The Bolsheviks in the tsarist Duma

Marx-Engels |  Lenin  | Stalin |  Home Page

   The Bolsheviks in the tsarist Duma

Obstruction in the Duma

Chapter XVI
Obstruction in the Duma

Prosecution for a Duma Speech – Obstructing Goremykin – Suspension of the Left Deputies – Demonstrations and Strikes – The Counter-Offensive of the Black Hundreds – The Liquidators Support the Liberals – Declarations by the Three Fractions on the Termination of the Suspension – The Importance of the Duma Obstruction

The general political situation throughout Russia and, in particular, the situation within the labour movement, invariably determined the forms which the struggle inside the Duma would take. It is this consideration which gave special interest to the obstruction in the State Duma in April 1914, as a result of which all Social-Democrats and Trudoviks were suspended for fifteen sittings. The incidents which occurred in the Duma directly reflected the development of the working-class struggle, which, as often happens, temporarily rendered the liberal parties more radical. The whole episode, however, revealed another normal feature of liberal tactics. As soon as the Duma position became somewhat acute, the Liberal parties quietly dropped their opposition and resumed their place in the ranks of the counter-revolutionary Duma majority.

The immediate cause of the obstruction was the prosecution of Chkheidze for a speech made in the Duma. On the initiative of Maklakov, the Minister of the Interior, the Council of Ministers decided to prosecute Chkheidze for referring to the advantages of a republican regime. The tsarist government had frequently prosecuted deputies in court or by administrative order for activity outside the Duma, but this was the first case of prosecution for a speech delivered within the Duma itself. This was a direct attempt by the government to destroy freedom of speech from the Duma tribune, a freedom which was already restricted by the actions of the Black Hundred presidium. If it succeeded, it meant that the entire Left would be crushed.

The Liberal parties, the Cadets and the Progressives, were also alarmed by the prosecution of Chkheidze. They were not concerned with the fate of the Social-Democratic deputies, but regarded the event as an attack on the “constitutional guarantees” to which they clung as the principal achievement of the “emancipation struggle.” Some Cadets, stimulated by the unrest in the country, even began to talk about refusing to vote the budget, whilst the Progressives introduced a bill on the immunity of deputies for speeches made in the Duma.

Rodzyanko at once took counter measures. After having consulted Goremykin, the newly appointed Premier, he arranged for a series of clauses to be introduced into the bill in committee which imposed still greater penalties for “abuse of freedom of speech.” These clauses were particularly directed against the extreme Left and entirely destroyed the value of the rest of the bill. In fact it handed over the Social-Democrats and Trudoviks to the tender mercies of the government.

Since the Black Hundred Duma held up even this distorted version of the “freedom” of speech bill, the Social-Democratic fraction decided to introduce a motion proposing that all Duma work be suspended until the discussion and passing of the bill dealing with the immunity of deputies. This, however, was too drastic for the Liberals, and so they introduced another motion which proposed to postpone discussion of the budget until the bill was passed. This motion was, of course, defeated, somewhat to the relief of the Liberals themselves. The two Social-Democratic fractions and the Trudoviks, however, refused to surrender and planned to organise obstruction in the Duma to prevent discussion on the budget. In view of the rise of the revolutionary spirit in the country, such a demonstration within the Duma was of far greater importance than a dozen or two of the most radical speeches directed against the government.

The first budget debates coincided with the second anniversary of Pravda, when our Party organised “Labour Press Day.” The demonstrations held by the St. Petersburg workers,. the numerous resolutions received by the editors and the collections made for the Pravda “iron” fund, the wide circulation of the jubilee number of Pravda, of which 130,000 copies were sold, made us absolutely sure that our demonstration in the Duma would assist in the new forward movement of the masses and would be supported by the entire working class.

Before the opening of the sitting on April 22, the two Social-Democratic fractions and the Trudoviks introduced a resolution to postpone the budget discussion until after the freedom of speech bill had become law. The Duma listened impatiently to speeches from the representatives of the three fractions and then decided by a huge majority to start the debate on the budget immediately. During the speech of the representatives of the budget commission, the members of the three fractions left the hall to discuss their further action. We decided to return in time for the expected speech of Bark, the Minister of Finance, and to prevent him from speaking.

Instead of Bark, Goremykin, the new President of the Council of Ministers, made his way to the tribune. Goremykin, an elderly tsarist dignitary appointed in place of Kokovtsev, because the latter was considered too soft-hearted and liberal, was charged with the task of ruthlessly checking the revolutionary movement, which was daily becoming more menacing. Thus our plan of obstruction was more appropriate than we had hoped; it would now be directed against the head of the government and would be a demonstration against tsarism itself.

