Alexander Kutepov

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Alexander Pavlovich Kutepov
Alexander Kutepov.jpg
A.P. Kutepov
Born (1882-09-28)28 September 1882
Cherepovets, Vologda Governorate, Russian Empire
Died 26 January 1930(1930-01-26) (aged 47)
Paris, France
Allegiance  Russian Empire
 Russian Republic
Service/branch Russian Empire Imperial Russian Army
Russian Republic White Army
Years of service 1904–1920
Rank Colonel
Unit Preobrazhensky Regiment (1906–1917)
Russian Army (1917–1920)
Commands held Preobrazhensky Regiment (–1917)
Battles/wars Russo-Japanese War
World War I
Russian Civil War

Alexander Pavlovich Kutepov (Russian: Александр Павлович Кутепов; 28 September 1882 in Cherepovets, Vologda Governorate, Russian Empire – 26 January 1930 in Paris, France) was the leader of the anti-communist Volunteer Army during the Russian Civil War.

Early life and military service[edit]

According to Russian State Military History Archive, Kutepov was born in Cherepovets, Novgorod Governorate. He graduated from Junker Infantry School in St. Petersburg in 1904. As a young infantry officer, he fought in the Russo-Japanese War, where he was severely wounded in action and decorated for valor. In 1906, he was transferred to the Preobrazhensky Regiment, an elite guards regiment. During World War I, he received several decorations for bravery and was again severely wounded in action. During the course of the war, he rose from company, to battalion to commander of the Preobrazhensky Regiment. As such, he became the last commander of this historic regiment.

Russian Civil War[edit]

Alexander Kutepov in Kharkiv after taking the city in June 1919.

After the October Revolution, Kutepov joined the anti-Bolshevik Volunteer Army (part of the White Movement) at the very outset of the Russian Civil War. At the start of the Ice March in early 1918, Kutepov was a company commander of an officer's regiment. (In the beginning of the Russian Civil War the small Volunteer Army had a surplus of officers, which meant that many of them had to serve as common soldiers. These formations soon became the crack units of the White Army.) After the death in battle of Colonel Nezhentsev, Kutepov took over the command of the Kornilov Shock Regiment, and after the death of the commander of the 1st Infantry Division, he became its commander. When the Whites captured Novorossiysk in August 1918, Kutepov was appointed Governor General of the Black Sea region.

Starting in January 1919, 36-year-old Lieutenant General Kutepov became the commander of the 1st Army Corps of the White Army. Throughout his career, Kutepov had a reputation for being a decisive, direct and no-nonsense military leader. During the chaotic times of the Russian Civil War, order was usually rapidly restored after Kutepov's arrival. He accomplished this, however, by means of the swift and ruthless application of the death penalty on suspected looters and pogrom perpetrators.

In exile[edit]

White Generals in Bulgaria, 1921. Seated from right to left : generals Shteifon, Kutepov and Vitkovsky. Standing (behind Kutepov) : generals Skoblin and Turkul.

After the White Army's final defeat in the Crimean Peninsula in November 1920, Kutepov and the remnants of his corps evacuated to Gallipoli. Despite very unfavourable and demoralizing circumstances, the troops in Gallipoli kept up their morale thanks to Kutepov's leadership. In the beginning of the Gallipoli period, Kutepov was disliked by many of the troops because of his disciplinary measures, but by the end, he was warmly regarded by most of them. When the Gallipoli camp was disbanded, Kutepov moved to Bulgaria in late 1921.

In May 1922, he was expelled from Bulgaria during the upheavals of the Aleksandar Stamboliyski era and resided in Serbia until 1924, when he and his wife settled in Paris. After General Pyotr Wrangel's death in April 1928, he became the commander of the Russian All-Military Union (ROVS). In this position, he abandoned the ROVS′ strategy of waiting for Western powers′ intervention in Russia, instead he stepped up sabotage and terrorist activities by ROVS inside the USSR.[1] He is credited with setting up a counter-intelligence branch of ROVS, the Inner Line.[2]

Abduction and death[edit]

On 26 January 1930, Kutepov was kidnapped in Paris by OGPU agents. According to Pavel Sudoplatov,

This job in 1930 was done by Yakov Serebryansky, assisted by his wife and an agent in the French police. Dressed in French police uniforms, they stopped Kutepov on the street on the pretext of questioning him and put him in a car. Kutepov resisted the kidnapping, and during the struggle, he had a heart attack and died, Serebryansky told me. They buried Kutepov near the home of one of our agents near the outskirts of Paris.[3]

Kutepov was believed by French police of having been smuggled to the Soviet Union. Former White Army general Nikolai Skoblin, a senior operative in the Inner Line, was suspected of being a key accomplice to the kidnapping. Walter Laqueur alleges, "Skoblin had nothing to do with this affair, because he was recruited only after Kutyopov's disappearance."[4] KGB General Sudoplatov confirms this allegation in his own memoirs.[5]

According to the declassified UDBA documents compiled in early 1955,[6] shortly prior to his abduction, Kutepov received 7 million francs from his French sponsors meant for the ROVS′ activity.[1]

His body was never found. There is a cenotaph memorial for Alexander Kutepov in the Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery in Paris.


  1. ^ a b ″Врангелов неоспорни ауторитет: Из тајних архива УДБЕ: РУСКА ЕМИГРАЦИЈА У ЈУГОСЛАВИЈИ 1918–1941.″ // Politika, 8 December 2017, p. 17.
  2. ^ ″Оснивање белогвардејских тајних служби: Из тајних архива УДБЕ: РУСКА ЕМИГРАЦИЈА У ЈУГОСЛАВИЈИ 1918–1941.″ // Politika, 13 December 2017, p. 18.
  3. ^ Pavel Sudoplatov, (1994), Special Tasks: The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness, a Soviet Spymaster, page 91.
  4. ^ Walter Laqueur, "New Light on a Murky Affair", Encounter LXXIV.2 (March 1990), p. 33.
  5. ^ Sudoplatov, (1994), p. 91.
  6. ^ „Белоемиграција у Југославији 1918–1941": „Црни барон" у Београду, 2 December 22017.