Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov

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Abdurakhman Genazovich (Ganazovich) Avtorkhanov
Native name
Абдурахман Геназович (Ганазович) Авторханов
Born(1908-10-23)23 October 1908
Lakha Nevri, Chechnya, Russian Empire
Died24 April 1997(1997-04-24) (aged 88)
Munich, Germany
OccupationHistorian, Political scientist
GenreAcademic publishing
SubjectChechen society, Soviet history

Abdurakhman Genazovich (Ganazovich) Avtorkhanov (Chechen: Абдурахма́н Гена́зович (Гана́зович) Авторха́нов, 23 October 1908 – 24 April 1997) was a Chechen historian who worked primarily in the fields of Soviet history and History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).

Biography and works[edit]

Avtorkhanov's date of birth is uncertain. According to his memoirs he was born between 1908 and 1910 in the small Chechen village of Lakha-Nevri, which was destroyed by Soviet troops during the deportation of the Chechen and Ingush population in 1944.[1] He was given the last name of Avtorkhanov in 1923 when he was registered for an orphanage.

The young Avtorkhanov enthusiastically joined the Communist Party in 1927 and served as a high-ranking party functionary.[2] He graduated from the elite Moscow Institute of Red Professors with a major in Russian history in 1937, during which time he wrote six books on the history of the Caucasus.[3] He was arrested and falsely accused in 1937 during the Great Purge, but released in 1942. The NKVD assigned him to infiltrate the anti-Soviet Chechen movement in which his school friend Khasan Israilov was a leader, but Avtorkhanov crossed the front line to Germans, was arrested by Gestapo, released and lived until the end of the war in Berlin.[4] During the war, he published in many newspapers of Nazi Germany. After the war, Avtorkhanov became a co-founder of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in 1951.

Typewritten text and microfilm of Avtorkhanov's books (center,) smuggled into the Soviet Union for underground publishing

Autorkhanov authored numerous books and articles on the history and core issues of Communism. His book Staline au pouvoir (The Reign of Stalin), published in French in 1951, described Joseph Stalin's reign of terror.[5] His book Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party is regarded as a primary source for the political background of Stalin's rise to power. He was one of the first authors to claim, in his 1976 book on Stalin's death, that Stalin had been murdered by the head of NKVD Lavrentiy Beria. Pyotr Grigorenko made and distributed copies of the book in the Soviet Union by photographing and typewriting.[6]: 596 

In his books, Avtorkhanov emphasized the leading role of Soviet security services in keeping the regime alive:

It is not true that the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party is a superpower (...) An absolute power thinks, acts and dictates for all of us. The name of the power—NKVDMVDMGB. The Stalin regime is based not on Soviets, Party ideals, the power of the Political Bureau, Stalin’s personality, but the organization and the technique of the Soviet political police where Stalin plays the role of the first policeman. To tell that NKVD is a state secret police—means to tell nothing to the point. Intelligence Service is also a secret police, but in the eyes of the Britons its existence is as natural as the Health Ministry. To tell that NKVD is a body of mass inquisition also means to tell nothing to the point, because Gestapo also was a mass inquisition, although its chief Himmler —would not have fit a sergeant of the State Security Service. To tell that NKVD is «a state in the state» means to belittle the importance of NKVD, because this allows two forces: a normal government and an abnormal NKVD state, whereas the actual universal force is only Chekism. A state Chekism, a Party Chekism, a collective Chekism, an individual Chekism; Chekism in ideology, Chekism in practice. This is Chekism from the top to the bottom; Chekism from the almighty Stalin to an insignificant secret agent.[7]

One of his books named "Murder of Chechen-Ingush nation" (in Russian: "Убийство чечено-ингушского народа") is still very popular among Chechens and Ingush today. A few months before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Avtorkhanov was granted honorary citizenship by the Chechen-Ingush ASSR. At the time of the First Chechen War he maintained a correspondence with the Chechen president Dzhokhar Dudayev. He also urged peace negotiations on Russian President Boris Yeltsin. He died in Munich, Germany, shortly after the end of the war, in 1997.


  • К основным вопросам истории Чечни: к десятилетию Советской Чечни [On Fundamental Issues of the History of Chechnya: On the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of Soviet Chechnya] (in Russian). Grozny. 1930.
  • Alexandre Ouralov (pseud.) (1951). Staline au pouvoir (in French). Paris: Les Iles D'Or.
  • Alexander Uralov (pseud.) (1953). The Reign of Stalin. London: Bodley Head.
  • Технология власти [The Technology of Power] (in Russian). München: ЦОПЭ. 1959.
  • Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party: A Study in the Technology of Power. New York: Praeger. 1959.
  • Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party: A Study in the Technology of Power (3 ed.). Frankfurt/Main: Possev-Verlag. 1983 [1976].
  • The Communist Party Apparatus. Chicago: H. Regnery. 1966.
  • Загадка смерти Сталина: заговор Берия [The Mystery of Stalin's Death: Beria's Plot] (in Russian) (5 ed.). Frankfurt/Main: Possev-Verlag. 1986 [1976].
  • Сила и бессилие Брежнева [The Power and Powerlessness of Brezhnev] (in Russian) (2 ed.). Frankfurt/Main: Possev-Verlag. 1980 [1979].
  • Мемуары [Memoirs] (in Russian). Frankfurt/Main: Possev-Verlag. 1983.
  • От Андропова к Горбачёву: Дела и дни Кремля [From Andropov to Gorbachev: Deeds and Days of the Kremlin] (in Russian). Paris: YMCA-PRESS. 1986. ISBN 2-85065-088-9.
  • Ленин в судьбах России: Размышления историка [Lenin in the Destinies of Russia: Historian's Reflections] (in Russian). Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Prometheus-Verlag. 1990.
  • The North Caucasus Barrier: The Russian Advance Towards the Muslim World. New York: St Martin. 1992.
  • Avtorkhanov, Abdurakhman (1964). "Denationalization of the Soviet ethnic minorities". Studies on the Soviet Union. 4 (1): 74–99.
  • Avtorkhanov, Abdurakhman; Armstrong, John; Slusser, Robert; Kennan, George (December 1967). "Question of a September 1936 Plenum of the CPSU Central Committee". Slavic Review. 26 (4): 665–677. doi:10.2307/2492618. JSTOR 2492618.
  • Avtorkhanov, Abdurakhman (September 1968). "From Khrushchev to Brezhnev. The problems of collective leadership". Bulletin. Institute for the Study of the USSR. XV (9): 14–15.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A. Avtorkhanov. Memuary [Memoirs] (Frankfurt/Main: Possev-Verlag, 1983), p. 5.
  2. ^ A. Avtorkhanov. Memuary [Memoirs] (Frankfurt/Main: Possev-Verlag, 1983), p. 160 (Russian text online Archived 2015-04-02 at the Wayback Machine)
  3. ^ A. Avtorkhanov. Tekhnologiya vlasti [The Technology of Power] (Frankfurt/Main: Possev-Verlag, 1983), back cover
  4. ^ A. Avtorkhanov. Memuary [Memoirs] (Frankfurt/Main: Possev-Verlag, 1983), pp. 611ff.
  5. ^ Ken Coates Spluttering Taper International Socialism (1st series), No.4, Spring 1961, p.32.
  6. ^ Григоренко, Пётр (1981). В подполье можно встретить только крыс… [In Underground One Can Meet Only Rats…] (in Russian). Нью-Йорк: Детинец.
  7. ^ Technology of Power

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