Skoblin's History Blog

This blog is composed of articles and translations written by Skoblin pertaining to the Soviet Security forces, White Russian underground movements and Russian counter-revolutionary forces during the 1920s and 1930s. Skoblin can be reached at

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Secret reports from the GPU to the Central Committee (1922)

Survey of the political-economic situation of the RSFSR for February 1922 (according to information from the State Political Administration)

In the month of January (February, sic), the internal situation of the Republic presented the following.


February indicates some worsening in the attitude of the workers compared to the preceding winter months of 1921-1922. The cause of this appears to be the production crisis which intensifies towards spring as in other years. A distinctive characteristic of the current month is the fact that outbursts of discontent and revolt, which from time to time seize one or another industrial center of the Republic, are invariably of short duration and tend not to spread out into adjoining territory. Apart from the above-mentioned nuisance occasioned by the production crisis, with its attendant reduction in the terms of production shares, stoppages and interruptions and so on, the most important causes affecting the attitude of the workers and eliciting the above-mentioned worsening of their mood are: the rapid rise in market prices, which is undermining all attempts to establish a stable living wage, and; the ongoing monetary crisis in the provinces, which is is intensifying and leading to the almost universal withholding of workers' salaries.
The peaceful attitude exhibited among the Moscow and Petrograd workers, which commenced in the middle of January and was mentioned by us in the preceding survey, has been replaced by a new wave of discontent, under the influence of the above-mentioned events. Among the serious disturbances which have occurred in the factories of both capitals during this period of time, should be mentioned: unrest at the Petersburg Baltiskii and Trubochnii factories, large strikes at the Moscow Bogorodskii and Tryokhgornii manufacturing plants, and rather persistent agitation among the Moscow printers.
As mentioned earlier, unrest and discontent in the provinces has been both sporadic and brief. Among the particularly lengthy and persistent examples of unrest, one must cite the 110-day strike at the Bryansk state factory, which had been provoked by monarchists, and the disturbances at the Ufa gold-plating factory, which ended with the closing of the factory and the announcement of an acceptance of new workers.The strike at the Bryansk state factory was sole instance of workers' unrest in February, in which political matters were involved and which was led by members of an anti-Soviet organization.

For the entire month of February, the central questions concerning the countryside remained the collection of the prodnalog (tax in kind) and the preparations for the spring sowing campaign.
The collection of the prodnalog, including taxes levelled on fallow fields and the collection of supplementary taxes, approaches completion across the entire territory of the Republic. The number of provinces which have finished the tax collection grows with each passing day. But with each passing day, the difficulties associated with completing the tax campaign continue to intensify.
This is to be expected. That, which the peasants were willing to provide, and that, which could be removed by force without employing extreme measures has been taken. It has now become necessary to take what the peasants do not wish to give and in truth cannot give. As a result, the collection of the remaining taxes is being conducted in an atmosphere of heightened mutual animosity giving rise to an absolutely unwelcome development. The problem of seizing the last surpluses in the hands of the peasants presents its most serious aspect in Siberia, where a 100% fulfillment of the prodnalog threatens the peasantry with hunger and complete ruin. The state information reports of the Cheka for the second half of February contain the most unexpected communications from our Siberian security organs regarding those consequences to which attempts to force the Siberian peasantry to hand over the complete tax have led. A similar sort of occurrence has been observed in any number of regions of the Republic, such as in the Altai, Perm, Aktyubinsk, Murmansk and Oryol provinces. In all of these provinces and in many others, the peasants are handing over all of the available grain supplies right down to the sowing wheat on account of the tax. In some places, peasants are being forced to purchase bread in order to settle payments in arrears. In all the indicated regions, mass killings of cattle have been perpetrated by the peasants. The mood of the peasants almost everywhere is depressed and in some places hostile.In addition to all this one must factor in the highly incorrect and inappropriate conduct exhibited by the tax collectors. Again, one must mention Siberia, where such conduct is passing over into excess, having attained unbelievable dimensions over time. One should point out that with the coming of spring, a period always disturbing and dangerous in the development of rebellion and banditry, similar excesses will embitter the peasantry to the highest degree and place before us alarming prospects, which could threaten the peace of the Republic.
The spring sowing campaign has only just begun, and almost everywhere the intention of the peasantry to increase the sowing areas has been noticed. These intentions, however, have been hindered in many provinces by a lack of seeds and to a still greater degree by the lack of both the livestock and the dead stock necessary for agricultural work.
The replacement of road labour services by a road maintenance tax is generally being met sympathetically by the peasants.
The situation in the famine regions remains catastrophic. The territory ravaged by hunger is increasing, and the number of famine victims grows each day. The mood is desperate. It is noted that banditry of a generally criminal character is developing in the famine regions.

