Beria was of Mingrelian descent. Born in Merkheuli in Abkhazia (Georgia), Beria began his career in Georgia in the Cheka (the early Soviet secret police) and became Party Secretary in that region. In 1938, Stalin made him head of the NKVD, the Soviet Union's secret police force. He was a member of the Politburo from 1946.
Beria considered himself to be the natural successor to Stalin, but 3 months after Stalin's death in 1953 Beria was ousted by Nikita Khrushchev, arrested in June of 1953, tried, and shot in December of 1953. His trial had been a closed affair and it had been learned that he had been involved in numerous rapes and tortures. In March of 2000 the Supreme Court of Russia refused to rehabilitate him. The refusal was based on the grounds of his proved crimes against humanity .