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Go back to school. Go back to your life. And the next time they ask you, say no. Killing is for grown ups and you are still a child.
~ Yassen's warning to Alex about MI6

Yassen Gregorovich is an assassin and a villain in the Alex Rider series. He was responsible for killing Alex's uncle and Alex looks for him in the entire story for vengeance against Yassen. He is a minor yet pivotal villain in Stormbreaker, the secondary antagonist in Eagle Strike, a posthumous antagonist in Scorpia and Snakehead and the protagonist villain of the prequel spin-off Roussian Roulette. He is also a major antagonist in the 2020 TV series adaption serving as one of the two secondary antagonists of season 1.

In the film, he is portrayed by Damian Lewis, who also portrayed Nicholas Brody in the Showtime series Homeland. In the 2020 live action TV series he is portrayed by Thomas Levin.


According to Ash, Yassen was born in Russia and had a rough childhood. His father died in a biochemical warface accident and his mother died in six months from an illness. He managed to become an successful assassin after he traversed the whole of Russia alone, with no money, and ended up in Moscow after he joined the Mafia. In his beginning, he worked with the Mafia in Moscow.

He later tracked down SCORPIA, the crime organization, and became a high ranking agent. Then he set off on his own as a freelance assassin. He was with John Rider, Alex's father, (unbeknown to Yassen, as part of John's MI6 cover in SCORPIA) when him and John killed a drug dealer in the Amazon. Then Yassen became even more powerful.

However, according to Yassen's own diary, he was born in Estrov, an unknown village in Russia, and had a peaceful life until he was fourteen. Then, it was revealed his parents had been forced to develop a strong, military form of anthrax, much faster and deadlier than normal anthrax. Antibiotics were useless against it. It was the perfect biological weapon. An unnamed investor (Vladimir Sharkovsky) wanted more money, and he changed the safety procedures. There was an explosion at the factory producing 'pesticides' and Yassen's father was shot as his parents escaped in a stolen car. They injected him with an antidote and sent him off to Kirsk in a hurry with a hundred rubles and Yassen's mother's jewellery. The anthrax spores were already spreading across Estrov. He collected his best friend Leo Tretyakov on the way, to save him.

As the pair escaped into the forest, helicopters set fire to Estrov to hide what little evidence of it was left. Every piece of information about Estrov and its inhabitants was destroyed, to prevent anyone finding out about the accident, which would have been seen as a weak spot. If Eva Gregorovich, Yassen's mother, wasn't dead from the anthrax yet, she would have been killed by the fire, along with his grandmother.

On the first night, hiding in a shack, Leo mentioned he didn't feel well and Yassen (then Yasha) told him to sleep, hoping it was just a cold and Leo wasn't infected. However, in the morning, Yassen discovered Leo had indeed been infected and Leo died in the shack. Lassen set fire to the shack to carry the spores -and Leo- out of the world.

He survived for a few weeks with homeless teenage pickpockets when he was captured by Vladimir Sharkovsky himself and made to be his slave for three years in his dacha in the Silver Forest, bullied by Vladimir's son, Ivan, but taught French, German and English by Nigel Brown, the Sharkovsky tutor. When he was eighteen, an assassin from Scorpia slithered in and he bribed the assassin to take him out of the dacha, as he hated it there. It was later revealed Sharkovsky was not dead but in hospital, and the assassin was shot.

He trained at Malagosto with three others, notably a French girl called Colette whom he was fond of (but who was shot) and failed in his first solo kill in New York, as he was still soft.

After he discovered John Rider was a spy in Charles de Gaulle Airport, despite John saving his life in the Amazon, he was filled with black, unrelenting hatred, but kept quiet. The bond of honour from the Amazon prevented it. Instead of blabbing to Julia Rothman, he travelled to Moscow and finished off Vladimir Sharkovsky once and for all, beginning his cold, lonely contract killer career.

Malta incident

You should have stayed at home
~ Yassen before he severely injures Ash.

