Cheka lives on 100 years after its founding

A 100 years ago Lenin tasked the revolutionary Felix Dzerzhinsky with forming the first Soviet secret service. Founded on 20 December 1917 and renamed and reorganised in 1922, the Cheka became a symbol of terror and tyranny. Russia now marks December 20 as the Security Agency Worker's Day. Journalists describe how Russia's intelligence services still stand in the tradition of the Cheka today.

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Vedomosti (RU) /

Chekists have every reason to celebrate

The elitist self-image of the "Chekists" has changed little with the transition from socialism to capitalism, Vedomosti explains:

“The concept of 'Chekism', in which state and official necessity take precedence over the law and justice, lives on. But whereas in the past this was justified citing the interests of the party, nowadays in many cases individual interests are being pursued. ... FSB veterans hold key positions in many areas of the political and economic infrastructure. ... Today's Chekists have learned how to protect state interests while keeping an eye on their own status and material assets. And so they are celebrating the anniversary of the Cheka, full of confidence in the future.”

Observador (PT) /

Power-hungry and ruthless

Since Putin came to power the intelligence service milieu has called the shots, Russia expert José Milhazes writes in Observador:

“Putin, who had been appointed by oligarchs as Boris Yeltsin's successor, quickly launched an offensive against influential billionaires of the Yeltsin era: some were arrested, others driven into exile. ... But those who believe Putin's political activities were aimed at ending the reign of the oligarchy in Russia are mistaken: he simply replaced the oligarchs with men from the intelligence services ('siloviki') and with friends from his childhood and youth. These are the men who rule Russia today. The power-hungry 'siloviki' wield the economic as well as the political power. And they show no mercy for those who dare to foil their plans.”