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Entries / Security Department

Security Department

Categories / City Administration/Police, Prisons

SECURITY DEPARTMENT ("Security" in everyday language), the organ of police responsible for political search. It was created in 1866 as "The Department of Peace and Order in the Country" under the auspices of the Governor of St. Petersburg in order to fight against revolutionary and public activities (it was named Security Department in 1903). Actually the Security Department from 1880 was directly subordinated to the Department of Police of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Unlike gendarmerie, the Security Department was almost exclusively engaged in undercover activity. Besides the staff (12 persons in 1883) the Security Department possessed agents for "outer observation" (sleuths) and undercover agents (intelligencers and provocateurs) penetrating into revolutionary and oppositional organisations on the instructions of the Security Department. By 1917, the total staff of the Security Department made up circa 600 persons. The major structural units of the Security Department included the General Office where cases of political search were considered, and card indexes of people under surveillance and secret service were kept; the Department of Outer Observation which was in charge of activity of sleuths, and the Agent Department which was in charge of undercover agents. In 1910, the Registration Bureau for newly arriving residents of the capital was created to supervise railway stations, 118 hotels and 406 furnished apartments. The secret department of censorship ("Black Room") in St. Petersburg Post Office dealt with censoring mail; it was under the supervision of the Security department. The Security Department had a special room for detainees. In 1906-09, St. Petersburg Security Department headed by A. V. Gerasimov was in fact the centre of political search in the Empire. At first the Security Department was located at 2 Gorokhovaya Street in the building of the City administration, in 1901-07 - on 12 Moika River Embankment, and later at 2 Alexandrovsky Avenue (today 2 Dobrolyubova Avenue). During the days of February revolution of 1917, the building of the Security Department was captured by the rebels. The fire started soon and damaged the most part of the archives (there is a rumour that the building was set on fire by agents of the Security Department who were afraid of being exposed). In early March, 1917 the Security Department was abolished.

Reference: Герасимов А. В. На лезвии с террористами. М., 1991; Перегудова З. И. Политический сыск России (1880-1917). М., 2000.

A. D. Margolis.

Gerasimov Alexander Vasilievich

Dobroliubova Avenue/Saint Petersburg, city, house 2
Gorokhovaya St./Saint Petersburg, city, house 2
Moika River Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 12

Перегудова З. И. Политический сыск России (1880-1917). М., 2000
Герасимов А. В. На лезвии с террористами. М., 1991

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Ministry of Internal Affairs
February Revolution of 1917


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