Remember the Date - 20 December 1917, founding of the Cheka (Soviet secret police)

posted 20 Dec 2016, 05:49 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 20 Dec 2016, 05:52 ]
The Soviet secret police - the Cheka (from the Russian abbreviation 'ChK' (ЧК) for 'чрезвыча́йная коми́ссия' - chrezvychainaya komissiya) - was founded on 20 December 1917 on the basis of a decree issued by Vladimir Lenin. Lenin appointed Felix Dzerzhinsky, a Polish aristocrat turned communist, to head the organization. Dzerzhinsky remained the director of the secret police until his death from a heart attack in 1926. While the organization underwent a series of reorganizations and renaming - becoming the GPU in 1922 and then subsequently OGPU, NKVD, NKGB, NKVD, NKGB, MBB, KGB, and in the post-Soviet era FSK and FSB (the latter being the organization's current name) - the Cheka has remained a name for the Russian secret police in colloquial use. Operatives of the Cheka are known as 'Chekists'.

In a speech to the FSB leadership on 20 December 1999, Vladimir Putin famously joked that in his person the FSB had successfully infiltrated the Russian government. Soon after he assumed office as president in 2000, Vladimir Putin returned a plaque honouring Yury Andropov, a former head of the KGB and General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, that had been removed in 1991 to the building in Moscow where the former leader had once lived. 

 Pictured: Cheka badge as it was in 1922; source: Wikipedia

'The Cheka,' Wikipedia
'Chronology of Soviet secret police agencies,' Wikipedia
'December 20th 1917: Vladimir Lenin creates the "Cheka",’ This Day in History
Putin Speech, 20 December 1999, Путин_20_12_1999 Putin 20.12.1999 FSB - KGB
Brian Whitmore, Andropov's Ghost, RFE/RL, 9 February 2009