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Legendary Soviet WWII spy dies at 87: Official

world Updated: Jan 11, 2012 15:45 IST

One of the legendary Soviet agents of World War II who infiltrated a British spy school and assisted in the Tehran conference has died aged 87, Russia's intelligence service said on Wednesday.

Gevork Vartanyan, working under the codename Amir, famously in 1942 managed to attend an entire course at a British training course for spies in Tehran who Britain then wanted to send all over the Soviet Union.

According to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) - the successor to the Soviet KGB - his work helped expose the British network which existed despite London's wartime alliance with Moscow.

Vartanyan also helped ensure security at the 1943 conference in Tehran between the Allied "Big Three" of Soviet tyrant Joseph Stalin, British prime minister Winston Churchill and US president FD Roosevelt that started to draw up the map of postwar Europe.

The SVR said in a statement on its website that Vartanyan died yesterday. A source in the service told the state RIA Novosti news agency that he died at a Moscow hospital yesterday afternoon.

During a life remarkable even by the standards of a spy and parts of which are still shrouded in secrecy, Vartanyan worked in tandem with his wife Goar who was also an agent.

According to the SVR, they worked undercover together for 30 years in different countries after World War II but it did not give specifics. They only returned to the Soviet Union in 1986 with Gevork Vartanyan continuing to work in the service until 1992.

He was born in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, the son of an Iranian factory owner of Armenian origin, and received top honours from the Soviet Union as well as Russia and Armenia for his work.