Cheka - Всероссийская чрезвычайная комиссия

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
Всероссийская чрезвычайная комиссия

Cheka (ЧК - чрезвыча́йная коми́ссия chrezvychaynaya komissiya, Emergency Commission,  was the first of a succession of Soviet state security organizations.
It was created on December 20, 1917, after a decree issued by Vladimir Lenin, and was subsequently led by aristocrat-turned-communist Felix Dzerzhinsky.

 Фе́ликс Дзержи́нский
Felix Dzerzhinsky
Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky (  Фе́ликс Эдму́ндович Дзержи́нский; 11 September [O.S. 30 August] 1877 – 20 July 1926) was a Soviet statesman and a prominent member of Polish and Russian revolutionary movements. He is better known under his nickname as the Iron Felix, Bloody Felix, or abbreviation FD. His party pseudonyms were Yatsek, Yakub, Pereplyotchik, Franek, Astronom, Yuzef, and Domanski.
He was a member of several revolutionary committees such as the Polish Revkom as well as several Russian and Soviet official positions.
Dzerzhinsky is best known for establishing and developing the Soviet State Security forces under their original name Cheka (1917–26).
Later he was a member of the Soviet government heading several commissariats, while being the chief of the Soviet secret police.
Cheka became notorious for torture and mass summary executions, performed especially during the 'Red Terror' and the Russian Civil War.

By late 1918, hundreds of Cheka committees had been created in various cities, at multiple levels including: oblast, guberniya ("Gubcheks"), raion, uyezd, and volost Chekas, with Raion and Volost Extraordinary Commissioners.
Many thousands of dissidents, deserters, or other people were arrested, tortured or executed by various Cheka groups.
After 1922, Cheka groups underwent a series of reorganizations, with the NKVD, into bodies whose members continued to be referred to as "Chekisty" (Chekists) into the late 1980s.
With Vladimir Putin's rise to power, the reference to the FSB members as "Chekists" arose, particularly by Putin's political opponents, often with negative connotations.
From its founding, the Cheka was an important military and security arm of the Bolshevik communist government.
In 1921 the Troops for the Internal Defense of the Republic (a branch of the Cheka) numbered 200,000.
These troops policed labor camps; ran the Gulag system; conducted requisitions of food; subjected political opponents to torture and summary execution; and put down rebellions and riots by workers or peasants, and mutinies in the desertion-plagued Red Army.


The name of the agency was originally "The All-Russian Emergency Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage" (Russian: Всероссийская чрезвычайная комиссия по борьбе с контрреволюцией и саботажем; Vserossiyskaya chrezvychaynaya komissiya po bor'bye s kontrrevolyutsiyei i sabotazhem), but was often shortened to "Cheka" or "VCheka".
In 1918 its name was changed, becoming "All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution, Profiteering and Corruption".
A member of Cheka was called a "chekist".
Also, the term "chekist" often referred to Soviet secret police throughout the Soviet period, despite official name changes over time.
Алекса́ндр Солжени́цын
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
In 'The Gulag Archipelago', Alexander Solzhenitsyn recalls that zeks in the labor camps used "old 'Chekist'" as "a mark of special esteem" for particularly experienced camp administrators.

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (Алекса́ндр Иса́евич Солжени́цын, 11 December 1918 – 3 August 2008) was a Russian writer, dissident and activist. He helped to raise global awareness of the gulag and the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system from 1918 to 1956. While his writings were often suppressed, he wrote several books most notably 'The Gulag Archipelago' and 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich', two of his best-known works. 

The term is still found in use in Russia today (for example, President Vladimir Putin has been referred to in the Russian media as a "chekist" due to his career in the KGB).
The Chekists commonly dressed in black leather, including long flowing coats, reportedly after being issued such distinctive coats early in their existence.
Western communists adopted this clothing fashion.
The Chekists also often carried with them Greek-style worry beads made of amber, which had become "fashionable among high officials during the time of the 'cleansing'".