Goremykin had barely managed to begin, “Gentlemen, members of the State Duma,” when pandemonium broke out on the benches of the Left, with shouts of “Freedom of speech for deputies” rising above the noise. Powerless to stop the noise, Rodzyanko apologised to Goremykin and proposed that the deputies concerned should be suspended for fifteen sittings. Goremykin then left the rostrum, which was ascended in turn by the offending deputies, each of whom, according to Duma regulations, had the right to speak in his own defence before being excluded. One by one they protested vehemently and members of our “six” seized the opportunity to hurl accusations at the government and to reveal the cowardice and impotence of the Liberals.

The suspensions followed one another rapidly and any defence which lasted too long was unceremoniously cut short by Rodzyanko. Some of the suspended deputies refused to leave the Duma hall; then the procedure was as follows. Rodzyanko adjourned the house and during the interval a military detachment entered the hall, the soldiers lined the barrier while the officer approached the suspended member and demanded his withdrawal. Only then, with the words “I submit to force,” did the deputy leave the hall.

This use of force was unprecedented in the history of the Duma; the ministerial benches were full and all the ministers watched Rodzyanko’s efficient work. After the removal of a deputy, the sitting was resumed and then the whole process was re-enacted. Finally, when all who had offended had been removed, Goremykin reappeared at the rostrum. Once again, however, he was unable to utter a word – the surviving members of the Left fractions resumed the obstruction. The Rights demanded “Suspend them all,” and Rodzyanko again excused himself and the procedure of expulsion recommenced.

For the third time, Goremykin was greeted with the banging of desks and shouts from the Left, and it was only after every surviving member of the three fractions had been suspended and removed by force that the president of the Council of Ministers was able to begin his speech. He uttered a few incomprehensible words about mutual understandings, common work and the “regrettable incidents” which had just occurred and was then followed by the Minister of Finance, Bark. Freed from the “pernicious” speeches of the Left deputies, the Duma settled down to the discussion of the budget.

The behaviour of the Cadets and Progressives during these suspensions was typical of Liberals whose real allegiance was to the counter-revolution. But yesterday they had used high-sounding phrases about the struggle for freedom of speech, but, far from taking part in the obstruction, some even voted for Rodzyanko’s motion of exclusion. It was true that some abstained from voting, but not one was bold enough to vote against. More than that, in their press the Cadets went so far as to defend the use of force because “... it was not simply brute, physical force, but the action of a disciplined body acting under the orders of the head of the institution representing the people.” The Cadets openly revealed their abject flunkeyism towards tsarist autocracy and the Black Hundreds.

But the whole question of obstruction and our suspension was in no way decided by the attitude which the Liberals adopted towards it. As was the case in all our Duma work, the efficacy of our action depended on the support which we could muster among the workers. Though the Duma reflected to some extent the political struggles which occurred in the country, the question had ultimately to be settled at the factories and in the streets and not within the walls of the Taurida Palace.

Our fraction, together with other Party organisations, began to prepare workers’ demonstrations in connection with the Duma events. Through trade unions, educational societies and other working-class organisations, in all of which strong Bolshevik cells existed, the movement was started. Foreseeing this development, the secret police redoubled their activities. Every member of the fraction was closely watched and the fraction’s rooms were besieged by spies. In the evening of the day on which the deputies were suspended the secret police arrested six Party members, workers who had come to our rooms to discuss the question of organising strike action.

These arrests forced the fraction to take more precautions. Representatives of Party organisations were forbidden to visit the fraction and our work with Party cells was conducted in strict secrecy. We arranged with the comrades from the various organisations to meet at a concert in one of the halls where working-class concerts and lectures were usually held, and while there made the final arrangements for the protest-action.

The protest strike began on the day after the expulsions, April 23, and although only about 4,000 workers (mainly printers) left work, it was a beginning which flared up into a mass strike on the following day. On April 24 the number of strikers had swollen to 55,000 and these were joined by another 17,000 on the third and fourth days. The movement spread to Moscow where over 25,000 men left work. Everywhere the strikes were started at meetings, at which protest resolutions were adopted.

The Manufacturers’ Association replied as usual by closing down all the big establishments. On April 24 sixteen large works were closed and about 25,000 workers discharged. The Manufacturers’ Association, which was called the “lock-outers’ association,” thus revealed itself as an organisation for political as well as economic struggle against the workers. Work was resumed at most of the factories on April 29, but some employers prolonged the lock-out until May 2 in order to punish the workers in advance for the anticipated strike on May Day. The capitalists thought that they could destroy the revolutionary enthusiasm of the working class by starvation and unemployment, but this was not enough for the Black Hundreds, who called for ever more severe measures against the workers.

