This limited-edition stamp sheet was issued in 2002 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the creation of a Soviet counterintelligence unit within the Cheka intelligence organization. The borders of the sheet feature the Lubyanka, the longtime headquarters of Soviet and now Russian intelligence in Moscow; documents from Operation Trust, a famed counterintelligence operation resulting in the capture and execution of British spy Sidney Reilly, and two versions of the Soviet intelligence badge.
The stamps themselves depict six early members of the Cheka and its successor organization, the OGPU:
Artur Artuzov, counterintelligence chief and co-founder of the infamous Gulag political prisons. Artuzov was responsible for the deaths of thousands of dissidents in the region around Arkhangelsk during the Bolshevik Revolution. He himself would be executed in 1937 during Stalin's great purge of government members suspected of disloyalty.
Nikolai Demidenko, another senior Cheka member, was responsible for the deaths of thousands in the small country of Georgia in 1921. The following year he played a key role in the operation to lure Russian expatriate Boris Savinkov back to the Soviet Union, where he was arrested and later died mysteriously. In 1930, Demidenko and several other Soviet agents kidnapped an exiled Russian in Paris, who was never seen again.
Jan Olsky began his career with the Red Army by executing sixty suspected Polish spies in a single Red Army unit. He went on to lead the Cheka in Belarus by 1921, then back to Moscow the following year, where he eventually succeeded Artuzov as head of counterintelligence. Olsky was responsible for exiling tens of thousands of Soviet citizens who were suspected of disloyalty to new, controlled settlements, with thousands more executed.
Sergei Puzitsky's specialty was mass deportation of Ukrainian citizens. From 1930-1931 he led efforts in Ukraine which ultimately exiled millions of citizens into new settlements. He was considered so effective and capable in his assigned role that Felix Dzerzhinsky, the infamous founder of the Cheka, presented Puzitsky with a gold-plated pistol as a reward for his hard work. But he too would eventually fall victim to Stalin's purges, and was executed in June 1937 after being accused of fomenting a worker's rebellion against the state.
Vladimir Styrne spent his time during the great famine of the early 1920s watching for foreign spies among the humanitarian relief agencies, rather than helping feed the starving Russian citizenry. Any Russian who appeared to be on friendly terms with the international relief workers became a target for Styrne and his fellow agents. By 1937 he had risen to the head of NKVD counterintelligence in Ukraine. But as with so many thousands of men of that era, he too was eventually executed by Stalin loyalists in 1940.
Grigory Syroezhkin is perhaps the most brutal and violent of all. Best known as the executioner of famed British spy Sydney Reilly, Syroezhkin was stationed throughout the Soviet Union and its neighboring states over the course of twenty years, from Finland to Mongolia. Everywhere he went he tortured, executed, and suppressed the alleged enemies of the state. Hundreds if not more died by his hand over the years. He even went to Spain during the Spanish Civil War, performing special tasks there and helping to steal 500 tons of gold for transport back to the Soviet Union. Syroezhkin died by execution after making the fatal mistake of commenting that perhaps some of the people he had killed might have been innocent.
These stamps are an incredible piece of revisionist history and propaganda from the Russian government. They won't be available for long. Get them now.
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