Stalin's activities in managing the state and its interaction in the foreign policy arena conceal many hidden mechanisms that he used so successfully. One of such mechanisms could be his personal strategic intelligence and counterintelligence, about which Vladimir Zhukhrai spoke a lot in his books and interviews, presenting himself as one of the leaders of this body.
There is practically no documentary evidence of this, such a structure hardly left behind any documents. You can treat Zhukhrai's statements in different ways, at least many of the facts he cites confirm the events that took place at that time and Stalin's tough struggle with his entourage, along with his desire to ensure the security and development of the country in a hostile environment, for which objective and impartial information. Perhaps Zhukhrai embellished something - not without this, but the logic of Stalin's actions was exactly as the author presents it.
Mentions about Stalin's "secret service" are quite common: some Russian historians of the special services deny its existence and consider Zhukhrai almost "the son of Lieutenant Schmidt", others - on the contrary, that such intelligence should have been and, most likely, existed since 1925 when Stalin, after the death of Lenin, began a struggle with his comrades-in-arms for power and the choice of a path for the country's further development.
Having become the general secretary, he, naturally, taking into account his experience of underground activities and the unfolding struggle against the opposition in the party, began to create structures accountable to him personally and carrying out only his instructions. It should not be forgotten that during the October Revolution he was one of the three parties (Dzerzhinsky, Stalin, Uritsky), which worked closely with the counterintelligence of the General Staff of the tsarist army to seize power in the country. These specialists, their connections and agents remained - they could be included in the structure of Stalin's personal intelligence and successfully work for the Soviet regime.
The structure worked in two directions: counterintelligence for all, without exception, the party and economic elite, including the members of the Politburo, in which there were far from sinless angels, and intelligence, for penetrating highly secret state secrets and relations between leaders of foreign countries. Information was necessary for understanding internal and world processes, true relationships and driving motives of various political and economic forces and for competently making certain state and political decisions. The task of Stalin's intelligence also included the study and regular coverage of the activities abroad of the most important and famous political figures in the world. Stalin transmitted the information he received, without indicating the source, to the NKVD and military intelligence for use in their work.
According to Zhukhrai's recollections, there were no secrets for this structure that she could not get or buy. The entire party and economic elite of the country was under surveillance around the clock, and all their "secrets" were known. The structure employed about 60 carefully selected unique specialists who knew several languages and had knowledge in related specialties, as well as a huge network of agents and informants around the world. To accomplish the assigned tasks, the intelligence leaders possessed practically unlimited financial resources, money, currency, diamonds and gold. All this made it possible to have agents in the highest circles of various countries, including Japan, Germany and England.
The need for such intelligence was acute: it worked in parallel with the country's regular intelligence agencies, extracted and repeatedly checked the information obtained by all, and on the basis of the results of its activities, Stalin made final decisions. In such a structure, intellectuals of the highest class with analytical skills were supposed to work, and such people were carefully selected. They were ideological supporters of Stalin - it was impossible to outbid them.
Who was in charge of this intelligence, and in what way did it show itself?
Zhukhrai claims that General Alexander Dzhuga was the intelligence chief, and he was allegedly the illegitimate son of Stalin. Perhaps this is a collective image, since Stalin really had such sons. While in exile in 1909-1911 in Solvychegorsk, he cohabited with the landlady of an apartment, whose son Konstantin Kuzakov was later born, and in exile in 1914-1916 in Kureyka, Turukhansk region, he cohabited with 14-year-old Lydia Pereprygina, to whom he was also born son Alexander Davydov. Stalin promised the gendarmes to marry her when she came of age, but in 1916 he fled from exile and never returned.
Konstantin Kuzakov and Alexander Davydov really existed, but whether they were Stalin's children and whether they were involved in his personal intelligence, one can only assume. Some of Zhukhrai's contemporaries considered him the son of Stalin, but he always claimed that no one had told him about this, and his mother, a well-known doctor who served the highest echelons of power, did not say who his own father was. At least, Stalin unconditionally trusted Jugha and Zhukhrai, and he treated the latter very warmly and in a fatherly way.
