Nikolai Shchelokov – interior minister
On November 10, 1984 there was a sensational message on the pages of Soviet newspapers: the former Minister of Internal Affairs of the USSR, Nikolai Shchelokov, was deprived of the rank of army general. On the Day of the Soviet Militia (Police Day)! It was under Minister Shchelokov, who held his post for 16 years, from 1966 to 1982, the holiday became one of the main in the country. It was a painful blow for him. Then the others came: expulsion from the party and deprivation of government awards. On December 13, Nikolai Anisimovich put on the military uniform and shot himself.
In 1966, when Leonid Brezhnev instructed Shchelokov to revive the Interior Ministry, liquidated under Nikita Khrushchev, many were unhappy persons, especially professionals. But Brezhnev needed proven people in key positions.
Shchelokov, born in the Luhansk region, grew up in a small mining community, finished the seven-year school, then the mining college. And after a short-term service, he graduated from the Dnepropetrovsk Institute. He became a Party worker, rose to the post of the first secretary of the Dnepropetrovsk City Executive Committee. Nikolai was only 29 years old when he became the leader of a huge city. It was then he met Leonid Brezhnev and their relations grew into a real friendship during the war. They worked together in Ukraine and Leonid Ilyich made Shchelokov a minister – the thirteenth Soviet and the fiftieth from the date of foundation of the department.
In the mid-60s there were anti-militia riots. In such a difficult period Shchelokov headed the department. Shchelokov’s wife Svetlana, whom Nikolai Anisimovich met at the war, was against: “I want you to refuse. They will kill you, or you will kill yourself”. But Shchelokov made grandiose plans for the reorganization of the department. He started with appearance. The Minister of the Interior was personally engaged in the creation of the new uniform.
On November 10, 1982, Brezhnev died and Yuri Andropov became Secretary General. Misfortunes one by one fell on the minister’s family. A month after the death of Brezhnev, Nikolai Anisimovich was dismissed from his post.
Family members of the disgraced minister became personae non gratae. Svetlana Shchelokova could no longer tolerate quarrels, disgrace and humiliation. On February 19, 1983, she shot herself at the dacha. Rumors spread throughout Moscow. Several newspapers published a completely different version of the death of Nikolai Shchelokov’s wife. Raisa Starostina, a cleaner at home number 26 on Kutuzovsky Prospekt, where Shchelokov and Andropov lived, told her own story. According to the cleaner, on February 19, 1983 Svetlana Shchelokova was in Moscow. Allegedly, she was waiting for Nikolai in the elevator and shot him in the stomach, and then went up to her apartment and shot herself.
Nikolai Shchelokov was deprived of the rank of army general, all state awards, and the title of Hero of Socialist Labor. On December 7, 1984 he was expelled from the party and was offered to hand over the orders. Shchelokov replied: “Take them yourself”. Agreed on the 13th. And on December 13, the disgraced minister put on his uniform, medals, drank coffee with cognac, took a gun and shot himself in the head. They say that next to the body they found a note: “They do not remove the Order from the dead.”
Under Shchelokov salaries were increased, houses for employees were built, social guarantees for militiamen appeared, all militia units were equipped with auto transport. The Moscow Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and seventeen higher educational establishments of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs were opened. The number of crimes decreased at times. It was Shchelokov who laid down the tradition of large concerts on the Day of the Militia. Finally, the police felt that they were appreciated.