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The All-Russian Extraordinary Commission on the Struggle Against Counter-Revolution, Sabotage, and Speculation (VCHk, or Cheka) was founded by the Bolsheviks in December 1917. Headed by Felix Dzerzhinsky, it was responsible for liquidating counterrevolutionary elements and remanding saboteurs and counter-revolutionaries to be tried by the revolutionary-military tribunal. In February 1918 it was authorized to shoot active enemies of the revolution rather than turn them over to the tribunal.

In March 1918 the Cheka established its headquarters in the buildings at 11 and 13 Great Lubyanka Street in Moscow. Between the 1930s and the beginning of the 1980s, a complex of buildings belonging to the security establishment grew up along Great Lubyanka Street. The building at No. 20 was constructed in 1982 as the headquarters of the KGB (Committee of State Security), now the FSB (Federal Security Bureau), for Moscow and the Moscow area.

The famous Lubyanka Internal Prison was situated in the courtyard of what is now the main building of the FSB on Lubyanka Street. Closed in the 1960s, it is at present the site of a dining room, offices, and a warehouse. All its prisoners were transferred to Lefortovo. In the time of mass reprisals, prisoners were regularly shot in the courtyard of the Lubyanka Prison. Automobile engines were run to drown out the noise. Suspects were brutally interrogated in the prison's basement.

In addition to the FSB headquarters, the buildings on Lubyanka Street also include a museum of the history of the state security agencies. The office of Lavrenty Beria, long-time chief of the Soviet security apparatus, has been kept unchanged and is open to visitors.

See also: beria, lavrenti pavlovich; dzerzhinsky, felix edmundovich; gulag; lefortovo; ministry of the interior; prisons; state security, organs of


Burch, James. (1983). Lubyanka: A Novel. New York: Atheneum.

Georg Wurzer

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Lubyanka a building in Moscow used as a prison and as the headquarters of the KGB and other Russian secret police organizations since the Russian Revolution.