Rapava, Avksentiy Narikievich

(1899–1955)
   Like Joseph Stalin, Rapava received his education in a Russian Orthodox Church seminary. He joined first the Communist Party and then in 1925 the OGPU, becoming part of Lavrenty Beria’s team. His career took off when Beria went to Moscow to head the NKVD in 1938. Beria used Rapava to murder witnesses neither he nor Stalin wanted. He purged the Abkhazian area of Georgia in the late 1930s, arranging the death of Beria’s old enemies in the region. In 1939 he arranged the murder of a Soviet diplomat and his wife at Stalin and Beria’s command. Promoted in 1945 to lieutenant general, he served as NKVD and MVD boss in Georgia until 1948, when his fall began.
   In 1948 it was discovered that Rapava’s brother, an army colonel, had not perished in World War II but had been captured and was living in the West. Rapava was removed from state security and made Georgia’s minister of justice. Only his friendship with Beria saved him from execution. In 1951 he was arrested as Stalin purged Georgia of Beria supporters. In April 1953 he was released from prison and given a senior party post in Georgia. His life took another turn four months later, when he was arrested as one of Beria’s men. He was held in prison for two years, then was tried and shot in 1955. Rapava was one of a number of Georgians who rose and then fell with Beria. Rapava served as Beria’s eyes and ears in the Caucasus for 15 years. This made him vulnerable when Stalin turned against Beria in the early 1950s and again when Beria fell in the summer of 1953.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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