When Ash was ordered by Alan Blunt to head an operation in Malta to kill a drug lord who had annoyed his associates by swindling them, John Rider walked up to the drug lord and shot him, but then Ash staged his ambush. He burst in with his hidden army and they had a huge battle in the Malta square, and during the height of it, Ash was determined to prove himself so he chased after Yassen even though he was meant to let Yassen escape. After a tense stand off when they realized who each other was, Ash found himself admiring Yassen because even though he was only nineteen, he was very brave and emotionless. Yassen mocked Ash for his over confidence and sliced open Ash's stomach, leaving him in constant pain for the rest of his life.

Yassen was the primary reason for Ash's treachery.

The Stormbreakers

Herod Sayle needed large amount of a smallpox virus named R5, so he met Yassen in Cuba where they arranged the plans to kill half of Britain's schoolchildren. Ian Rider, Alex's uncle, discovered this and knew of Yassen's involvement. He headed back to London after reporting back to MI6 but Yassen intercepted him on a quiet lane and gunned him down. The police later lied about Ian's death. But Alex, his nephew, investigated and was eventually recruited by MI6 into saving the country from the smallpox virus Sayle and Yassen had hidden in the Stormbreaker computers.

Yassen later killed Sayle at the end of the operation as the man had become too embarrassing. He and Alex shared a minor bonding moment where Yassen told him to go back to normality and forget about killing and MI6. He said "killing is for grown ups and you're still a child." So, he said he had no orders to kill Alex. It is in fact revealed in the prequel to Stormbreaker, Russian Roulette, that in fact, Yassen's superiors in SCORPIA had told him to kill Alex, as he was the reason the Stormbreaker operation was over and Scorpia's reputation had taken a hit because of him. Yassen was in fact under orders to kill Alex... but the Amazonian bond of honour stretched from the father to the son, so Yassen disobeyed his superiors and let Alex live, and he expressed that he had no hate for the boy despite killing his uncle which, he explained, was just work for him. Yassen waved goodbye to Alex and flew off on a helicopter.

South of France and Damian Cray

I'm sorry, Mr Gregorovich, but you're fired!
~ Damian Cray betrays Yassen and kills him.

When Yassen was recruited by mad businessman Sir Damian Cray, everything that could go wrong did. First, the bomb he had put in Edward Pleasure's house didn't kill Edward. What's more, Edward's daughter and her friend Alex saw the explosion and Alex Rider knew it was Yassen having seen him on the beach earlier. He tracked Yassen down and Yassen tried to kill Alex by leaving him in a bull ring but Alex escaped.

On his way out of the bull ring, Alex got a number he had memorized on Yassen's phone, calling the number, and knowing it was someplace in London. He phoned it and to his amazement Damian Cray answered and introduced himself as Damian Cray. Alex didn't know why a pop singer would be on the phone registry of a private assassin.

When Alex got into Cray's kingdom and discovered Cray was indeed at the heart of it all, Yassen was the only one who looked concerned when Alex was dragged off to be killed. He survived, however, and Yassen told Cray what he knew about the boy. He said that Alex was so useful to MI6 because he was a boy. Then he said that he was with Sabrina Pleasure, Edward's daughter, and Cray decided to kidnap her as Alex cared about her. Yassen had a bunch of men waiting for Alex when he came out of headquarters but Alex survived them all.

Alex went after Sabrina and Cray revealed his plan to blow up all the drugs headqaurters globally. Yassen would then retire to Moscow. But Alex sowed unrest between Cray and Yassen. He eventually did rebel against Cray, and it cost him his life when Cray gunned him down on Air Force One. Yassen repaid Ian Rider's debt by telling Alex about SCORPIA.

TV Show



Known for his reputation of being the worlds greatest and deadliest assassin, Yassen is a composed, ruthless and cold-blooded albeit very complex man. He does not diverse emotion or show any remorse for the people he kills. So far the closest thing he to an outburst was when a workman accidentally dropped a crate of R5. After checking the crate for any damage he shoots the workman. This shows that Yassen's calm demeanour does have limits and that chemical warfare, the same that killed his parents in Estrov, is the only thing that Yassen fears.

