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Martin Ivanovich Latsis (Russian: Мартын Иванович Лацис Latvian: Mārtiņš Lācis, born Jānis Sudrabs) (December 14, 1888 – February 11, 1938) was a Soviet politician, a member of the Bolshevik Party since 1905 ("Old Bolshevik")[1], an active participant of the Russian Revolutions of 1905–1907 and 1917, member of the Military Revolutionary Committee, a member of the Collegium of the All-Russia Cheka (1918–1921) and Chairman of the Cheka in Ukraine (1919), a member of VTsIK. Between 1932 and 1937 he was a director at the Plekhanov Russian Academy of Economics.

Latsis was the author of Dva Goda Borby na Vnutrennom Fronte in which advocated unrestrained violence against class enemies. He boasted of the harsh repressive policies used by the Cheka.[2] In 1918, while a deputy chief of the Cheka in Ukraine, he established the principle that sentences were not to be determined by guilt or innocence—but by social class. He is quoted as explaining the Red Terror as follows:

We are engaged in exterminating the bourgeoisie as a class. You need not prove that this or that man acted against the interests of the Soviet power. The first thing you have to ask an arrested person is: To what class does he belong, where does he come from, what kind of education did he have, what is his occupation? These questions are to decide the fate of the accused. That is the quintessence of the Red Terror.[3]

He became a victim of the repressive regime that he had helped to set up—in 1937 during the Great Purge, he was arrested, accused of belonging to a "counter-revolutionary nationalist organization", and shot in 1938.

In 1956 the Soviet Government politically "rehabilitated" him.[2]


  1. ^ Jonathan R. Adelman (Editor). Terror and Communist Politics: The Role of the Secret Police in Communist States. Westview Press, 1984. ISBN 9780865312937; page 81.
  2. ^ a b "Latsis Martin Ivanovich", a biography at (Russian)
  3. ^ Dariusz Tolczyk.See no evil: literary cover-ups and discoveries of the Soviet camp experience. Yale University Press, 1999, p. 19. ISBN 978-0300066081


  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Harper & Row, 660 pp., ISBN 0-06-080332-0.
  • Gordievsky, Oleg; Andrew, Christopher, KGB: The Inside Story (1990), Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-48561-2.

See also



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