All-Russian Extraordinary Commission

All-Russian Extraordinary Commission

 

(VChK, or All-Russian Cheka), in the Soviet state from 1917 to 1919 a special body for the struggle against counterrevolution and sabotage. Founded in accordance with the decree of the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR of Dec. 7 (20), 1917, the All-Russian Cheka was headed by F. E. Dzerzhinskii. The armed struggle of the counterrevolution against Soviet power, the intensification of the class struggle, and the increase in the subversive activity of conspirators, saboteurs, and speculators compelled the Soviet government to set up a special body to suppress the enemies of the toiling people. The tasks of the All-Russian Cheka included suppressing and liquidating counterrevolution and sabotage, turning over saboteurs and counterrevolutionaries for trial by the Military Revolutionary Tribunal, working out measures for combating them, and fighting against speculation, as well as against crime by officials.

In 1918 local bodies of the All-Russian Cheka were set up: province, district (abolished in January 1919), transportation, front, and army chekas. The Statute on the Ail-Russian Cheka and its local bodies was confirmed by the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the RSFSR on Oct. 28, 1918 (Collected Statutes of the RSFSR, 1918, no. 80, art. 842). At first the All-Russian Cheka bodies did not have the right to carry out punitive measures. However, in February 1918, after the counterrevolution embarked on the path of mass White terror, the All-Russian Cheka was given the right to execute spies, saboteurs, and other active enemies of the Revolution, as well as to turn cases over to the tribunal. In 1919 in accordance with a decree of the All-Russian CEC (Collected Statutes of the RSFSR, 1919, no. 12, art. 130), the passing of sentences in all Cheka cases was transferred to the tribunals. The Cheka retained the right to apply punitive measures directly only in localities where martial law had been proclaimed and only for crimes indicated in the resolution introducing martial law. It could also carry out sentences in order to suppress armed counterrevolutionary and bandit uprisings.

The Ninth All-Russian Congress of Soviets, noting the ser-vices of the All-Russian Cheka in protecting and strengthening the gains of the revolution, adopted a decision restricting the jurisdiction of bodies of the Cheka and reorganizing it. On Feb. 6, 1922, the All-Russian CEC, after examining this question, resolved to set up the State Political Directorate (GPU) within the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD).

REFERENCES

Iz istorii Vserossiiskoi Chrezvychainoi Komissii: 1917-1921 gg.: Sb. dokumentov. Moscow, 1958.
Dzerzhinskii, F. E. Izbr. proizv. Moscow, 1957.
M. IU. RAGINSKII
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