On November 2, the Kremlin announced that President Putin had given the highest Russian honor to George Koval, a former spy for the Soviet Union on the Manhattan Project. George Koval died last year in his 90's; however, the announcement of this award has shocked the West. American Intelligence Agencies have known about Koval's real identity since the 1950's, but have tried to keep the information on the down low to avoid American embarrassment. Koval was trained by Stalin's rigorous GRU military intelligence program, although he studied in the United States. Those who worked with Koval said he was extremely believable and had no Russian accent. American Intelligence Agencies have identified around six other Soviet spies; however, Koval is the only spy to have penetrated atomic plants in Los Alamos.
Koval was born in Iowa, but immigrated to Birobidzhan during the Great Depression. He studied at the Mendeleev Institute of Technology, and was later recruited by the G.R.U., and later sent to the United States to spy from 1940-1948. Koval rose through the ranks in the United States, and was assigned to some of the most top-secret projects. The Kremlin's announcement on November 2 stated that Koval's work ''helped speed up considerably the time it took for the Soviet Union to develop an atomic bomb of its own.'' Historians have suggested that Putin made the announcement of Koval's award to reinvigorate Russian pride.