Which famous Soviet athletes suspected of espionage

History 15/02/20 famous Soviet athletes suspected of espionage

according to Vitaly Ryabchuk, author of “high treason and espionage”, according to the Criminal code of the Russian Federation for espionage in Soviet Russia, you get shot with confiscation of property. Often in such activities, suspected famous athletes. Some of them only narrowly managed to avoid the highest measure.

Nikolay Kovtun

Known at the time of the Soviet athlete Nikolay Ivanovich Kovtun was not only accused of espionage, but was shot by the relevant article. Kovtun was born in 1915 in Harbin: there his parents worked at the Chinese Eastern railway. This circumstance played a decisive role in the fate of the athlete. But at first all went well. In 1935 the family Kovtun returned to Soviet Russia, Nikolay Ivanovich came to the capital Institute of physical education. While Kovtun, specialized in the high jump and triple jump, beating one record after another. According to Alexander Gorbunov, in his book “Pushkin and Pele. The history of the sport behind the scenes”, in 1937 he established a new benchmark for its rivals, first breaking the height of 201 cm. In some days Nikolay Kovtun was arrested on charges of collaboration with Japanese intelligence. According to investigators, the Japanese allegedly recruited athlete, when he lived in Harbin. After serving 10 years, Kovtun have returned home, but was immediately taken into custody again and again on similar charges. It was released only in 1955 and then was rehabilitated.

Starostin Brothers

But the fate of famous footballers, brothers Starostin, there was not so tragic. The eldest of them, Nikolay Petrovich Starostin, which has appeared 1902, is considered one of the founders and first leaders of the sports society “Spartak”. And three younger brother of Nikolai Petrovichand Alexander, Andrew and Peter, was a professional football and was famous all over the country. As stated in the encyclopedia’s “Football” edited by L. I. Anzieu, in 1942, all the brothers were arrested. At first they were accused of espionage, illegal exemption from military service, conscription and economic crimes. Ultimately, however, investigators were stopped for anti-Soviet agitation and organization of the activities aimed at training counter-revolutionary crimes. In particular Starostin accused of plotting to assassinate Joseph Stalin. Meanwhile, the authors of the edition “Goal!” (Moscow 2017) argue that the true reason for the arrest of the players was different: just Lavrenty Beria did not give rest to the laurels of “Spartacus.” Anyway, 2 years later with Nikolai Starostin was cleared of all charges, but his brothers had to serve their appointed terms completely.

Alexander Alekhine

But other more fortunate world chess champion, Alexander Alexandrovich Alekhine. Until 1914, Alekhine career developed quite successfully. In the summer of that year, when he participated in a tournament in Mannheim, Germany started the First World war. How to write N.M. Kalinichenko and V. E. Ions in his book “Alexander Alekhine. Lessons of a chess game” with the tournament, Alekhine along with the other Russian players were sent to a German prison. Soon he managed to break free and return home, but to sit in the rear of Alexander was not going to. During the First World war and the Civil war Alekhine repeatedly been on the verge of death: he was shot twice and seriously wounded. However, the worst was waiting in front of a chess player. In 1919, when he was in Odessa, Alekhine denounced were arrested in connection with suspected espionage. As claimed by D. V. Kuklenko and A. Y. Khoroshevskaya, the authors of the publication “100 famous athletes,” Alexander Alekhine was sentenced to death. To avoid death he succeeded only through the intervention of the Chairman of people’s Commissars of the Ukrainian SSR, Christian Rakovsky.

Yulia Popova

© Russian Seven

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