Hero of the Soviet Union Gevork Andreevich Vartanyan was Armenian by nationality. This is so, to the note to the advocates of "blood purity", the overwhelming majority of whom did not make a drop for their country, for which Gevork Andreevich received a gold star. He was born 17 February 1924 year in Rostov-on-Don. As you know, the Armenians lived in the neighboring Rostov city of Nakhichevan (now part of the Proletarsky district of Rostov-on-Don) and several neighboring villages from the end of the 18th century, when they were resettled from the Crimean Khanate to Don lands by the decision of Catherine II. The colony of Armenians on the Don enjoyed great fame in the Armenian world, since the representatives of this ancient people lived here well, over the centuries of neighborhood with the Cossacks, Russian and other peoples, they turned into “their own”, the indigenous inhabitants of the Don. Therefore, it was not surprising that Armenians from the Muslim countries of the Middle East, fleeing persecution or wanting to avoid negative life in a different religious environment, for centuries came to the Don and settled in Nakhichevan, Rostov, and other settlements. The hero of our article also came from a family of visiting Armenians. His father, Andrei Vasilievich Vartanian (1888 year of birth) was a citizen of Iran. In Russia, he was in charge of a butter factory in the village of Stepnoi. Gevork Andreevich's mother was called Maria Savelyevna. She was born in 1900 and was 12 years younger than her father.
Despite the fact that Vartanyan Sr. was a specialist in food production by profession, he collaborated with the Soviet special services - obviously, for ideological reasons. Therefore, in 1930, on the instructions of Soviet intelligence, Andrei Vartanyan and his family moved from the Soviet Union to Iran. There he continued to engage in food production, owned a large confectionery factory. Own business helped Vartanyan, the elder, not only as a “screen” in intelligence activities, but also as a partial source of its financing. It is significant that Andrei Vasilyevich Vartanyan always tried to act based on his own financial resources and not to request money from the leadership of the Soviet intelligence. The ideological supporter of the Soviet state, Andrei Vartanyan, personally financed the construction during the Great Patriotic War tank, transferring to the USSR the money he collected. In 1953 he returned to the Soviet Union, in Yerevan. Behind was 23 years of illegal work in Iran.
Amir and "Light cavalry"
There is nothing surprising in the fact that Andrei Vartanian’s son Gevorg, the main hero of our story, became a patriot of the Soviet state. In Iran, Gevorg Vartanian was at the age of six. In this eastern country, he spent his childhood. Gevorg Vartanyan began his service in Soviet foreign intelligence almost immediately after leaving childhood. 4 February 1940, at the age of fifteen, he began to cooperate with the Soviet station in Tehran. As the son of a scout - an illegal who worked for the Soviet Union, he managed to do it quite easily.
Famous Ivan Agayants, a resident of the People's Commissariat of State Security of the USSR in Iran, began to supervise Gevork Vartanian. Since the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the main task of the Soviet residency in Iran was to counteract the influence of Hitler's Germany, primarily the activities of German agents in Iranian government and military circles. By the time the war began, Iran had at least 20 thousands of German citizens, among whom were military, technical specialists, and diplomats. Germany hoped to turn Iran into a military ally in the Middle East, taking advantage of its oil and achieving the inclusion of Iran in the war on the side of the Nazis. Naturally, the Soviet Union and Great Britain by all means sought to hinder these plans of the German leadership. To this end, a professional such as Ivan Agayants was sent to Iran.
Ivan Ivanovich Agayants (1911-1968) for the entire period of Iranian activities, Gevorg Vartanyan became his leader, teacher and reliable senior comrade. A native of Azerbaijani Ganja (then she was also called Elizavetpol), Agayants in 1930, at the age of 19, entered the service of the economic department of the OGPU of the USSR, and in 1936 switched to foreign intelligence. He had the opportunity to participate in intelligence activities in France, to take the leaders of the Spanish Communists from Spain to Moscow after the victory of General Franco over the republican forces. In Iran, Agayants ended up after the start of World War II. He worked under the guise of an adviser to the Soviet embassy, while at the same time heading the Tehran residency. In this capacity, Agayants and was responsible for the activities of Soviet intelligence officers in Iran, including the young Gevorg Vartanyan.
