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Iosif Grigulevich

Iosif Romualdovich Grigulevich (IOSIF ROMUALDOVICH GRIGULEVICH) was one of the most remarkable Soviet illegal operatives (a spy acting without diplomatic cover) during the 1930s and 1940s, when he took a leading role in assassinating leftists who were not loyal to Joseph Stalin. Under a false identity as Teodoro B. Castro, a wealthy Costa Rican expatriate living in Rome, Grigulevich served as the ambassador of the Republic of Costa Rica to both Italy and Yugoslavia (1952 1954). His mission to assassinate Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito was aborted due to Stalin's death, after which Grigulevich settled in Moscow, where he worked as an expert on the history of Latin America and on the Roman Catholic Church. He was a member of Soviet Academy of Sciences, served as editor in chief of the magazine, Obshchestvennye nauki i sovremennost ("Social Sciences Today") and published many books and articles about Latin American subjects.

Grigulevich was born in Trakai, Lithuania, to a family of Crimean Karaites. His parents immigrated to Argentina when he was young. His father did well for himself and later sent Iosif to Europe to study. However, some Russian sources claim that only his father immigrated to Argentina and he and his mother remained in Poland, where he joined the Polish Communist party and became acquainted with Edward Gierek, not travelling to Argentina until 1934. In any case, in 1933 he studied briefly at the Sorbonne. He was recruited by the NKVD and showed a gift for languages, soon picking up English, Spanish, French and Russian.

In Moscow, Grigulevich settled into a new life as an academic. He was awarded a doctorate in history without having to defend a thesis and worked as an expert on Latin America and the Catholic church. He was the author of 58 books, some of which were published under the pseudonym Iosif Lavretzky (LAVRETSKII). In 1979 he became a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Colleagues were puzzled by the lack of any biographical information about him prior to his forties and by his refusal to be photographed.

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