All posts tagged: sign of President Vladimir Putin

Why Russia Is Honoring a Soviet Secret Policeman

Why Russia Is Honoring a Soviet Secret Policeman

The thunder of war in Ukraine drowns out a lot of other news from Russia. A few days ago, however, the Russian foreign intelligence service quietly did something rather odd. Sergei Naryshkin, the director of the Sluzhba Vneshnei Razvedki, or SVR (the Russian version of the CIA), unveiled a statue of Feliks Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Soviet secret police. At first sight, this seems another sign of President Vladimir Putin’s nostalgia for the good old days of Soviet repression, when an aspiring young secret policeman could live a comfortable life by intimidating his neighbors and tormenting his fellow citizens. But the reappearance of a monument to this hated figure in Soviet history might be related more to Russia’s elite politics than to Putin’s nostalgia. Before we get into the modern Kremlinology, let’s look back at the early days of the Soviet intelligence services. Dzerzhinsky was a Polish national with a long history of revolutionary activity. He joined the Russian Bolsheviks, and shortly after the 1917 revolution, Vladimir Lenin put him in charge of creating …