Russia: Death and resurrection of the KGB
Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization
Posted: Wednesday, August 18, 2004
"We represent in ourselves organized terror - this must be said very clearly."
- Cheka founder Feliks Dzerzhinsky
The roots of all of the most efficient political police systems in modern history can be traced to December 20, 1917. On that day, the new Bolshevik regime in Russia created a political police system so ruthless, skillful, and comprehensive that it became the standard for totalitarian movements around the world.
The system was so effective that even the Soviets’ fellow totalitarian archenemies carefully studied it, emulated it, and refined it to help them seize power, consolidate their control once in power, and ultimately remain in power. By whatever name—Cheka, NKVD, KGB, or the dozen other acronyms used over the years—the Soviet and Russian secret police are the most infamous and enduring of any political enforcement system ever devised. They became the matrix for communist regimes from Poland to Mongolia, Ethiopia to Cuba; for pro-Soviet revolutionary governments in Africa and Nicaragua; for non-communist, one-party states in Libya, Syria, and Iraq; and for the Kuomintang government of the Republic of China, as well as the antithetical communist People’s Republic of China.
1.To persecute and liquidate all attempts and acts of counterrevolution and sabotage all over Russia, no matter what their origin. 2.To hand over to the Revolutionary Tribunal all counterrevolutionaries and saboteurs and work out measures of struggle against them. 3.The Commission is to make preliminary investigations only in so far as that may be necessary for suppression . . . . The Commission is to watch the press, sabotage, etc., of the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, saboteurs, and strikers. Sanctions—confiscation, confinement, deprivation of food cards, publications of lists of enemies of the people, etc.1