The reactionary Russkoye Znamya (Russian Banner) with cynical frankness proposed that wages should be reduced and that all representation of the workers, e.g. in the Duma or on insurance bodies, should be abolished. The Black Hundreds were forced to acknowledge the existence and growth of revolutionary feeling among the masses and they thought that the causes were to be found in the agitation carried on by the workers’ press and in the activity of the Social-Democratic deputies. In a leading article on April 26, Russkoye Znamya wrote as follows:

Since the workers’ press, which is entirely controlled by the Social-Democratic deputies, was incautiously allowed to develop, very close connections have been established between the deputies and the workers. A year ago the workers were almost unmoved by events in the Duma: Social-Democrats were excluded from meetings, their friends, escaped convicts, were rearrested and their premises searched, and yet the workers remained quiet. Now on the other hand, every speech in the Duma arouses a response among 200,000 organised workers. All live questions in working-class circles are immediately re-echoed from the Duma rostrum, whence the Social-Democrats censure the government and still further excite the ignorant masses. At the same time all utterances of the Social-Democratic deputies are taken up by the workers. The objectionable obstruction in the Duma organised by the Social-Democrats as a protest against their arrogance being curbed, entailed a mass strike which though only partially successful was of considerable extent. It is time to take stock of the position and consider the danger of this close connection between the cannon fodder and the trouble-makers.

Russkoye Znamya then proceeded to enumerate its proposals, such as deprivation of political rights and wage reductions, since in the words of the pogrom-makers “hunger does not lead to strikes; it is only the well-fed who engage in riots.” The paper then drew the following conclusion:

Only in this way will calm be restored. It will then not be necessary to have cavalry regiments galloping about St. Petersburg to maintain order in the streets every time the Social-Democrats make a demonstration in the Duma.

It will be noticed that the Black Hundreds correctly estimated the importance of the ties which bound the workers’ deputies to the masses. The existence of these ties was amply demonstrated by the support which our activity received from the workers of St. Petersburg, Moscow and other cities.

Whilst our fraction and the two others which took part in the obstruction received from all quarters messages of approval and support, the Cadets were forced to invent all sorts of excuses for their behaviour in order to placate their constituents. The most outspoken representative of the Right Cadets, Maklakov [1], the deputy for Moscow, complained bitterly that he was obliged to go to Moscow and explain why he did not vote against the exclusion of the Left deputies. He said: “A new movement of protest is sweeping the countryside which ignores our party and which regards the lawful channels of protest as discredited.” Milyukov, the leader of the Cadets, supported him: “If it is true that revolutionary tendencies are growing, then it is very regrettable.” The only object of the Liberals was to hold back the revolution; even in their speeches against the government their chief argument was that the government’s policy was stimulating and provoking the revolution.

It was at this moment, when the Cadets and their allies, the Progressives, were showing their hands so cynically, that the Liquidators broached the question of joint action with the Liberals. In their press they wrote that the proletariat would be only too willing to work with the progressive bourgeois parties. Having analysed the situation they attempted once again to foist on the working class their policy of “freedom of association tor the workers.” The Menshevik Severnaya Rabochaya Gazeta (Northern Workers’ News) wrote: “The questions of liberty of speech in the Duma and of the immunity of deputies have become the most vital in the political life of the country. These questions are closely associated with the fundamental demands which were formulated in August 1912” (the August Bloc).

This standpoint was directly opposed by Pravda on the grounds that the question of freedom of speech in the Duma, etc., was not of fundamental importance for the workers and that the Duma could only serve as one of the means of strengthening the revolutionary struggle. Pravda wrote:

The Liberals were fresh from the crime of assisting Messrs. Rodzyanko and Purishkevich in their attack on the Social-Democrats and Trudoviks when they received offers of collaboration from the Liquidators. Such offers at this time are gravely prejudicial to the interests of the working-class movement. The slogan of the moment is not collaboration with the bourgeoisie but forward with the revolution despite the hesitations and betrayals of the bourgeoisie. The Liquidators may obtain joint action with the bourgeoisie inside the Duma, but it is outside that we must seek the true policy ... The working class also accepts “joint action,” but on a basis which is rejected both by Liberals and Liquidators.

The attitude of the Mensheviks to the wave of strikes which spread over St. Petersburg when the Left deputies were expelled from the Duma, was characteristic of their fear of any mass action. Confronted with the possibility of revolutionary developments, they completely lost their heads and attempted to hold back the movement.

A secret police report reproduces the minutes of a meeting of the Menshevik fraction on April 25, at which, in the presence of Dan, the question of strikes and demonstrations in St. Petersburg was discussed. At the meeting several members expressed the opinion that “it was necessary to thank the workers for their support and ask them to postpone the strike until May 1.” The resolution adopted by the fraction was framed in that spirit, stating that “it was necessary to refrain from striking now in order to act with increased vigour on May 1.”

