Andrey Vyshinsky

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Andrei Vyshinsky with Vyacheslav Molotov and Josef Stalin at the Yalta Conference.

Andrei Vyshinsky, (also Vishinsky, Vyshinskii, VYShINSKIJ) was Procurator (Prosecutor) General of the USSR from 1935 to 1939 during the Great Purge; Deputy Chairman of the Soviet People's Commissariat, in 1939–1940; Commissar for Foreign Affairs, 1940-1949 who congratulated Alger Hiss on behalf of the GRU; Minister for Foreign Affairs, 1949–1953; and Soviet Union's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, 1953–1954.

Theory of Legal Evidence

Vyshinsky's role in crafting the Soviet legal system in the early 1920s paved the way for Josef Stalin, who “could never get his fill of blood,” to legally turn Russia into a human slaughterhouse. Vyshinsky's efforts were essential to establishing the legal framework necessary to wrongly convict the millions of people needed to populate the largest and most inhumane prison system ever created - The Gulag Archipelago - that was established after Stalin became ruler of the Soviet Union in 1929.

He wrote a book, The Theory of Legal Evidence in Soviet Law in which he states that

“confession is a queen over all sorts of evidence,”
which was reflected in his method of prosecuting the Moscow “show trials.” Those trials clearly demonstrated that Vyshinsky and Stalin did not intend for a confession to reveal the truth of a person's guilt, but to involve the confessor in the process of obscuring their innocence. After a former colleague complained that the “presumption of guilt” caused a compression of procedural protections for an accused person, Vyshinsky wrote, 'There is nothing to substantiate Professor Strogovich's emphatic assertion that “in the Soviet criminal trial the burden of proof .. is never transferred to the defendant and his counsel.”’

Special Prosecutor

Vyshinsky's willingness to aid in providing Stalin with a legal cover for the murder of millions of innocent people was consistent with the lack of scruples, shameless opportunism, and adherence to a philosophy of situational ethics that he exhibited from the earliest days of his involvement in political affairs. There is evidence that prior to the Bolshevik Revolution he was an informant for the Czar and consorted with known undercover agent provocateurs - at the same time he was publicly criticizing Czarist policies. Since Stalinist Russia was a gigantic snitch culture in which one's survival and career advancement could depend on trading in the life of one or more person to save one's own, Vyshinsky early training in duplicity served him well in climbing through the ranks until he became a member of Stalin's hierarchy.


In 1940 Stalin rewarded Vyshinsky by making him a senior official in the Soviet foreign diplomat corps. He accompanied Stalin to the February 1945 Yalta conference, and he was present at Germany's surrender in May 1945. Vyshinsky's international profile increased after the war when he gave several speeches at the United Nations, and he was the Soviet Union's Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1949 to 1953.

See also