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MOSCOW, June 21. /TASS/. Chief of Soviet covert intelligence, architect and commander of the Vympel reconnaissance and sabotage unit of the Soviet Union’s external intelligence service Yury Drozdov has died at the age of 91, Head of the Press Bureau of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Sergey Ivanov said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Legendary chief of the nation’s undercover intelligence, World War II veteran, retired Major-General Yury (Ivanovich) Drozdov passed away on June 21," the statement reads.
Drozdov was born on September 19, 1925, in Minsk, to a military family. He took part in World War Two fighting all the way to Berlin. In 1956, he graduated from the Military Institute of Foreign Languages and was recruited to the Soviet Committee for State Security (KGB) and dispatched to Berlin as an intelligence officer a year later.
"Yury Ivanovich (Drozdov) was directly involved in many intelligence operations, including the exchange of Rudolf Abel for American pilot Francis Gary Powers. He was a resident agent in China and the US. In November 1979, he was appointed chief of covert operations, which he headed until his resignation in 1991," the SVR reported.
Drozdov took part in the Afghan conflict. He was the architect and head of the Vympel reconnaissance and sabotage foreign intelligence unit, which was designed to conduct operations abroad during the so-called ‘special period.’ "Employees and veterans of the Foreign Intelligence Service are grieving over this loss. Yuri Ivanovich was a true Russian officer, an open-hearted person and a wise commander," the Russian intelligence service stated.