The production crisis, which has become more severe during the current month, has had an unfavourable reaction on the Red Army soldiers.
As to be expected, the worst situation is in those areas ravaged by hunger, especially the southern Ukraine. The most peaceful areas are in the central provinces.
In the southern Ukraine, unrest has been continuous for the entire month, and only in the Crimea has the situation in the military units improved somewhat in connection with the arrival there of goods trains.The situation within the units stationed in the Far North of the Republic and in Transcaucasia also remains highly unfavourable.
The situation in the latter is complicated by the rising occurrence of desertion to such a degree that in some places it has become necessary to create extraordinary tribunals in order to combat it.
In the capitals, the situation in the garrisons is generally satisfactory. Only in Moscow near the end of the month did a severe problem begin to emerge regarding the provision of uniforms. This, however, is typical for this time of the year across the entire Republic.
The mobilisation of young Communists has been conducted with great enthusiasm in all parts of the country and has had a highly favourable influence on the mood of the Red Army soldiers. Red army soldiers' week has been a generally lukewarm affair and has had no discernible political effect.

In the Petrograd region, bandit activity has been almost eradicated. During the first half of February, the major elements of the gangs, which had been operating in Karelia, left for Finland. In Karelia, there remains only minor groups which find themselves on the verge of complete annihilation. Within the confines of Gdov district, Petrograd province, general unrest and incipient criminal banditry has been observed as a result of the supplementary agricultural tax and excesses perepetrated by state tax collectors.
In the Western regions, an upsurge in criminal gang activity has been detected and continues to grow. The most active gangs are operating in the Vitebsk province, in the districts of Nevel' and Gorodok, where one gang has grown to 50 members. An individual grouping known as the fighters has separated from the professors gang, and armed with blunt axes have been brutally murdering local citizens and Soviet workers. In both the Vitebsk and Seninsk districts, new gangs have emerged, formed entirely from local citizens. In the northern part of Borisov district, Minsk province, foreign agitators have appeared, preparing the local population for a spring uprising. Ukrainian gangs have also emerged: one associated with Savinkov under the command of Dergachev-Groznii and an anarchist gang under Medvedev.
A calm has been observed in the Oryol region. According to unsubstantiated reports, the leader of one of the more well-known gangs, Utkin, has been murdered.
In the Volga region, one of Serov's major gangs must still be reckoned with, having concentrated its forces in the town of Uil'sk, in Ural province. The ruling military council of this gang has issued a declaration to the local population concerning the organization of a Soviet authority, elected without class distinctions. This declaration has supposedly annuled all the directives stemming from the Soviet authorities and has introduced new regulations based on the principles of the February revolution. The bandits have bestowed themselves with the name of the First At
aman Division of the Insurgent Forces and have been increasing preparing themselves for military activity from the moment peaceful negotiations came to an end. Their leadership is located in the town of Uil'sk, which has been captured by the bandits.
In the region of the outer Urals, criminal gang activity of a local character is on the increase, due to hunger and famine.
A calm has been observed in the Kiev region. Lack of direction from abroad is reckoned as one of the causes. Some 12 bandit leaders have surrounded over the past month. In Volhynsk, Kiev, Podol'sk and several other provinces, Petlura's gang is mostly to be found. According to information obtained from captured bandits, Petlura's gang has established contact with Odessa, Nikolaev and Yekaterinoslav, by which they obtain weapons and fuel supplies.
In the Khar'kov region, bandit activity has noticeably diminished. Both the bandits and their leaders are voluntarily surrendering. On February 12, the Ivanov gang, operating in Nikolayev province, killed 9 persons in a raid on the village of Maloe Troitskoe, including a military instructor and a party comrade, and seized one Yeliseev, a member of the local taxation committee.
