Lavrentiy Beria, Soviet security chief

Lavrentiy Beria, Soviet security chief

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Caption: Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria (1899-1953), Soviet security chief. In the 1920s, Beria worked in the Bolshevik and Georgian secret police, organising the ruthless suppression of nationalist uprisings. From 1926, he rose to power as an ally of Joseph Stalin. By 1938, Stalin had appointed him deputy of the NKVD (People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs) at the height of the Great Purge, when hundreds of thousands were being imprisoned and killed. Beria was NKVD chief during World War II, and helped organise wartime production using NKVD labour camps. He claimed to have used rat poison to kill Stalin in May 1953, but was himself arrested and executed in June 1953 by his political rivals.

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