What happened to Stalin’s double?

Archive photo
Dagestani Felix Dadaev became the official double of the Soviet General Secretary at the age of 24.

This is Stalin’s double, and it’s him you see in the parade portrait of the leader.

Dagestani Felix Dadaev became the official double of the Soviet General Secretary at the age of 24. Before the Great Patriotic War this regular village boy performed in a song and dance ensemble; when the war started, he performed in a concert brigade at the front. Word of  his uncanny resemblance to Stalin quickly reached the generals. But, it’s unclear if special services would have become interested in him, if not for one circumstance.

Dadaev was seriously wounded and was considered dead; his relatives were already sent a death notification. This “disappearance” played right into the plans of the Chekists. In 1943 he was sent on a secret special flight to Moscow, where he was stationed at one of the country dachas, and told what was required of him.

To resemble Stalin even more, Dadaev gained 11 kilograms, yellowed his teeth (Stalin smoked, while Dadaev didn’t) and learned to copy Stalin from newsreels for several months under NKVD surveillance. However, there was one major mismatch – their ages. The difference between Dadaev and Stalin was almost 40 years. So Dadaev learned by himself how to put “pockmarks” onto his face like those of Stalin and always walked around with makeup on.

At first, he was assigned simple tasks – to appear where needed and get into a car. Then he was trusted with official visits, foreign delegation receptions, starring in newsreels, attending the parade on Red Square, and even reading reports on the radio.

No eyewitness ever suspected a thing! Only a very narrow circle of people knew about the double. Dadaev signed a non-disclosure agreement, and his relatives continued to consider him dead.

After the death of Stalin the double was no longer needed, and Dadaev continued engaging in acting and… comedy: he went on a tour of the country. Until 1996, information about his secret job was classified.

He’s alive, by the way, having turned 100 on March 2, 2023!

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