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OBITUARIES / PASSINGS / Yelizaveta Mukasei

Soviet spy was based in L.A. in '40s

September 25, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Lt. Col. Yelizaveta Mukasei, 97, a Soviet spy who worked undercover in the West with her husband, died in Moscow early Saturday, according to Russian External Intelligence Service spokesman Sergei Ivanov.

Few details of her life have been made public by Russian authorities, but an obituary issued by the spy agency said Mukasei, whose code name was Elza, lived in Los Angeles from 1939 to 1943 when she and her husband, Mikhail, were working undercover here.

Born in 1912 in the southern Russian city of Ufa, Mukasei attended Leningrad University. She married Mikhail in 1934, and the couple were sent to California with their two children.

According to a 2009 report on Russian Channel One Europe TV, Mukasei was a radio operator who transmitted information that her husband gathered while working at the Soviet embassy.

The couple returned to the Soviet Union in the mid-1940s and received more training. Mukasei studied German, Polish and coding and worked as a secretary for a Moscow theater. The couple went back abroad and worked as spies from 1955 to 1977 in unidentified countries.

Later, after returning again to the Soviet Union, Mukasei helped train spies and wrote textbooks on spying. She was awarded several state medals.

Her husband Mikhail, whose code name was Zephyr, died last year at 101.

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