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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June, 2007


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    In this entry Mitrokhin provides a history of the Cheka’s creation and its missions in Europe between 1918 and 1925.
    "The Cheka Emergence. Folder 96. The Chekist Anthology," June, 2007, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Contributed to CWIHP by Vasili Mitrokhin.
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In this entry Mitrokhin provides a history of the Cheka's creation and its missions in Europe between 1918 and 1925.

Mitrokhin divides the creation of the Cheka into three periods of time. According to Mitrokhin, the Council of the People's Commissars ordered the establishment of the Extraordinary Commission (the Cheka) on June 18, 1918. Red Army officials were not satisfied with the existing secret police -- Military Control -- because too many officers from the Tsarist Army were involved. In December of the same year, the politburo ordered the unification of Military Control and the Cheka into the Special Department under the All-Russian Extraordinary Committee; Mikhail Kedrov became commander. Immediately, the Special Department was ordered to start foreign espionage, however because of their lack of experience in the field, agents were limited to working in border zones.

Mitrokhin states that the second period of the Cheka's emergence began in 1919 at the First All-Russian Congress of Commanders of the Special Departments. The commanders emphasized the importance of advancing the Special Department's capabilities and ordered the establishment of a Foreign Department to strengthen espionage effectiveness in capitalist countries. According to Mitrokhin, in 1920 the Foreign Department organized the first residencies in the countries with which the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) had diplomatic relations. Mitrokhin provides an example of a common organization structure for a residency.

The third period of the Cheka's emergence began at the end of 1920 when the Foreign Intelligence Service was established as an independent organization under the Foreign Department of the All-Russian Extraordinary Committee. On December 20, 1920 the commander of the Foreign Department, Felix Dzerzhinsky, formed an official staff. Mitrokhin provides names and numbers of positions.

In 1925 the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party ordered an end to active espionage in capitalist countries in order to concentrate on neighboring countries that presented a potential military danger. During peaceful times agents of the Foreign Intelligence Service had to study military bases, people's mentality, and to prepare for the case of war.


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