Russian Secret Police Chief. He was the founder and head of the Russian Cheka from 1917 to 1921, a forerunner institution of the Russian NKVD and Soviet KGB. He was also the founder of the Polish Social Democratic Party and was active in both Polish and Russian revolutionary movements. He was arrested and exiled to Siberia in 1897 and 1900 for revolutionary activities and violence against the government, but managed to escape on both occasions. He was appointed Commissar for Internal Affairs of the Cheka by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin in December 1917, responsible for suppressing counter-revolutionary activities and sabotage. In 1921 he ordered the arrest and execution of over 500 Russian sailors for their participation in the Kronstadt rebellion against the Bolshevik government, after becoming disillusioned with the Party's lack of democracy and policy of War Communism. Between 1921 and 1924 he was appointed to the posts of People's Commissar for Transport, Minister of the Interior, Minister for Communications and Chairman of the Supreme Council of National Economy. In June 1924 he was elected as a member of the Soviet Politburo with the assistance of Joseph Stalin. He died in Moscow after suffering a fatal heart attack at the age of 48, and was buried within the walls of the Kremlin.
Bio by: Nils M. Solsvik Jr.