"the seal of the Bolsheviks' dreaded Cheka"
Cheka was the first of many Soviet state security organisations. It was created in 1917, under Lenin, and formed an important military and security arm of the Bolshevik communist government. The Cheka was led by Felix Dzerzhinsky, who was born into a noble family, but became a Marxist revolutionary in his late teens. In 1921 the Troops for the Internal Defense of the Republic, a branch of the Cheka, numbered 200,000. They were responsible for policing labour camps, running the Gulag system, requisitioning food, torturing and executing political opponents and quelling peasant and worker rebellions. Members of the Cheka, the Chekists, commonly dressed in long leather coats, a fashion subsequently adopted by communists in other parts of the world.