State Political Directorate
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|Государственное политическое управление при НКВД РСФСР
Gosudarstvennoye politicheskoye upravlenie under the NKVD of the RSFSR
|Formed||6th February, 1922|
|Dissolved||15th November, 1923|
|Headquarters||Lubyanka Square, Moscow|
|Agency executive||Felix Dzerzhinsky (1922-1923)|
|Parent agency||Council of the People's Commissars|
The State Political Directorate (also translated as the State Political Administration) was the intelligence service and secret police of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) from February 6, 1922 to December 29, 1922 and the Soviet Union from December 29, 1922 until November 15th, 1923. Formed from the Cheka, the original Russian state security organization, on February 6, 1922, it was initially known under the Russian abbreviation GPU — short for "State Political Directorate under the NKVD of the RSFSR" (Russian: Государственное политическое управление при НКВД РСФСР, Gosudarstvennoye politicheskoye upravlenie under the NKVD of the RSFSR"). Its first chief was the Cheka's former chairman, Felix Dzerzhinsky.
On paper, the new agency was supposed to act with more restraint than the Cheka. For instance, unlike the Cheka, it didn't have the right to shoot suspected "counter-revolutionaries" at will. All those suspected of political crimes had to be brought before a judge in normal circumstances.
The 'Foreign Department' of the GPU was headed by a former Bolshevik and party member, Mikhail Trilisser. The Foreign Department was placed in charge of intelligence activities overseas, including espionage and liquidation of 'enemies of the people'. Trilisser himself was later liquidated by Joseph Stalin during the Great Purge in 1940.
With the creation of the USSR in December 1922, a unified organization was required to exercise control over state security throughout the new union. Thus, on November 15, 1923, the GPU left the Russian NKVD and was transferred into the all-union Joint State Political Directorate, also translated as "All-Union State Political Administration". Its official name was "Joint State Political Directorate under the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR" (Russian: Obyedinyonnoye gosudarstvennoye politicheskoye upravleniye under the SNK of the USSR, Объединённое государственное политическое управление при СНК СССР), or OGPU (ОГПУ).
- History of the MVD of Russia: 1917-1931 (Russian)