The DEPARTMENT FOR PROTECTING THE PUBLIC SECURITY AND ORDER (Russian
: Отделение по Охранению Общественной
Безопасности и Порядка), usually called "guard
department" (Russian : Охранное отделение) and
commonly abbreviated in modern sources as OKHRANA (Russian :
Охрана; IPA: (_ listen ); En. the guard_) was a secret police
force of the
Russian Empire and part of the police department of the
Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) in the late 19th century, aided by
Special Corps of Gendarmes .
* 1 Overview
* 2 History
* 2.1 Pre-1905
* 2.2 The
Revolution of 1905
* 2.3 The
* 3 Use of torture
* 4 See also
* 5 Notes
* 6 References
* 7 External links
Okhrana group photo, 1905
Formed to combat political terrorism and left-wing revolutionary
Okhrana operated offices throughout the Russian Empire
and satellite agencies in a number of foreign nations. It was
concerned primarily with monitoring the activities of Russian
revolutionaries abroad, including
Paris , where
Pyotr Rachkovsky was
The task was performed by multiple methods, including covert
operations, undercover agents, and "perlustration"—reading of
private correspondence. Even the Foreign Agency served this purpose.
Okhrana was notorious for its agents provocateurs , including Dr.
Jacob Zhitomirsky (a leading
Bolshevik and close associate of Vladimir
Yevno Azef ,
Roman Malinovsky and
Dmitry Bogrov .
Okhrana tried to compromise the labour movement by creating
police-run trade unions, a practice known as _zubatovshchina _. The
agency was blamed by the Communists in part for the Bloody Sunday
event, when imperial guards killed hundreds of unarmed protesters who
were marching during a demonstration organized by
Father Gapon , who
was alleged by the Bolsheviks to have collaborated with the Okhrana
(though in fact this was unproven), and Pyotr Rutenberg .
Other controversial activities included alleged fabrication of _The
Protocols of the Elders of Zion _ (many historians such as the German
Konrad Heiden and Russian historian Mikhail Lepekhine
Matvei Golovinski , a writer and
Okhrana agent, compiled
the first edition) and fabrication of the antisemitic Beilis trial .
Suspects captured by the
Okhrana were passed to the Russian judicial
Okhrana never received more than 10% of the police budget, the
most it ever received being five million rubles in 1914.
The first special security department was the Department on
Protecting the Order and Public Peace under the Head of St. Petersburg
, created in 1866 after a failed assassination attempt on Alexander II
, with a staff of 12 investigators. Its street address, Fontanka, 16,
was publicly known in the Russian Empire. After another failed
attempt, on August 6, 1880 the Emperor, acting on proposals made by
Count Loris-Melikov , created the Department of State Police under
Ministry of the Interior (MVD) and transferred part of the Special
Corps of Gendarmes and the Third Section of the Imperial Chancellery
to the new body. The position of Chief of Gendarmes was merged with
the Minister, and Commander of the Corps was assigned Deputy of the
Minister. Still, these measures did not prevent the assassination of
Alexander II in March 1881.
In an attempt to implement preventive security measures, Emperor
Alexander III immediately created two more Security and Investigation
(охранно-розыскные) secret police stations, supervised
by Gendarme officers, in
Warsaw ; they became the basis of
the later Okhrana. The Imperial Gendarmerie still operated as security
police in the rest of the country through their Gubernial and Uyezd
Directorates. The Tsar also created
Special Conference under the MVD
(1881), which had the right to declare a State of Emergency Security
in various parts of the Empire (which was actively used in the time of
1905\'s Revolution ), and subordinated all of the imperial police
forces to the Commander of the Gendarmes (1882).