Creation of the Cheka

Members of the presidium of VCheKa (left to right)
Yakov Peters, Józef Unszlicht, A. Ya. Belenky (standing),
Felix Dzerzhinsky, Vyacheslav Menzhinsky, 1921
In the first month and half after the October Revolution (1917), the duty of "extinguishing the resistance of exploiters" was assigned to the Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee (or VRK).
It represented a temporary body working under directives of the Council of People's Commissars (Sovnarkom) and Central Committee of RDSRP(b). 
The VRK created new bodies of government, organized food delivery to cities and the Army, requisitioned products from bourgeoisie, and sent its emissaries and agitators into provinces. One of its most important functions was the security of revolutionary order, and the fight against counterrevolutionary activity.
On December 1, 1917, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (VTsIK or TsIK) reviewed a proposed reorganization of the VRK, and possible replacement of it.
On December 5, the Petrograd VRK published an announcement of dissolution and transferred the functions to the department of TsIK to the fight against "counterrevolutionaries".
On December 6, the 'Council of People's Commissars' (Sovnarkom) strategized how to persuade government workers to strike across Russia.


Совет народных коммиссаров or Совнарком - (The Council of People's Commissars  - Sovnarkom, also as generic SNK), was a government institution formed shortly after the October Revolution in 1917.

Совет народных коммиссаров - Sovnarkom
Created in the Russian Republic the council laid foundations in restructuring the country to form the Soviet Union.
It evolved to become the highest government authority of executive power under the Soviet system in states which came under the control of Bolsheviks.
Leon Trotsky devised the names commissar and council to avoid the more "bourgeois" terms minister and cabinet. The 1918 Constitution of the RSFSR formalised the role of the Sovnarkom of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR): it was to be responsible to the Congress of Soviets for the "general administration of the affairs of the state." The constitution enabled the Sovnarkom to issue decrees carrying the full force of law when the Congress was not in session. The Congress then routinely approved these decrees at its next session.
When the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was established in December 1922, the USSR Sovnarkom was modelled on the RSFSR Sovnarkom. It was transformed in 1946 into the Council of Ministers

They decided that a special commission was needed to implement the "most energetically revolutionary" measures.
Smolny Institute - Petrograd
Felix Dzerzhinsky (the Iron Felix), (see above), was appointed as Director and invited the participation of the following individuals: V. K. Averin, V. N. Vasilevsky, D. G. Yevseyev, N. A. Zhydelev, I. K. Ksenofontov, G. K. Ordjonikidze, Ya. Kh. Peters, K. A. Peterson, V. A. Trifonov.
On December 7, 1917, all invited except Zhydelev and Vasilevsky gathered in the 'Smolny Institute' to discuss the competence and structure of the commission to combat counterrevolution and sabotage.
The obligations of the commission were:
"to liquidate to the root all of the counterrevolutionary and sabotage activities and all attempts to them in all of Russia, to hand over counter-revolutionaries and saboteurs to the revolutionary tribunals, develop measures to combat them and relentlessly apply them in real world applications. The commission should only conduct a preliminary investigation.
The commission should also observe the press and counterrevolutionary parties, sabotaging officials and other criminals.
It was decided to create three sections: informational, organizational, and a unit to combat counter-revolution and sabotage.
Upon the end of the meeting, Dzerzhinsky reported to the 'Sovnarkom' with the requested information. The commission was allowed to apply such measures of repression as 'confiscation, deprivation of ration cards, publication of lists of enemies of the people etc.'".
That day, Sovnarkom officially confirmed the creation of VCheKa.
The commission was created not under the VTsIK as was previously anticipated, but rather under the Council of the People's Commissars.
On December 8, 1917, some of the original members of the VCheka were replaced. Averin, Ordzhonikidze, and Trifonov were replaced by V. V. Fomin, S. E. Shchukin, Ilyin, and Chernov.
On the meeting of December 8, the presidium of VChK was elected of five members, and chaired by Dzerzhinsky. 
The issue of "speculation" was raised at the same meeting, which was assigned to Peters to address and report with results to one of the next meetings of the commission.
A circular, published on December 28 [O.S. December 15] 1917, gave the address of VCheka's first headquarters as "Petrograd, Gorokhovaya 2, 4th floor".
On December 11, Fomin was ordered to organize a section to suppress "speculation."
And in the same day, VCheKa offered Shchukin to conduct arrests of counterfeiters.
In January 1918, a subsection of the anti-counterrevolutionary effort was created to police bank officials.
The structure of VCheKa was changing repeatedly.
By March 1918, when the organization came to Moscow, it contained the following sections: against counterrevolution, speculation, non-residents, and information gathering.
By the end of 1918-1919, some units had been created: secretly operative, investigatory, of transportation, military (special), operative, and instructional.
By 1921, it changed once again, forming the following sections: directory of affairs, administrative-organizational, secretly operative, economical, and foreign affairs.

First Months

In the first months of its existence, VCheKa consisted of only 40 officials.
It commanded a team of soldiers, the Sveaborgesky regiment, as well as a group of Red Guardsmen.
On January 14, 1918, Sovnarkom ordered Dzerzhinsky to organize teams of "energetic and ideological" sailors to combat speculation.
By the spring of 1918, the commission had several teams.
In addition to the Sveaborge team, it had an intelligence team, a team of sailors, and a strike team.
Through the winter of 1917-1918, all the activities of VCheKa were centralized mainly in the city of Petrograd.
It was one of the several other commissions in the country that fought against counterrevolution, speculation, banditry, and other activities perceived as crimes.
Other organizations included: the Bureau of Military Commissars, and an Army-Navy investigatory commission to attack the counterrevolutionary element in the Red Army, plus the Central Requisite and Unloading Commission to fight speculation.
The investigation of counterrevolutionary or major criminal offenses was conducting by the Investigatory Commission of Revtribunal.
The functions of VCheKa were closely intertwined with the Commission of V. D. Bonch-Bruyevich, which beside the fight against wine pogroms was engaged in the investigation of most major political offenses.

Влади́мир Бонч-Бруе́вич
Vladimir  Bonch-Bruyevich
Vladimir Dmitriyevich Bonch-Bruyevich (Russian: Влади́мир Дми́триевич Бонч-Бруе́вич; sometimes spelled Bonch-Bruevich; 28 June [O.S. 16 June] 1873, Moscow  – 14 July 1955, Moscow) was a Soviet politician, historian and writer, Old Bolshevik (since 1895). He was a brother of Mikhail Dmitriyevich Bonch-Bruyevich. His family was of Polish descent - surname written in Polish: Boncz-Brujewicz.
One of Bonch-Bruyevich's research interests were Russia's dissenting religious minorities ("sects"), which were usually persecuted to various extent by both the established Orthodox Church and the Tsarist government. In the late 1890s, he collaborated with Vladimir Chertkov and Leo Tolstoy, in particular in the arrangement of the Doukhobors' emigration to Canada in 1899. Bonch-Bruyevich sailed with the Doukhobors, and spent a year with them in Canada. During that time, he was able to record much of their orally transmitted tradition, in particular the Doukhobor "psalms" (hymns). He published them later (1909) as "The Doukhobor Book of Life" (Russian: «Животная книга духоборцев», Zhivotnaya Kniga Dukhobortsev).
In the Soviet period, Bonch-Bruyevich's interest in religion earned him the position of the 'Director of the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR' in Leningrad (1945-1955).
In the Soviet Union, Bonch-Bruyevich was best known as the author of a canonical Soviet book about Vladimir Lenin, whom Bonch-Bruyevich served as secretary in the years immediately following the Bolshevik revolution in 1917. 

All results of its activities, VCheKa had either to transfer to the Investigatory Commission of Revtribunal or to dismiss a case.
The control of the commission's activity was provided by the People's Commissariat for Justice (Narkomjust, at that time headed by Isidor Steinberg) and Internal Affairs (NKVD, at that time headed by Hryhoriy Petrovsky).

Although the VCheKa was officially an independent organization from the NKVD, its main members such as Dzerzhinsky, Latsis, Unszlicht, and Uritsky (all main chekists), since November 1917 composed the collegiate of NKVD headed by Petrovsky.
In November 1918, Petrovsky was appointed as the head of the All-Ukrainian Central Military Revolutionary Committee during VCheKa's expansion to provinces and front-lines.
At the time of political competition between Bolsheviks and SRs (January 1918), Left SRs attempted to curb the rights of VCheKa and establish through the Narkomiust its control over its work.
Having failed in attempts to subordinate the VCheKa to Narkomiust, the Left SRs were to seek control of the Extraordinary Commission in a different way.
They requested that the Central Committee of the party was granted the right to directly enter their representatives into the VCheKa.
Sovnarkom recognized the desirability of including five representatives of the Left Socialist-Revolutionary faction of VTsIK.
Left SRs were granted the post of a companion (deputy) chairman of VCheKa, however, Sovnarkom, in which the majority belonged to the representatives of RSDLP(b) retained the right to approve members of the collegium of the VCheKa.
Originally, the members of the Cheka were exclusively Bolshevik; however, in January 1918, the Left SRs also joined the organization
The Left SRs were expelled or arrested later in 1918, following the attempted assassination of Lenin by an SR, Fanni Kaplan.

