MOSCOW, Wednesday Jan. 11 – Legendary Soviet spy Gevork Vartanian, who helped foil a N**i plot to k**l Allied leaders in Tehran during World W*r II, has d**d in Moscow aged 87. Operating in Tehran during World W*r II, he tracked German commandoes who had arrived to a****k a summit attended by Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill.
Realising they were being followed, the Germans called off the a****k. He also managed to infiltrate British intelligence, exposing a network of secret agents in the USSR. Vartanian did so by getting accepted on a British training course for spies in Tehran. His wife was a Soviet spy, too, and after the w*r they worked as a team for the next 30 years.
Gevork Vartanian retired from Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR, in 1992. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev described him as a true patriot and a remarkable person. Father’s footsteps Vartanian was born on 17 February 1924 in the south Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, into the family of an Iranian national of Armenian extraction.
In 1930, the family moved to Tehran where the father, Andrei, served as a Soviet agent under a business cover. Following his father, Gevork became a Soviet agent in 1940 at the age of 16. Codenamed Amir, his task was to root out German and British spies. British intelligence was training Russian-speakers in Tehran to serve as spies in Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus.
Vartanian underwent training, then passed on information on the British school to Moscow. As a result, British-trained spies sent to the USSR were either captured or recruited as double agents. Camels and g**s In the winter of 1943, the leaders of the USSR, US and Britain met for a summit in Tehran to decide their strategy for victory over H****r. It was held in the Soviet embassy after Stalin alerted Roosevelt to a N**i plot to a*********e them.
At the time, Tehran was full of refugees from w******n Europe, and N**i agents were active among some 20,000 Germans living in Iran, Vartanian recalled in an interview for Russia’s Ria-Novosti news agency in 2007. He recounted how he had tracked down Germans, including field station chief Franz Meyer who disappeared. When finally located, Meyer was found to have “grown a beard and dyed it, and was working as a grave-digger at an Armenian cemetery”.
From 1940-41, Vartanian and his colleagues reportedly exposed 400 people linked to German intelligence. In 1943, the Soviet agents located the landing party sent by the N***s for the a***********n plot, six radio operators who were “travelling by camel and loaded with w*****s”. “We a******d all the members… and made them make contact with enemy intelligence under our supervision,” Vartanian said. “We deliberately gave a radio operator an opportunity to report the failure of the mission.” Reflecting on his 45 years in espionage, much of it alongside his wife, he said: “We were lucky – we never met a single traitor.
“For us, underground agents, betrayal is the worst e**l. If an agent observes all the security rules and behaves properly in society, no counter-intelligence will spot him or her. Like sappers, underground agents err only once.” (BBC)