Intelligence officers of Armenian origin

Intelligence including foreign intelligence activities are the activities of national security authorities aimed at obtaining information on external and internal security threats and strengthening the foundations of the State.

The history of intelligence, especially the period of last two centuries, shows that the true intelligence officer, whatever character traits he has, first of all is known for his high intelligence and analyzing skills in particular. Intelligence is often defined as a battle field of highly intelligent people. Those are the people, who prove that intelligence activities during the war and peace are effective due to their quality rather than quantity.

According to intelligence history expert A. Sargsyan, the condition of the intelligence system of the State, in essence, reflects its “health”, i.e. its power and international reputation.
According to legendary intelligence officer Gevorg Vardanyan and his wife Gohar Vardanyan, the profession of intelligence officer is far from being а romantic adventure and, in reality, is based on selfless devotion and hard work. Since the ancient times intelligence officers of all nations have been digging up information particularly the information that has been and is being hidden from prying eyes.

The work of intelligence officer requires creative approach due to which it becomes possible to make a conclusion from “small things” and all known data, which sometimes may be of vital importance to the State. That’s why the intelligence officer is required to be not only in excellent mental and psychological condition but also have physical training, commitment, endurance, hardworking qualities etc.

A look back at the history makes apparent that these features are typical for the representatives of our nation. The passed millenniums: fight for motherland, struggles for the restoration of statehood and lack of resources, made us who we are.

This is the likely reason why Armenians are known for their brilliant specialists in the field of intelligence and with their direct participation intelligence structures and later new directions of operational activities have been established.


DAVTYAN (DAVIDOV) Hakob, Qristapore

Was born in 1888, in Nakhijevan
In 1907 entered Saint Petersburg University.
From 1920 worked in NKVD bodies. At the request of F. Dzerzhinsky, started to work in Foreign Intelligence.
Was the first head of the external division of Foreign Intelligence (from November 1920 till August 1921).
In 1922 was the authorized representative of Russia in Lithuania, and then was the adviser of the authorized representative in China, i.e. the head of the station. In 1925-1927 was appointed as counselor of the USSR authorized dealership in France.
In 1927-1930 was the authorized representative in Poland.
In 1938 due to false accusation was executed by a firing squad. In 1956 was rehabilitated.


QATANYAN Ruben, Pavel

Was born in 1881, in Tiflis.
In 1906 graduated from Moscow University, Faculty of Law. Was a lawyer and then a journalist as well.
Took part in the formation of Moscow Extraordinary Commission. In January-April 1921 headed the foreign intelligence.
In 1922 was the Consul-general in Berlin, and then at his own request moved to prosecutor’s work. Coordinated the supervision of the activity of state security bodies.
In 1938-1948 and 1950-1955 was taken into custody, in 1948-1950 was exiled.
In 1955 was rehabilitated.
Was a Professor of University. Died in 1966.




Was born in 1911, in Gandzak.
Since 1930 had been in JSPD (Joint State Political Directorate). Was fluent in French, Persian, Turkish, Spanish, quite fluent in English and Italian.
In 1936 was in Foreign Intelligence. In 1937 moved to France for operational activity. In August 1941 was stationed in Iran. In 1943, during Teheran Conference, Aghayantc and his officers succeeded in preventing the terrorist act against the leaders of the USA and Great Britain that was planned by Otto Skorzeny. After Iran he was stationed to Paris from the 1st Chief Directorate.
In 1967 was the Deputy-head of the State Security Committee (KGB) of the 1st Chief Directorate. Died in 1968.




AGHAYANTS Alexander, Ivan

Was born in 1900, in Yelizavetpol (Gandzak).
During the civil war conducted clandestine activities in Azerbaijan. In 1920-1922 worked in Foreign Intelligence bodies. Has graduated from the courses of Moscow Institute of National Economy after Plekhanov. Since 1926 had been in JSPD bodies. In 1934-1937 worked in Paris.
From May 1937 headed Berlin legal station. Recovered the contact with agent “Braytenbakh” (Villi Leman) in Gestapo and agent “Vinterfeld” in German MFA.
Died in 1938.




AVANESOV Varlam, Alexander

Was born in 1884. (Real name was Martirosyan Suren, Karp)
In 1913 graduated from the Medical Department of Zürich University.
Since 1919 had been a Member of the Presidium of the All-Russia CEC, Deputy People’s Commissar of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection.
Since August 1919 had been deputy chief of DEC special department.
In 1920-1924 was member of DEC council and state control, deputy chief of the inspection.
Died in 1930.







