Zarubin, Vasily Mikhailovich

   After military service in the Russian civil war, Zarubin joined the Cheka in 1920, taking part in the fight against “bandits.” In 1925 he joined the foreign intelligence department and spent 13 years as an illegal in Europe and Asia. During World War II, Zarubin served in Washington as the intelligence services rezident under the name “Zubilin.” He managed the recruitment and running of American agents within the nuclear weapons program (which the Soviets codenamed Enormoz), as well as the State and War departments and American security agencies. His official biography notes that his reporting was frequently read by Joseph Stalin. He was awarded two Orders of Lenin and two Orders of the Red Banner, plus other combat decorations.
   Nevertheless, Zarubin was not an effective intelligence officer, and his lack of street tradecraft was a reason for the collapse of the service’s networks in the postwar years. His meetings with members of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) were monitored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). These meetings alerted the FBI to the fact that the NKVD was using Communist Party members as agents. The FBI also observed Zarubin in operational meetings with other agents, which further intensified surveillance against him and his team. He was by the end of his tour well known in official Washington circles as a Soviet spy.
   Zarubin and his wife, Elizaveta Zarubina, were recalled to Moscow in late 1944. He had been denounced by a jealous and emotionally unstable subordinate and had to face an enquiry by counterintelligence officers. Although Zarubin was cleared, decorated once again for his successes, and promoted to the rank of major general, his career as a foreign intelligence operative was over. He worked in Moscow until 1948, then retired for health reasons. Zarubin’s daughter, Zoya Zarubina, served in the foreign intelligence service during the war as a captain.
   See also Mironov Letter.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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