Virtual Conference/Webinar Series “Political Police and the Soviet System”

Virtual Conference/Webinar Series
“Political Police and the Soviet System: Insights from Newly Opened KGB Archives
in the Former Soviet States”

Jacques Rossi Memorial Fund for Gulag Research, Georgetown University
Georgetown Office for Global Engagement
Russian History Seminar of Washington, DC
International Centre for the History and Sociology of WWII, Higher School of Economics
Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, Woodrow Wilson Center

With assistance from Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES)

This series of webinars is intended to be a virtual conference that will assemble cutting-edge historical scholarship on newly opened secret police archives that has the potential to illuminate a major piece of twentieth-century history and its legacies. The webinars aim to bring together international scholars at all career stages, including researchers from North America, Europe, and Eurasia, to discuss the significance of research on the Soviet secret police, the penal system, forced labor, and intelligence history. These archives, including the SBU (former KGB) archive in Kyiv and repositories in the Baltics, Georgia, Moldova, and other former Soviet republics, represent some of the most important archival material on modern intelligence history opened to researchers in recent years. 

As new sources become accessible, new problems of analysis emerge. The goal of this webinar series is to explore those problems and ask how new scholarship incorporating these new materials changes our understandings of the Soviet system.

Webinar I: Culture, Non-Conformism, Normativity
Apr 15, 2020 9:00 AM EDT
Comment: Michael David-Fox (Washington, DC)

  • Angelina Lucento (Moscow, Russia), “The NKVD and the Political Origins of Socialist Realism: The Persecution of the Boichukisty in Ukraine as Case Study”

  • Aigi Rahi-Tamm (Tartu, Estonia), “Fueling and Prolonguing Conflicts: The Example of the Talinn State Conservatory”

  • Tomas Sniegon (Lund, Sweden), “Researching the Roots of Soviet Dissent in the Era of KGB Chairman Vladimir Semichastnyi”


Webinar II: Entering and Exiting the Gulag
Apr 16, 2020 9:00 AM EDT
Comment: Cynthia Hooper (Worcester, Massachusetts)

  • Timothy K. Blauvelt (Tbilisi, Georgia) and Davit Jishkariani (Tbilisi, Georgia), “Contextualizing the Stalinist Perpetrators: The Case of Georgian NKVD Investigators Khazan, Savitsky and Krimyan”

  • Mikhail Nakonechnyi (Oxford, UK), “‘Dead Souls’: Mortality, Disability, and Early Release on Medical Grounds from GULAG, 1930-1955”

  • Sherzod Muminov (East Anglia, UK), “Transnational Gulag: Jacques Rossi, Uchimura Gōsuke, and Researching the ‘Gulagians of the World’ through Memoir and Archive, 1937-1956”


Webinar III: Identifying Enemies: Surveillance, Classification, and Information 
Apr 17, 2020 9:30 AM EDT
Comment: David Brandenberger (Richmond, USA)

  • Cristina Vatulescu (New York), “The Mug Shot and the Close-Up: Visual Identification in Secret Police Film and Photography”

  • Tatiana Vagramenko (Cork, Ireland), “Soviet Secret Police Photography and Cinema: Religion under Surveillance in Soviet Ukraine”]

  • Joshua Sanborn (Lafayette, USA), “Cybernetics and Surveillance: The Secret Police Enter the Computer Age”

  • Edward Cohn (Grinnell, USA), “Recidivism, Prophylaxis, and the KGB”


Webinar IV: The Secret Police as an Institution: Internal History and Practices 
Apr 17, 2020 2:00 PM EDT
Comment: Lynne Viola (Toronto, Canada)

  • Marc Junge (Erlangen, Germany), “Below the Radar of Legal Code: The Birth of a Specific Soviet Extra-Judicial State Body and the Great Terror”

  • Igor Caşu (Chisinau, Moldova), “The Interplay between Party-State Institutions and Political-Civil Police during Late Stalinism in Soviet Moldavia, 1944-1953”

  • Phil Kiffer (Georgetown, USA), “Delegated Repression: The MGB’s Mass Informant Network and its Collapse”


Webinar V: Operations Abroad and Foreign Intelligence 
Apr 20, 2020 11:30 AM EDT at:
Comment: Greg Afinogenov (Georgetown)

  • Molly Pucci (Dublin, Ireland), “The Soviets Abroad: Intelligence, State-Building, and the Security Forces in East Europe, 1948-1953”

  • Corina Snitar (Glasgow, UK), “Soviet Intelligence and the Romanian Securitate: Methods of Surveillance and Interrogations, Preparation of Show-Trials, and ‘Re-Education’ in Prisons and Labour Camps”

  • Erik R. Scott (Kansas, USA), “The Black Sea Coast as a Landscape of Cold War Intelligence”

  • Doug Selvage (Berlin, Germany), “KGB Active Measures and the Suppression of Soviet Helsinki Groups, 1976-82”