Consolidation of VCheKa and National Establishment

By the end of January 1918, the Investigatory Commission of Petrograd Soviet (probably same as of Revtribunal) petitioned Sovnarkom to delineate the role of detection and judicial-investigatory organs.
It offered to leave, for the VCheKa and the Commission of Bonch-Bruyevich, only the functions of detection and suppression, while investigative functions entirely transferred to it.
The Investigatory Commission prevailed.
On January 31, 1918, Sovnarkom ordered to relieve VCheKa of the investigative functions, leaving for the commission only the functions of detection, suppression, and prevention of so-called crimes.
At the meeting of the Council of People's Commissars on January 31, 1918, a merger of VCheKa and the Commission of Bonch-Bruyevich was proposed.
The existence of both commissions, VCheKa of Sovnarkom and the Commission of Bonch-Bruyevich of VTsIK, with almost the same functions and equal rights, became impractical.
A decision followed two weeks later.
On February 23, 1918, VCheKa sent a radio telegram to all Soviets with a petition to immediately organize emergency commissions to combat counter-revolution, sabotage and speculation, if such commissions had not been yet organized.
February 1918 saw the creation of local Extraordinary Commissions.
One of the first founded was the Moscow Cheka.
Sections and commissariats to combat counterrevolution were established in other cities. 
The Extraordinary Commissions arose, usually in the areas during the moments of the greatest aggravation of political situation.
On February 25, 1918, as the counterrevolutionary organization Union of Front-liners was making advances, the executive committee of the Saratov Soviet formed a counter-revolutionary section.
On March 7, 1918, because of the move from Petrograd to Moscow, the Petrograd Cheka was created.
On March 9, a section for combating counterrevolution was created under the Omsk Soviet. Extraordinary commissions were also created in Penza, Perm, Novgorod, Cherepovets, Rostov, Taganrog. On March 18, VCheKa adopted a resolution, 'The Work of VCheKa on the All-Russian Scale', foreseeing the formation everywhere of Extraordinary Commissions after the same model, and sent a letter that called for the widespread establishment of the Cheka in combating counterrevolution, speculation, and sabotage.
Establishment of provincial Extraordinary Commissions was largely completed by August 1918.
In the Soviet Republic, there were 38 gubernatorial Chekas (Gubcheks) by this time.
On June 12, 1918, the All-Russian Conference of Cheka adopted the 'Basic Provisions on the Organization of Extraordinary Commissions'.
They set out to form Extraordinary Commissions not only at Oblast and Guberniya levels, but also at the large Uyezd Soviets.
In August 1918, in the Soviet Republic had accounted for some 75 Uyezd-level Extraordinary Commissions.
By the end of the year, 365 Uyezd-level Chekas were established. In 1918, the 'All-Russia Extraordinary Commission' and the Soviets managed to establish a local Cheka apparatus.
It included Oblast, Guberniya, Raion, Uyezd, and Volost Chekas, with Raion and Volost Extraordinary Commissioners. In addition, border security Chekas were included in the system of local Cheka bodies.
In the autumn of 1918, as consolidation of the political situation of the republic continued, a move toward elimination of Uyezd-, Raion-, and Volost-level Chekas, as well as the institution of Extraordinary Commissions was considered.
On January 20, 1919, VTsIK adopted a resolution prepared by VCheKa, On the abolition of Uyezd Extraordinary Commissions.
On January 16 the presidium of VCheKa approved the draft on the establishment of the Politburo at Uyezd militsiya.
This decision was approved by the Conference of the Extraordinary Commission IV, held in early February 1920.

Other Types of Cheka

On August 3, a VCheKa section for combating counterrevolution, speculation and sabotage on railways was created.
On August 7, 1918 Sovnarkom adopted a decree on the organization of the railway section at VCheKa.
Combating counterrevolution, speculation, and malfeasance on railroads was passed under the jurisdiction of the railway section of VCheKa and local Cheka.
In August 1918, railway sections were formed under the Gubcheks.
Formally, they were part of the non-resident sections, but in fact constituted a separate division, largely autonomous in their activities.
The gubernatorial and oblast-type Chekas retained in relationship to the transportation sections only control and investigative functions.
The beginning of a systematic work of organs of VCheKa in RKKA refers to July 1918, the period of extreme tension of the civil war and class struggle in the country.
On July 16, 1918, the Council of People's Commissars formed the Extraordinary Commission for combating counterrevolution at the Czechoslovak (Eastern) Front, led by M. I. Latsis.