The same report contains further accounts of meetings of the “seven,” giving many examples of vacillations and waverings within the Menshevik fraction itself. The strength and extent of the revolutionary revival had its effect on individual Mensheviks. According to the police report, Chkhenkeli argued that “the fraction should discard its old tactics of purely parliamentary work and its old slogan of ‘preserve the Duma at all costs’ and pass on to more revolutionary work.” This argument, however, met with no support from the other members of the “seven.” Chkheidze, opposing Chkhenkeli, called on fraction members “to keep their heads cool during these difficult times and endeavour to achieve something within the limits imposed by the law.”

There is no need to state that such damping down of the strike movement during a period of revolutionary enthusiasm could only be harmful. The influence of the Mensheviks, however, weakened considerably at this time and they were powerless to prevent the spread of the movement. Eighty thousand workers participated in the protest strike against the exclusion of the Left deputies, creating a powerful impression throughout the country.

Whilst the Left deputies were absent from the Duma, the Liberals spoke against the government and introduced motions condemning it, but they were in no way able to delay the passing of the budget, which was approved in its entirety by the Duma majority. This quiet atmosphere delighted the government and all the ministers endeavoured to have the estimates of their departments passed before the suspended deputies returned. According to newspaper reports the Ecclesiastical Department was particularly anxious; one of their chiefs said: “They will return from their enforced absence more enraged than ever – they will bite.”

Meanwhile the deputies of the three Left fractions discussed the tactics that should be followed when they returned to the Duma. Proposals were made to continue the obstruction, to delay debates by making very long speeches and, on the other hand, to regard the conflict as finished and to resume the usual Duma work. Finally the deputies of all the fractions agreed to make a joint statement on their return and to have it read in the Duma.

The statement was drafted and adopted at a joint meeting of the three fractions. Despite our precautions we discovered later that Rodzyanko was informed by the secret police of the text. Hence when the deputies returned to the Duma on May 7 Rodzyanko was in the chair and determined to prevent the reading of the statement. But we also were prepared. We had arranged for a number of speakers, so that if Kerensky, who was entrusted with the reading of the statement, was stopped, another speaker could continue. A prolonged struggle ensued between the president and the Left fractions, but in the end the whole of the statement was read.

Thus the return of the suspended deputies to the Duma was, fresh demonstration against the government and brought to the notice of the whole country.

The April events in the State Duma and the mass response which they aroused from the workers played an important part in the subsequent strengthening and development of the revolutionary movement. The effects were immediately visible in the First of May demonstration, which in 1914 far excelled those of previous years. In St. Petersburg 250,000 workers struck, in Moscow about 50,000, whilst First of May strikes were organised and carried out with exceptional enthusiasm in provincial cities where the labour movement had hitherto been relatively weak. Everything pointed to the fact that the working class was preparing to enter into a decisive struggle with tsarism. The admission of Purishkevich, the greatest enemy of the revolution, is significant. Speaking in the Duma on May 2, with the impression of the May Day strikes fresh in his mind, he said:

We are witnessing remarkable scenes; we are passing through a period strikingly similar to 1904. If we are not blind we must see that despite certain differences there is much in common between what is happening now and what took place in 1904. We must draw the necessary conclusions.

This time it was not the workers’ deputies but Purishkevich himself, the leader of the Black Hundreds, who spoke of the approach of a new revolutionary year. This itself demonstrates the intensity of the revolutionary movement among the working class.

Although the main provisions of the budget had already been sanctioned before the deputies returned, we managed to participate in the later stages of the debate. Every time we spoke we dealt not only with the particular estimate under discussion, but with the entire policy of the tsarist government. At the request of the fraction, I spoke on the estimates of the Ministry of Education, which at that time were arousing great public interest.

Kasso, the new Minister of Education, had initiated a number of repressive measures, driving out professors from the universities, arresting and banishing students; he had even arrested a number of juveniles from secondary schools for taking part in very harmless circles. My speech was based to a large extent on material sent by Lenin from Cracow. It was a damning exposure of these measures and at the same time it dealt with the hypocrisy of the “remedies” proposed by the Cadets and other liberal parties.

Chapter XVII
Roman Malinovsky

Malinovsky Leaves the Duma – The Fraction Appeals to the Workers – Malinovsky, agent-provocateur – Malinovsky and the Secret Police – Arrest of Sverdlov and Stalin – Why Malinovsky left the Duma – Malinovsky’s Trial

During the afternoon of the day after the return to the Duma of the suspended deputies, Malinovsky entered Rodzyanko’s office, threw a document on the table and said: “Good-bye.”

Rodzyanko asked what this meant, and Malinovsky answered: “Read that – you will see for yourself,” adding hurriedly that he had resigned and was going abroad.

