Secret reports from the GPU to the Central Committee (1922)
Survey of the political-economic situation of the RSFSR for March 1922
5 April 1922.
In the month of March, the internal situation of the Republic presented the following.
The onset of March does not provide any significant changes in the mood of the peasantry in comparison with the preceding periods. Passive unrest on the part of the peasants is noted almost everywhere and is shaped by the same causes as the preceding months - famine and the collection of the agricultural tax. In some places, one must reckon upon the additional unrest occasioned by a lack of seeds for sowing, arousing apprehension among the peasants for the fate of the sowing campaign. Agitation and unrest of a political character has not been encountered anywhere. With the obvious exception of the famine areas, no region stands out on its own in any particular manner. Although sporadic cases may be found in which the mood of the peasantry is in more or less good spirits, this does not describe the majority of the situations, either on the scale of the entire Republic or at the district level. Notwithstanding the almost universal shortage of seeds, agricultural implements and working livestock, the preparations for the spring planting campaign at the beginning of March are already in full swing. Agitation campaigns are being conducted everywhere in order to explain to the peasants the significance of the sowing committees. Before March 10-15, the situation in the countryside remained relatively peaceful. No new factors emerge which render significant influence upon the mood of the peasantry. After March 10-15, however, a new factor burst forth in the life of the countryside, one of a markedly political character. This factor is the campaign for seizing Church valuables and the concomitant sharp increase in counter-revolutionary activity on the part of the clergy.
The campaign actually commenced at the end of February, and had proceeded in relative clam, without excesses, until the middle of March. This was prior to the Patriarch's Epistle, which called upon the clergy to resist the handing over of Church valuables. Indeed, starting from March 15, the situation in the countryside starts to deteriorate sharply, possibly as a result of a shift in the campaign from the preparatory stage (agitation and registration) to the active operational stage (confiscation), but primarily due to the intensified opposition of the clergy.
Active displays of unrest, which had been so uncommon the previous months, have become more freqeuent in the second half of March. In many cases, this unrest has reached levels seemingly long forgotten: categorical refusals to carry out orders from the Soviet authorities; lynching and mob action against its agents (Yelat'ma, Shuya and others), and; the rendering of armed resistance against the actions of the authorities.
The clergy is defending its property with unusual intensity. Usually prudent and careful in its attacks, it is displaying wonders of heroism right down to the sextons and psalm readers, and in some places have resolved to commit themselves in open combat with the authorities. The role of the clergy in the disturbances taking place in the countryside is immense. It is highly instructive to note, that in those provinces where the priests impress upon the parishioners the necessity of handing over Church valuables, the confiscation operations almost always take place peacefully and painlessly.
The situation in the famine regions remains catastrophically serious and the mood is grave. Hopes for the spring sowing campaign are very slight. As to be expected, their attitude towards the confiscation of Church valuables is supportive. In these provinces, no excesses have taken place on this account.
Typical of the current situation is that the decree by the VTsIKh concerning the discontinuance of the agricultural tax, possibly as a consequence of the conduct of the confiscation campaign, has been virtually ignored in the countryside.
RED ARMY SOLDIERS
The situation among the Red Army units in March is much more favourable than in February. The mood of the soldiers is upbeat, and the supply situation among the units in March has improved significantly in comparison to the previous month. The shortage of uniforms which has been going on for months has had a relatively weak influence upon the mood of the soldiers.
Naturally, the situation is worst in the famine areas (Volga region and southern Ukraine). In the Volga region, the situation is serious, especially at the Saratov garrison, where the effects of the famine combined with inadequate political work has led to a sharp decline in discipline. The situation is also unfavourable in Penza province and the Tatar republic. In the southern and south-western provinces of the Ukraine, the situation is extremely unsatisfactory. The severe problems associated with the provisioning of units is leading to completely undesireable excesses in places. On March 27, for instance, Red Army units stationed in Kherson committed a regular pogrom at the local bazaar, destroying shops, massacring citizens and so on. According to reports from the Kiev region, desertism is on the rise. In the northern Ukraine, the situation may be considered generally favourable. Noteworthy is the paucity of information concerning the condition of units stationed along the borders of the Republic. Information about Siberia is completely lacking. Reports about Turkestan only speak about the severe supply problem for the units quartered in Turkestan oblast', and an increase in drunkenness among the troops.
