Now was the time for settling old scores, those real or imagined enemies who had survived both the war and the purges of the 1930s. And top of the list was the Bolugayevski family, exiled aristocrats who had long sought the downfall of the Bolshevik state. Stalin's solution was simple: this hateful brood must be eliminated. The task, naturally enough, was given to the head of his secret police, Lavrenty Beria.
But unknown to the tyrant, Beria had plans of his own. He dreamed of bringing down his master and taking his place, and in Stalin's feud with the Bolugayevskis he saw his chance to bring his dream to fruition.