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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June, 2007

BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION. FOLDER 5. THE CHEKIST ANTHOLOGY.

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    Contains Vasili Rozanov’s brief personal observations of the first years of Lenin’s regime. Rozanov, Russian writer and philosopher, describes the creation of the early police agencies that emerged between 1917 and 1918. Among the first military and police institutions set up across Russian cities by Lenin’s Bolshevik government were the Military-Revolutionary Committee (Vojenno-revolutsyonnyj komitet, VRK) and the Union of People’s Commissioners (Sovet Narodnyh Komisarov, SNK). These agencies aimed to bring anti-Soviet newspapers and publications under government control. All bourgeois and Menshevik publications were to be shut down. On 20 December 1918, the SNK established a special commission entitled the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission (Vserossiyskaya chrezvychajnaya komissiya). The commission’s core function was to combat counterrevolution and sabotage. Mitrokhin quotes Rozanov as having written that every new recruit of the Extraordinary Commission had to “disavow one’s own will and be subordinate to duty alone.” Lenin’s policy was to achieve unconditional and unquestioning obedience so that no decision could be taken without directives from the Party. According to Mitrokhin, Rozanov also indicates that in 1921 Lenin viewed freedom of speech as a political tool of bourgeois. In 1922, during the drafting of the Penal Code of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, Lenin advised Kurskiy, RSFSR Justice Commissioner (Narkom justisyj), to impose the highest degree of punishment for involvement in propaganda and agitation. Lenin sought to avoid the mistakes of the Paris Commune, which, he believed, had closed down bourgeois newspapers too late. Written by Rozanov in 1919, this personal account begins with a literary introduction that depicts the first years of Lenin’s regime as an “iron curtain descending upon Russian History.”
    "By way of introduction. Folder 5. The Chekist Anthology.," June, 2007, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Contributed to CWIHP by Vasili Mitrokhin. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/110335
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