Police Department

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Police Department


tsarist Russian agency for political investigation and police administration formed on Aug. 6, 1880, and known as the State Police Department until 1881. It took over the tasks that had once been assigned to the Third Section and, from Nov. 15, 1880, those of the Executive Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Guard divisions, police institutions, investigative divisions, address bureaus, and fire companies were under the authority of the Police Department, which was also closely associated with the Corps of Gendarmes and its local bodies. The Police Department was formally part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. From 1882 the deputy minister of internal affairs directed both the Police Department and the Corps of Gendarmes. (He was commander of the corps, whose chief was the minister of internal affairs.)

The Police Department was headed by a director. Until February 1917 it consisted of a Special Section, nine clerical offices, and other divisions. The first office, the administrative (December 1880-1917), managed general police affairs, and the second, the legislative office (December 1880-1917), put together police instructions, circulars, and draft legislation. The third or secret office (December 1880-1917)—the most important until the end of the 19th century—managed political investigation operations, including surveillance of and fighting against political organizations, parties, and mass movements, direction of all domestic and foreign agents, and protection of the tsar. On Jan. 1, 1898, the most important functions of the third office were transferred to the Special Section, which kept a card index of Russian revolutionary and public figures and a collection of photographs and illegal publications of all Russian political parties. The Special Section kept files on the personal affairs of Bolshevik Party leaders.

The fourth office of the Police Department (1883–201902, 1907–17) supervised political investigations by the provincial gendarmeries and, after its reinstitution in 1907, monitored the mass workers’ and peasants’ movement. Both overt and covert surveillance were conducted by the fifth office of the Police Department (1883-1917). The sixth office (1894-1917) dealt mainly with small administrative details and issued certificates of political loyalty. The seventh office (1902-17) took over the fourth office’s function of supervising investigations of political affairs, and the eighth office (1908-17) managed investigative divisions of the Police Department (agencies of criminal investigation). The ninth office (1914-17) was in charge of matters related to the war, such as counterintelligence and surveillance of prisoners of war.

A specialized agency for both overt and covert surveillance was under the jurisdiction of the Police Department. The Special Section infiltrated the political parties and organizations with provocateurs (for example, the E. F. Azef case). Pogroms, political trials, and the activity of the Black Hundreds were instigated by the Police Department. After the fall of the autocracy in February 1917, the Police Department was abolished, and it was replaced by the Temporary Administration for Public Police Matters. (On June 15, 1917, it became the Central Administration for Militia Affairs under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which was abolished by the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917.)

The directors of the Police Department included Baron I. O. Velio (August 1880-April 1881), V. K. Pleve (1881-84), P. N. Durnovo (1884-93), N. I. Petrov (1893-97), S. E. Zvolianskii (1897-1902), A. A. Lopukhin (1903-February 1905), S. G. Kovalenskii and N. P. Garin (1905), and E. I. Vuich (November 1905-1906). The Police Department was also directed by P. I. Rachkovskii (1906), M. I. Trusevich (1906-09), N. P. Zuev (1909-11), S. P. Beletskii (December 1911-January 1914) V. A. Briun de Sent Ippolit (1914), P. G. Mollov (1915), K. D. Kafafov (1915-16), E. K. Klimovich (March-September 1916), and A. T. Vasil’ev (October 1916-February 1917).


Lenin, V. I. “Predislovie k broshiure ’Dokladnaia zapiska direktora departamenta politsii Lopukhina.’ “Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 9.
Eroshkin, N. P.Istoriia gosudarstvennykh uchrezhdenii dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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