Soviet secret police

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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, continuous operations.

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.


  • Felix Dzerzhinski (Polish) (1917-1926)
  • Vyacheslav Menzhinsky (Polish) (1926-1934)
  • Genrikh Yagoda (Jewish) (1934-1936)
  • Nikolai Yezhov (Russian; Jewish wife) (1936-1938)
  • Lavrentiy Beria (Georgian) (1938-1941)
  • Vsevlod Nikolayevich Merkulov (Russian) (Feb-July 1941 only)
  • Lavrentiy Beria (Georgian) (1941-1943)
  • Vsevlod Nikolayevich Merkulov (Armenian) (1943-1946)
  • Viktor Semyonovich Abakumov (Russian) (1946-1951)
  • Seymon Denisovich Ignatyev (Ukrainian) (1951-1953)
  • Lavrentiy Beria (March-June 1953 only)
  • Sergei Nikiforovich Kruglov (Russian) (1953-1954)
  • Ivan Aleksandrovich Serov (Russian) (1954-1958)
  • 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)


  • Ivan Alexandrovich Serov (Russian but from Ukraine), the Ukrainian commissar of the NKVD from 1939 to 1941. Time magazine accused him of being responsible for the death of "hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian peasants" during this period. Serov was also a colleague in Ukraine of Nikita Khrushchev, the Head of State for the fake Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic, who himself was nicknamed the "Butcher of the Ukraine". In 1941, Serov was promoted to become Deputy Commissar of the NKVD as a whole, serving under Lavrentiy Beria as one of his primary lieutenants; in this function, Serov was responsible for the deportation of a variety of Caucasian peoples. He issued the so-called Serov Instructions, which detailed procedures for mass deportations from the Baltic States (for some time confused with the NKVD Order No. 001223 by historians). He also co-ordinated the mass expulsion of Crimean Tatars from the Crimean SSR at the end of World War II. Serov was the executioner of Nikolai Yezhov.
  • 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.

External links


  • 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