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Iakov Khristoforovich Peters

State security officer

Iakov Peters, USSR State security officer.


Peters, Iakov was born in 1886 in Courland into a Latvian peasant family.


A Bolshevik from 1904. Party agitator in rural areas in Latvia, 1905-1907. From 1909, in exile in London, worker in the East End.

Active member of the London group of the Latvian Bolshevik Party. Joined the British Labour Party. Married an English woman.

Leader of the group involved in the Sydney Street siege in London’s East End, 1910. Arrested, but released due to identification problems. Returned to Russia after the February Revolution 1917.

Held senior positions in the Latvian Bolshevik Party. Head of the Cheka, July-August 1917. Deputy chairman of the Cheka, 1917-1919, and chairman of the Revolutionary Tribunal set up by Feliks Dzerzhinskii.

Senior member of the prosecution at the Bruce Lockhart and Sydney Reilly trials. Suppressed the left-SR revolt in Moscow in 1918. Virtual dictator of Petrograd, 1919.

Chief prosecutor at the secret Fanny Kaplan trial (the SR revolutionary terrorist who made an attempt on Lenin’s life in 1918). Commander of the Kiev and Petrograd military districts in 1919. During the 1920-1930s, an important member of the OGPU (secret police).

Chief of GPU Eastern Department, 1922-1928. Personally responsible for mass executions, hostage-taking, torture and confiscations during the aftermath of the Bolshevik take-over. Commander of the Kremlin guards, 1937.

Arrested and shot on Stalin’s orders. Posthumously rehabilitated and glorified as a model Chekist.