Bora in Tiflis. Member of the Petersburg Bolshevik Party Committee in 1904. Took part in the 1905 Revolution in Petersburg. Arrested several times for revolutionary activity.
Member of the Military Revolutionary Committee in Petrograd, April 1917. From 1918 one of the chiefs of the Cheka in Petrograd and at different fronts during the Civil War. From 1921 member of the Vecheka (All Union Cheka), later member of the Collegium of the GPU and NKVD. One of the most active organizers of the Gulag system.
Arrested in 1937 and shot.