Мартын Иванович Лацис
Martin Ivanovich Latsis
Martin Ivanovich Latsis (December 14, 1888 – February 11, 1938) was a Soviet politician, revolutionary and state security high officer from Courland (today - Latvia). He was a member of the Bolshevik Party since 1905 (an "Old Bolshevik"), an active participant in the Russian Revolutions of 1905–1907 and 1917, a member of the Military Revolutionary Committee, a member of the Collegium of the All-Russia Cheka (1918–1921) and Chairman of the Cheka in Ukraine (1919), and a member of VTsIK
Latsis was the author of the book 'Dva goda borby na vnutrennom fronte' ("Two Years of Struggle in the Internal Front", Moscow: Gos. izd-vo, 1920), in which he advocated unrestrained violence against class enemies. He boasted of the harsh repressive policies used by the Cheka. In 1918, while a deputy chief of the Cheka in Ukraine, he established the principle that sentences were not to be determined by guilt or innocence—but by social class. He is quoted as explaining the 'Red Terror' as follows:
'We are engaged in exterminating the bourgeoisie as a class. You need not prove that this or that man acted against the interests of the Soviet power. The first thing you have to ask an arrested person is: To what class does he belong, where does he come from, what kind of education did he have, what is his occupation? These questions are to decide the fate of the accused. That is the quintessence of the Red Terror.[3]
Latsis became a victim of the Soviet regime himself during the 1930s 'Great Purge', when he was arrested on November 29, 1937 and accused by a commission of NKVD and Prosecutor of the USSR belonging to a "counter-revolutionary, nationalist organization". He was executed in 1938 by firing squad.

In the fall of 1918, Extraordinary Commissions to combat counterrevolution on the Southern (Ukraine) Front were formed.
In late November, the Second All-Russian Conference of the Extraordinary Commissions accepted a decision after the report of I. N. Polukarov to establish at all frontlines and army sections of the Cheka and granted them the right to appoint their commissioners in military units.
On December 9, 1918, the collegiate (or presidium) of VCheKa had decided to form a military section, headed by M. S. Kedrov, to combat counterrevolution in the Army.
In early 1919, the military control and the military section of VCheKa were merged into one body, the Special Section of the Republic. Kedrov was appointed as head.
On January 1, he issued an order to establish the Special Section.
The order instructed agencies everywhere to unite the Military control and the military sections of Chekas and to form special sections of frontlines, armies, military districts, and guberniyas.
In November 1920 the Soviet of Labor and Defense created a Special Section of VCheKa for the security of the state border.
On February 6, 1922, after the Ninth All-Russian Soviet Congress, the Cheka was dissolved by VTsIK, "with expressions of gratitude for heroic work."
It was replaced by the State Political Administration or GPU, a section of the NKVD of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR).

Suppression of Political Opposition

Initially formed to fight against counter-revolutionaries and saboteurs, as well as financial speculators, Cheka had its own classifications.

Those counter-revolutionaries fell under these categories:
any civil or military servicemen suspected of working for Imperial Russia;
families of officers-volunteers (including children);
all clergy;
workers and peasants who were under suspicion of not supporting the Soviet government;
any other person whose private property was valued at over 10,000 rubles.

As its name implied, the Extraordinary Commission had virtually unlimited powers and could interpret them in any way it wished. 
No standard procedures were ever set up, except that the Commission was supposed to send the arrested to the Military-Revolutionary tribunals if outside of a war zone.
This left an opportunity for a wide range of interpretations, as the whole country was in total chaos.
Владимир Ильич Ленин
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
At the direction of Lenin, the Cheka performed mass arrests, imprisonments, and executions of "enemies of the people".
In this, the Cheka said that they targeted "class enemies" such as the bourgeoisie, and members of the clergy; the first organized mass repression began against the libertarians and socialists of Petrograd in April 1918.
Over the next few months, 800 were arrested and shot without trial.
However, within a month, the Cheka had extended its repression to all political opponents of the communist government, including anarchists and others on the left.
On April 11/12, 1918, some 26 anarchist political centres in Moscow were attacked.
There 40 anarchists were killed by Cheka forces, and about 500 were arrested and jailed after a pitched battle took place between the two groups.
In response to the anarchists' resistance, the Cheka orchestrated a massive retaliatory campaign of repression, executions, and arrests against all opponents of the Bolshevik government, in what came to be known as "Red Terror".