Zhukhrai got into strategic intelligence in 1942, Stalin looked closely at him for three months, and then began to fully trust. In 1948, he appointed the capable young man as the first deputy of Jugha and head of the analytical department of intelligence and awarded the rank of major general. They appeared to Stalin in make-up, they were met by Poskrebyshev, taken to the leader, and they reported to him about the information they had obtained.
Relationship with the head of the MGB Abakumov
In his memoirs, Zhukhrai more than once dwells on the personality of Abakumov, who successfully led SMERSH during the war and then headed the Ministry of State Security.
He emphasizes his careerism, untidiness, desire to fabricate fake deeds on Soviet leaders and the military in the name of moving up the career ladder. General Serov, who, being Beria's deputy, constantly clashed with Abakumov over the methods of work, wrote about the same qualities of Abakumov in his diary. Stalin instructed Dzhuga and Zhukhrai to recheck the materials provided by the MGB and give his opinion.
In 1946-1948, Abakumov stubbornly strove to fabricate the "case of the marshals" by analogy with the "Tukhachevsky conspiracy" for his careerist goals. He was convinced of the existence of a military conspiracy in the country and the involvement of Marshal Zhukov in it, and also oversaw the "case of aviators" and "the case of sailors." The latter was charged by the commander of the Navy, Admiral Kuznetsov, of spying on England, on the basis of which Abakumov asked Stalin to authorize the arrest of the admiral.
Stalin instructed Dzhuga to sort out the "case of the sailors". After clarifying all the circumstances in the case on Kuznetsov's accusation of transferring documents for secret torpedoes to England during the war, Stalin was informed that there was no conspiracy, and all this was Abakumov's nonsense. The commander of the Navy admitted negligence, which led to the disclosure of classified information in a new arms, for which Kuznetsov was demoted in 1948.
Abakumov's activities to search for "conspiracies" led to the fact that in July 1951 he was arrested and himself accused of a Zionist conspiracy in the MGB. After Stalin's death, Khrushchev did not want to release Abakumov, who knew too much about the top of the Soviet rulers. The accusation was reclassified as falsification of the "Leningrad case" and was sentenced to death by the court in December 1954.
Abakumov started a case against the leaders aviation industry and the Air Force, accusing them in 1946 of sabotage and conspiracy to adopt aircraft with serious defects and a large marriage during the war. He reported to Stalin about the numerous plane crashes and deaths of pilots during all the years of the war. Shakhurin chased the indicators of the plan and produced low-quality products. The military turned a blind eye to this, and in the army, pilots died due to low-quality aircraft.
Minister Shakhurin and Air Force Commander Novikov were arrested, subjected to "active interrogation", and they pleaded guilty about supplying defective aircraft to the army. This led to the arrest of a number of aviation industry leaders and Air Force officers.
Abakumov convinced Stalin that this was a conspiracy, and they were engaged in sabotage, deliberately supplying low-quality aircraft to the army, and demanded their severe punishment. Stalin denied these accusations, since these people did a lot to win the war and could not engage in sabotage, and instructed Dzhuga to double-check Abakumov's data. The audit found that there was no conspiracy, and the existing practice of supplying the troops with low-quality products was a consequence of the fact that a large number of aircraft were required to the front, and they did not have time to produce them properly.
The court considered the "case of aviators" and for the release of low-quality products and concealment of these facts from the leaders of the state, in May 1946 the accused sentenced the accused to various terms of imprisonment, short for those times.
In connection with the "case of aviators" Malenkov was relieved of his post as the second secretary of the Central Committee and sent by Stalin on a long business trip to the periphery. Zhdanov became the second secretary of the Central Committee, who died suddenly in 1948, and this was the beginning of the "case of doctors." Stalin returned Malenkov to Moscow in 1948, making him the secretary of the Central Committee for personnel policy in the party and the state, despite the protest of Jugha, who contemptuously called Malenkov "Malanya" and claimed that he was a hidden anti-Soviet, who would still show himself.
