Espionage in Russia, with its long history of political turmoil, developed to become one of the most effective espionage services by the 20th century when the Soviet Union emerged. The road to that development, however, was long and full of intrigue and sometime bloody conflict. Espionage, within and outside of Russia, also created fear in Russia’s adversaries and population alike.
Ivan IV Vasilyevich (sometimes better known as Ivan the Terrible or Ivan the Formidable) established one of the first espionage services in Russia in the 16th century. Ivan was one of the first monarchs to create a very centralized Russian state. Before his time, Russian nobles often held great power and influence and would often oppose the actions of the tsar. He created an organization called the Oprichnik, who were a group of operatives loyal to the tsar and effectively became Russia’s first state police and spy service.
Categories: Russian History