Muranov, the only member of our fraction present in the Duma at the time, at once communicated with the fraction, but by the time we had met in the fraction’s rooms, Rodzyanko had already read Malinovsky ’s statement of resignation in the Duma.

Malinovsky’s resignation came as a bolt from the blue; until then there had been no hint that he contemplated any such action. The resignation of his seat without the consent of the Party and without making any statement to the Party was such a flagrant and extraordinary breach of Party discipline that we could not imagine the cause.

The fraction instructed Comrade Petrovsky to call on Malinovsky and demand that he come immediately to the fraction and explain his action. Malinovsky refused, stating that he was too excited to be able to give any explanations at the moment. We at once sent Petrovsky back to insist on Malinovsky’s presence. He refused the second time and, in a state of great excitement bordering on insanity, shouted: “Try me, do whatever you please, but I won’t speak,” and at the same time declared that he was leaving the country that evening.

All other attempts to obtain an explanation from Malinovsky proved futile and letters sent to him by the fraction and Comrade Kamenev were only handed to him just before the train left,

Malinovsky’s desertion from the Duma and his sudden flight from St. Petersburg placed our fraction in a difficult position. This action, in itself treacherous to the Party and the workers’ struggle, supplied a weapon to our enemies. Statements were issued, sensational in character, alleging that something serious was wrong in our Party. Slanderous insinuations and lying rumours were circulated about the Party and the fraction.

At that time nothing authentic was known about Malinovsky’s real activities, but all sorts of rumours and gossip were spread by bourgeois parties and Liquidators with the obvious object of damaging the reputation of our entire fraction. It was necessary to clear up the case and the fraction decided to place all its information at the disposal of the workers.

We published in Pravda a full statement setting out in detail all the facts known to the fraction. A precise chronological account was given of all the steps taken by the fraction to elucidate the causes and attendant circumstances of Malinovsky’s behaviour. The fraction had no facts on which to base any accusation against Malinovsky, but it violently and uncompromisingly condemned his undisciplined action. The statement concluded:

At the time of his election, Malinovsky asserted that he consented to stand at the request of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. This statement bound him to work in a disciplined way within the Party. Class-conscious workers understand the necessity of strictly maintaining this principle in the struggle against all bourgeois parties. In contravention of this principle Malinovsky resigned his mandate as a deputy without consulting the leading Party committees or his own immediate organisation, the Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ Fraction. Such action is inadmissible and as an anarchic breach of discipline deserves thorough condemnation; it is no better than the action of a sentry deserting his post. Malinovsky’s statement that he did not consider his responsibility when embarking on this course does not in any way mitigate his offence. He has placed himself outside our ranks. The Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ Fraction invites all class-conscious workers to endorse this decision in order to render impossible repetitions of such action among the organised proletariat in the future.

The masses reacted to Malinovsky’s desertion in the way that we expected. Telegrams, greetings and resolutions began to pour into the fraction and Pravda, condemning Malinovsky’s treachery and expressing full confidencc in the work of our fraction, The temporary damage done by Malinovsky’s desertion was made good by the way in which the advanced organised workers rallied to our support. Our fraction, now reduced to five, re-formed its ranks and continued its work in the revolutionary struggle both from the Duma rostrum and outside.

No true explanation for Malinovsky’s action was forthcoming at that time. We explained it by certain traits in his character, nervous tension, hot-headedness and lack of balance, which he had often displayed in his dealings with his associates. It was only after the revolution that the true motives actuating his behaviour were fully revealed, when the archives of the police department showed that Malinovsky had acted as an agent-provocateur. The material then made public and his subsequent trial provide us with the complete history of his treason.

Malinovsky began his career as an agent-provocateur in 1910 when he was enrolled as an agent of the Moscow secret police under the name of Portnoi. He had settled in Moscow after being expelled from St. Petersburg and, although there are some grounds for believing that he had had dealings with the secret police before, it was in Moscow that his real work as an agent-provocateur commenced.

He offered his services to the police after he had been arrested with a group of Party workers, and immediately became a very active and important secret agent. Malinovsky was a very capable and intelligent man and succeeded in penetrating very deeply into Party organisations. He appeared at all meetings, attended workers’ clubs, trade unions, etc., and actively participated in organisational work. For a long time he maintained relations with both Mensheviks and Bolsheviks and betrayed both to the secret police. He was responsible for the arrest of Party workers and for the destruction of entire organisations, and supplied the police with particulars about meetings which had been arranged, the real and assumed names of Party comrades who were living in illegality, the names of the members of leading Party committees, addresses where literature was stored, in fact, all features of Party life.