Krasnaya Gazeta
'The Red Terror', implemented by Dzerzhinsky on September 5, 1918, was vividly described by the Red Army journal 'Krasnaya Gazeta':
"Without mercy, without sparing, we will kill our enemies in scores of hundreds. Let them be thousands, let them drown themselves in their own blood. For the blood of Lenin and Uritsky … let there be floods of blood of the bourgeoisie – more blood, as much as possible…"

KRASNAYA GAZETA (The Red Gazette), a daily newspaper, at different periods an organ of the central, provincial, city committees of the All-Union Communist Party (of Bolcheviks) and the Petrograd/Leningrad Soviet. It circulated from January 1918 until February 1939. The editorial office was located at Smolny, 76 Fontanka River Embankment, 57 Fontanka River Embankment and other places. In 1918-19 and 1922-36 the periodical also came out as an evening edition (in 1922-23 and 1932-36 - Vechernyaya Krasnaya Gazeta). Throughout different periods journals Chelovek i priroda, Bud zdorov, Dom i khozyaystvo, Na dosuge, Literaturnaya nedelya, Rezets, and some others circulated as its supplements. In the 1920-30s the Krasnaya Panorama, The Red Panorama, Nauka i Tekhnika, Science and Technology, Begemot, journals were also published within the newspaper publishing house. In March 1939 Krasnaya Gazeta merged with the newspaper Leningradskaya Pravda,. In 1931-36 the organ of the Leningrad Regional Soviet, later the Leningrad Regional Trade Union Soviet, newspaper in German Rote Zeitung (Red Gazette) came out.

An early Bolshevik, Victor Serge described in his book 'Memoirs of a Revolutionary':

Ви́ктор Льво́вич Киба́льчич
Victor Serge
'Since the first massacres of Red prisoners by the Whites, the murders of Volodarsky and Uritsky and the attempt against Lenin (in the summer of 1918), the custom of arresting and, often, executing hostages had become generalized and legal. Already the Cheka, which made mass arrests of suspects, was tending to settle their fate independently, under formal control of the Party, but in reality without anybody's knowledge. The Party endeavoured to head it with incorruptible men like the former convict Dzerzhinsky, a sincere idealist, ruthless but chivalrous, with the emaciated profile of an Inquisitor: tall forehead, bony nose, untidy goatee, and an expression of weariness and austerity. But the Party had few men of this stamp and many Chekas. I believe that the formation of the Chekas was one of the gravest and most impermissible errors that the Bolshevik leaders committed in 1918 when plots, blockades, and interventions made them lose their heads. All evidence indicates that revolutionary tribunals, functioning in the light of day and admitting the right of defense, would have attained the same efficiency with far less abuse and depravity. Was it necessary to revert to the procedures of the Inquisition?'

Ви́ктор Льво́вич Киба́льчич - Victor Serge - born Victor Lvovich Kibalchich  (December 30, 1890 – November 17, 1947), was a Russian revolutionary and writer
 Originally an anarchist, he joined the Bolsheviks five months after arriving in Petrograd, in January 1919, and later worked for the Comintern as a journalist, editor and translator.
He was critical of the Stalinist regime and remained a revolutionary Marxist until his death.

The Cheka was also used against the armed anarchist Black Army of Nestor Makhno in the Ukraine. After the Black Army had served its purpose in aiding the Red Army to stop the Whites under Denikin, the Soviet communist government decided to eliminate the anarchist forces. In May 1919, two Cheka agents sent to assassinate Makhno were caught and executed.
Many victims of Cheka repression were 'bourgeois hostages' rounded up and held in readiness for summary execution in reprisal for any alleged counter-revolutionary act.
Lenin's dictum was:
that it was better to arrest 100 innocent people rather than to risk one enemy going free. That ensured that wholesale, indiscriminate arrests became an integral part of the system.
It was during the 'Red Terror' that the Cheka, hoping to avoid the bloody aftermath of having half-dead victims writhing on the floor, developed a technique for execution known later by the German words "Nackenschuss" or "Genickschuss", a shot to the nape of the neck, which caused minimal blood loss and instant death.
The victim's head was bent forward, and the executioner fired slightly downward at point blank range. This had become the standard method used later by the NKVD to liquidate Joseph Stalin's purge victims and others.

