Before World War I, active in revolutionary circles in many provincial towns. During World War I, conscripted, revolutionary activist in the army, and organizer of Bolshevik committees among the soldiers. Took part in the Bolshevik take-over in October 1917 in Petrograd.
One of the founders and organizers of the Cheka, and chairman of the special revolutionary tribunal, 1917-1921. Took part in the suppression of the Kronstadt revolt of sailors against the Soviet government, 1921. Later worked in the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party, 1922-1925.
Deputy Minister of Social Security.