By the end of March, the situation involving banditry on RSFSR territory was as follows.
In the Petrograd region, small detachments numbering from 5 to 20 persons continue to cross over from Finland near the Karelian labour commune for the purpose of determining the strength of Red Army units. There have been some reports that border posts have been fired upon. The attitude of the local population towards the bandits is supportive, especially along the border.
In the western territory, there are up to 19 various small groups, which are conducting organizational work in preparing the local population for a spring uprising. In the Polotsk and Lipetsk districts, separate groups of bandits have been observed crossing over from Poland and robbing the local population. The bandits have then crossed back into Poland. In Minsk district, a group associated with the Polish intelligence agent, Stankevich, crossed over from Poland with the purpose of determining the strength of our forces. According to available information, this group has returned to Poland.
In the Oryol region, there is no reported bandit activity.
In the Volga region, one of Serov's groups remains operating. Pursued by our forces, it has shrunken considerably and now counts some 900 persons. Moreover, this group has a commandant's office, a commissariat, field hospital and a propaganda section. According to available information, the leader of this group, Serov, has been wounded and Kiselev has taken over command. Under pressure from our forces, the group has moved from Ural province into the Samara area.
Within the confines of the outer Urals, there is growing criminal banditry. Local inhabitants, induced by hunger, having organized into small groups of between 10 and 20 persons, robbed local food stores and then dispersed homeward, taking quantities of foodstuffs with them. In the Kiev region, there is growing bandit activity. The bandits Struka and Galichevsky have departed a cordoned area for instructions. In Lower Volhynia province, new bandits have appeared in the Zhitomir, Lower Volhyinia and Ovruch districts. The Mel'nik gang is committing robberies in the forested area around Troshcha. In the Zhitomir district, the gang leader, Solominsky, has been killed. In Podol'sk province, there are up to 11 small groups, which refuse combat with our forces. In Kiev province, several new groups have also emerged. In Kremechug province, it is peaceful with the arrest of Portnov. In Kobelyaksk district, Poltava province, there is an openly Petliurist organization counting some 4000 members.
In the Khar'kov region it is peaceful, although the appearance of new groups has been noticed.
In the northern Caucasus region, banditry has been successfully eradicated. For instance, near Kruglovskaya in the Donskoi region, Fomin's gang, which had been operating in the area since September 8, has been destroyed. In the Nal'chik-Pyatagorsk district, Tersk province, Colonel Lavrov and his gang, which have been operating in the area for half a year, have been captured. Sotnik Dubina's gang, which had been carrying out attacks upon populated localities in near Eiska, in the Kuban-Black Sea region, surrendered to a special detachment assigned by comrade Budyonny. According to unverified information, in the area of Bogovskaya-Gubskaya, a group of insurgents and White officers under the command of General Kuznetsov and General Ulagaya, is allegedly operating after having entered Republic territory. General Kuznetsov refers to himself as the commander of all armed insurgent forces operating in the Kuban. The population of the surrounding Cossack villages regard the insurgents sympathetically and are supplying them with provisions. Sychev's gang, after having captured the town of Kizlyar, subjected it to a thorough looting.
In the Transcaucasus, bandit activity is increasing significantly. This development has been partially assisted by the unsuccessful resolution of the land question by the local authorities, coupled with the forced eviction of the Cossack population, and the vigorous pursuit of the agricultural tax. In the Gorski Republic, near the village of Kara-Yurt, the chairman of the local criminal court in charge of the agricultural tax, comrade Bogdanov, was killed by Chechens. Individuals, who had been arrested for failure to pay the agricultural tax, were released by the local population. Sultanov's gang has had an influx of Chechens. At Urus-Martan, a meeting of Chechen kulaks has taken place, in which the topic of an armed uprising against Soviet authority was discussed. In this area, there is one cavalry detachment and 1800 infantry. The groups are headed by Prince Dashinskii. Dashinskii is holed up at Dyshnya-Milai, with a gang numbering 500 with 3 machine-guns. In the Republic of Georgia, in the southern part of Lashkent district, is located a detachment of 400 fighters, mostly yourth.
