Table of contents:

Special services of Peter I: denunciations, torture and reprisals
Special services of Peter I: denunciations, torture and reprisals

In Russia, the bodies of political investigation appeared under Peter I and quickly turned into a powerful tool for controlling the mentality of citizens.

At the very beginning of his reign, Peter I ordered the creation of a special Preobrazhensky order. At first, it was, in fact, the personal office of the king. With a wide variety of functions. She was responsible for the guards regiments, and for the sale of tobacco, and for order in Moscow. But the real glory came to the department in 1702. By order of the tsar, everyone who publicly declared: "The word and deed of the sovereign should be sent to the Preobrazhensky order!" That is, he was ready to report on important crimes against the state.

At the beginning of secret affairs

At the head of the detective department, the tsar put Fyodor Romodanovsky, whom he trusted infinitely. This man deserved the special favor of Peter I by unconditionally supporting the young tsarevich in the conflict with his sister Sophia, and later was able to quickly suppress the Streletsky revolt of 1698. The political weight of Romodanovsky himself was characterized by a rare privilege: he could go to the sovereign at any time without a report. Only one more person was awarded such an honor - Count Boris Sheremetev.

For reliability, the king ordered to punish with death not only traitors, but also those who did not report them on time. The suspiciousness of Peter I, multiplied by the zeal of Romodanovsky, made it possible to develop a vigorous activity to identify the obvious and hidden enemies of the fatherland. Moreover, those who wish to declare "Word and deed!" turned out to be in abundance.

Fyodor Romodanovsky [1686−1717]

True, it quickly became clear that for many this is just a convenient way to both settle personal scores and extend their life path. For example, persons sentenced to execution for criminal offenses could loudly shout out the cherished words, and instead of the gallows they were immediately sent to the Preobrazhensky Prikaz. There it was possible for a long time to "remember" more and more episodes of high treason, stipulating all enemies and just random people.

Everyone who was listed by the informer should also be interrogated. Moreover, the accusations were not always related to real treason. Suffice it to say that someone called the king a servant of Satan. And since the interrogations were carried out with partiality, there were rarely difficulties with confessions. In particular, several cases have been preserved in the archives, in which the main fault of those accused of a state crime was their words that Peter I and His Serene Highness Prince Alexander Menshikov were living together “in fornication”.

After the death of Fyodor Romodanovsky, his son Ivan took over the leadership in identifying state criminals. And there was so much work that Count Pyotr Tolstoy was sent to help him. The tsar ordered to separate the political investigation from the Preobrazhensky order into a separate department called the Secret Chancellery. The habitat of this organization was the casemates of the Peter and Paul Fortress, behind the thick walls of which one did not have to worry that someone would be embarrassed by the cries of the interrogated.

Peter Tolstoy [1718−1726]

The loudest case, which Peter I personally controlled, was the trial of his own son Alexei Petrovich. The fugitive heir was tricked back to Petersburg and sentenced to death. True, the unfortunate man never lived to be executed. Probably, the interrogation specialists overdid it with torture, and the eldest son of Peter I died from the beatings.

In the service of the empresses

Empress Anna Ioannovna breathed new life into the department, renamed the Office of Secret and Investigative Affairs. Andrei Ushakov, appointed by her as a leader, became famous for being ready to be in torture chambers "for the good of the cause" almost around the clock.According to the instructions drawn up, the main task of the Chancellery was to identify those "who teach what fabrications to think about the imperial health of an evil deed or person and the honor to abuse evil and harmful words." The fight against potential riots and betrayals was to be carried out only secondarily.

Over the ten years of Anna Ioannovna's reign, more than four thousand people were arrested and tortured.

The staff of the Chancellery did not remain idle under Elizaveta Petrovna, who upon accession to the throne vowed never to execute anyone. However, this promise did not prevent the daughter of Peter I from actively using the department to fight potential opposition and disgraced nobles. The posts of spies were introduced, who were ordered to eavesdrop on all seditious conversations. Alexander Shuvalov became the new head of the political investigation.

Under his leadership, the staff of the Chancellery has grown significantly. After all, it was necessary to secretly open and read hundreds of letters in different languages.

Alexander Shuvalov [1746−1761]

The secret office was abolished by Peter III, and torture was prohibited. And just six months later, he was overthrown by his own wife, who began to rule alone under the name of Catherine II. The new empress, not wanting to repeat the fate of her husband, revived such a useful agency called the Secret Expedition.

For more than twenty years, Stepan Sheshkovsky was in charge of the political investigation. He had to deal not only with the investigation of such important cases as the Pugachev riot, but also with the search for those who drew cartoons of the empress. Despite the era of enlightenment declared by Catherine II, the Secret Expedition did not hesitate to resort to torture. The maid of honor Elmpt and Countess Buturlina passed through interrogations with passion.

The Secret Expedition was abolished by Alexander I. Although, in fact, the functions of political investigation were simply transferred to special Senate departments.

Popular by topic