Was born in 1898 in Nakhijevan.
In 1922 entered the N. Bauman Moscow State Technical University. He defended Master’s Dissertation in D. Mendeleev Institute of Chemical Technology.
In 1931 started his work in the new subdivision of the external intelligence – in the scientific and technical intelligence. In 1931-1933 worked in the Berlin station. Since 1934 was in USA (alias - Genadi), during this period having defended doctorate dissertation in USA and working as engineer. He was deputy chief of station of New York, and since 1938 – chief of station. 1941-1947 hold senior positions in the First Main Directorate.
Major General Hovakimyan died in 1967.




AGHAYAN Gurgen, Semyon

Was born in 1915 in Elisabethpol (Gandzak).
In 1937 entered the Yerevan Pedagogical Institute. In 1938 was an audience member of the State Political Directorate of People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs of Tbilisi. After the graduation, he worked in the Caucasus, in the state security counter-intelligence agencies.
He participated in the Patriotic War and was awarded with Medal “For the Defense of the Caucasus”. In 1945, he was transferred to Moscow and for nearly 35 years worked in the external intelligence.
Died in 1997.




BALASANOV Gerasim, Martin

Was born in 1903 in Dagestan.
1932-1935 studied in the Japanese Section of Faculty of Diplomacy of the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies. 1935-1937 was audience member of the Eastern Section of the Institute of Red Professors. Knew English, Japanese, and Turkish.
In 1937 officer of People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs of USSR. 1944-1945 was stationed from the external intelligence to Tokyo. 1945-1949 was stationed in North Korea. 1951-1954 was stationed in India. 1954-1959 worked in the administration of the First Main Directorate. Since 1962 taught in the F. E. Dzerzhinsky Higher School of the State Security Committee.
Died in 1976.


GURGENOV Vyacheslav, Ivan

Was born in 1935 in Grozny.
In 1959 he graduated from the Faculty of Oriental Studies of the Moscow Institute of International Relations and was seconded to India, Calcutta, to work in the USSR Main Consulate.
Since 1963 he was in the external intelligence. 1965-1971 was seconded for an operative work to India. 1971-1978 was officer of the central administration of the First Main Directorate. 1978-1983 was stationed in Pakistan. In 1983-1989 hold senior positions in the central administration of the First Main Directorate of the State Security Committee. In 1989 he was deputy head of the First Main Directorate.
In 1991 he was deputy director of the External Intelligence Service.
Died in 1994.



ALAVERDOV Mikhail, Andrei

Was born in 1900 in Shushi.
Having graduated from the Shushi Gymnasium, he was officer of the external intelligence since 1919. In 1923 worked in the Eastern section of the Joint State Political Directorate. In parallel with his work, he graduated from the Faculty of Oriental Studies of the Frunze Military Academy.
1925-1930 he was seconded to Iran, since 1928 he was chief of station. 1930-1933 he worked in the central administration of intelligence. 1933-1934 was stationed in Austria, Switzerland and France, 1934-1936 – in Afghanistan, 1936-1938 – in Turkey. Having returned to Moscow, he worked in the central administration of the external intelligence. 1941-1944 he was stationed in Kabul. 1944-1947 headed the information section of the external intelligence. In November 1947, he was appointed deputy head in educational and scientific issues of the Higher School of Intelligence of the Information Committee.
Died in 1968.

MNATSAKANOV Azaria, Hayrapet

Was born in 1900 in the city of Ardebil (Iran).
In 1928-1935 officer of the stations of the foreign department of external intelligence in Tehran and later in Berlin.
In 1935 deputy chief of the station in Vienna (in the position of deputy head of mission).
In 1936 assistant chief of division of the 7th Department of the Main Directorate of State Security of People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs in Moscow.
In 1938 was arrested on charges of espionage, sentenced to capital punishment and executed by shooting.
Rehabilitated in 1964.





Was born in 1924 in Batum.
Since 1943 worked in the state security bodies. In 1943-1944 was a student of the school of People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs in Tbilisi. In 1944-1945 – assistant case officer of the 1st Division of the 4th Department of the Lviv District of People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, deputy commander of guerilla units operating behind enemy lines.
In 1945-1954 transferred to operative work in the state security bodies of the Ukrainian SSR.
In 1955-1978 hold different positions in the central administration of the State Security Committee (KGB). Was deputy chief of illegal intelligence of the First Main Directorate.
In 1978-1988 – Chairman of the KGB of the Armenian SSR. Was murdered in 1993.