Thirty-year-old Agayants proved to be a brilliant head of the residency network. He was able to significantly update the Soviet intelligence agents in Iran, getting rid of unwanted figures who lost confidence, and acquiring new agents who supplied valuable information. In many ways, the entry of Soviet troops into Iran in 1941 was the result of the reaction of the Soviet leadership to the information received from the Tehran residency. With the role of the head of the Soviet intelligence network in Iran, Ivan Agayants coped perfectly. By the way, it was Agayants who organized Stalin’s famous personal meeting with General Charles de Gaulle, for which the scout had to fly to distant Algeria.
After the war, Agayants headed the department at the School of Intelligence, then he held senior positions in state security agencies. In 1965, he was promoted to major general, in 1967, he was appointed deputy head of the First Main Directorate of the KGB of the USSR (foreign intelligence), but the following year, 1968 died of short-term cancer - the health of the legendary intelligence officer who died at an old age of 57 was negative affected by many of the deprived, severe tuberculosis, also obtained during Iranian business trips. Gevorg Vartanyan always spoke warmly of his real intelligence teacher, emphasizing the importance of Ivan Aghayants (along with his father Andrei Vartanyan) in forming himself as a specialist in intelligence activities. Vartanyan himself, in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta, recalled Ivan Agayants in the following way: “What was one of the undoubted merits of the resident Agayants? He possessed the highest skill of a professional scout. He thoroughly knew the methods of work. His reaction was astounding. He was a brilliant recruiter. He knew how to navigate the situation and analyze it. And Ivan Ivanovich is a man of high culture and rare intelligence. The network of agents created by him in Tehran continued to work without failures for many years after his departure ”(Dolgopolov N. 100 years without a name - Rossiyskaya Gazeta. 26.08.2011).
Gevork Vartanyan received the operational pseudonym "Amir", under which he entered the history of Soviet foreign intelligence. His first large-scale task was the formation of a group of young people who were oriented toward cooperation with the Soviet Union and who were Soviet patriots. Amir gathered seven people. These were guys of different nationalities, mostly Caucasian and Transcaucasian: Armenians, Assyrians, Lezgins. The newly established anti-fascist youth group began to carry out the assignments of its senior comrades — the Soviet residency. The guys were engaged in outdoor surveillance, delivery of errands, while using bicycles for convenience (in 1942, a group of German motorcycles appeared in the group’s park, however,).
Thanks to the latter fact, the resident Ivan Agayants called his young assistants “Light cavalry”. Guys on bicycles, practically teenagers, did not arouse any special suspicion among respectable adults - military, diplomats, politicians, who became objects of observation of the “Light cavalry”. It also contributed to the effectiveness of the actions of the Amir Brigade, which was repeatedly marked by Agayants. Two years later, a girl named Goar, the sister of one of the scouts, appeared in the Light Horse. It was she, with whom Amir, the commander of the Light Horse, became friends with that during his long life — the Vartanian spouses lived to death on Gevork Andreevich in 2012 (only the couple had no children — life dedicated to intelligence did not contribute such a responsible step).
Like Gevork, Gohar Levonovna was born in the Soviet Union, but not in Rostov-on-Don, but in Armenia - January 25, 1926, in the city of Leninakan (Gyumri). At the beginning of 1930, Gohar's parents moved to Iran - there are similar biographies. Gohar, like her future husband, was remarkable for her remarkable abilities, thanks to which she also became a lifelong scout - a professional of the highest class. Already at the age of sixteen, having joined the Light Cavalry detachment created by Amir-Gevorg, she successfully carried out the tasks set for the young scouts, in particular, she was able to prevent the two Soviet pilots from going over to Hitler’s Germany. Traitors on their planes flew out of Baku and landed in Iran, where they were awaited by the shelter, equipped with German agents. The Nazis hoped to take the defectors from Iran to Germany and continue to use them for their own purposes, but Gohar calculated the location of the traitors and they were arrested.
When, in 1941, the Iranian intelligence services nevertheless managed to get on the trail of the “Light Cavalry” and identify two of its participants, Soviet intelligence sent the latter to the USSR. However, Gevorg Vartanian himself fell under suspicion of the Iranian authorities. He had to endure a three-month imprisonment in an Iranian prison. But here, too, Vartanian benefited the common cause — he “surrendered” several people to the police, who in fact interfered with the work of Soviet intelligence and, thus, with other people’s hands got rid of the obstacles in the way of intelligence gathering. At the beginning of the 1940's Vartanian and his associates were able to identify about 400 residents of Iran, which are closely related to German intelligence. When Soviet and British troops in August 1941 took control of Iran, the Iranians who worked for German intelligence were arrested.