The rise of the socialist movements called for the integration of
security forces. Since 1898, the
Special Section (Особый
отдел) of the Department of Police succeeded the Gendarmes in
gaining information from domestic and foreign agents and
"perlustration". Following the Socialist-Revolutionary Party's
MVD Minister Dmitry Sipyagin on April 2, 1902, the
Vyacheslav von Plehve gradually relieved Directorates of
Gendarmes of investigation power in favor of Security and
Investigation Stations (Охранно-розыскное
отделение) under respective Mayors and Governors (who as a
matter of fact were subordinate to the
Okhrana used many seemingly unorthodox methods in the pursuit of
its mission to defend the monarchy; indeed, some of the Okhrana’s
activities even contributed to the wave of domestic unrest and
revolutionary terror that they were intended to quell. Perhaps most
paradoxical of all was the Okhrana’s collaboration with
revolutionary organizations. Among the early
Okhrana agents to work
alongside revolutionaries was Lieutenant-Colonel Gregory Sudeykin of
Special Section, who, in 1882, set up an illegal
printing operation to publish the revolutionary People’s Will with
Okhrana funds. Sudeykin and his colleague, a
Sergey Degayev , passed
drafts of the publication through
Okhrana censors before printing.
This episode marked the beginning of the Okhrana’s efforts to
surreptitiously observe, but also influence and undermine,
revolutionary movements. This focus on infiltrating and influencing
revolutionary groups, rather than merely identifying and arresting
their members, was intensified by the innovations of one Okhrana
bureau chief, Sergey Zubatov . While P.I. Rachkovsky, as head of the
Okhrana’s Foreign Agency, had long ordered
Okhrana agents to
infiltrate and influence revolutionary movements abroad, Zubatov
brought these tactics to a new level by creating Okhrana-controlled
trade unions, the foundation of police socialism. Perhaps recognizing
the same discontent among factory workers that the Bolsheviks sought
to exploit to start a revolution, Zubatov hoped the unions would
mollify factory workers with improvements in working conditions and
thus prevent workers from joining revolutionary movements that
threatened the monarchy. To this end, Zubatov created the Moscow
Mechanical Production Workers’ Mutual Aid Society in May 1901. After
Zubatov was made head of the
Special Section in 1902, he expanded his
trade unions from
St. Petersburg and Southern Russia.
Zubatovite trade unions achieved moderate success at channeling
workers’ political agitations away from revolutionary movements and
toward labor improvements, especially in the cities of
Odessa , with one high-ranking official noting that many
revolutionaries and workers were joining the unions. However,
Zubatov, if not police socialism, was discredited in the summer of
1903 after the
Okhrana officer in charge of the
Odessa union allowed a
strike to get out of hand, causing a mass movement which paralyzed the
region. Although the police-run unions continued to operate after
Zubatov’s ousting, without
Okhrana funding, they proved more a
liability than an asset. The Assembly of Working Men, a police-run
union with about 6,000–8,000 members, formed by the alleged Okhrana
Georgy Gapon , sparked the Bloody Sunday massacre , a
milestone in the
Revolution of 1905 , when union members marched
peacefully on the
Winter Palace in
St. Petersburg and were fired upon
by Imperial soldiers. The
Okhrana complemented police socialism and
other projects to prevent the conditions in which revolutionary
movements could take hold by pursuing initiatives to curtail the
activities of existing organizations.
Yevno Azef , the notorious
Okhrana provocateur who managed to become the head of the Socialist
Revolutionary Fighting Organization, epitomized the Okhrana's
inscrutable practice of revolutionary group infiltration. While the
Okhrana managed to imbed many of its agents in revolutionary
organizations, the police preferred to slowly gather intelligence and
attempt to interfere with revolutionary work surreptitiously rather
than immediately arrest known revolutionaries. This policy led to
numerous dubious acts on the part of police spies, who needed to
participate in revolutionary activities to avoid suspicion, as when
Yevno Azef, as head of the SRFO, ordered the assassination of V. K.
Plehve on July 15, 1904.
THE REVOLUTION OF 1905
For over twenty years, the
Okhrana had focused on interfering with
the activities of relatively small, and distinct, revolutionary
groups. The Revolution of 1905, characterized by seemingly spontaneous
marches and strikes, exposed the Okhrana's inefficacy at controlling
mass popular movements. Not only did the
Okhrana lack the capacity to
prevent the mass movements of 1905, or even to contain them once they
began, the Okhrana’s misguided attempts may even have worsened the
unrest. D. F. Trepov , the Assistant Minister of the Interior in
charge of police affairs, and P. I. Rachkovsky, now in charge of all
domestic political police operations, attempted to mount an aggressive
offensive against those they believed to be responsible for the
unrest, namely _zemstvo _ employees, in May 1905, but backed down
three months later. In October of that year, Trepov again attempted a
violent repression of the revolution only to call off the effort for
lack of manpower. Since these attempts at repression never reached
fruition, they only served to aggravate the already enraged Russian
populace and to deepen their distrust of the Imperial government.
