One Russian’s Search For His Great-Grandfather’s Soviet Police Killers

Denis Karagodin had something important to say when he walked into the regional branch of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) — the main successor agency to the Soviet KGB — in the Siberian city of Tomsk.

“There’s been a murder,” Karagodin, now a 33-year-old designer, told the major manning the front desk.

The officer was perplexed at first: “Excuse me?” Karagodin recalls his interlocutor saying.

To explain himself, the visitor produced a copy of a certificate. The officially stamped document, dated 1955, confirmed the Soviet authorities had rehabilitated his great-grandfather, Stepan Ivanovich Karagodin, who was executed in 1938 after being deemed a Japanese spy amid dictator Josef Stalin’s Great Terror.