Trilisser, Mikhail Abramovich

(1883–1938)
   Born into a Jewish family in Astrakhan, Trilisser joined the Bolshevik Party in 1901 and led the life of a professional revolutionary for the next 17 years. He took part in the Revolution of 1905 and served six years in tsarist jails and Siberian exile. After the civil war, he transferred to the security service, becoming head of Foreign Intelligence in 1926. His initial responsibility was to target émigré groups and disrupt their operations against the infant Bolshevik state, as was done successfully through the Trust operation. Trilisser’s agents were also successful in penetrating exile groups and their foreign sponsors in France, Germany, Poland, and Great Britain. Trilisser traveled to Germany to meet with his intelligence officers and important agents. In 1935 Trilisser transferred to the Comintern and headed its secret apparatus under the name “Moskvin.” He was tasked to serve as a link between Comintern apparatus and the security and intelligence services. In 1937 he was directed to weed traitors and Trotskyites out of the organization. As Moskvin, he ruthlessly purged the Comintern of suspected foreign spies and Trotsyites, but he never met Joseph Stalin’s expectations of vigilance. He was arrested and executed in 1938. He was rehabilitated posthumously during the Nikita Khrushchev years.
   Trilisser was one of the creators of Soviet foreign intelligence. Given his long years in the Bolshevik underground, he understood the value of illegal agents. During his years as head of foreign intelligence, the service nurtured a corps of officers—for the most part non-Russians—who recruited important sources in Europe and North America. Soviet penetration of foreign governments owes much to Trilisser’s management of the foreign intelligence component.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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  • Mikhail Trilisser — Mikhail Abramovich Trilisser Moskvin (Russian: Мейер Абрамович Трилиссер; Jewish born Meier Abramovich Trilisser; 1 April 1883, Astrakhan 1940) was a Soviet OGPU chief of the Foreign Department of the Cheka and the OGPU. Later, he worked for the… …   Wikipedia

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