(Tainaia Kantseliariia), a central state institution in Russia, a body of political investigation and administration of justice. Established by Tsar Peter I in February 1718 to investigate the case of Tsarevich Aleksei Petrovich, it was based in the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg and had divisions in Moscow. It was later charged with the investigation and prosecution of cases of extraordinary importance, such as attempts on the life of the tsar, attempted coups d’etat, and treason.
The Secret Chancellery was under the personal control of the tsar, who was often present at interrogations, during which torture was usually used. In May 1726 the Secret Chancellery was abolished, and all its functions were transferred to the Preobrazhenskii Prikaz. The chancellery was reestablished in March 1731 as the Chancellery of Secret Investigations; in 1762 it was abolished and its functions transferred to the Secret Office of the Senate.
R. V. OVCHINNIKOV