Despite the fact that Great Britain during the war was one of the main allies of the USSR, Soviet intelligence officers also monitored the activities of the British, rightly not trusting London. So, in 1942, the British opened a special school in Iran, where they began training reconnaissance missions, which were supposed to be sent to the territory of the Soviet Union - in the Transcaucasian republics. The school preferred to recruit Iranians, Armenians, Assyrians, who speak Russian, which, according to the calculations of the British residents, should significantly facilitate their intelligence activities in the Soviet Union.
Gevork Vartanyan managed not only to enroll in a British intelligence school to enrich his knowledge in the field of intelligence activities, but also to memorize his fellow practitioners, who later, naturally, were discovered after being sent to the territory of the Soviet Union and arrested. Some of them were turned over and began working for Soviet intelligence. For Vartanian himself, studying in an English intelligence school was an odd addition to intelligence and life experience. He studied the basics of cryptography, encryption, two-way radio communication, and agent activity methods. The intelligence school lost its reason for being, since all the agents released from it were declassified by the Soviet state security organs. Soon, under pressure from the Soviet Union, the British leadership was forced to close this school - again, thanks to the young Soviet intelligence officer Gevorku Vartanian.
How to break the "long jump"
However, the most striking page in Vartanian’s “Iranian epic,” and perhaps in his entire biography, was the prevention of the secret operation of the Third Reich called “Long Jump”. It was planned in the 1943 year, on the eve of the Tehran Conference, at which the leaders of the three leading powers of the anti-Hitler coalition were expected - Soviet Secretary General Joseph Stalin, American President Franklin Roosevelt, and English Premier Winston Churchill. The leaders of the big three were to arrive in Iran to discuss the most important issues of war and peace - both military cooperation, including the opening of a second front and the outbreak of war against Japan, and the post-war world structure in the event of victory over Hitler’s Germany and its allies. Naturally, the German secret services, having received the news of the upcoming conference, outlined its breakdown, and ideally - the killing or kidnapping of the leaders of the "big three". If the Nazis had succeeded in their plans, who knows how the wheel of world history would turn in these tense years.
To disrupt the Tehran Conference, the secret operation “Long Jump” was developed, approved by Adolf Hitler and directly planned by Ernst Kaltenbrunner. The direct developer of the plan of the operation was the legendary German saboteur Obersturmmbuführer SS Otto Skorzeny, who served as head of the secret service of the SS in the VI section of the Main Directorate of Imperial Security. Skorzeny is a real legend of Hitler’s intelligence, unfortunately much better known to the average Russian than the Soviet man Gevorg Vartanyan. Skorzeny planned that his saboteurs disguised as waiters would be able to penetrate the hall of the Tehran Conference, and then only the “technical matter” would remain.
However, thanks to the high professionalism and courage of the Soviet intelligence officers, the leadership of the special services of the USSR became aware of the upcoming operation. To be precise, information about the planned “Long Jump” was reported to the center by Nikolay Kuznetsov, a Soviet intelligence officer who was on the territory of Ukraine, in the rear of the enemy. The leadership of the Soviet intelligence handed over the available information to Tehran, the Soviet residency, which was to play a major role in directly preventing sabotage against the leaders of the "big three".
In August, 1943, in the area of the city of Qom - the holy center of the Muslims - Shiites, which is seventy kilometers from Tehran, a landing of six German intelligence officers landed, including two radio operators. The Germans, dressed in local people, came to Tehran on camels. It housed the conspiracy apartment of German intelligence, which was a villa next to the Soviet and British embassies. However, the Amir-Vartanian group and the British intelligence MI-6 were able to intercept the negotiations of the German radio operators with Berlin and get on their trail. The radio operators were forced to transmit all information about negotiations with the center to Soviet and British intelligence officers. In the end, radio operators were allowed to send to Berlin about their detention, after which the German intelligence refused to plans for the operation.