His activities resulted in the arrest in Moscow of the Russian collegium of the Central Committee and the conciliatory group “Vozrozhdenie” headed by Comrade Milyutin. Information supplied by him resulted in the break-up of the newly formed Bolshevik centre in Tula when some leading comrades were arrested.

In order to safeguard Malinovsky from exposure, the police used to arrest him together with others present at an illegal meeting, but after a few days he would be released while the others were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment or exile. Sometimes, for the sake of precaution, the secret police would release all those arrested and then rearrest all but Malinovsky in the course of a couple of weeks.

Owing to his cleverness and undoubted talents, Malinovsky soon made his name in Party circles. Even earlier in St. Petersburg, he had shown himself a capable and forceful worker in the trade union movement. From 1906 to 1909, he was secretary of the St. Petersburg Metal-Workers’ Trade Union, one of the biggest and most progressive unions. This alone shows his organising ability and his power to gain the confidence of the workers.

Malinovsky was exceedingly ambitious and exerted himself to ensure his election to the State Duma; his popularity made it easy for him to be nominated as candidate. But he was also guided by other motives. Byeletsky, the Director of the secret police department, in his evidence on the Malinovsky case (Byeletsky was arrested after the revolution and subsequently shot), stated that Malinovsky in trying to enter the Duma reckoned on strengthening his position with the secret police and thereby raising the salary which they paid him. Malinovsky had begun to delight in his treacherous work and was preparing to extend it on a much larger scale.

Malinovsky impressed on the secret police how convenient it would be for them to have their own “informer” in the Duma. Needless to say, the police were soon persuaded and the question was discussed by the highest police officials; the project received the blessing of Alakarov, the then Minister of the Interior. Code messages were sent to Moscow by Byeletsky and his notorious assistant, Vissarionov, instructing the Moscow secret police to facilitate Malinovsky’s election.

The first obstacle to be tackled was the fact that Malinovsky had been arrested several times on criminal charges. According to the law, a person who had been condemned on a criminal charge was disqualified from being elected to the Duma. With the help of the secret police, Malinovsky went to his native district in Poland and by bribery obtained a false certificate declaring that he had never been convicted.

The second difficulty was that it was necessary for the candidate to have worked at his factory for six months prior to the election. Malinovsky was employed in a small factory near Moscow, and a few weeks before the election, when he had not quite completed six months’ service, he quarrelled with the foreman and was under threat of dismissal. Thereupon the police arrested the foreman and kept him in prison until after the elections. Nevertheless Malinovsky was dismissed from the factory and had to bribe a clerk to give him a certificate that he was “on leave.” Thus, with the help of the secret police, the way was clear for his election.

After his election to the Duma, Malinovsky became one of the most important agents of the police, and was tutored in his new duties by Byeletsky himself. The St. Petersburg secret police referred to him as “X” in their documents and paid him a salary of 500 rubles a month, later raised to 700 with additional amounts for special information, A telephone was installed in his apartment at the expense of the police and all his conversations with Byeletsky were conducted in code. He used to meet Byeletsky and his assistant Vissarionov in a private room at some restaurant. There Byeletsky, as he stated during the trial, would ask a list of questions drawn up beforehand and his assistant wrote down Malinovsky’s answers. Arrests, searches and deportations followed, although great care was taken not to compromise Malinovsky. When the police department decided in February 1913 to arrest Comrade Rozmirovich, Malinovsky advised that the arrest should be made in Kiev, and when a month later her arrest aroused suspicions in the foreign centre, she was released at his request. [1]

The information which he supplied was particularly valuable because he was well informed about the underground work of the Party as well as the work of the Duma fraction. He regularly related to the police everything which took place at the editorial offices of Pravda. He gave full particulars about the persons who attended meetings there, the decisions reached and the financial state of the paper. This enabled Byeletsky to arrange for fines, confiscations of issues, etc., at times which were most critical for the paper. He also supplied lists of all persons contributing to funds for the support of Pravda and the names of subscribers. These lists were of great assistance to the police when repressive measures were decided upon.

Malinovsky’s oratorical powers made him one of the frequent speakers of our fraction. But a careful analysis of his speeches reveals the fact that the blunt revolutionary content characteristic of the speeches of our workers’ deputies was absent. Whereas the other workers’ deputies deliberately accentuated their speeches, sticking at nothing, Malinovsky always tried to work round the dangerous passages, to avoid in one way or another the revolutionary presentation of the question and took great pains to make his speeches innocuous so as to deprive them of that revolutionary content which the Party insisted should be present in all speeches of our fraction members. When he addressed open-air meetings, he arranged with the police department that police agents should be present who would cut short his speech when he reached an agreed passage. Such was the case on the important occasion when he addressed the Congress of Clerical Workers in Moscow.