GEVORGYAN (KEVORKOV) Vyacheslav, Yervand

Was born in 1924 in Moscow.
Since 1945 worked in Berlin as officer of the military administration of the allied forces in Germany and participated in disclosure of officers of the former Reich. Later worked in the general headquarters of the Soviet army, then he was chief of department of the Second Main Directorate of the KGB (counterintelligence), chief of directorate. In 1969 by the order of the KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov established «secret communication» system for the senior leadership of the USSR and GDR. Under the direct supervision of major general V.Gevorgyan, in 1975 security service was established within the MFA of the USSR and as a result of its activities a number of agents of the foreign special services were disclosed.
Died in 2017.



TUMANYAN Hayk, Ghazar

Born in 1901 in Dsegh villige.
Graduated from the Sverdlov University in Moscow, Faculty of Oriental Studies of the Frunze Military Academy.
Since February 1930 worked for the Intelligence Department of the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces. Worked in China, then as officer for special assignments of the Department, Chief of «A» Special Department (active intelligence, service of subversive intelligence). Was a military adviser of the Republican Army in Spain.
H.Tumanyan supervised the work of a number of intelligence officers, including the work of Ursula Hamburger (Kuchinskaya, operative nickname «Sonya»).
Died in 1971.



VARDANYAN Levon, Paruyr

Was born in 1929 in Yerevan.
He started his service in the Soviet Army since 1946. In 1954 he graduated from the Mine-and-Torpedo Faculty of the Leningrad Higher Naval Academy after M. Frunze. Afterwards – the Faculty of Philosophy of the MSU, after which he was invited to serve in the military intelligence. He was a member of the Union of Journalists of USSR.
His first service secondment was in 1966. He worked in Afghanistan and Iran. In 1981 he was promoted to rear admiral by the CM of USSR.
The prominent military intelligence officer L. Vardanyan died in 2015.




The GHASABYANS, Zohrab and Arshaluys

Z. Ghasabyan was born in 1919 in Istanbul. Doctor of Historical Sciences Ghasabyan was senior associate of the Academy of Sciences of the Armenian SSR. He was fluent in the Bulgarian, French, Turkish, Kurdish and Russian languages.
1922-1946 Z. Ghasabyan lived in Bulgaria. He was one of the active participants of underground struggle against the fascist regime, for which he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison. In 1944 he was released from prison by partisans and fought in their ranks until the end of the war.
A.Ghasabyan was born in 1921 in Turkey. Until 1946 she lived in Bulgaria, where she participated with her husband in underground activity.
Z. Ghasabyan started to cooperate with state security authorities since 1956. With his wife, A. Ghasabyan, underwent intelligence trainings in Moscow. 1963-1969 successfully worked in the ranks of clandestine intelligence.


HAKOBYAN Ashot, Abgar

Was born in 1915 in Baku.
In 1946 he conducted deep-cover intelligence activity in Romania (alias – “Efrat”). He acted with documents of Hovhannes Sarajanyan, born on May 9, 1916 in Turkey.
1949-1959 Hakobyan headed the clandestine station of the First Main Directorate of the USSR State Security Committee in Italy.
In 1953 Hakobyan left for Cairo, also for undercover work. In 1954 he returned to Rome.
In the late 1950s he settled down in Armenia.
Died in 1981.




VARDANYAN Gevorg, Andrei

Hero of the Soviet Union
Was born on February 17, 1924 in Rostov-on-Don.
He was in intelligence since February 1940. He headed the special group of uncovering fascist intelligence officers and agents in Tehran and other cities of Iran, which only in 2 years uncovered more than 400 persons related to German intelligence. In 1943 during the Tehran Conference, he took a part in the works of ensuring the security of the leaders of the “Big Three”.
In 1951 he graduated from the Yerevan State University, Faculty of Foreign Languages. Afterwards, he was an undercover intelligence officer in different countries of the world for many years. After retiring, Colonel Vardanyan lived in Moscow.
Died in 10.01.2012.



Hero of the Soviet Union Gevorg Vardanyan with his wife, Gohar Vardanyan, during the years of intelligence work abroad