How Did Spy Services Develop in Russia?
Espionage in Russia, with its long history of political turmoil, developed to become one of the most effective espionage services by the 20th century when the Soviet Union emerged. The road to that development, however, was long and full of intrigue and sometime bloody conflict. Espionage, within and outside of Russia, also created fear in Russia's adversaries and population alike.
Early Espionage in Russia
Sometimes Ivan IV Vasilyevich (sometimes better known as Ivan the Terrible or Ivan the Formidable) may have established one of the first espionage services in Russia in the 16th century. Ivan was one of the first monarchs to create a very centralized Russian state. Before his time, Russian nobles often held great power and influence and would often oppose the actions of the tsar. He created an organization called the Oprichnik, who were a group of operatives loyal to the tsar and effectively became Russia first state police and spy service. They are historically known to have mostly repressed the population to maintain control of the state as Ivan began to accrue greater power and centralize the state towards himself. The group was known to be ascetic and Ivan had peculiar demands that they, outwardly at least, appear link monks in austerity but in reality were given to excesses. While the mostly acted like a state police organization, they also conducted espionage on the population to inform Ivan on possible uprisings or rebellions against his actions.