The Russian Police in War and Revolution
The Russian police before 1917 resembled those in continental Western Europe. The regular police bore multitudinous administrative responsibilities, though the specialized detective police focused on fighting crime. The political police, while more authoritative, were relatively small and focused on combating revolutionary activists. After 1917, the regular police grew larger but continued the same evolution toward specialization in crime-fighting. The political police, by contrast, expanded colossally in size and scope, gained the power of life and death, and grew dramatically more invasive, as a key tool for effecting the Bolsheviks’ project of making all of society and the entire government apparatus open to state scrutiny.