Although while he was in the Duma his main activities were confined to St. Petersburg, he did not entirely break his connections with the Moscow secret police. During his visits to Moscow, each of which entailed new arrests of revolutionary workers, he supplied information to the police and received a special remuneration.

In St. Petersburg, Malinovsky informed Byeletsky of the meetings of the fraction, the ideas and plans of the deputies, the routes of their journeys and their impressions of local conditions. On the basis of information transmitted from the police department, the local police were able to break up meetings arranged by the visiting deputy. On one occasion, Malinovsky even allowed Byeletsky to inspect the fraction’s documents and files and to copy passages which interested him.

Byeletsky also referred in his evidence to an occasion when Malinovsky delivered to the police the larger part of a consignment of illegal literature which only reached St. Petersburg after great difficulty.

Fear of exposing the agent-provocateur caused the secret police to be very cautious in arresting Party comrades who worked in close touch with Malinovsky, but when Sverdlov and Stalin returned to St. Petersburg, the police department demanded that he should help to arrange their arrest.

Sverdlov was arrested in the following circumstances. He had escaped from exile and was hiding in my apartment; the police had begun to watch for him, acting on information supplied by Malinovsky. One day the dvornik (janitor) came to see me and, after describing Sverdlov, asked whether he was not in my apartment. Of course I replied that there were no strangers with me, but we decided that it was no longer safe for Sverdlov to stay there and that he ought to leave at once. As soon as it became dark, Malinovsky and I went out and seeing that there was no one about we lit cigarettes; on this agreed signal, Sverdlov went out into the courtyard at the back. We helped him climb over a wall and then across a timber yard over another wall and out on to the embankment where a droshky was waiting. We then went to Malinovsky ’s room and later Sverdlov went to stay with Petrovsky. But he was arrested there the same night. It turned out that Malinovsky, who had been showing so much concern for Sverdlov’s safety, had phoned the address of his new refuge to the police.

At about the same time, Malinovsky betrayed Stalin in a similar way. Stalin had recently made one of his periodic escapes from exile and was in hiding, not venturing into the streets. The police knew that he had returned and were waiting for him to appear in order to rearrest him. A concert had been arranged in the Kalashnikov hall for the benefit of the funds for Pravda. Such concerts were usually attended by sympathisers among the intellectuals and Party members who seized the opportunity, while among the crowd, of meeting and talking to people whom it was inadvisable to meet openly. Stalin decided to attend the concert and Malinovsky, who was aware of this, informed the police department, with the result that Stalin was rearrested there and then.

These two arrests show the depths to which Malinovsky had descended. He betrayed into the hands of the police the most prominent Party workers who had only recently escaped from exile after great difficulty and suffering.

Relations between Malinovsky and the rest of the fraction were strained from the first. During discussions he often became hysterical or lost his temper over quite unimportant questions. The other members of the fraction objected to such conduct on his part and this led to constant friction and conflicts. One such scene occurred in the fraction a few days before he left the Duma. When the fraction was discussing what action it would take in reply to its exclusion for fifteen sittings, Malinovsky insisted on the necessity of leaving the Duma completely and of appealing to the masses for revolutionary action. There is no doubt that this plan was of a provocative nature and the fraction quite rightly rejected it. But it must be assumed that in advocating such a form of protest, Malinovsky was also preparing the ground for his own withdrawal from the Duma, since, as it became known afterwards, it was at this time that the police department decided to dispense with his services. In the winter of 1913–14, changes took place in the Ministry of the Interior. The notorious General Junkovsky, formerly governor-general of Moscow, was appointed Assistant Minister in charge of the police and gendarmerie. This appointment led to changes in the personnel of the police department; Junkovsky appointed his own men instead of Byeletsky and his assistant, Vissarianov, and decided to get rid of Malinovsky.

In his evidence, Junkovsky stated that he could not tolerate the “nuisance” of an agent of the police acting as a deputy in the State Duma. This explanation is not to be believed; it is much more likely that Malinovsky’s activity as a member of our fraction had become more than the police dared allow. It is also possible that the usual departmental jealousy was responsible for his dismissal. The new officials very often tried to discredit their predecessors and suggest to the public that they were instituting a new and much better policy.

By order of Junkovsky, the chief of the secret police department called on Malinovsky to leave the Duma and proceed abroad immediately. Before leaving he received a final payment of 6,000 rubles from the police. The only person in the Duma who knew the true cause of Malinovsky’s resignation was Rodzyanko. According to his own words, somebody rang him up on the telephone on the morning of the day when the suspended deputies were to return to the Duma, and informed him of the text of their intended declaration. Rodzyanko decided to investigate the matter further and was informed by Junkovsky that Malinovsky was a police spy and that it had been decided to get rid of him. So Rodzyanko, while knowing the truth, kept it secret from the Duma.

