"Books have been written about him, films have been made. In intelligence, he was highly respected and appreciated," a spokesperson for Russian foreign intelligence agency SVR said on Saturday. "He himself jokingly said: 'I am a foreign car that has adapted to Russian roads. Now this foreign car has completed its almost century-long run.'"
Blake was one of the last British spies who secretly worked for the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. As a double agent, Blake used his position in the United Kingdom's MI6 to spy for the communists. North Korean soldiers captured Blake in 1950. During his internment, he secretly became a communist. He then returned to Britain to work in the country's secret service and pass information to the Soviets.
Blake was arrested in 1961 and admitted to being a double agent. He was sentenced to 42 years in prison, but he was able to escape in 1966 with the help of inmates and communist sympathizers. Blake was then smuggled out of Western Europe, crossing the Iron Curtain into East Berlin. He spent the rest of his life in Russia, where he was revered as a hero. Vladimir Putin also granted Blake the Order of Friendship in 2007.
"Colonel Blake was a brilliant professional of special vitality and courage," Putin said. "Over the years of hard, strenuous work, he made a truly invaluable contribution to ensuring strategic parity and maintaining peace on the planet."