Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Death of a Very Remarkable Spy

Young Russian Spy Who Thwarted 1943 Tehran Assassination Plot Against Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt Dies

A Nazi plot named Operation Long Jump attempted to to assassinate Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt at the Tehran conference in 1943. A young Russian spy of Armenian ancestry, Gevork Andreyevich Vartanyan, then 19, thwarted the plan by disrupting it with fellow Russian agents. Vartanyan died in Januray, 2012, and his career was covered in a story by the UK Daily Mail by its Moscow correspondent, Will Stewart.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent a letter of condolence to Vartanyan’s family upon the death of the retired spy at age 87 in January. The letter stated, 'He participated in stunning special operations which have gone down in the history of our foreign intelligence.'

Although Vartanyan saved Churchill, a famous earlier operation was to infiltrate an academy of Russian-speaking British spy agents in Iran in 1942. Vartanyan learned the identities of London-based agents and exposed the network to Moscow. Vartanyan, whose father and his wife were also Soviet spies, worked undercover for three decades following the war in many countries on crucial assignments from the KGB.

Some of his most important assignments are still classified.

In 2007, Vartanyan held an emotional meeting with Churchill’s granddaughter, Celia Sandys, toasting the ‘great troika’ of Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt with Armenian brandy.

Vartanyan’s father and family were ordered back to Iran during the 1930s on a mission decreed by Stalin. Young Vartanyan was working undercover by the time he was 16.

The following comment was posted to the Daily Mail article:

Gevork Vardanyan was one of only three Soviet spies decorated with highest military title - Hero of the Soviet Union, and the only one who received it while alive (in 1984, by a secret decree, under a different name, because at that time he was still working as undercover agent abroad). Two others were legendary Richard Zorge and Nikolay Kuznetsov. With his wife Goar (also a spy) he spent more than 46 years (!!!) working as undercover agent in more than 30 countries, without a single failure. While working in Italy, he had established friendly relations with Admiral Stansfield Turner, then commander in chief of NATO Southern Flank, who was later appointed CIA director. Turner had personally introduced him to the circles of American establishment, where he later moved to continue his work as agent. Most of the secret operations he was involved in will not be declassified for many decades... He died of cancer in Moscow, and according to his will, will be buried in Yerevan, Armenia.
-- Saro, Yerevan, Armenia, 12/1/2012

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