Malinovsky then completely disappeared from the sight of the Party and public. At the beginning of the war he was conscripted and soon afterwards taken prisoner by the Germans. He returned to Russia after the revolution and was arrested.

On November 5, 1918, Malinovsky was tried in Moscow by the Revolutionary Tribunal. Numerous witnesses, including the chiefs of the tsarist police (Byeletsky, Vissarianov, Junkovsky, Makarov and others), and volumes of documents from the archives of the secret police, established the history of his treachery. His life was one long string of crimes. His intelligence and abilities were placed at the disposal of the highest bidder to the detriment of the working-class movement.

At the trial, when his activity as agent-provocateur was fully revealed, Malinovsky was, of course, unable to deny his crimes. He chose another method of defence. He alleged that he was forced to become an agent-provocateur because he was already completely in the hands of the police. He represented his career as agent-provocateur as a long martyrdom, accompanied by suffering and remorse, from which he could not escape. But at the same time, in contradiction to that theory, he confessed:

“... I could not agree to the first proposal not because I felt any repugnance – I did not feel the slightest – but simply because I did not want, and did not see any possibility of being able, to play the double role required.”

But when the police threatened him with revelations of his criminal past he at once consented to serve them: “Now the questi<jn was settled, I no longer hesitated and felt no remorse.” Throughout his trial, as throughout his whole career, Malinovsky lied. He tried to prove that he left the Duma of his own free will, because of his personal unhappiness, and that he obtained permission from the police to quit politics.

“... The circumstances of the case are immaterial; what is important is that I obtained Byeletsky’s permission to leave ... I told Junkovsky that I was leaving on account of new conditions which for moral and other reasons made it impossible for me to continue the work.”

But we know now the real reasons of his resignation and we know that when Byeletsky was removed, Malinovsky begged him to help him re-establish his connections with the police department. The lies in Malinovsky ’s evidence were as deliberate as the whole pose he adopted, a pose of sincere repentance while admitting the gravity of his crimes. He said that he expected nothing but the death penalty, although, in saying this, Malinovsky undoubtedly imagined that this attitude would gain him some measure of indulgence. His voluntary return to Russia after the revolution was the last desperate throw of a gambler. The revolutionary court did not forgive him for his crimes against the working class; he was condemned to be shot.

Malinovsky will be remembered as one of the most active agents-provocateurs, who was able to do enormous harm to the revolutionary cause. There is, however, another aspect of his activities which shows that they were harmful to tsarism itself. In his second role as a member of the Bolshevik fraction, Malinovsky was forced to deliver revolutionary speeches from the Duma tribune and to play his part in our agitational campaigns. These activities inevitably produced the results which we desired and the tsarist government was forced to bring grist to the mill of revolution.

V.I. Lenin described the situation in which the police were placed by Malinovsky’s activity in the following way:

It is obvious that by helping to elect an agent-provocateur to the Duma and by removing, for that purpose, all the competitors of the Bolshevik candidate, the secret police were guided by a vulgar conception of Bolshevism, or rather, a distorted caricature of Bolshevism. They imagined that the Bolsheviks would “arrange an armed insurdrection.” In order to keep all the threads of this coming insurrection in their hands, they thought it worth while departing from their own standpoint and having Malinovsky elected both to the Duma and to our Central Committee.

But when the police achieved both these aims they found that Malinovsky was transformed into a link of the long and solid chain connecting in various ways our legal base with the two chief organs by which the party influenced the masses, namely Pravda and the Duma fraction. The agent-provocateur had to protect both these organs in order to justify his vocation.

Both these organs were under our immediate guidance. Zinoviev and myself wrote daily to Pravda and its policy was entirely determined by the resolutions of the Party. Our influence over forty to sixty thousand workers was thus secured. The same applies to the Duma fraction, particularly to Muranov, Petrovsky and Badayev, who worked more and more independently of Malinovsky, strengthened their connections with and extended their influence over the workers.

Malinovsky could and did ruin individuals, hut he could neither hold back nor control the growth of the Party nor in any way affect the increase of its importance to the masses, its influence over hundreds of thousands of workers (through strikes, which increased after April 1912, etc.). I should not be at all surprised if the secret police used the following argument for Malinovsky’s removal from the Duma: that Malinovsky had turned out to be too closely involved with the Duma fraction and with Pravda, which were carrying on their revolutionary work among the masses much too energetically to be tolerated by the police.

This estimate of the objective part played by Malinovsky in no way tones down, but brands still more definitely, the personality of the traitor.

1. The police finally dealt with Comrade Rozmirovich in April 1914, when she was arrested together with Comrades Samoylova and Kudelli at an editorial meeting of Rabotnitsa (The Woman Worker).