Thus, the young men from the “Light cavalry” of nineteen-year-old Amir - Gevorg Vartanian thwarted a serious operation planned at the very top of German intelligence and, possibly, saved the lives of the leaders of the three great powers. Following the exposure of radio operators, many German agents were detained in Iran, including the German intelligence resident in Tehran, Franz Meyer. The latter, pretending to be a local resident and dyeing his beard with henna, worked as a gravedigger at the Armenian cemetery, from which German saboteurs planned to penetrate to the venue of the Tehran conference. Gevorg Vartanian recalled that the entire period of the Tehran Conference - from November 28 to December 2 1943 of the year - the entire Soviet residency in Iran worked tirelessly, around the clock. At the same time, resident Ivan Agayants reported to Stalin personally on the progress of work.
The illegal activities of Gevork Vartanian in Iran continued for 11 years - from 1940 to 1951. During this time, the young man not only perfectly mastered the profession of a scout, becoming a highly skilled specialist, carried out a number of brilliant operations, but also managed to marry his girlfriend on the “Light cavalry”. Gohar Levonovna Vartanian was 2 years younger than her husband. They married 30 June 1946, when Gohar was 20 years old, and Gevorku - 22. Crowned in the Armenian temple of Tehran, they received the Soviet marriage stamp in 1952 in Yerevan. Since then, Gevork and Gohar Vartanian have walked together in their lives, being not only husband and wife, but also comrades in a difficult intelligence service.
In 1951, the Vartanians returned to the Soviet Union. Gevork was not here for twenty years - after his departure to Iran in his childhood. Being already an experienced intelligence officer and a fairly adult 27-year-old, Gevork sought to further professional development. Vartanians settled in Yerevan, where they were enrolled in the Faculty of Foreign Languages of Yerevan State University. The study lasted five years. In the 1957 year, after graduating from high school, the KGB of the USSR addressed them with another proposal on a foreign trip. A new page has begun in the history of the amazing life of this married couple.
Since childhood and youth and Gevork and Gohar Vartanian were spent in Iran, they both spoke Farsi as their native language. Knowledge of Persian and characteristic Middle Eastern appearance allowed them to impersonate Iranian citizens. Having provided Vartanyan with Iranian documents, the KGB sent the spouses for illegal work in Japan. In the land of the rising sun Vartanians were three years. Gevork used his studies at a Japanese university as a cover. In addition, he became involved in business in order to obtain a certain social status and related opportunities. For Japan, there was a business trip to the Middle East, then to Europe. After a short stay in Switzerland, the Vartanian couple settled in France, where Gevorg presented himself as an Iranian entrepreneur. The cover of Soviet intelligence was trade in famous Persian carpets. From France Gevorg and Gohar moved to Italy. It was the Apennines that became the site of further long-term activities of the Soviet intelligence officers.
The best legend to cover intelligence activities was business. It was much easier for a solid Iranian entrepreneur to find a way into the circles of the political and economic elite of Italian society. For five years, the Vartanians acquired the necessary connections in Italy, they successfully acquired the contacts with local business circles. We must pay tribute - and Gevork and Gohar could make the right impression of themselves. At least, the Italian interlocutors of “rich Iranian entrepreneurs” did not suspect the veracity of their legend. Moreover, Gevorg and Gohar succeeded in obtaining Italian citizenship, which greatly facilitated their activities both in Italy and throughout Europe as a whole (the attitude towards the Italian citizen in European political and business circles is undoubtedly different than to an Iranian citizen or other eastern country). The task of the Vartanians in Italy was to monitor the activities of the American and NATO forces in Southern Europe. Moreover, Italy was the key military and political partner of the United States in southern Europe.
It should be recalled here that Italy in those years remained an extremely politically unstable country. No wonder this period in its history was called the "lead seventies." The country was raging hot political struggles between the ultra-right and ultra-left, in which the important role played by the Italian and American intelligence agencies, the famous Italian mafia and even Masonic lodges. The “Red Brigades” and a number of other lesser-known left-radical organizations organized terrorist acts against political opponents and government officials, in turn, the right-radical groups threatened the Italian Communist Party and other left-wing parties and movements. Soviet intelligence required reliable information about what was happening in a large southern European country, what actions the United States was taking, what was the balance of power on the Italian political scene. Vartanians supplied the most relevant and secret information, receiving it during communication in circles of the Italian business and political elite.
