise secret agents of the Soviet Union as noble heroes who protected the fatherland and it was launched by Vladimir Semichastny, the newly appointed head of the KGB in 1961, when he contributed an article to Izvestia on this very subject.’

It is not clear where McCormick got his information, but others have since picked up the claim and run with it. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory states that Gulyashki ‘was invited by the KGB to refurbish the image of Soviet espionage which had been tarnished by the success of James Bond’. Likewise, Wesley Britton claims in Beyond Bond: Spies in Fiction and Film that, in 1966, the Bulgarian novelist was hired by the Soviet press to create a communist agent to stand against the British spy ‘because of Russian fears that 007 was in fact an effective propaganda tool for the West’.

"My name is Zahov, Avakoum Zahov" just doesn't have the same ring as "Bond, James Bond".
     Posted By: Alex - Sat Feb 06, 2021
     Category: Literature | Books | Spies and Intelligence Services | 1960s

I don't see why they shouldn't. Turnabout is fair play.
Posted by Richard Bos on 02/06/21 at 10:07 AM
Did the Soviets ever give their agent a license to kill, with only his judgment as guide? I can't see them giving a single individual this much freedom.
Posted by Phred22 on 02/06/21 at 03:07 PM
I'm sure their 'license to kill' would be like a permit to eradicate Amerikos and other vermin.
Posted by Phideaux on 02/06/21 at 11:31 PM
At first, I thought the capitalist pig getting beaten on the cover was Pierce Brosnan. Too early for him, though.
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 02/07/21 at 07:09 AM
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