Serebryanskiy (Bergman), Yakov Isakovich

   One of the most famous of the Soviet illegals, Serebryanskiy went from underground work to the condemned cells of Soviet prisons, then to the rank of colonel in the security services, and finally back to a Moscow prison. From 1920 to 1938, Serebryanskiy served as an illegal in Persia, the United States, and Western Europe. He ran agents and was responsible for the kidnapping of General Aleksandr Kutepov, a leader of the émigré White Russian community in Paris. In the late 1930s, Serebryanskiy commanded the NKVD’s Administration for Special Tasks, controlling 212 illegals in 16 countries. Despite his successes and the award for the kidnapping of Kutepov, he was tried and sentenced to death in 1938. After spending a month on death row, he was amnestied and returned to illegal work. During World War II, Serebryanskiy worked in the partisan directorate and was highly decorated for his work against the Germans. According to Pavel Sudoplatov, he also recruited agents among German prisoners of war, who were used in radio games or were inserted behind enemy lines. Following the war, Serebryanskiy continued to work as a colonel in counterintelligence. In 1953 he was rearrested under the charges for which he had been sentenced to death in 1938. He died in Butyrka Prison three years later under interrogation.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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