Gevork Vartanian

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Gevork Vartanian
Gevork Vartanian (ca. 2008).jpg
Operation(s) Operation Long Jump
Award(s) Hero of the Soviet Union

Born 17 February 1924
Nor Nakhichevan, USSR
Died 10 January 2012(2012-01-10) (aged 87)
Moscow, Russia

Gevork Andreevich Vartanian (Russian: Гево́рк Андре́евич Вартаня́н; Armenian: Գևորգ Վարդանյան; 17 February 1924 – 10 January 2012) was a Soviet intelligence agent.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Vartanian was born to Armenian parents in Nor Nakhichevan, USSR. His father was a Soviet intelligence agent as well who was sent to Persia in 1930, where he worked for 23 years under a cover of a wealthy merchant. Gevork Vartanian was not even 16 when he went into intelligence.[3] In 1955, he graduated from the Institute of Foreign Languages, Yerevan. He is primarily responsible for thwarting Operation Long Jump, concocted by Adolf Hitler, headed by Ernst Kaltenbrunner, and led by Otto Skorzeny, which was an attempt to assassinate Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt at the Tehran conference in 1943.[4]

Operation Long Jump[edit]

In 1942, Adolf Hitler decided to set the operation in motion. After careful planning and deliberation under the personal supervision of Security Police Chief Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Hitler sent his special commando agent, Otto Skorzeny, along with six other men to rendezvous at Tehran and spearhead the operation. The plan entailed the capture and/or assassination of Josef Stalin, Winston Churchill, and Franklin Roosevelt.

The first tip-off about the planned attempt came from Soviet intelligence agent Nikolai Kuznetsov, under the alias of Wehrmacht Oberleutnant Paul Siebert, from Nazi-occupied Ukraine.[5] Kuznetsov got a drunk SS officer named Ulrich von Ortel to tell him about the attempt. Although the scheduled date of the operation was not known, the fact that it would take place was confirmed.

Vartanian had been assigned to recruit agents since 1940. In 1940-41 Vartanyan’s team of seven intelligence officers had identified more than 400 Nazi agents, all of whom had been arrested by Soviet troops. In the autumn of 1943, they were assigned the task of ensuring the security for the upcoming Tehran conference. In their efforts to foil the assassination plot devised by the Nazis, Vartanyan’s group located six Nazi radio operators shortly before the conference opened on November 28, 1943. The German assassins had been dropped by parachute near the town of Qom, 40 miles from Tehran. Vartanian later told the following details, “We followed them to Tehran, where the Nazi field station had readied a villa for their stay. They were travelling by camel, and were loaded with weapons. While we were watching the group, we established that they had contacted Berlin by radio, and recorded their communication... When we decrypted these radio messages, we learnt that the Germans were preparing to land a second group of subversives for a terrorist act — the assassination or abduction of the 'Big Three’. The second group was supposed to be led by Skorzeny himself”. All the members of the first group were arrested and forced to contact their handlers under Soviet supervision. The operation got off track and the main group led by Skorzeny never went to Tehran. This way the success of Vartanian's group in locating the Nazi advance party prevented the Nazi attempt to assassinate the 'Big Three'.[6] [7]

In 2003, relying on declassified documents, Yuri Lvovich Kuznets published a book called Tehran-43 or Operation Long Jump, which detailed Vartanyan’s role at the Tehran Conference. A Soviet film, Tegeran-43, which featured the French actor Alain Delon, was released in 1981.[6]

Later years[edit]

Vartanian was awarded with the Hero of the Soviet Union medal. In 2007 he met with Winston Churchill's granddaughter and was congratulated for his great service to the Allies.[6] Vartanian has been interviewed many times. Al Gurnov of Russia Today interviewed Vartanian on the eve of the Victory Day parade, which was broadcast on May 9, 2008. It was revealed that Vartanian's identity was kept secret until the year 2000, when he finally received full credit for putting a stop to the assassination plot.

Death[edit]

Gevork Vartanian died at the age of 87 at Botkin hospital in Moscow on 10 January 2012.[1][8][9][10]

Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin attended the funeral and paid his respects to Vartanian's widow Gohar.[11]

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed his condolences to Vartanian’s friends and relatives. He described Vartanian as "a legendary intelligence agent, a genuine patriot of his country, a bright and extraordinary person... He took part in splendid operations, which went down in the history of the Russian foreign intelligence service. His death is an irretrievable loss to his family and all those who knew and highly appreciated the legendary man."[12]

Condolences were also expressed by the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan,[13] Prime Minister of Armenia Tigran Sargsyan,[14] President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Bako Sahakyan.[15][16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Gevork Vartanyan". The Telegraph. 2012-01-11. Retrieved 15 January 2012. "Gevork Vartanyan, who has died aged 87, worked for Soviet intelligence for more than half a century and played an important part in thwarting a Nazi plot to assassinate Churchill, Stalin and President Roosevelt at the Tehran Conference in 1943." 
  2. ^ "Gevork Vartanian: Spy who helped foil Churchill death plot". The Independent. 2012-01-12. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  3. ^ RussiaToday : Spotlight
  4. ^ RBTH - Washington Post - 19 December 2007
  5. ^ Nikolai Dolgopolov (November 29, 2007). "How "The Lion And The Bear" Were Saved". Rossiiskaya Gazeta. 
  6. ^ a b c The Telegraph, 11 Jan 2012. Gevork Vartanyan
  7. ^ RIA Novosti - Opinion & analysis - Tehran-43: Wrecking the plan to kill Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill
  8. ^ Associated Press (11 January 2012). "Soviet spy Gevork Vartanian dies at 87". Fox News. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  9. ^ "Medvedev grieves over death of legendary intelligence officer". Itar-Tass. 11 January 2012. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  10. ^ Stewart, Will (11 January 2012). "Russian spy who 'saved' Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt from assassination dies, aged 87". Mail Online. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  11. ^ "Russia buries spy with full honours". Euronews. 2012-01-13. Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  12. ^ "Legendary spy dies aged 87". Russia Today. 2012-10-11. Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  13. ^ "Armenian president sends telegram of condolence on famous Armenian secret agent’s death". News.am. 2012-01-11. Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  14. ^ "Republic of Armenia Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan’s Condolence Message On Demise of USSR Hero Gevorg Vardanyan". Tigransargsyan.am. 2012-01-12. Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  15. ^ "Condolence letter to the family of the Soviet Union Hero Gevorg Vardanyan". Official website of the President of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  16. ^ "Bako Sahakyan offers condolences to Gevork Vartanian’s family". Panorama.am. 2012-01-12. Retrieved 15 January 2012. 

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