Zhuravlev, Viktor Ivanovich

(1902–1946)
   During the Yezhovshchina, Zhuravlev rose quickly to be head of provincial branches of the NKVD in major cities. Watching the rolling purge of the NKVD leadership, Zhuravlev wrote directly to Joseph Stalin warning of a conspiracy within the security service. Stalin rewarded Zhuravlev, making him NKVD chief for Moscow in December 1938, and selecting him to serve on the Communist Party Central Committee (CPCC). Zhuravlev’s fall was less spectacular than that of those he denounced. He was fired as Moscow’s security chief and relieved of his CPCC post in 1939, then assigned to command a forced labor camp. He spent the war in Siberia and was not promoted to general officer in 1945 like most of his contemporaries. In 1946 he was recalled to Moscow from Siberia—reportedly to face charges of corruption—and committed suicide on the way. Zhuravlev’s rise and fall indicates how closely Stalin and his lieutenant Lavrenty Beria supervised the security service. They respected and rewarded vigilance (denunciations), but they demanded competence. Zhuravlev, a drunk and a sadist, was not tolerated, and he sank almost as quickly as he rose.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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