b. 7 July 1907, Melitopol, d. 26 September 1996

Sudoplatov was one of the leading espionage figures in the USSR. Born to a Ukrainian father and a Russian mother, Sudoplatov began working for the Cheka (Chrezvychaynaya kommissiya po borbe s kontrrevolyutsiey ii sabotazhem – Extraordinary Commission to Combat Counterrevolution and Sabotage) in 1921 at the age of fourteen.

He moved to Moscow in 1933 and worked for the OGPU, the security service that preceded the NKVD (Narodnyi komissariat vnutrishnykh del – Peoples’ Commissariat of Internal Affairs). In 1938 he was ordered by Stalin to carry out the assassination of the leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, Yevhen Konovalets. He carried this assignment out on 23 May 1938 in Rotterdam, giving Konovalets a box of chocolates that contained a bomb. 

Sudoplatov narrowly escaped his own fall when the head of the NKVD, Nikolai Yezhov, was purged in the fall of 1938. In early 1939 Sudoplatov was reinstated as head of the NKVD’s Foreign Department and in this role planned and oversaw the assassination of Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940.

In June 1941 Sudoplatov was put in charge of the Administration of Special Tasks at the NKVD, which carried out numerous assassinations and sabotage activities behind German lines. After the War, Sudoplatov was instrumental in the MGB (Ministerstvo gosudarstvennoye bezopasnosti - Ministry of State Security), which replaced the NKVD in 1946) operations against the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). He personally commanded the search and eventual killing of UPA general Roman Shukhevych in 1950. Sudoplatov,, as head of Special Tasks, also oversaw the espionage activities of the USSR, particularly in the sphere of atomic energy.

After the death of Stalin, the Minister of State Security, Lavrentii Beria, reorganized the MGB into the MVD (Ministerstvo vnutrishnykh del - Ministry of Internal Affairs). Beria was purged in the summer of 1953; Sudoplatov, who had worked under him since 1939 and for whom Beria was a mentor, was also arrested and imprisoned. Sudoplatov spent fifteen years in prison and upon his release became a translator. He continually petitioned the authorities for rehabilitation and reinstatement in the Party; he was rehabilitated only in February 1992, after the state for which he had committed so many crimes had ceased to exist. Sudoplatov died in 1996, two years after publishing his sensational memoir, Special Tasks, which exposed many secrets of Soviet intelligence operations.