Trepov’s replacement by P.N. Durnovo in late-October ushered in a
period of even more vicious repression of the Revolution. Indicative
of this new period is the head of the
A.V. Gerasimov’s, strike on the
St. Petersburg Soviet. To Tsar
Nicholas II 's delight, Gerasimov arrested delegates of the Soviet _en
masse_ on December 3, 1905. Along with this repression and the end of
Revolution of 1905 came a shift in the political police’s
mentality; gone were the days of Nicholas I ’s white-gloved moral
police : post-1905 the political police feared that the Russian people
were as eager to destroy them as to depose the Tsar.
Following the outbreak of the 1905 Revolution and assassination of
Pyotr Stolypin , as the new
MVD Minister and Chairman of the
Council of Ministers, created of nationwide net of Security Stations.
By 1908, there were 31 Stations and more than 60 by 1911. Two more
Special Sections of the Department of Police were organized in 1906.
The centralized Security Section of the Department of Police was
created on February 9, 1907; it was located on 16, Fontanka, St.
The exposure of
Yevno Azef (who had organized many assassinations,
including that of Plehve ) and
Dmitri Bogrov (who assassinated
Stolypin in 1911) as
Okhrana double agents put the agency's methods
under great suspicion; they were further compromised by the discovery
of many similar double agents -provocateur. In Autumn 1913, all of the
Security Stations but original Moscow, St Petersburg and
dismissed. The start of
World War I
World War I marked a shift from
anti-revolutionary activities of the Department of Police to
counter-intelligence ; however, the efforts of the Department were
poorly synchronised with counter-intelligence units of the General
Staff and the Army.
THE FEBRUARY REVOLUTION
Just as the
Okhrana had once sponsored trade unions to divert
activist energy from political causes, so too did the secret police
attempt to promote the
Bolshevik party, as the Bolsheviks seemed a
relatively harmless alternative to more violent revolutionary groups.
Indeed, to the Okhrana, Lenin seemed to actively hinder the
revolutionary movement by denouncing other revolutionary groups and
refusing to cooperate with them. To aid the Bolsheviks at the expense
of other revolutionaries, the
Roman Malinovsky , a
police spy who had managed to rise within the group and gain Lenin’s
trust, in his bid to become a
Bolshevik delegate to the Duma . To this
Okhrana sequestered Malinovsky’s criminal record and
arrested others candidates for the seat. Malinovsky won the seat and
Bolshevik delegation in the Fourth Duma until 1914, but even
with the information Malinovsky and other informants provided to the
Okhrana, the police were unprepared for the rise of Bolshevism in
1917. Although the secret police had agents within the Bolshevik
organization, other factors contributed to the Okhrana’s inefficacy
at averting the events of 1917. Among these factors was the Deputy
Minister of the Interior, General V. F. Dzhunkovsky ’s ban on police
spies within the military, a practice he found dishonorable and
damaging to morale. While, initially, the beginning of World War I
moved the Okhrana’s attentions from countering revolutionaries to
countering German espionage, the focus quickly shifted back as it was
revealed that the Germans were heavily funding Russian revolutionary
groups in order to destabilize the nation. Despite the renewed
February Revolution took the secret police, and the
nation, by surprise. Indeed, the Okhrana’s persistent focus on
revolutionary groups may have resulted in the secret police not fully
appreciating the deep-seated popular unrest brewing in Russia.
Okhrana was identified by the revolutionaries as one of the main
symbols of Tsarist repression, and its headquarters were sacked and
burned on 27 February 1917. The newly formed Provisional Government
then disbanded the whole organization and released most of the
political prisoners who had been held by the Tsarist regime.