In the Crimea, famine is fueling the growth of banditry and and numerous small gangs are appearing across the entire territory, subjecting the local population to incessant raids. The mood in the cities is depressed and complaints are heard in the villages against the Soviet authorities, who are blamed for the famine. There is a notable resurgence among the white officers, who are inciting the local population with rumours of preperations for a revolt and the fall of Soviet power. At same time, these element are forming gangs, which are robbing the peasants in the guise of being Cheka officials.
In the North Caucasus region, banditry continues to increase. Near Makhoshevski, the leadership of the Kuban insurrectionary army has appeared and is conducting significant organizational work in bringing together small groups. The leadership includes Generals Marchenko and Lukoianov, Cornet Likhbaba, Lieutenant Zakharchenko and four unkown individuals.
In the Transcaucasia, bandit activity is diminishing on account of the snowfall, but will undoubtedly increase at the first possible moment owing to the sympathy of the local population. In the area of the Gorski republic, in the Shatoevski region, increased preparations for an upsrising on the part of the population are known. These preparations include the involvement of the leaders of the uprising which took place last year, Sheik Aksaltinskii and Prince Dashinskii. According to available information, 12 villages are already prepared for an uprising. In Chechnya, it is known that White officers and Turkish agents are engaging in anti-Soviet agitation.
In Siberia, banditry stands at the same level as last month. Larger gangs are forming at the expense of smaller groups.In the center of bandit activity in Yakutsk province, banditry has assumed a monarchist character, while in Altai, White officers and SRs are leading the movement. There have been not infrequent attacks made on separately stationed companies of the Red Army.
Turkestan basmachi are being led by Enver Pasha and other Turkish officers, taking advantage of their popularity among Muslim devotees. Principal attention must be devoted to the Bukhara movement for an independent Turkestan republic, which is attracting the entire population of Eastern Bukhara. It is difficult to determine whether this is the final goal of the movement. The participation of Enver Pasha suggests suggests that the main goal is Pan-Islamism and the unification of all Muslims. The leadership of the movement is taking measures to bring about unification of the Ferghana and Bukhara basmachi. The basmachi have been quite active in regards operations. They have conducted attacks upon our garrisons and smaller detachments, engaged in robberies and have murdered inhabitants, yet avoid all encounters with our larger forces.
In Khiva, the gang led by Dzhunaid-Khan is attracting attention. Dzhunaid is taking advantage of the significant popularity who enjoys among the more prosperous inhabitants. A secret meeting involving rich landowners has taken place in the town of Urgench, according to which assistance has been pledged to Dzhunaid-Khan regarding the provision of weapons, uniforms and supplies. The gang is growing incessantly through mobilisation of the local population and Dzhunaid-Khan intends to increase it up to 1500 sabres in the near future.
In general terms, it is necessary to verify the growth of the insurgent movement across the RSFSR, especially in Siberia, Crimea, Turkestan and the northern Caucasus. The approach of spring threatens intensification and continued growth of banditry and necessitates both extreme vigilance and effort in order to combat it.


The activity of anarchist groups during the month of February increased significantly in comparison to January. This resurgence is especially prominent in the south, primarily in the Ukraine and the Crimea, where it is expressed in terms of organized terrorist acts, expropriations, arson and so on. Some groups have underground printing presses and are maintaining contact with makhnovist and petliurist organizations. The groups, operating in the central provinces, have displayed almost no activity over the current month.
In Minsk, there is a federation which has contact with Smolensk and is engaged in rather spirited activity, including lectures, agitation among workers, and so on. In Poltava province, an anarchist gang, which has been conducting raids and murdering responsible party workers, has been liquidated.

