"Give her up, Leo. You need to be realistic. On the one hand you have your career, your parents - on the other hand you have a traitor and a slut."[1]

Vasili Ilyich Nikitin (b. 1918 - 16 July 1953) was a lieutenant in the MGB.

During his early years in the MGB, Vasili proved his loyalty by denouncing his brother for making anti-Stalinist remarks whilst drunk. His brother was sentenced to 20 years of hard labour, but escaped three years later, killing several guards in the process. Vasili failed to recapture him, and the stigma of his failure haunted him from then on.[2]

On 14 February 1953, Vasili accompanied his superior officer Leo Demidov to the residence of escaped suspected foreign agent Anatoly Brodsky. During his search of the premises, Vasili found a note indicating that Anatoly was heading for Kiev, and was disappointed when Leo declared the note a diversion. An interrogation of Anatoly's neighbour Zina Morosovna indicated that the suspect was likely heading to the home of Mikhail Zinoviev in Kimov, a lead Leo immediately pursued, much to Vasili's dissatisfaction. Prior to leaving, Vasili incited Leo's men against him over what he considered a false lead. Despite a series of setbacks engineered by Vasili himself, the officers arrived at Mikhail's residence, where Leo apprehended Brodsky. During the pursuit, Vasili took charge of the situation and had Mikhail and his wife executed. Leo struck his lieutenant in the face before he could inflict the same fate on Mikhail's daughters Zoya and Elena. Embittered by this experience, Vasili vowed revenge on his superior officer.[2]

He accompanied Leo and Dr Roman Hvostov for Anatoly's interrogation in the Lubyanka, where Roman injected the man with a truth serum made of camphor oil. The initial interrogation proved fruitless, as the prisoner reiterated that he was nothing more than a vet.[3] When a satisfactory confession was made, Vasili secretly added the name of Leo's wife Raisa to the list of Anatoly's suspected collaborators and handed the report to Major Janusz Kuzmin. Kuzmin instructed Leo to investigate his own wife as a test of loyalty, and sent Vasili to assist Leo in searching his own apartment. Vasili deliberately brought along Fyodor Andreev, a fellow MGB agent whose son had died in mysterious circumstances; the official investigation into the boy's death concluded that he had been killed in a railroad accident, though Fyodor was convinced that he had been murdered, a potentially dangerous opinion which Leo had insisted he keep to himself. During the search, Vasili mocked Leo, calling into question Raisa's fidelity and citing the risks Leo faced if he did not denounce her.[4]

Three weeks later, Leo was to be demoted as a low ranking militiaman in Voualsk after having refused to denounce Raisa. Although Vasili was dissatisfied with such a light sentence, he nonetheless met Leo before he left, mockingly describing the inferior working conditions he'd suffer in Voualsk and revealing to Raisa that her husband had been spying on her.[5] Two days later, Vasili phoned Leo, informing him that his parents had been evicted from their previous accommodation and assigned shoddy housing more suited to their new status. He demanded that Leo beg for forgiveness for striking him, but gave no indication of accepting the apology.[6] With Leo gone, Vasili took over his former position and moved into his apartment, keeping his wife and children in separate lodgings so that he could indulge in the occasional affair.[7]

Three months later, Vasili arrested Leo, Raisa and General Timur Nesterov after they were found to be secretly investigating the murder of Fyodor's son and several other children throughout the western Soviet Union. He oversaw the interrogation of Leo in the Lubyanka, where he accused Leo of anti-Soviet activities through implying that Soviet society could produce a serial killer.[8] He sent Leo and Raisa to a train headed for the Kolyma gulags, but secretly paid a group of convicts to kill them before they arrived at their destination. Convinced that his enemy was as good as dead, Vasili became depressed at his newfound lack of purpose, but recovered once he was informed that the pair had escaped.[7]

After consulting the documents accumulated by Leo regarding the child murders, Vasili summoned Fyodor Andreev, as his deceased son was listed among the victims. Feigning sympathy with Leo's cause, Vasili managed to pry from Fyodor that he'd secretly assisted Leo in his investigation, and that he would most likely be escaping to Rostov, where the majority of the murders had taken place. Vasili shot Fyodor, later claiming to his superiors that the man had tried to assault him upon being exposed as having worked with Leo. He launched a search in Rostov, where he learned that Leo had broken into the Rostselmash tractor factory's employment records, stealing the file of one Andrei Sidorov.[9]

Accompanied by fifteen officers, Vasili had the Sidorov residence surrounded and entered alone, ordering his men to kill all its inhabitants should he not emerge after five minutes. Hoping to kill Leo himself rather than have him arrested, Vasili caught Leo and Raisa unawares in the company of Andrei, the man they suspected was the child killer. Ignoring Andrei, Vasili ordered the pair to get on their knees, but was fatally stabbed in the back by Andrei before he could execute them. When his men stormed the house, Leo, after having killed Andrei and hoping to avoid further bloodshed, declared that Vasili had heroically sacrificed his life to save them.[10]


  1. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, p. 145, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  2. 2.0 2.1 Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 51-75, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  3. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 89-94, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  4. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 141-149, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  5. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, p. 173-175, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  6. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 196-198, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  7. 7.0 7.1 Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 398-399, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  8. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 361-370, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  9. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 414-419 & 441-442, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  10. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 456-460, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
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