Letter from Manuilsky to Ezhov regarding measures against "spies and saboteurs disguised as political emigres.


Top secret

Sent to c. Ezhov.

3. 1. 36


Dear Nikolai Ivanovich!


I ask you to receive me in the coming days on the question of measures to take against the penetration of the territory of the USSR by spies and saboteurs, disguised as political émigrés and members of the fraternal parties. Before the meeting, I would like to identify the range of questions to be discussed with you:


I. On the closing of the so-called "green" frontiers.

To close the so-called "green" passages[i] across the border not only for the Poles, but also for the Finns, Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians as [they are] parties prone to provocation (the Romanian party has no "green passage"). The "green passage" should only be used in exceptional cases, [and] each time with the special permission of the CC  VKP(b).


II. Limiting the influx of political immigration to the USSR.

To limit the influx of political emigres to the USSR, give to the fraternal parties a political explanation of [the need for] it as a measure necessary to fight mass desertion from the battlefield of class struggle, and [to reduce] the danger of the exposure of party cadres. To that end, it is necessary:

a) to admit to the USSR only those individuals who would be personally known by the CC of the corresponding party and the Comintern, and who would have special permission and a recommendation from the CC of their party to leave for the USSR, and only in case there is a threat of harsh repression to them in their country and of persecution in other capitalist countries. It is also necessary to envisage the possibility of admitting [to the USSR] sick comrades in need of special treatment, who are sent to the USSR by petition of the CC of the corresponding com[munist] party and with consent of the VKP(b) CC, so that after the treatment is over, that comrade would immediately return to [his] country;

b) in connection with limiting the influx of émigrés to the USSR, to envisage the possibility of granting MOPR an extra hard currency subsidy to render support to the émigré community abroad;

c) to forbid the international organizations to keep or assist foreign tourists in staying on the territory of the USSR after their stay in the USSR is over;

d) to oblige the Comintern and other international organizations not to keep in the USSR students eliminated from the competition or graduating from the international schools;

e) to oblige the Comintern and other international organizations to stop the practice of keeping individuals suspected of provocation or spying on the territory of the USSR (except in those cases when there is an appropriate instruction from NKVD organs);

f) to abolish the MOPR Legitimization Commission and transfer its functions of granting admissions to and legalizing stays in the USSR to the special USSR C[entral] E[xecutive] C[ommittee] commission;

g) to deprive the MOPR representatives abroad of the right to give [people] recommendations to enter the USSR, reserving this right to the CC of the respective parties only;

h) to let stay on the territory of the USSR only those defectors, crossing the border on their own, who would pass the most careful verification by NKVD organs, and receive permission and recommendation from the CC of the respective party;


III. Registration and verification of political emigration.

Undertake measures to register and verify all political émigrés settled on the territory of the USSR. To that end:

a) for political émigrés who are VKP(b) members, establish a special verification [proverka] of them during the exchange of party documents;

b) create special commissions for the verification of political émigrés in every city and town where there are political émigrés;

c) establish a system of special registration for political émigrés, concentrating on the registration of the political émigrés who are VKP(b) members in [their] party organizations, and the [registration of the] rest of the political émigrés in the MOPR organs;

d) oblige the Comintern to take measures to send from the USSR those political émigrés, not threatened by harsh repression, to [their] respective countries;

e) take measures to deport from the USSR those political émigrés who, while not being sick, systematically avoid working and live parasitically at MOPR’s expense.


IV. Organization of political and cultural work among political émigrés:

a) entrust political work among political émigrés to local party organizations, taking this task away from trade union and MOPR organizations;

b) oblige the Comintern to plan a series of political activities aimed at the preservation  and Bolshevik education of the émigré cadres from the  illegal fraternal com[munist] parties in the USSR;

c) turn KUNZ[ii] (Communist University of the Peoples of the West) into an international school for the preparation and education of the fraternal com[munist] parties' reserve cadres.


V. Replacement of the current MOPR leadership.

Replace the current MOPR leadership for not coping with  its tasks and, following the Comintern’s example, create a secretariat composed of  a number of foreign comrades, with a sufficiently strong and authoritative VKP(b) representation, to be entrusted, together with the NKVD organs and the ECCI Personnel Department, with  the task of the careful verification of all political emigration [sic] already in the USSR, as well as [those] arriving in the USSR.

In addition, I would like to discuss with you the question of measures of verifying the Polish com[munist] party, which, as you know, in recent years has become the major supplier of spying and provocateur elements to the USSR.


I await your answer.[iii]



RGASPI, f. 495, op. 18, d. 1147a, ll. 1-3.

Original in Russian. Typewritten with handwritten additions.




[i] The ”so-called ‘green’ passages” refer to networks maintained by the VKP and Soviet security organs that allowed for safe, undetected passage across international borders.

[ii] KUNZ is incorrect.  Manuilsky is referring here to the KUNMZ -- Kommunistichesky Universitet Natsionalnykh Menshinstv Zapada (Communist University of the National Minorities of the West).  KUNMZ was created by a 28 November 1921 decree of the Council of People’s Commissars and charged with training party cadres from the western regions of Russia and the Volga Germans. In 1929-1930, it began to admit representatives of the communist parties of the Central European, Scandinavian and Balkan countries, as well as Italy. KUNMZ was dissolved following the decision of the ECCI’s Secretariat of 7-8 May 1936.

[iii] Less than two weeks later, Ezhov’s assistant acknowledged Manuilsky's letter and asked him "to order the Cadres Department and the archive [of the ECCI] to send to SEP CC all materials characterizing the party membership [history] of former members of the fraternal com[munist] parties transferred as members and candidates of the VKP(b)." See Vasiliev to Manuilsky, dated 15 January 1936.  F. 495, op. 18, d. 1147a, l. 41.  Vasiliev was the head of the S.E.P. in the ORPO.  The letter was designated "secret."  Handwritten comments on the letter indicate that Manuilsky ordered those offices to comply with Ezhov's request.