Soviet intelligence officer, who saved Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, dies
A Soviet intelligence officer, Hero of the Soviet Union, Gevork Vartanian, died in Moscow at age 88. As reported by Armenpress, he died on Tuesday, January 10, at the Botkin Hospital. The officer had cancer, the agency said.
Gevork Vartanian was born February 17, 1924 in Rostov-on-Don in the family of Andrei Vartanian, an Iranian citizen, the director of an oil pressing plant.
In 1930, when Gevork was six years old, his family moved to Iran. His father was connected with the Soviet external intelligence - he left the Soviet Union for an assignment. Under the guise of business activities, Andrei was conducting intelligence work. It was under the influence of his father that Gevork became an intelligence officer.
Gevork Vartanian threw in his lot with the Soviet intelligence when he was 16. In February 1940, he established a direct contact with the residency of the NKVD in Tehran. On behalf of a resident, Gevork headed a special group to identify Nazi German spies in Tehran and other Iranian cities. He had no operational training: the young man had to learn surveillance technologies and other professional tricks on the go.
During only two years, his team identified about 400 people, who were connected with the German intelligence service. That was the time when Vartanian became acquainted with the sister of one of the active members of the residency - Goar. The woman subsequently became a member of the intelligence group and later his wife.
In 1942, "Amir" (Vartanian's operational name) had to conduct a special intelligence mission. Despite the fact that Britain was an ally of the Soviet Union in the anti-Hitler coalition, the British conducted subversive activities against the Soviet Union. The British intelligence set up a school in Tehran, which recruited young people with the knowledge of the Russian language. The people would then be sent to the Asian republics of the USSR with special missions.
On the instructions from the Centre, "Amir" entered the school and successfully finished the course of studies. Tehran intelligence officers received detailed information about the school and its cadets. The school graduates, who had been sent to the territory of the USSR, would thus be either neutralized or re-recruited to work under the cover of the Soviet counter intelligence.
Later, the group led by Vartanian prevented attempted assassinations of the leaders of the Group of Three - Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin. Hitler planned to kill them in 1943 at the Teheran Conference. One of the most secret operations of the Third Reich was thwarted by Vartanian's group, and the man was only 19 years old back then. German agents were arrested in Tehran a few days before the conference.
A well-known film about those events - "Tehran 43" starring Igor Kostolevsky, Natalia Belokhvostikova, Armen Dzhigarkhanyan and Alain Delon - was made. Vartanian himself said, though, that there was too much action and rubbish in the film. The only thing that he said was correct was an attempt of the saboteurs to penetrate in the embassy building through the sewers.
In 1951, Vartanian was transferred to the USSR and graduated from the Faculty of Foreign Languages at Yerevan University (Armenia).
Vartanian served as a spy for many years in extreme conditions and challenging environment in many countries of the world. His wife Goar was always with him. The couple served abroad for more than 30 years.
The intelligence officers returned from their last trip in the autumn of 1986. A few months later Goar retired, but Gevork Vartanian continued to serve until 1992.
Gevork Vartanian was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union on May 28, 1984. In spite of the fact that Colonel Vartanian was retired, he continued to serve in foreign intelligence service. He would very often had meetings with young officers to share his experience with them.
The Vartanians trained personnel for the Military Intelligence Service of the USSR/Russia through 2000, until Vartanian's name was declassified. This occurred on 20 December 2000, on the 80th anniversary of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). However, most of his operations are still classified.