Armenians and the Okhrana
Documents from the Russian Department of Police Archives 1907-1915

Paperback
(ISBN: 978-1-365-157915)
$20.00
2016 Los Angeles
282 pages
Size: 6" x 9"
Language(s): English

Created in the last quarter of the nineteenth century in response to the threat posed by the burgeoning revolutionary movement against the Romanov dynasty, Imperial Russia’s security services were long denounced by its opponents and castigated in Soviet historical accounts. Popularly referred to as the Okhrana, the Russian security services were perceived as the nefarious predecessors of the Cheka and the KGB and as early precursors to the security apparatuses of the totalitarian regimes that were to appear throughout the twentieth century.  

Scholarship in recent years has overturned such views and revealed that the scope of the activities of the Russian secret police, which had been established on the basis of European models, was quite limited at the outset and its behavior strictly governed by the law and regulations. Its evolution came about only as the regime was forced to confront the threats posed by the empire-wide revolutionary movement.

            Though much has been written about the origins and functions of the Okhrana, how exactly did the Russian security services operate? Who belonged to the organization and who were their quarries? With the publication of this volume, attorney Vartkes Yeghiayan provides readers with a glimpse of the apparatus at work.

            Comprised of more than fifty documents from the Russian archives, the collection he has assembled here finds the imperial security organs in their prime and caught in a struggle that pitted them against the empire’s ethnic Armenian subjects, who, though having lived peacefully under Russian rule for a century, found themselves at odds with its domestic policies and a time when their beleaguered compatriots in the neighboring Ottoman Empire faced increasing persecution by government authorities. It was a battle that was waged against Armenian revolutionaries, sometimes clandestinely, sometimes overtly, across two continents, where loyalty was considered a fluid notion, something that was just as easily bought as it was maintained. The documents reveal not only the work of the Russian law enforcement and legal bodies, but also the tactics employed by their adversaries. It provides a vivid palette on law, politics, revolution and the dynamic environment Russia, Europe, the Middle East and the Armenians occupied in the years leading up to World War I.

            An introduction and notes by Armen Manuk-Khaloyan helps provide context to key terms, events, institutions, individuals, and places, making it an ideal companion for scholars and for lay readers who are interested in learning more about this fascinating period.  

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