YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Gohar Vartanian, an Armenian-born former Soviet spy, who with her husband helped prevent a Nazi assassination of Allied leaders in Tehran during World War II, has died in Moscow at age 93.
A spokesman for Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) told the AFP news agency on Tuesday that Vartanian will be buried at Moscow’s prestigious Troyekurovskoe Cemetery, possibly on Friday.
Vartanian and her husband Gevork worked as secret agents on numerous missions abroad for the Soviet Union.
In 1943, they helped thwart Operation Long Jump — a plot by Nazi Germany to kill Soviet leader Josef Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt during a 1943 summit in the Iranian capital. After Adolf Hitler ordered the plot to kill the “Big Three,” the Vartanians and their group reportedly tracked Nazi agents and exposed the plan before it could take place.
Goar Vartanian was born on January 25, 1926, in Gyumri, then known as Leninakan, in what was then Soviet Armenia and moved to Iran with her family in the early 1930s. At age 16, she joined an anti-fascist group and eventually worked with Gevork to expose German agents.
The couple moved to the Soviet Union in 1951 and had a long career as secret agents. Gevork was decorated with the Hero of the Soviet Union award. He died in 2012 at age 87.
The Vartanians have been widely acclaimed in post-Soviet Armenia and honored by the country’s current and former governments. Both President Armen Sarkissian and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan described Gohar Vartanian as a “legendary” figure in their letter of condolences sent to her family and friends.
“Just like Gevork Vartanian, Gohar Vartanian was a great patriot of Armenia and had special feelings for her native Gyumri,” read Sarkisian’s letter. The president also posted on his website his and his wife Nune’s photograph with Gohar Vartanian.
“The Vartanian family always kept in close touch with Armenia, helping us to establish and strengthen our statehood,” Pashinyan wrote for his part.
It was also announced that an official delegation of the Armenian Defense Ministry will take part in Vartanian’s funeral.