Artur Artuzov

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Artur Artuzov
Артузов (Фраучи) Артур Христианович.jpg
Born Artur Fraucci
February 18, 1891
Tver region, Russia
Died August 21, 1937(1937-08-21) (aged 46)
Cause of death Execution
Occupation Intelligence officer
Years active 1919–1937
Agent Cheka, OGPU, INO, NKVD
Known for Role in the "Trust"

Artur Khristyanovich Artuzov (surname at birth Fraucci) Russian: Артур Христианович Артузов (Фраучи), (18 February 1891, Tver region, Russia – 21 August 1937, Moscow)[1] was an intelligence officer and spymaster of the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s.

Early life[edit]

Artuzov's father was Italian-Swiss and employed as a cheesemaker. His mother was Estonian-Latvian.[2] Artuzov studied metallurgy at St. Petersburg Polytechnical Institute. He graduated in 1916 with a diploma in metal engineering. Artuzov was a Bolshevik and after the Russian Revolution he joined the Communist Party.[3]

Spy career[edit]


In 1918 he joined the Red Army and fought against the White Army during the Russian Civil War. The following year he joined the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage (Cheka).[4] His uncle, Dr. Mikhail Ledrov, was an associate of Vladimir Lenin and was the head of the Cheka's "Special Department," which monitored the Red Army.[5]

In the 1920s, Artuzov headed the Cheka's counterintelligence arm, KRO. In 1925 he wrote an operational manual called ABC of Counterintelligence, which recommended the use of ideologically based operations. An example of this strategy was Operation Trust, a series of phony monarchist/counter-revolutionary front organizations that monitored the activities of genuine activists.[6]

Operation Trust was shut down in 1927, leading former Trust agent Alexander Kutepov to discover its true origins. Kutepov organized several terrorist operations inside the Soviet Union in retaliation, leading to Artuzov's dismissal in November. He was placed as second deputy assistant of the OGPU's (the Cheka's replacement) Secret Operations Directorate, which was headed by Genrikh Yagoda, a protege of Joseph Stalin.[7] Artuzov, a consummate professional spy, often clashed with the less extensively trained Yagoda.[2]

Artuzov replaced Mikhail Trilisser as deputy head of the INO—the foreign intelligence directorate—in October 1929. Trilisser had complained about Yagoda, his boss, at a Party meeting. Artuzov defended Yagoda and insisted that his senior position meant that he could only be held to account by the Party's Central Committee. Trilisser was dismissed and Artuzov promoted in his stead.[8]


Encouraged by the success of Operation Trust, Artuzov spearheaded Operation Tarantella in 1930. A deception campaign aimed against British foreign intelligence, "the operation's broad aim was to convince London that the industralisation of the Soviet Union was a huge success."[9]

Artuzov was promoted to head the INO in 1931. Among his priorities was the development of training courses for operatives; this was especially important because the organization was moving away from operations conducted under diplomatic cover, in favor of "illegal" operations.[10]

In April and May 1934, Artuzov worked with Stalin to subsume the Fourth intelligence directorate (military intelligence) into the INO, citing the recent collapse of the Fourth's HUMINT efforts. In the process of this transition—under which Artuzov was charged with reviving the Fourth's capabilities—he was made deputy director of the Fourth directorate while also staying on as head of the INO. Later that year, both organizations would become part of the Main Directorate of State Security (GUGB)—itself under the umbrella of NKVD, the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs.[11]

Artuzov stepped down as head of INO on May 21, 1935, but continued in the Fourth directorate.[12]

He was arrested on May 13, 1937 during the Great Purge as part of the "Plot of the Generals." His execution took place on August 21, 1937.


  1. ^ Svetlana Chervonnaya, Artur Artuzov (2008)
  2. ^ a b Stephen Kotkin (2014). Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878–1928. Penguin. p. 321. ISBN 0-698-17010-5. 
  3. ^ The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979)
  4. ^ Biography of Artur Artuzov
  5. ^ Jonathan Haslam (2015). Near and Distant Neighbors: A New History of Soviet Intelligence. Macmillan. p. 15. ISBN 0-374-71040-6. 
  6. ^ Haslam, p. 17.
  7. ^ Haslam, p. 36.
  8. ^ Haslam, p. 43.
  9. ^ Haslam, p. 49.
  10. ^ Haslam, p. 45
  11. ^ Haslam, p. 63–64.
  12. ^ Haslamp, p. 67.