KGB loses to Peter the Great

Tuesday 26 August 1997 23:02

Moscow (Reuters) - President Boris Yeltsin decided yesterday that one of Russia's biggest military academies, named after the founder of the communist secret police, would instead carry the name of Tsar Peter the Great.

The Felix Dzerzhinsky Academy is an elite officer training school in Moscow. Mr Yeltsin's press service said its name was being changed "to revive historic traditions ... and recognise Peter I's achievement in creating a regular army".

Dzerzhinsky was a comrade-in-arms of Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Soviet Union. He is famous for setting up the Cheka, or Extraordinary Commission, to deal with "enemies of the working class". Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, died at the hands of the secret police after the revolution. The Cheka was succeeded by Stalin's even more notorious OGPU (Main Political Directorate) and eventually by the KGB (State Security Committee).

Peter the Great is also famous for his dictatorial rule, but his reforms transformed Russia from a closed, undeveloped country into a major European military force in the 18th century.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments