Legendary Soviet spy Goar Vartanyan dies | News | DW | 26.11.2019
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Legendary Soviet spy Goar Vartanyan dies

Goar Vartanyan, a Soviet spy credited for stopping a Nazi assassination plot against Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt in 1943, passed away at 93. She shared the glory with her husband and fellow spy, Gevork Vartanyan.

Russian intelligence officials confirmed the death of Goar Vartanyan, the female half of the iconic agent couple who allegedly stopped a Nazi plot to killed Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill, and Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II.

Goar and her husband Gevork Vartanyan had a "remarkable impact" on the lives of intelligence agents and ordinary people, Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) said in a statement on Tuesday.

Agency head Sergey Naryshkin praised Goar Vartanyan as "an example of wholehearted service to the motherland."

"We will not forget what this seemingly fragile, but strong, courageous and selfless woman, has done in covert intelligence," he wrote in a statement posted on the SVR website.

Gevork Vartanyan with Celia Sandys in Moscow, 2007 (picture alliance/dpa)

Gevork Vartanyan welcomed the granddaughter of Winston Churchil during her 2007 visit to Moscow

Heroes of Tehran

Goar Vartanyan was born in Soviet-ruled Armenia in 1926, with her family moving to Tehran some years later. As a teenager in Iran, she joined an anti-fascist group and met her future husband. During the opening years of World War II, the Vartanyans' group is believed to have uncovered hundreds of Nazi agents operating in the country.

The group's biggest discovery, however, came in the run-up to the 1943 Tehran conference, the first trilateral meeting of leaders of the USSR, the UK, and the US.

The Soviet agents allegedly got wind of a Nazi plot dubbed "Operation Long Jump" which aimed to assassinate the top leaders. They then managed to track down the first team of German operatives, and have them arrested by Soviet authorities. The Nazi leadership reportedly canceled the plot after learning of the advance teams' failure.

The story was adapted for the 1980 film featuring French movie star Alain Delon.

'Extreme conditions'

The Vartanyans took residence in the USSR in 1951. After getting their degrees from a foreign language institute in Yerevan, the two returned to intelligence work until retiring in 1986. They operated together in "extreme conditions in many countries," the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service said without providing details.

The big three allied leaders: Josef Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in Tehran, 1943 (picture alliance/Everett Collection)

"The big three" allied leaders: Josef Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in Tehran, 1943

After the couple's retirement from active duty, they continued to teach and train upcoming Russian agents. Goar's husband was decorated with the Hero of the Soviet Union award.

Putin attended husband's funeral

When commenting on his medal, which is shaped like a five-pointed star, Gevork used to say that "at least two" of the points belong to his wife, SVR said on Tuesday.

Gevork Vartanyan passed away in 2012, at the age of 87. President Vladimir Putin, himself a former intelligence agent, attended the funeral at the prestigious Troyekurovskoe cemetery in Moscow. The authorities have since unveiled a statue of Vartanyan at the cemetery.

Goar Vartanyan is expected to buried at the same location, possibly on Friday, a SVR spokesman told the AFP news agency.

dj/ng (AFP, Interfax) 

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