Persecution of Deserters

It is believed that there were more than three million deserters from the Red Army in 1919 and 1920.
Approximately 500,000 deserters were arrested in 1919 and close to 800,000 in 1920, by troops of the 'Special Punitive Department' of the Cheka, created to punish desertions.
These troops were used to forcibly repatriate deserters, taking and shooting hostages to force compliance or to set an example.
Throughout the course of the civil war, several thousand deserters were shot - a number comparable to that of belligerents during World War I.
In September 1918 in only twelve provinces of Russia, 48,735 deserters and 7,325 "bandits" were arrested, 1,826 were killed and 2,230 were executed.
The exact identity of these individuals is confused by the fact that the Soviet Bolshevik government used the term 'bandit' to cover ordinary criminals as well as armed and unarmed political opponents, such as the anarchists.


белые казаки
White Cossacks
The Civil War intensified due to the Czechoslovak invasion May 1918 that was supported by the Entente powers.
Massive White attacks against the Soviet forces intensified.
The total number of victims of the White incursions in Central Russia at the hands of the Czechoslovaks and the SR-led Komuch regime amounted to more than 5000 people killed in the summer and autumn of 1918.
After the White Cossacks led by Krasnov seized control of the Don Province, more than 40,000 people were killed by Krasnov's regime.

Пётр Николаевич Краснов
Petro Mykolayovich Krasnov
Пётр Николаевич Краснов - Petro Mykolayovich Krasnov  (September 22 (10 old style), 1869 – January 17, 1947), sometimes referred to in English as Peter Krasnov, was Lieutenant General of the Russian army when the revolution broke out in 1917, and one of the leaders of the counterrevolutionary White movement afterward.
Алекса́ндр Ильи́ч Ду́тов
Alexander Ilyich Dutov 

In the Samara region on May 5, 1918, Alexander Ilyich Dutov's Cossack forces killed 675 people by execution and burying the victims alive.

Алекса́ндр Ильи́ч Ду́то - Alexander Ilyich Dutov (1879—1921), one of the leaders of the Cossack counterrevolution in the Urals, Lieutenant General (1919).
He was Assistant Commander of the Cossack regiment during World War I. After the February Revolution, Dutov was appointed head of the All-Russian Cossack Army Union, then Chairman of the counterevolutionary All-Russian Cossack Congress (June, 1917), and then Chief of the Army Administration and ataman of the Orenburg Cossack Army (September).
In November, Dutov raised a revolt against the Soviet authorities in Orenburg. In June 1918, Dutov with the help of the Czech Legion organized a struggle for complete termination of the Soviet authority in the Urals. He was in charge of the Detached Orenburg Army in Aleksandr Kolchak's army.
In 1919 he tried to convince General Seminkoff to join him as a stronger force to fight the Red Army. General Seminkoff refused despite a significant diplomatic effort from Governor Vasile Balabanov claiming he was governor only since the provisional government in St Petersburg collapsed in the revolution.
In 1920 General Dutov helped a number of Russian leaders including Vasile Balabanov, the Administrator of Semirechye to escape to China.
After his army's defeat by Red Army, Dutov escaped to China, where he was assassinated in Suiding by a Bolshevik agent Мahmud Khadzhamirov (Махмуд Хаджамиров) in February 1921.

Покровский Виктор Леонидович
Viktor Leonidovich Pokrovsky
In the autumn of 1918, General Viktor Leonidovich Pokrovskys forces killed 2500 people in the town of Maikop, while Ataman Annenkov's forces shot more than 1500 peasants in Slavgorod region.

Покровский Виктор Леонидович - Viktor Leonidovich Pokrovsky (1889 - November 9, 1922)- Russian lieutenant general and one of the leaders of anti-communist counterrevolutionary White Army during Russian Civil War.

