Tsanava, Lavrenty Fomich

   One of Lavrenty Beria’s protégés in the Soviet security service, Tsanava joined the Cheka before his 21st birthday and rose quickly in the Georgian NKVD. In 1933 he transferred to the Communist Party apparatus to work with Beria. In 1938 he followed Beria back into the security service and was appointed chief of the Byelorussian NKVD. During World War II, Tsanava worked with the partisan movement in Byelorussia and in Moscow, as deputy chief of the central partisan staff, and in 1945 was made a lieutenant general. After the war, Tsanava was made head of the MGB in Byelorussia. He masterminded the murder of the actor Solomon Mikhoels in Minsk at Joseph Stalin’s behest in 1948. In 1952 he was removed from his senior position and placed on leave. In April 1953 he was arrested for Mikhoels’s murder, and died in pretrial confinement in 1955, possibly a suicide.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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