After completing the leadership assignments in Italy, Gevork and Gohar Vartanian were transferred to the Federal Republic of Germany. To do this, they, the elderly already (this is about the beginning of the 1980-s - that is, Gevorg was under sixty years old), had to learn German. After eight months of learning a foreign language, Gevork and Gohar were fluent in German. After that, for several years they worked in the Federal Republic of Germany, also acquiring relevant contacts in military-political circles and discovering a lot of secrets about important NATO military facilities located in West Germany. For the Soviet Union, information obtained from Germany was of strategic importance, since it was here that the United States deployed ballistic missiles that, if war broke out, could reach the European part of the USSR in 8-10 minutes.
The location of the NATO military sites Vartanians mined and transferred to the center, thereby raising the awareness of the Soviet leadership on the military-political plans of the United States and its allies and strengthening the security of the Soviet state. In 1986, 62-year-old Gevork Vartanian and 60-year-old Gohar Vartanian finally returned to the Soviet Union. Their illegal activities in European countries came to an end, but the experience of outstanding professionals was still in demand. Gevork Vartanyan was engaged in the training of intelligence specialists, advised the special services. In 1992, at the age of 68, Gevorg Vartanyan retired. By this time he bore the rank of colonel.
At home: merit assessment and a decent old age
It should be noted here that, despite the half a century of intelligence work, the ascent of the hierarchy of ranks in the state security system of Gevorg Vartanyan cannot be called rapid. The fact is that for a long time, almost all of his youth, he worked in an illegal position, remaining a “freelance” intelligence officer of the Soviet special services. That is, he was not officially enlisted in the service in the state security bodies. Only in 1968, 44-year-old Vartanian received the military rank of captain (Vartanian himself recalled that assignment of the title was Andropov’s initiative — before 28 was the intelligence service, the scout’s title wasn’t assigned, obviously considering that the status of unauthorized agent was better for illegal ). The title of Colonel of the KGB of the USSR Vartanian received in 1975, at the age of 51. Gohar Levonovna Vartanian remained uncertified nelegalka scout.
It is noteworthy that while working in Iran, Vartanian did not receive, like his other colleagues, any serious material income from the leadership of the Soviet intelligence. Then, in 1940-s, only enthusiasts worked in Iran - great patriots of the Soviet country, for whom political convictions and patriotism always stood above any material reward. “We, for example, did not receive any money for our activities. And when the Great Patriotic War began, even they themselves found the means to transfer them to the defense fund. Generally speaking, the material gain for a real intelligence officer is by no means the main component. Otherwise, even a very well-paid resident could outbid the enemy sides, ”recalled Gevork Andreevich in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Dolgopolov N. 100 years without a name. Rossiyskaya Gazeta. 26.08.2011).
The merits of Gevork Andreevich Vartanian were appreciated by the Soviet leadership. 28 May 1984 The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR secretly awarded Gevork Andreevich the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. His wife Gohar Vartanian was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. Despite the fact that Gevorg Vartanyan retired in 1992, his name was declassified and opened to the general public only in 2000. Even today, despite the many decades that have passed since the intelligence activities of spouses, a large number of episodes of their illegal work remain classified. Indeed, many of those people with whom the Vartanians “worked” in Europe currently occupy prominent positions in the establishment of Western states - in the political, economic, military, diplomatic elite.
After retirement, the Vartanians lived in Moscow. Their life together lasted 65 years. Almost until the last years of his life, Gevork Vartanyan participated in the work of the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation, in preparing the young recruiting of Russian intelligence officers.
10 January 2012, at the age of 87, Gevorg Andreevich Vartanyan died of cancer. His grave is located at the Troyekurovsky cemetery in Moscow. The funeral ceremony of the legendary Soviet intelligence officer was attended not only by his friends and colleagues, but also by the top leaders of the Russian state, Vladimir Putin, who at that time held the post of Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, had come across Gevork Andreevich in the past and knew him personally. He laid flowers at the coffin of Colonel Vartanian. 17 February 2014, the legendary intelligence officer would have turned 90 years.
The memory of a scout is immortalized by a large number of publications in the Russian press devoted to the long and interesting life of this amazing man, a great patriot of the Soviet state. Under the authorship of N.M. Dolgopolov in the series “The Life of Remarkable People” in 2014, the biography of Gevork Vartanian (Dolgopolov N. Vartanian. 2-e ed. - M .: Young Guard, 2014) was published. A documentary on the series “More Than Gold” and several other films are devoted to Gevorg Vartanian. It was Vartanian who became the prototype of the protagonist of the Soviet-French film “Tehran-43”, although at the time when the film was being shot, the real name and the name of the Soviet intelligence officer were still classified.