Latsis, Martyn Ianovich

(1888–1938)
   Born Ian Fredrikovich Sudrabis in Russian Latvia, Latsis was arrested for revolutionary activity in 1916 and exiled to Siberia. He escaped and traveled to St. Petersburg and took part in the Revolution of November 1917. He joined the Cheka in early 1918. Latsis then became one of Feliks Dzerzhinsky’s key deputies, institutionalizing terror first in Siberia and then in the Ukraine. He had a reputation for cruelty and the killing of hostages. Latsis later told a journalist that class terror was dedicated to the eradication of the bourgeoisie as a class, and it was unrestrained by any rules of conduct. In a Cheka publication, he wrote: “During investigations do not look for evidence that the accused acted in word or deed against Soviet power. The first question you ought to ask is to what class does he belong.” Following the civil war, Latsis left the Cheka for positions in industry and academics. In 1932 he was made head of the Plekhanov Economic Institute, and he wrote a number of books on the role of the Cheka in the civil war. He was arrested in 1937 and shot the following year. Despite his record in the civil war, he was posthumously rehabilitated.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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