Stalin Targeted Tito for Death, Archival Evidence Shows


Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was so angry with Josip Broz Tito that his special services were planning to assassinate the Yugoslav leader.

The plan was dropped in 1953 when Stalin died, according to a collection of Cold War archives compiled by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a U.S. think tank. Tito died in 1980.

A bulletin of declassified archives was distributed at a conference of former spymasters from the United States, France, Germany and Russia held in Bulgaria this month.


A top-secret document prepared by the Soviet Ministry of State Security and addressed personally to Stalin set out three Tito assassination scenarios. All centered on a Soviet agent known as “Max,” who the bulletin said later became a historian and a corresponding member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.

Under one option, Max was to arrange a private audience with Tito during which a mechanism concealed in Max’s clothes would release a dose of pulmonary plague bacteria, guaranteeing the death not only of Tito but of all those present.

Max would have been given an anti-plague serum in advance.

Under the second scenario, Max was to shoot Tito during a reception at the Yugoslav Embassy in London with a gun that would simultaneously release tear gas to ensure Max’s escape.

The third plot had Max shooting Tito in a similar way at an official function in Belgrade, the Yugoslav capital. Yugoslavia became one of the focal points of East-West rivalry after the Soviet-Yugoslav split in 1948. Tito’s break with Stalin gave Yugoslavia unprecedented independence in Eastern Europe. The rift may have been caused by differences over plans to set up a Balkan federation of Yugoslavia and Bulgaria or over Belgrade’s designs on Albania.