FANDOM


The Moscow Rules is the name for rules said to have been developed by the CIA during the Cold War to be used by spies and others working in Moscow.

The rules are associated with Moscow because the city developed a reputation as being a particularly harsh locale for clandestine operatives who were exposed. The list may never have existed as written; agent Tony Mendez wrote "Although no one had written them down, they were the precepts we all understood ... By the time they got to Moscow, everyone knew these rules. They were dead simple and full of common sense...".[1]

An abbreviated list of the probably-fictional Moscow Rules has circulated around the Internet and in fiction:

  • Assume nothing.
  • Murphy is right.
  • Never go against your gut; it is your operational antenna.
  • Don't look back; you are never completely alone.
  • Everyone is potentially under opposition control.
  • Go with the flow, blend in.
  • Vary your pattern and stay within your cover.
  • Any operation can be aborted. If it feels wrong, it is wrong.
  • Maintain a natural pace.
  • Lull them into a sense of complacency.
  • Build in opportunity, but use it sparingly.
  • Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. (borrowed from Muhammad Ali, aka Cassius Clay.)
  • Don't harass the opposition.
  • There is no limit to a human being's ability to rationalize the truth.
  • Technology will always let you down.
  • Pick the time and place for action.
  • Keep your options open.
  • Once is an accident. Twice is coincidence. Three times is an enemy action. (taken from Ian Fleming's novel Goldfinger)

Referred to in the works of John le Carré e.g. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People. The newest novel that uses these rules is by Daniel Silva, entitled 'Moscow Rules'. In these works, the rules are not general precepts, but methods of tradecraft, such as using chalk marks and thumbtacks as signals, the use of dead drops, and the ways to signal the need for a (rare) face-to-face meeting. Moscow Rules are important at the beginning of Smiley's People, where the General invokes the rules to request a meeting with Smiley, but he is followed and killed by KGB assassins before it can happen. The applicable rule states that no documents may be carried that cannot be instantly discarded, in this instance a 35mm negative concealed in an empty pack of cigarettes.

In Ian Fleming's 1959 novel Goldfinger, Auric Goldfinger mentions this last rule to James Bond in Goldfinger's warehouse in Geneva.

In the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., the Moscow Rules are:

  1. Assume nothing.
  2. Never go against your gut.
  3. Everyone is potentially under opposition control.
  4. Don't look back; you are never completely alone.
  5. Go with the flow, blend in.
  6. Vary your pattern and stay within your cover.
  7. Lull them into a sense of complacency.
  8. Don't harass the opposition.
  9. Pick the time and place for action.
  10. Keep your options open.

References Edit

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.