October 16, 2007

Putin, Stalin and Teheran


When news broke that Putin was traveling to Teheran despite death threats from terrorists, I was reminded that the last Russian leader who traveled to Teheran - Josef Stalin - also went there despite a death threat against him (and Roosevelt and Churchill, as the Big Three were traveling there in 1943 for the Teheran Conference).

The plot against the Big Three was first uncovered by Soviet spy Nikolai Kuznetsov. Parachuted behind enemy lines at Rovno, Ukraine, Kuznetsov posed as German officer Paul Zeibert and repeatedly infiltrated German held areas, establishing a wide intelligence network and boldly assassinating German military governors in broad daylight, after pronouncing to them their death sentence. He uncovered details of the plot from a loose-lipped German officer, and fed the information back through his network.

Kuznetsov did not survive the war, having been betrayed by Ukrainian nationalists. The Big Three's conference went on un-disturbed... (For a Soviet era film treatment of this episode in disguise, see "Teheran-43").

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