Systema Revelations : Lessons of the Russian Martial Art
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Although Stalin proceeded cautiously, the turning point had been reached, and the terror machinery was in place. The military also came under assault. Much of the officer corps was wiped out in , leaving the country ill prepared for World War II. The war years brought further opportunities for the political police, under the control of Lavrenty Beria, to expand its authority. Soviet Union history — Lavrenti Beria.
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Toward the end of the war, the political police moved into areas formerly under German occupation to arrest those suspected of sympathy for the Nazis. They also suppressed nationalist movements in the Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and western Ukrainian republics. Beria himself steadily gained power and authority during this period.
Some three months later, he made an unsuccessful bid for power and was arrested by his Kremlin colleagues, including Khrushchev. The party leadership not only arrested and later executed Beria and several of his allies in the MVD but also took measures to place the political police under its firm control. Henceforth, violence was no longer to be used as a means of settling conflicts within the leadership, and widespread terror was not employed against the population at large.
The Khrushchev period was important for the development of the internal security departs. Legal reforms, personnel changes, and the denunciation of Stalin had a marked effect on the position of the police and the legal organs.
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As the successor to Khrushchev, Brezhnev did much to reverse the tide of reforms, but later, under Gorbachev, reforms progressed again. The reforms brought opposition to Gorbachev from the police apparatus because the changes curtailed police powers. Soviet Union history: Khrushchev. One of the first reforms instituted by the post-Stalin leadership under Khrushchev was a reorganization of the police apparatus.
The establishment of a state security apparatus separate from that of the regular police was designed to diminish the formidable powers that the police had wielded when its activities were concentrated in one organization. Henceforth, the functions of ensuring political security would be ascribed to a special police agency, whose powers were substantially less than they had been under Stalin. The party leadership also instituted significant legal reforms to protect citizens from police persecution.
On May 24, , a new statute on procurator supervision was enacted by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. This statute provided procedural guarantees of pro curatorial power to protest illegalities committed by state agencies and to make proposals for eliminating these illegalities. A new law on state crimes, enacted on December 25, , and incorporated into the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Republic, narrowed the range of political crimes that were embodied in the Stalinist codes and made criminal sanctions less severe.
Both, however, had lent their support to Khrushchev when he made his move against Beria, and apparently they had to be rewarded. With his higher education in humanities and his untainted record, Shelepin did much to raise the stature of the KGB and to bring renewed efficiency and legitimacy to it.
By the late s, efforts were under way to improve the public image of the KGB by portraying its officials in a favorable light in the media and by publishing works on the history of the Soviet political police. Shelepin himself may have been largely responsible for the campaign to rehabilitate the security police. Both Shelepin and Semichastnyi appeared to have joined the ranks of opposition to Khrushchev sometime before his ouster in October and were actively involved in the plot to overthrow the party leader. Its growing prestige and authority accommodated those neo conservative trends that manifested themselves during the late s and s: curbs on cultural freedom, a crackdown on dissent, and a partial rehabilitation of Stalin.
Brezhnev and his party colleagues became worried about the ambitions of Shelepin, however, and decided to put an end to his influence over the security police.
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He was apparently a neutral figure politically, agreed upon by all members of the collective leadership; Brezhnev, however, managed to bring in several of his own portages to serve directly below Andropov. Viktor M. Brezhnev may have underestimated the political prowess of Andropov, however. Soviet Union history: Gorbachev.
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After gaining the post of general secretary in March , Gorbachev moved with unprecedented speed to implement personnel changes in the party and government. His success in getting rid of so many potential political opponents in such a short time surprised Western Soviet experts, particularly because Gorbachev did not have a substantial power base or patronage network of his own when he took office.
Gorbachev apparently relied on the same bases of support that Andropov had used in his ascent to the top, which included the KGB. The main vehicle used by Gorbachev in carrying out these purges was the anti corruption campaign. By the late summer of , hardly a day passed without a report in the press on cases on bribery, embezzlement, or other forms of economic crime.
In addition to high-level party and state officials, MVD and Procuracy employees came under fire for their failure to uncover crimes.
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There was some turnover in key the KGB posts, but these changes were not nearly as widespread as were the changes in the CPSU apparatus and in other state agencies. He also figured prominently in the Soviet media. Although Gorbachev continued to rely on the KGB in his drive to purge the party and state apparatus of corrupt officials, toward the end of signs indicated that his relations with this organization were becoming strained. This attempt became even more apparent in January , when Chebrikov acknowledged, on the front page of Pravda, that employees of the KGB had committed illegalities.
Such an acknowledgment of KGB abuses was unprecedented. Although the opposition appears to have been led by disgruntled party leaders such as Egor K. Ligachev, the second-ranking member of the Politburo, the KGB probably joined forces with these conservatives. This revolutionary process will be reliably protected against any subversive intrigues. Although he made some strategic retreats in early , Gorbachev continued to pursue his policy of perestroika, and exposures of illegal KGB activities continued.
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