Sunday, October 24, 2004

French reporter conducted espionage for Russia in Russo-Japanese War

Russia obtained information on Japan's strategy for the
1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War, including the plan for a
major offensive in northeastern China in March 1905,
through a Tokyo-based French correspondent and other
sources, according to the recent study by a Russian

Dmitri Pavlov, a professor of history at the Moscow
State Institute of Radio Engineering, Electronics and
Automation, says Russia found out in August 1904 that
Japan would attack Mukden as early as January 1905.

Mukden -- now the northeastern Chinese city of Shengyang
-- was under Russian control at the time.

According to documents obtained by Pavlov from the
Imperial Russia government archives, a former senior
Russian diplomat to Korea known as Alexander Pavlov was
in charge of espionage in Japan.

Commissioned by the czar, Pavlov began his espionage
career in Shanghai in April 1904, shortly after the
start of the Russo-Japanese War.

When Russians were forced to leave Japan after the start
of the war, Alexander Pavlov found collaborators from
among foreign correspondents and bankers based in Japan.

A correspondent of the French newspaper Le Figaro by the
name of Balais was reportedly Pavlov's most important
asset. France was an ally of Russia at the time.

Balais, who spoke fluent Japanese, arrived in Japan in
June 1904 and worked as a spy for nine months.

Balais obtained information from the Japanese military
and Foreign Ministry. He also visited ports and
hospitals under his journalistic cover.

Until he left Japan for fear of being exposed as a spy,
Balais sent around 30 reports to Pavlov in Shanghai by
regular sea mail, Dmitri Pavlov said.

Acting on Balais' information, Alexander Pavlov sent an
official telegram to Moscow in August 1904 alerting the
government that Japan would attack Mukden by January
1905. Balais' reports contained information on the types
of munitions and vessels Japan had, the number of troop
deserters, and personal relationships of Japanese
military commanders, Russian documents show.

The Russo-Japanese War ended in August 1905 with the
signing of the Portsmouth Treaty, which was negotiated
through U.S. mediation. The treaty gave Japan control of
the Kwantung Peninsula along with Port Arthur and the
southern part of Sakhalin Island up to the 50th

According to Japanese experts, Dmitri Pavlov's study,
which will be published in Russia in a book, is the
first substantial work on Russia's spy network in the
Russo-Japanese War.

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