The most prominent mourner at the funeral of the late Soviet master-spy Gevork Vartanyan was a former spy himself, if that is he has ever given up his old job.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin paid his respects to his widow Goar, herself an agent, and laid flowers for the ceremony for a man who began his clandestine career aged only 16, and who rose to become one of the KGB’s most valuable assets.
He began his career in Iran where his father was already spying, and by 1942 had succeeded in infiltrating Britain’s recruiters there, sitting an exam for agents to be posted to Russia.
The following year was his finest hour. Still only 19, he led a team which broke the back of the Nazi’s “Operation Long Jump” plot to assassinate the three allied leaders at their conference in Tehran. Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin owed their lives to him, and his actions did more than most to alter the entire outcome of World War II.