Chief of Russia’s FSB: Stalin-era repressions were largely justified

I’m… an English, French, American, Japanese, Italian, German and maybe some other spy as well… ("Drawings from the GULAG" by Danzig Baldaev, a former NKVD guard)

I’m… an English, French, American, Japanese, Italian, German and maybe some other spy as well… ("Drawings from the GULAG" by Danzig Baldaev, a former NKVD guard) 

History, International, More

Aleksandr Bortnikov, the director of the FSB secret police [a successor to the KGB], says that the political repressions of the 1930s were often justified because the archives show that there really were active conspiracies directed at replacing or overthrowing the leadership of the country.

Specifically, he said in an interview with Rossiiskaya gazeta that although many assume there was “massive fabrication of accusations” under Stalin, “archival materials testify about the existence of an objective side in a significant portion of the criminal cases, including those underlying the well-known public trials.”

“The plans of the supporters of L. Trotsky for the replacement or even liquidation of J. Stalin and his comrades in arms in the leadership of the VKP(b) are hardly an invention,” the chekist says. Nor are the links of “these conspirators with foreign special services” or the involvement of many of those charged in corruption and bureaucratic arbitrariness.

Not only is this disturbing as yet another indication that the Russian security services are proud of their heritage rather than being ashamed of it (agonia-ru.com and vz.ru), but it suggests that the people heading this agency and those above them view repression on the basis of flimsy or invented charges as normal and justified.

Thus, one is compelled to answer the question Open Russia asks this week – “does Russia need a new intelligence service or can the FSB be reformed?” – in the following way: only the complete lustration of all Soviet intelligence figures from positions of power, including the one at the very top, might offer a chance to change for the better rather than a return to the past.

Chronology of Renaming the Soviet Secret Police Structure

Organization Dates
Cheka
(All-Russian Emergency Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage)
1917–1922
GPU
(State Political Directorate)
1922–1923
OGPU
(Unified State Political Directorate)
1923–1934
NKVD
(People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs)
1934–1941
NKGB
(People’s Commissariat for State Security)
Feb–Jul 1941
NKVD
(People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs)
1941–1943
NKGB
(People’s Commissariat for State Security)
1943–1946
MGB
(Ministry for State Security)
1946–1954
KGB
(Committee for State Security)
1954–1991

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Edited by: A.N.

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