The case of Marshal Zhukov
During the investigation into the "aviators' case" Abakumov reported to Stalin that the Air Force Commander Novikov addressed the leader with a letter in which he claimed that during the war they had anti-Soviet conversations with Zhukov, in which Zhukov criticized Stalin, stating that all operations during wars were designed by him, not by Stalin, and Stalin is jealous of his fame, and that Zhukov might lead a military conspiracy. General Kryukov, who was arrested and interrogated, was close to Zhukov and also asserted Zhukov's Bonapartist inclinations. Abakumov asked permission to arrest Zhukov, since he is a spy. Stalin rudely interrupted him and said that he knew Zhukov well - he was a politically illiterate person, in many ways just a boor, a big arrogant, but not a spy.
Abakumov read out the letters of the military, in which it was stated that Zhukov was so arrogant that he finally lost all control over himself, falling into anger, for no reason tears off the shoulder straps from the generals, humiliates them and insults them, calls them insulting nicknames, in some cases came to assault, and it became impossible to work with him.
Stalin instructed Dzhuga to figure out whether Abakumov had planned to embroil him with the leadership of the armed forces. After clarifying the essence of the case, Dzhuga, on whose command Zhukov's apartment had been tapped since 1942, reported to Stalin that Abakumov, out of careerist tricks, had started a case on the “Zhukov conspiracy”, which does not exist, and only the case of plundering trophy property by the military was being conducted, and Zhukov was awaiting arrest. He stressed that Zhukov has great services to the country, and he does not deserve criminal prosecution, and for his boorish attitude towards his subordinates, he should be demoted.
At an enlarged meeting of the Politburo in 1946, Stalin made an invitation to all the marshals and expressed his claims to Zhukov, the military leaders supported the leader. Zhukov was silent and did not make excuses, he was relieved of his post as deputy people's commissar of defense and transferred to the commander of the Odessa military district.
In December 1949, Stalin suffered a third stroke and a cerebral hemorrhage on his feet. The people closest to him began to notice that something was wrong with the leader - he became a completely different person and very suspicious.
And so little talkative, now he spoke only when absolutely necessary, very quietly and with great difficulty choosing his words. He stopped receiving visitors and reading official papers. He walked with great difficulty and had to lean on the walls. He did not even manage to deliver a response at the ceremonial meeting in honor of his seventieth birthday, silently sitting pale in the center of the presidium.
Once Stalin complained to Dzhuga that he was a sick and old man who had to retire long ago, but who was still forced to unravel all sorts of intrigues, fight traitors, eyewitnesses, careerists and embezzlers.
Companions of Stalin
At the end of August 1950, Dzhuga reported to Stalin about the plan for a large-scale secret war of the United States against the USSR, the implementation of which was to lead to the collapse of the USSR and the restoration of capitalism. This plan, elaborated in detail by the CIA, was received from Washington.
Dzhuga proposed to radically improve the work of the MGB: Abakumov is clearly not coping with the post of minister, in pursuit of "high-profile" cases, he discredited the state and the authorities, facilitating the work of the Western special services. He also expressed doubts about the activities of Stalin's associates, such as Beria, Malenkov, Mikoyan and Khrushchev, and suggested calling a party congress, renewing the Politburo, nominating new people to the leadership of the party and the country, and sending some old members of the Politburo to a well-deserved rest.
Around the individual members of the Politburo, stable groups of individuals connected by bonds of personal friendship and loyalty really began to form.
Around Malenkov were grouped the secretary of the Central Committee Kuznetsov, deputy chairmen of the Council of Ministers Kosygin, Tevosyan and Malyshev, as well as Marshal Rokossovsky, head of the department of administrative bodies of the Central Committee Ignatiev.
Around the member of the Politburo, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Chairman of the State Planning Committee Voznesensky - Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR Rodionov, workers of the Leningrad Party Organization Popkov, Kapustin, Lazutin, Turko, Mikheev and others.
Around the Politburo member, deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers Beria - his long-time "associates" Merkulov, Kobulov, Meshik, Dekanozov, removed from the MGB, as well as generals Goglidze and Tsanava, still working in the state security agencies.
Stalin instructed his strategic intelligence to closely monitor these groups and report to him regularly.
Molotov and the Pearl
Stalin's companion and friend Molotov began to arouse ever greater suspicion. Abakumov regularly reminded Stalin that since 1939, Molotov's wife, Polina Zhemchuzhina, allegedly had suspicious connections with anti-Soviet elements. She soon gave rise to her arrest, openly establishing friendly relations with Israeli Ambassador Golda Meir.
