Soviet Secret Police

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The Soviet Secret Police and the Katyn Forest Massacre in 1940

The Soviet Secret Police are known in the West by abbreviations. They commenced with the Cheka, the GPU, the NKVD, the OGPU, the MGB, the GUGB, the NKGB, the MVD, and on 13 March 1954, a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet created the KGB. These were, however, more-or-less homogenous continuous organizations.


For most agencies, secret policing operations were only part of their function. For example, the KGB was both the secret police and the intelligence agency. These agencies were all major partners in the mass killings under Communist regimes.

In 1991, after the State Emergency Committee failed to overthrow Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin took over, General Vadim Bakatin was given instructions to dissolve the KGB.

In Russia today, KGB functions are performed by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB), the Federal Protective Service (FSO) and the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). The GRU, Main Intelligence Directorate, continues to operate as well.

Regarding Jewish influence, see Jews and Communism, the section on "Russia" in Jewish influence, and the "External links" here. Jewish influence, at least regarding the highest positions, was reduced to some extent during the Great Purge.



  • Moisei Solomonovich Uritsky (Jewish)(1918) Assassinated.
  • Felix Dzerzhinski (Polish) (1918-1926)
  • Vyacheslav Menzhinsky (Polish) (1926-1934) Poisoned by Yagoda.
  • Genrikh Yagoda (Polish Jew) (1934-1936) Executed.
  • Nikolai Yezhov (Russian; Jewish wife) (1936-1938) Executed.
  • Lavrentiy Beria (Georgian) (1938-1941) see below.
  • Vsevlod Nikolayevich Merkulov (Russian) (Feb-July 1941 only) see below.
  • Lavrentiy Beria (Georgian) (1941-1943) see below.
  • Vsevlod Nikolayevich Merkulov (Armenian) (1943-1946) Executed.
  • Viktor Semyonovich Abakumov (Russian) (1946-1951) Executed.
  • Seymon Denisovich Ignatyev (Ukrainian) (1951-1953)
  • Lavrentiy Beria (March-June 1953 only) Executed.
  • Sergei Nikiforovich Kruglov (Russian) (1953-1954) Probable suicide.
  • Ivan Aleksandrovich Serov (Russian) (1954-1958) removed from post. Became Head of the GRU.
  • Aleksandr Nikolayevich Shelepin (Russian) (1958-1961)
  • Vladimir Yefimovich Semichastney (Ukrainian Russian) (1961-1967)
  • Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov (Russian-Jewish) (1967-1982)
  • Vitali Vasilyevich Fedorchuk (Ukrainian) (May-Dec 1982)
  • Victor Mikhailovich Chebrikov (Ukrainian) (1982-1988)
  • Vladimir Aleksandrovich Kryuchkov (Russian) (1988-Aug 1991)
  • Vadim Viktorovich Bakatin (Russian-Caucasus) (Aug-Dec 1991)


  • Viktor Abakumov (Russian) was the head of SMERSH (meaning 'Death to Spies')during World War Two, During the war the NKVD kept a strict watch over all the armed forces through Smersh. Its real task was not the apprehension and punishment of foreign spies; it was the detection of the slightest sign of disaffection, or even the expression of discontent, among the Soviet soldiers, sailors and airmen. Every battalion, regiment and company of the Red Army had a Smersh representative attached to it, as did all parallel units in the Navy and Air Force.

See also

Further reading


  • Andrew, Christopher, and Gordievsky, Oleg, KGB - The Inside Story, Hodder & Stourton, London, 1990, ISBN: 0-1-340-48561-2
  • Conquest, Robert, The Great Terror - a Reassessment, Hutchinson, London, 1990, ISBN:0-09-174293-5
  • Andrew, Christopher, and Mitrokhin, Vasili, The Mitrokhin Archive II - The KGB and the World, Allen Lane, London, 2005, ISBN:0-713-99359-6

External links