Declassified Documents of the GPU-OGPU of the 1920s as a Historical Source

Print PDF

Scientific article

УДК 94(47)+930.23+930.253

DOI 10.28995/2073-0101-2021-2-405-417

Olga N. Senyutkina

Nizhny Novgorod State Linguistics University, Nizhny Novgorod, Russian Federation

Vasily S. Khristoforov

Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russian Federation

Declassified Documents of the GPU-OGPU of the 1920s as a Historical Source


The article analyzes a documents complex of the GPU-OGPU deposited in the Central Archive of the Federal Security Service of Russia (TsA FSB Rossii) that have been recently declassified. Selected materials from the Eastern Department of the GPU-OGPU relate to the early Soviet period of the 1920s and the events that took place in Siberia and the Far East. The goals and objectives of the study include, first of all, assessment of the significance of the source material chosen by the authors for enriching our knowledge of the historical phenomena and processes that took place in the emerging Soviet state. In addition, the authors identify the mechanisms of creating “Surveys of the situation on the eastern outskirts of the USSR and in the neighboring countries,” which characterize the cause-and-effect relationships in the development of events in Siberia and the Far East. The materials of the sources demonstrate the level of knowledge about the ethno-confessional specifics of the aborigines and about the replenishment of the population in the region with new ethnic groups as a result of the change of government and the Civil War. The novelty of the research lies in identifying criteria for assessing the population groups of the region, primarily from the point of view of their possible actions against the Soviet regime. Integrated approach to assessing the source material of special services allows a comprehensive approach to their activities and rejects the stereotype persisting since the 1990s that everything done by the GPU-OGPU was aimed at terror against local residents. Since the article also deals with the factor of external influence (USA, Japan, France) on the mood of the aborigines, it can be argued that information about anti-Soviet efforts of other states, as analyzed by intelligence analysts, justifies in the eyes of modern reader the GPU-OGPU activities in order to stabilize the situation in Soviet Russia and the USSR beyond the Urals. The authors come to the conclusion that materials of the Eastern Department of the GPU-OGPU are a valuable source of information on the role of the Russian special services in ensuring stability in the Far East and Siberia in the first half of the 1920s. The point is that this information not only complements the available information on what was happening in the region, but also confirms the importance of collecting and analyzing data for making more effective decisions by the Soviet political elite.


Historical sources, GPU-OGPU, Eastern department, revolution and counter-revolution, Siberia, Far East, Bolsheviks, intelligence and counterintelligence

Download the article: senyutkina_khristoforov_doi


GUSEVA, Yu. N. Pervye tsirkulyary Vostochnogo otdela OGPU 1922–1923 gg.: sovetskaya kontrrazvedka i “vostochnyi” vektor rossiiskoi politiki [The first circulars of East department of the OGPU of 1922–23: Soviet counterintelligence and “East” vector of the Russian policy. In Russ.]. IN: Otechestvennye arckhivy, 2018, no. 4, pp. 56-61.

Istoriya Buryatii [History of Buryatia. In Russ.]. In 3 vols. Vol. 3: The 20th-21st century. Ulan-Ude, Izd-vo BNTs SO RAN publ., 2011, 464 p.

About the authors

Senyutkina Olga Nikolaevna, PhD in History, associate professor, N. A. Dobrolyubov Nizhny Novgorod State Linguistic University, department of history and foreign regional studies, professor, Nizhny Novgorod, +7-831-436-15-75, Russian Federation, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Khristoforov Vasily Stepanovich, PhD in Law, professor, Russian State University for the Humanities, History and Archival Institute, faculty of international relations and foreign regional studies, department of international security, head of the department, +7-495-250-61-18, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Submitted 24.12.2020, published (for citation):

SENYUTKINA, O. N., KHRISTOFOROV, V. S. Rassekrechennye dokumenty GPU-OGPU 1920-kh gg. kak istoricheskii istochnik [Declassified Documents of the GPU-OGPU of the 1920s as a Historical Source. In Russ.]. IN: Vestnik arhivista / Herald of an Archivist, 2021, no. 2, pp. 405-417. doi 10.28995/2073-0101-2021-2-405-417

You can read completely article in the russian historic-archival magazine “The Herald of an Archivist”. Read more about terms of subscription here.

Полностью материал публикуется в российском историко-архивоведческом журнале ВЕСТНИК АРХИВИСТА. Ознакомьтесь с условиями подписки здесь.