Unusual for an assassin, Yassen does possess a code of honour. He refuses to kill children, even if his employers demand him to and this is what costs him his life at the hands of the madman, Damian Cray when he refuses to murder Sabina Pleasure and Alex Rider. Also, Yassen does understands the innocence of children and that the act of killing is not one to take lightly. For example after killing Herod Sayle he warns Alex to stay away from MI6, not wanting the teenage spy to become like him as he was forced into the world of killing and hoped that Alex would not share his fate. Sadly this chance was wasted as Alex felt no need to listen to the Russian because of the one-sided contempt of their relationship and was unaware of how much he owed Yassen.

He had little self-preservation, presumably because of the nature of his profession which assassins are not known to live long. Despite this he refuses to smoke or drink alcohol. After breaking into his former slaveholder's house, Vladimir Sharvosky he plays a lethal game of Russian Roulette (in a similar sense to what Sharvosky forced Yassen to play when he was fourteen but instead puts five bullets in the chamber and one empty). Also he shoots himself first and rather calmly, the obvious solution is that Yassen's emotional stress and loss has caused him to become somewhat suicidal. It should, however, be noted that Yassen expected to live, as he knew he had been chosen for this path.

To this day, Yassen's only loyalties are to John Rider and the debt he feels for his mentor which is extended to his son make him an extremely brave man. His affection for John was so strong that he defied his superiors orders to kill Alex Rider and covers this up by instead killing Herod Sayle. Yet despite his loyalty to John, Yassen also has feelings of resentment towards his mentor. He definitely trusted him like a brother and though he was forever in debt for saving his life he also felt betrayed after discovering that John was actually an agent of MI6. This became the source of his career as an assassin, to prove to John that he was wrong about his nature after which he killed hundreds of men. Despite this he might have lost his animosity towards John and admits to Alex on his deathbed that he did indeed love him and his father.

In his youth, Yassen lacked killer extinct. When trying to assassinate a target he made the mistake of conversing with her which leads her being killed by another Scorpia associate and couldn't bring himself to murder with a knife. The first man he did kill was his childhood tormentor, Sharvosky and his son, Ivan but this was after he played a game of Russian Roulette, knowing the only chance to not become a killer himself was death.


  • Yassen never gets sick, as he sometimes wonders if it was a side effect of the anthrax antidote
  • His motto, 'I do not kill children' could be questioned, as he worked with Herod Sayle with the knowledge that Sayle wanted to kill Britain's schoolchildren.
    • Despite this, he does indeed stick to his motto by refusing to kill Alex Rider three times through the series, firstly at the top of Sayle's tower towards the end of Stormbreaker, when he shoots Herod rather than Alex, and secondly when Alex confronts him inside a boat during Eagle Strike. The third time this happens is during Eagle Strike's climax, when Cray tells him to kill Alex, but he refuses to.


           Alex Rider Logo.png  Villains

Criminal Organizations
Zeljan Kurst | Julia Rothman | Winston Yu | Eduardo & Giovanni Grimaldi | Levi Kroll | Brendan Chase | Abdul-Aziz al-Razim | Dr. Three
Yassen Gregorovich | Ash | Julius Grief | Nile | Erik Gunter | Snakehead | Sniper | Anan Sukit | Bill Tanner | Jacko & Quombi | Karl Steiner | Dr. Harold Leibermann

Point Blanc Academy
Dr. Hugo Grief | Julius Grief | Eva Stellenbosch | Walter Baxter

Sayle's Organization
Herod Sayle | Nadia Vole | Mr. Grin

Drevin's Organization
Nikolei Drevin | Kaspar | Force Three | Kolo

McCain's Organization
Reverend Desmond McCain | Myra Bennett | Njenga

Secret Services
Alan Blunt | MI6 | Ethan Brooke | Blake Lewinsky
The Big Circle | Sir Damian Cray | General Sarov | Vladimir Sharkovsky | Conrad | The Gentleman | The Salesman | Franco | Harry Bulman | Fiona Friend | Skoda | Yannis Ariston Xenopolos

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