Revelations of the Okhrana’s earlier abuses heightened public
hostility towards the secret police after the
February Revolution and
made it very dangerous to be a political policeman. That fact, along
St. Petersburg (now Petrograd) Soviet ’s insistence on the
dissolution of the regular Tsarist police force, as well as the
political police, meant that the
Okhrana quickly and quietly
USE OF TORTURE
Historians have claimed that despite the reforms in the early 19th
century, the practice of torture was never truly abolished. Possibly,
the creation of
Okhrana led to increasing use of torture, due to the
Okhrana using methods such as arbitrary arrest, detention and torture
to gain information. Following the revolution, civilians claimed the
Okhrana had operated torture chambers in places like
Odessa and in a majority of the urban centres.
Ministry of Police of Imperial Russia
* ^ Corrin, Chris; Feihn, Terry (31 July 2015). _AQA A-level
History Tsarist and Communist Russia: 1855–1964_. Hachette UK;
Hodder Education; Dynamic Learning. p. 44. ISBN 9781471837807 .
Retrieved 8 November 2015. In 1881 a new secret police – the
_Okhrana_ – was established.
Okhrana _Britannica Online_
* ^ Forging Protocols by Charles Paul Freund. _Reason Magazine_,
* ^ Bishop, Patrick (19 November 1999). "\'Protocols of Zion\'
forger named". _
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph _ (1638).
Paris . Archived from
the original on 28 May 2008. Retrieved 8 November 2015. Research by a
leading Russian historian, Mikhail Lepekhine, in recently opened
archives has found the forgery to be the work of Mathieu Golovinski,
opportunistic scion of an aristocratic but rebellious family who
drifted into a life of espionage and propaganda work.
* ^ Ian D. Thatcher, Late Imperial Russia: problems and prospects,
* ^ Fredric S. Zuckerman, “Political Police and Revolution: The
Impact of the 1905 Revolution on the Tsarist Secret Police,” Journal
of Contemporary History 27 (1992): 281.
Ronald Hingley , _The Russian Secret Police: Muscovite,
Imperial Russian, and Soviet Political Security Operations_ (New York:
Dorset, 1970), 75–6.
* ^ Richard J. Johnson, “Zagranichnaia Agentura: The Tsarist
Political Police in Europe”, _Journal of Contemporary History_ 7
(1972): 226. Hingley, _Russian Secret Police_, 87.
* ^ Hingley, _Russian Secret Police_, 88–89.
* ^ Jonathan W. Daly, _Autocracy Under Siege: Security Police and
Opposition in Russia, 1866–1905_ (DeKalb: Northern Iliinois
University Press, 1998), 138.
* ^ Hingley, Russian Secret Police, 89.
* ^ Hingley, Russian Secret Police, 94–5.
* ^ Hingley, _Russian Secret Police_, 92.
* ^ Zuckerman, _Political Police and Revolution_, 281.
* ^ Zuckerman, _Political Police and Revolution_, 282, 5.
* ^ Daly, _Autocracy Under Siege_, 173.
* ^ Zuckerman, “Political Police and Revolution,” 285, 287,
* ^ _A_ _B_ Hingley, Russian Secret Police, 105
* ^ Hingley, Russian Secret Police, 106-9
* ^ Hingley, Russian Secret Police, 111
* ^ Malcolm D. Evans, Rod Morgan (1999). _Preventing Torture_.
Oxford University Press. p. 13. ISBN 0-19-826257-4 .
* ^ Patterns of Torture
* ^ Russia and the Soviet Union 1917–1941: Glossary _Charles
Sturt University _
* ^ The Russian
* Jonathan Daly, Autocracy under Siege: Security Police and
Opposition in Russia, 1866–1905 (DeKalb, Ill.: Northern Illinois
University Press, 1998). ISBN 978-0-87580-243-5
* Jonathan Daly, The Watchful State: Security Police and Opposition
in Russia, 1906–1917 (DeKalb, Ill.: Northern Illinois University
Press, 2004). ISBN 978-0-87580-331-9
* Catherine Evtuhov, Stephen Kotkin; _The Cultural Gradient: the
transmission of ideas in Europe, 1789–1991_; Rowman _Fontanka 16:
The Tsars' Secret Police_; McGill-Queen's University Press (paperback,
2002) ISBN 0-7735-2484-3
CIA historical review program (Approved
for release 22 September 1993)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to OKHRANA _.
Okhrana records at the Hoover Institution Archives
* Official history of the
MVD of Russia: 1857–1879 1880–1904