Nikolai Anisimovich Shchelokov (Николай Щёлоков; 26 November 1910 – 13 December 1984) was a Soviet statesman and Army General, who also served as interior minister for sixteen years from 17 September 1966 to 17 December 1982. He was fired from all posts on corruption charges and committed suicide on 13 December 1984.
Early life and education
Shchelokov was born in Almazna, a large cossack village near Luhansk in Donbas region of Russian Empire, on 26 November 1910.
His father was a mine worker. He also began to work in mines when he was fifteen years old. He attended Dzerzhinsky Metallurgical Institute and received a bachelor's degree in metallurgical engineering in 1933.
Soviet Communist Party
Shchelokov joined the Soviet Communist Party in 1931. In 1938, he was appointed first secretary of Krasnogvardeisk city Communist party committee in the Dnepropetrovsk region of Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic. From 1939 to 1941 he was the chairman of the Dnepropetrovsk City Soviet under Leonid Brezhnev, who was then first secretary of Dnepropetrovsk province. Since that time Brezhnev and Schchelokov forged very strong ties and continued supporting each other in their political careers until Brezhnev's death.
World War II
At the start of World War II, Shchelokov was promoted to the rank of comissar in the Red Army while remaining the chairman of the City Soviet of Dnepropetrovsk. He served as a political comissar in the Soviet army from 1941 to 1946.
After the war, Shchelokov resumed to work as a Soviet Communist politician in Ukraine S.S.R. from 1947 to 1951. He was part of the Dneproterovsk clan that refers to Soviet officials, who worked in Dneproterovsk together with Leonid Brezhnev in the Stalin era. Brezhnev was serving as the regional party secretary in the city. The clan also included Andrei Kirilenko and Vladimir Sherbitskii. Shchelokov became second secretary of the central committee of the Moldovian communist party in 1951 where Brezhnev was first secretary. In the same year Shchelokov was also named first deputy premier of Moldova. In addition, he was a member of the supreme Soviet at that time.
Chief of the Soviet Police 1966 - 1983
Shchelokov was appointed by Brezhnev minister of preservation of public order, which was called MOOP at that time, on 17 September 1966. On 25 November 1968, the office was renamed as interior ministry, which was also known as MVD, and Shchelokov was appointed interior minister. He was promoted to the rank of general on 12 September 1976 while serving as interior minister. He was also the Soviet Union's top police officer. One of Shchelokov's deputies at the ministry was Brezhnev's son-in-law Yuri Churbanov.
Nearly one month after the death of Brezhnev, Shchelokov was sacked by Yuri V. Andropov in June 1982, then General Secretary of the CPSU, who was his longtime rival. However, the official date for the end of his tenure is given as 17 December 1982. Shchelokov was succeeded by Vitaly Fedorchuk as interior minister. Shchelokov's dismissal was due to corruption claims against him.
After leaving office, Shchelokov began to work as the chief of a police unit at a gas pipeline construction site in Siberia. However, he was dismissed from the central committee of the communist party in June 1983. Then he was detained and tried on corruption charges as part of Andropov's anti-corruption campaign. Later reports argued that his wife and son had also involved in illegal acts of selling and buying real estate, diamonds, furs and foreign cars. It was further argued that Shchelokov spent huge amount of state money to buy luxury items for personal use. In November 1984, his military rank of army general was withdrawn by the state. His son was also removed from the Komsomol. In 1988, author Raul M. Mir-Haidarov argued that Shchelokov had been the godfather of the Uzbek mob.
Shchelokov committed suicide by gunshot to his head using his own hunting rifle from his collection of rarities at his suburban mansion in Moscow on 13 December 1984. His wife had committed suicide earlier, in March 1983. His funeral was held on 15 December 1984.
Honors and awards
Shchelokov was awarded the followings: the Order of Lenin (three times), the Order of the Red Banner (twice), the Order of Bogdan Khmelnitskii (Second Class), the Order of the Patriotic War (First Class), the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, the Order of the Red Star, and various medals.
All awards were confiscated during corruption investigation that began after the death of Brezhnev.