Lavrenty Pavlovich Beria (or Lavrentiy Beria) (29 March 1899– 23 December 1953) was the leader of the secret police of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin's regime. In 1953, Nikita Krushchev ordered Beria to be executed as a traitor.
Beria was a Soviet politician, Marshal of the Soviet Union and state security administrator, chief of the Soviet security and secret police apparatus (NKVD) under Joseph Stalin during World War II, and First Deputy Premier in the postwar years (1946–53).
He administered vast sections of the Soviet state. He served as de facto Marshal of the Soviet Union in command of the NKVD field units responsible for anti-partisan operations on the Eastern Front during World War II. His troops also were a barrier against thousands of "turncoats, deserters, cowards and suspected malingerers". Beria administered the vast expansion of the Gulag labor camps. He was responsible for overseeing the secret defense institutions known as sharashkas, critical to the war effort.
Beria also played the decisive role in coordinating the Soviet partisans, who developed an impressive intelligence and sabotage network behind German lines. He attended the Yalta Conference with Stalin, who introduced him to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as "our Himmler". After the war, he organized the communist takeover of the countries of Central Europe and Eastern Europe.
Beria's uncompromising ruthlessness in his duties and skill at producing results led to his overseeing the Soviet atomic bomb project. Stalin gave it absolute priority and the project was completed in under five years. To achieve this, Beria's NKVD organised Soviet espionage against the West.
Beria was promoted to First Deputy Premier, where he carried out a brief campaign of liberalization. He was briefly a part of the ruling "troika" with Georgy Malenkov and Vyacheslav Molotov. Beria's overconfidence in his position after Stalin's death led him to misjudge other Politburo members. During the coup d'état led by Nikita Khrushchev and assisted by the military forces of Marshal Georgy Zhukov, Beria was arrested on charges of treason during a meeting in which the full Politburo condemned him. The compliance of the NKVD was ensured by Zhukov's troops and, after interrogation, Beria was taken to the basement of the Lubyanka and shot.