Following the October Bolshevik coup (see Russian Revolution of 1917) he formed an anti-Bolshevik army unit in the Kuban region of southern Russia. Kuban Rada promoted him to the rank of colonel and later to the rank of major general.
In March 1918, after heavy fighting with the Red Army, his units were forced to leave Yekaterinodar. After this, on March 26, 1918, Viktor Pokrovsky joined Volunteer Army of general Lavr Kornilov (later led by generals Anton Denikin and Pyotr Wrangel and known also as the Armed Forces of South Russia). General Pokrovsky was in charge of Kuban Cossacks and Caucasus army units of the White Army.
Pokrovsky’s men played a key role in the capture of Tsaritsyn and Kamyshin from the Bolshevik forces in the summer of 1919. Many in the White movement, including military officers, complained about Pokrovsky's penchant to hang prisoners.
In April 1920, he emigrated from Crimea and settled in Bulgaria and continued anti-Soviet activities. On November 9, 1922, he was killed by the Bulgarian police while resisting arrest in a murder investigation.

The intensification in the summer of 1918 of massive and individual White attacks inevitably led to the revision of punitive-repressive policies of the Soviet government to an increase in repression.
This policy more easily asserted itself with the more frequent reports of White attacks.
In addition to White attacks, individual incidents against the Soviet forces significantly increased as 1918 progressed.
In the summer of 1918 in Petrograd, Socialist-Revolutionary cells organized plots of assassinations against leading Soviet officials Volodarsky, Zinoviev, and Uritsky, as well as Lenin, Trotsky, and other officials of the Soviet state.
The situation in Petrograd after the assassination of Soviet official Volodarsky showed the willingness of the population for mass repression, as seen in the slogans of banners during his funeral. In Petrograd on June 22, a Menshevik member Vasiliev was killed, motivated by revenge over the death of Volodarsky.
Individual action against the Soviet government killed 339 people.
The end of August 1918 marked a new surge of individual attacks directed against the Soviet state.
Cheka Executions in Kiev
During the 'Red Terror' that began in early September 1918 and ended particularly after the issuing of an amnesty to prisoners on 7 November 1918, executions amounted to amounted to 8000 people. 2000 executions occurred from August 30 to 5 September 1918, and another 3000 during the remaining days of September.
3000 more were executed during October–November 1918. 
There were several stages of the 'Red Terror' during the autumn of 1918.
The first stage includes the period from 30 August 1918 to 5 September 1918, beginning with the attacks on Lenin and Uritsky and ending with the publication of the 'Red Terror' decree. During this uncontrolled wave of repression, there were more than 3 thousand executions, especially in provincial towns and the frontier provinces.
More organized repression took place during the remaining days of September.
The total number of victims of the policy of 'Red Terror' in this period was up to 2 thousand.
Starting in October 1918, 'Red Terror' policy experienced a crisis.
With victories at the front and the growth of the revolutionary movement in Europe, the need for the previous policy of suppressing counter-revolution subsided.
Against this backdrop, Communist Party leaders changed the repressive policies.
The main outcome of this was the redistribution of powers between the Cheka and Revolutionary Tribunal.
The Cheka in early 1919 were denied the right to sentencing.
The county Chekas were eliminated.
On 6 November 1918, an amnesty to prisoners was issued, which according to Ratkovsky meant the end of the 'Red Terror'.
The result was a decrease in repression, with the executions in the RSFSR in 1919 numbering a third of those in 1918.


Claims were made by the Soviet state's opponents among the White regimes such as Denikin's Commission to Investigate Bolshevik Atrocities as well as political opponents like S. Melgunov about lurid tortures committed by Soviet forces.
At the head of the Commission was a member of the anti-Soviet Kadet Party G.A. Meyngard. The tasks of this commission was to publicize the alleged crimes committed by the Soviet forces, mainly intended for a Russian emigre audience.
The Cheka was alleged by the Denikin "Commission to Investigate Bolshevik Atrocities" and the publications of anti-Soviet political emigres such as S. Melgunov to have practiced torture. They claimed that victims were reportedly crucified, stoned to death, and other measures.
They claimed that the Cheka personnel poured water on naked prisoners in the streets during winter until they became living ice statues, as well as be-headings.
Others reportedly beheaded their victims by twisting their necks until their heads could be torn off.
The same sources claimed that women and children were also victims of repression: women allegedly tortured and raped before being shot and that children between the ages of 8 and 13 were imprisoned and occasionally executed.

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