Pravdin, Vladimir Sergeevich (1905-1962)

Born Rolland Jacques Claude Abbiate (aliases Francois Rossi, Dr Benoit, Georges Quinn, Roland Smith code name “Sergei.” An officer of Soviet state security (and Captain of GB).

Born on 15 August 1905 in London to a mixed family of a French-Italian Monegasque father and a Russian-Jewish mother whose maiden name was Mandelstamm, Abbiate grew up in the Russian imperial capital of St. Petersburg. In early 1920, however, he began to turn up in the West — in Monte Carlo and Marseilles, France.  In December 1925 Abbiate arrived in the United States with a British passport issued in Nice. In April 1926 he was arrested for impersonating an immigration officer, jailed for two years and then deported to the UK. 1 Later he lived in Nice.

In 1932, Abbiate became an operative of OGPU. His missions included participating in September 1937 (as Dr. Benoit) in the assassination of a defector from the Soviet intelligence service, Ignacii Poretsky, known in the West as Ignatz Reiss. In 1937, Abbiate took Soviet citizenship. In 1937 and 1939 Abbiate visited Mexico. 2 After a few months of working at the TASS agency in Moscow in 1940 and 1941, he was posted to New York in October 1941 as an undercover NKGB intelligence operative under the name of Vladimir Sergeevich Pravdin. Until the fall of 1943, Pravdin was assistant resident and resident in New York. After a brief return home, he was again posted to New York from January 1944 to March 1946, under the cover of TASS bureau chief. He was recalled following Bentley’s betrayal and discharged in 1947.

  1. “Olga Borisovna PRAVDINA (alias ‘Margaret’) and Vladimir Sergeevich PRAVDIN…”,   KV 2, file 2389, National Archives, UK.
  2. Ibidem.