After several recorded meetings with the Israeli ambassador, who tried to conduct provocative work among the Jewish Soviet intelligentsia, Polina Zhemchuzhina was arrested on Stalin's orders in February 1949, and Golda Meir was expelled from the country. Stalin personally followed the course of the investigation into the case of Molotov's wife.
Stalin's hatred of Zhemchuzhina was associated with the death of Stalin's wife Nadezhda Alliluyeva, who suffers from a severe form of schizophrenia. He believed that Pearl was guilty of his wife's suicide, that it was her provocative "stories" about Stalin during a long last walk in the Kremlin with Nadezhda Alliluyeva on the eve of her suicide that pushed her to this tragic act.
However, no specific incriminating materials about her treacherous activities were received. Abakumov, through "active interrogations" of those arrested from Zhemchuzhina's inner circle, obtained evidence that Zhemchuzhina allegedly had nationalistic conversations with them. Dzhuga reported to Stalin that there were no incriminating materials against Zhemchuzhina, and she did not give any evidence confessing her guilt.
The high-profile open trial prepared by Abakumov in the case of "bourgeois nationalists" led by Polina Zhemchuzhina did not take place. The arrested "nationalists", led by Zhemchuzhina, were convicted by a special meeting of the Ministry of State Security, and they received prison terms.
The Leningrad case
In July 1949, Stalin's intelligence received a message from London that the second secretary of the Leningrad City Party Committee Kapustin, who was in England on a business trip, had allegedly been recruited by British intelligence. Kapustin was a close friend of the Secretary of the Central Committee Kuznetsov and the first secretary of the Leningrad Regional Committee and the City Party Committee Popkov.
Soon Kapustin was arrested on charges of espionage in favor of England, and during "active interrogation" not only admitted the fact of his recruitment, but also testified about the existence in Leningrad of an anti-Soviet group led by a member of the Politburo, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers Voznesensky, Secretary of the Central Committee Kuznetsov, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR Rodionov and First Secretary of the Leningrad Regional Committee and the City Party Committee Popkov.
At this time, rumors circulated among the party activists that Stalin supposedly intended to appoint Kuznetsov as General Secretary of the Central Committee as his successors, and Voznesensky as Chairman of the Council of Ministers.
All of them had long been listening to the Jugha team, and he provided Stalin with recordings of the conversations of their drunken company. In this recording, Popkov said that Comrade Stalin was not feeling well and, it seemed, would soon retire, and it was necessary to think about who would replace him. Kapustin said that Voznesensky could become the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, and Popkov appointed Kuznetsov to the general secretary and offered a toast to the future leaders of the state. Stalin asked how Voznesensky and Kuznetsov behaved - they remained silent, but drank to the proposed toast.
Then Popkov suggested creating a Communist Party of the RSFSR, Kuznetsov supported this and added: "... and declare Leningrad the capital of the RSFSR." Having listened to this, Stalin thoughtfully said that they, most likely, wanted to pull the core out from under the union government. Dzhuga considered that all this was just drunken chatter, but Stalin reasonably noted that all the conspiracies in stories began with innocent drunken chatter.
For Stalin, suffering from suspicion, such a deal with his associates meant a lot, and they were all arrested. The proceedings lasted more than a year, and in September 1950 they all fully admitted their guilt in court and were sentenced to death by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court. After a stroke, Stalin could no longer understand in detail the "Leningrad case". In the presence of Abakumov, he personally interrogated Voznesensky and Kuznetsov, and they confirmed their guilt. After that, the Leningrad party organization was defeated, and Stalin lost a group of his loyal comrades-in-arms, who did not prepare a conspiracy, but thoughtlessly expressed their opinions.
For a number of indirect signs, Stalin's personal intelligence acted very effectively, reaching the highest circles and behind-the-scenes forces inside the country and abroad. In this regard, Stalin thoroughly understood the mechanics of political events in the country and the world, and his actions were distinguished by exceptional efficiency.
Stalin's personal intelligence existed until his death, and then ... disappeared. Its employees went about their business: some became a writer, some a researcher, while, of course, not particularly dwelling on the turbulent past.