The departure of a group of Mensheviks headed by Dan out of Russia has undoubtedly strengthened the ability of the RSDPR to engage in agitation from abroad. Within the Republic, there has been a noticeable slackening in agitation and propaganda activities in favour of organizational work. The liquidation of the Social-Democratic Youth Bureau in Moscow has reinforced the conspiratorial activities of the party, This has also been noticed in the provinces as a result of the struggle between the GPU organs and local groups of Social Democrats.
The slogans, advanced by the party, are extremely varied. Thus, the Georgian Mensheviks concluded a congress concerned with organizational work with the proclamation "Long live the Constituent Assembly!", while the Mensheviks of the central provinces are demanding independence for the trade unions. A trend has been observed in Moscow which is in favour of a referendum on the question of work pay and the immediate establishment of a subsistence wage.
Typical for the Menshevik party is a noted duplicity in its political activity. In so far as the Mensheviks consider themselves members of a legal party, they are increasing their organizational activities, confident that consquences will not be incurred for them.On the other hand, while conducting anti-Soviet activities, they are intensifying to the utmost their conspiratorial practices, painstakingly concealing the evidence of their actions.

The activity of the Right SRs in February has been concetrated for the most part in the southern and south-eastern regions of the Republic. In the south, the majority of the activity involves the Baku organization of the right social-revolutionaries, which is engaged in organizational work establishing co-operatives in factories and enterprises, and have already been successful in some locations.
The south-eastern organizations are preparing for a congress in Voronezh to discuss military and political questions. Other organizations are engaged in minor agitation and attempting to distribute their literature.
Communication channels have been discovered between the Central Committee of the Right SRs and organizations in the west of the Republic with the emigres. These communications are being accomplished through the assistance of Savinkov's agents.
In the central provinces, the SR organizations are aspiring to penetrate co-operative establishments as well as the local organs of the People's Commissariat of Agriculture.

The left social-revolutionaries have displayed almost no activity anywhere over the current month. Only in Vitebsk province, has it been possible to detect some resurgence in the activity on the part of the maximalists.

The resurgence in activity on the part of the monarchists, which had been noted in the Cheka survey for January, has continued into February. This resurgence is noted especially among the emigre groups and organizations.
In January, a congress of prominant monarchists took place in Wiesbaden, Germany. Among the particpants of the congress were Kokovtsev, Urusov, Guchkov and others. It was resolved that a memorandum written on behalf of all the Russian emigre organizations (including the SRs) would be presented to Poincare, protesting the presence of Soviet Russia at the Genoa Conference. It was deemed necessary that the most prominant monarchist figures be present in Genoa at the time of the conference. The mood among the emigre monarchist groups has become optimitistic and confident with the appointment of the former French Ambassador to Russia - Paleologue - as chief of the new Russian section of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In Bulgaria, there has been a resurgence in activity among the monarchist groups, which have organized a combat detachment, Spasenie Rodiny, which has the task of organizing terrorist actions of various types. Specials courses have been enacted to train the cadres. The first detachment, having completed their courses, has already been dispatched to Soviet Russia to organize uprisings and to prepare the ground for a supposed spring landing by Wrangel's army near Odessa and along Caucasus coastline. A group of German monarchists connected with Stinnes has organized a special Russian section attached to their commercial enterprise. The purpose of this special section is to deal with questions of a political and economic character involving Russia. It is headed by the former procurator of Vilna, Akkerman. Russian counter-intelligence cells have been organized across Germany. IThey are headed principally by monarchists, and are subsidized by the German General Staff and by German and Russian monarchist circles. It should be noted that there has been a change in tactics on the part of German and Russian monarchist groups. Hopes for the quick restoration [of monarchy] in Germany have not been vindicated, and as a result it has been decided to focus on Russia. Wrangel has moved his headquarters to Sofia, where his forces are also gathering. It has been suggested, that command of Wrangel's army will be given to the former Don Ataman, Krasnov.

There has been no indication of Kadet activity on Soviet soil during the past month.

The central issue agitating the mass of the orthodox clergy remains the confiscation of church valuables for the purpose of famine relief. There is no indication of active counter-revolutionary operations anywhere. Among the other religious groups, it should be noted that communications between the baptists and organizations involved with the American Relief Agency have been discovered. Baptists, who are residing in the famine areas, have been receiving large quantities of foodstuffs from America.

Deputy Chairman GPU
Chief, Information Section GPU


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