Azev, Yevno Fischelovich

(1869–1918)
   The most infamous double agent in Russian history, Azev served as both “Raskin,” a secret agent for the Okhrana, and as “Comrade Valentine,” chief of the Battle Organization of the Socialist Revolutionary (SR) Party. From 1902 to 1908, Azev recruited terrorists and planned the execution of several senior tsarist officials and members of the royal family. Simultaneously, he betrayed scores of his own recruits to the Okhrana for trial, imprisonment, and execution.
   Azev’s planning of the assassination of Minister of Interior Vyacheslav von Plehve in 1904 made him a hero to Russian revolutionaries, and he was elected a member of the SR central committee. During the same period, he was the Okhrana’s highest paid informant, providing information that saved the life of the tsar and doomed countless plots by the Battle Organization. His treachery was uncovered by Vladimir Burtsev, a revolutionary journalist, who convinced his colleagues that only Azev could have been responsible for the arrests that were undercutting the SR’s efforts to build a revolutionary organization inside Russia. Azev fled to Germany, where he lived to see the Bolshevik Revolution.
   Azev’s motivation is unknown. Was the assassination of von Plehve a strike against a notorious anti-Semite? Was it money that led him to betray friends, or a desire to play God? Was it his love of notoriety, or an interest in being the hero of two elite combat organizations? This much seems clear: he badly disrupted the SR political and paramilitary organization and weakened their ability to compete with the Bolsheviks.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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