Legendary Soviet Spy, Gevork Vartanian Dies at 87

Gevork Vartanian

MOSCOW (BBC)—Legendary Soviet spy Gevork Vartanian, who helped foil a Nazi plot to kill Allied leaders in Tehran during World War II, has died in Moscow aged 87.

Operating in Tehran during World War II, he tracked German commandoes who had arrived to attack a summit attended by Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill.

Realising they were being followed, the Germans called off the attack.

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, as well, and after the war 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.

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 origin.

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 guns

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 Hitler.

It was held in the Soviet embassy after Stalin alerted Roosevelt to a Nazi plot to assassinate them.

At the time, Tehran was full of refugees from war-torn Europe, and Nazi 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 Nazis for the assassination plot, six radio operators who were “travelling by camel and loaded with weapons”.

“We arrested 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 evil. 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,” said Vartanian.


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  1. Haik Azad said:

    A grand old Stalinist spy dies,so now our own national socialist party should declare a national month of mourning for the man who helped save the lives of Churnchill,Roosevelt and good old uncle Joe-the `people` who forged the present fate of Armenia as well as the post war world-good old saint Gevork Vardanyan,a true Soviet Union hero,and a darling of `our` grand old socialist `party`.All of us should have become Stalinist spies,and I am sorry I missed the opportunity,but I`m sure my socialist compatriots will make up for my mistake.I wonder what we shall do now without the guiding wisdom of the great `armenian hero`,and I suggest we all go to the russian embassy and offer our services free to good old Putin`s pocket bear-prime minister Medvedyev-there is no greater love of our mother and fatherland than that-so, partsratsir /partsratsur and long live Dashnagtsutiun-our only hope for the future!!!

    • Avery said:

      Instead of ragging on a great Armenian, hope and pray there or men and women of that caliber
      watching the Azeri general staff and political leadership right now. No matter how bad Stalin was, if Nazis had won, there would be no Armenia today, and highly doubtful there would be any Armenians left either. During the Battle of Stalingrad, Turks – who were allegedly neutral during WW2 – had massed 27 divisions for an invasion of Armenia, and a linkup of Nazi armies who would have presumably been in Baku, had Nazis won at Stalingrad. When Nazi invaders were surrounded and annihilated, Turks beat a hasty retreat from the the border – so as not to give the Red Army an excuse to hit them.

      During WW2, about 500,000 Armenians, mostly from Armenia, fought the Nazi invading mass exterminators.
      About half did not come home. I am sure all those soldiers also thought they were serving Stalin
      Or maybe they were serving their nation, which included Armenia SSR, and which would have been wiped out from the face of the Earth in case Nazi Germany defeated USSR.
      Even the tough Dashnak fighters could not have stopped the German and Turk invasion of Armenia.

      • Haik Azad said:

        Dear Avery,when as a result of wild turkey propaganda the germans decided armenians were a semitic inferior tribe the armenian intellectuals started an effort to prove the aryan origin of the armenians-no efforts were spared-gen.Njde went to Germany to convince the germans armenians were aryans and the great Haik Asatrian,the editor of his newspaper wrote a book proving that.He also wrote,not knowing the stalinist `hero`s deeds that the armenians made for the best spies in the world and many other unpleasant things about the armenian national character as well-and as usual nobody cared.Sorry to say his name is totally unknown today,while the `heroic `deeds of stallinist faggots are trumpeted all over the world by wise pishman patriots.Now about your claims-`If nazis had won…`-they did dear Avery they bloody did-the red nazis won and and wiped out from the face of the world independent Armenia,killing and sending to Siberia its best and using 300 000 armenians as mince meat to defend their evil red empire.These people were forcibly sent to defend the Soviet Union ,not their motherland.The Russians are not better than the turks and I see they are being liked by many pishman patriots of today.You say armenians were part of the soviet nation and you must have your head examined for that-but as they say-kgb money talks-allahtan pishman patriots walks.And Avery as we see gives two thumbs up for russian soviet slavery.Amot!!!!

    • Hayq said:

      The greatness of our people is the ability to assimilate and assist the communities we live in; capitalist, communist, islamic, whatever.

  2. Kevork said:

    In a way its funny – Armenians have a history of saving those leaders that cause them harm… Ataturk was saved by an Armenian, so Ataturk turns around and attempts to destroy all of Armenia to finish the Armenian question, but is stopped at Sardarabad…

    This guy saves Stalin, who promptly turns around to confiscate and cut up Armenia like a puzzle (Nakhichevan, NK, Javakhk) and send countless Armenians to prison and/or death.

    He also saves Churchill, the fella who refused to give Kars to Armenia so that Turkey would keep it and eventually come to blockade Armenia.

    Perhaps Armenians should help in those assassinations next time instead of saving their destroyers.

  3. www.Voskanapat.info said:

    He served his Motherland-Armenia and fought honorably against the Nazis (National Socialist Party of Germany) along with 600,000+ other Armenians during WWII.

    Turkey was ready to join Nazis and invade Armenia if Hitler took Stalingrad. What was Dashnagtsutiun doing at that time?

    • Hagop D said:

      The Dashnaksutiun was busy being hauled off to Siberian prison camps at the hands of Stalinist traitor Armenians who would eventually come to be self-appointed ‘heroes’.

      In other parts of the world where Islamic terrorists were harassing Christian communities, the Dashnaksutiun was protecting Armenians.

      And in the USA the Dashnaksutiun was regrouping and forming diaspora communities and vital organizations to help preserve the Armenian identity and rights.

      Does that answer you question?

  4. Stepan said:

    I will not celebrate his life or mourn his death, it was traitors like him that exposed many Hay nationalists that ended up in hellish work camps and or were excecuted during those ” glorious” days after WW2

    He has met his creator and I hope he will ber judged accordinglly.

    • Hay said:

      Gevork Vartanian did not expose any nationalists. He was not a NKVD goon. He was tasked with security responsibilities outside the borders of the USSR, his actions and heroically performed duties kept the entire Union safe, which included Armenia let me remind you. Mr. Vartanian was responsible for much more than just that one highlighted operation. We may never know just how much of our security during those years he ensured.

      No matter how much many of us may hate it, the Soviet Union was both a blessing and a curse for us. Armenia would not have survived the 20’s had we not been part of it. For decades it is what kept the murderous turks back from finishing up their deed while weakened Armenia was getting back on its feet.

  5. mike said:

    I don’t know if I should be happy I don’t think he is a Arnemian hero. You think?

  6. Pingback: Lendário espião soviético, Gevork Vartanian, morre aos 87 anos ‹ Portal Estação Armênia

    • Haik Azad said:

      The god of the red bastards,dear Toros is a fallen angel and he is sure to enlighten his soul,if he has one-i the burning fire of the place that will never freeze.

  7. Pingback: Lendário espião soviético Gevork Vartanian morre aos 87 anos ‹ Portal Estacao Armenia

  8. Pingback: Portal Estação Armênia – Lendário espião soviético Gevork Vartanian morre aos 87 anos

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