Proskurov, Ivan Iosifovich

   Proskurov was an aviator and intelligence officer. He served in the Spanish Civil War in 1936–1938 as a bomber pilot with the Republican forces and was decorated for attacks on German and Italian formations. On his return to Moscow in 1938 he was promoted to general, and the following year he was made chief of the GRU. Proskurov inherited a demoralized service; hundreds of staff officers had been executed, and its elite corps of illegals had been decimated. Proskurov is recognized in official GRU histories for rebuilding his shattered service. Proskurov provided Joseph Stalin with accurate briefings on German military strategy and intentions toward Poland and the Balkans in 1939–1940, based on reporting from agents within the Nazi foreign service. But Proskurov quickly lost Stalin’s favor. Stalin blamed Proskurov for the failure of the Red Army in the Russo–Finnish “Winter War” of 1939–1940 and had him reassigned to a provincial command. In the first days of World War II, Proskurov and several other commanders—many of them veterans of the Spanish Civil War—were arrested. He was shot in October 1941 without a trial, as were more than 150 other “inconvenient witnesses” of Stalin’s gross military incompetence. His wife and two daughters were exiled to Central Asia. He was posthumously rehabilitated in 1954, and his accomplishments in rebuilding the military intelligence service have been recognized.
   See also Barbarossa.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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