In the region of western Siberia, the most unfavourable area is Altai province, where several smaller groups have banded together under Kaigorodov. Upon attempting to attack the town of Biysk, this large gang sustained several battles, but was eventually forced to retreat in a westerly direction. In the same province, Kuchkov's gang was dispersed after several battles. In mid-March, a group of some 250 fighters led by Barinov was discovered near the Abai river. A gang led by Semenyuk made an attempt to capture the village of Chamal. These groups all belong to the social revolutionary organization and are agitating for the summoning of a Constituent Assembly. In the provinces of Tyumen', Tomsk and Omsk, several new groups have appeared. In the region of eastern Siberia, the area around Yakutsk remains terrorized by bandits. The numerical strength of this gang has reached 2000 fighters. The local population is on the side of the bandits. The movement has a nationalist character with the participation of several thousand Yakuts and is led by the officer, Tolstoukhov. In addition, large bandit detachments have been discovered in the northern part of the province. One of them, led by Vasyukov, has occupied the town of Verkhoyansk. Six hundered versts ot the north of Yakutsk, the administration for the lead mines has organized a group, led by Okulovsky, a representative of the administration.In the eastern part of Vilyuisky district, a series of uprisings has broken out.
In Turkestan, the basmachi are organizing at an increasing rate, and despite disagreements between the individual basmachi commanders, they are taking all steps to create a single united front against the Soviet authorities.The strength of the basmachi gangs has grown significantly. In Khiva, the most important gang is led by Dzhunaid-Khan, who intends to seize the town of Kuli Ugrench. With this goal in mind, he is mobilizing the local population, the majority of whom are sympathetic. In Turkmen oblast', the gang led by Khadzh-Niyaz-Kuliev is operating, after having moved into the Telusin district. The Ogli and Dzhal'vara basmachi have joined this group. Khadzh-Niyaz-Kuliev is also mobilizing the local population. His agents are spreading the rumour that Soviet power in Turkmenia is temporary, and that Turkmenia must place itself under the protection of Britain and Afghanistan. The insurgent movement in Bukhara is continuing to expand, threatening now even the western part of Bukhara. Significant basmachi forces have appeared in the area of Old Bukhara and are expanding in a westerly direction. Their intention is to foment rebellion among the turkmen of Chardzui. The basmachi are primarily located in the area around Kermine, Gydzh-Duvan and Bakbent. The overall strength of the basmachi in this area has reached 5000 persons. In the eastern part of Bukhara events are unfolding in the area of Baisuk. Enver Pasha's headquarters is located in Dushambe. It should come as no surprise, that there Afghan and Russian officers among the Bukhara insurgents, and even the Afghan government itself is decidely not neutral. Both the population and the authorities of Bukhara have crossed over to the side of the insurgents. In Samarkand oblast', the bandits decline encounters with our forces, yet terrorize the local population, collecting taxes and stealing horses. The bandits have of late been solely engaged in robbery. On March 15, a group of some 200 men, led by Bachram, attacked the town of Samarkand and looted the bazaar. Across the entire region, the bandits are mobilizing the local population. In Ferghana oblast', there is the usual confrontation between individual basmachi leaders. In the first days of March, Afghan officers arrived in the area of Daraut-Kurgan in order to establish overall command over the basmachi forces operating against the Soviet authorities. It has been proposed that up to 1000 Afghan soldiers be sent to reinforce the basmachi forces. Information has been received about an impending meeting involving all basmachi leaders. The alleged purposes of the meeting include the selection of a commander over all the armed basmachi forces and a union of uzbeks and kirghiz. At the present time, the most pressing subject for the basmachi is the supply of guns and ammunition. It is for this reason that Muetdin is attempting to move over to the side of the Reds with the only stipulation being that his troops be renamed as Soviet forces.
ACTIVITY OF COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY PARTIES
For the current month, monarchist activity has primarily consisted of the distribution of leaflets and proclamations of the Soyuz russkogo naroda. There have been numerous occasions in which these leaflets and proclamations have been read out at peasant gatherings and assemblies. Agitation has been conducted primarily among the properous peasants. According to reports received from a number of places, there has been a marked increase in monarchist designs to subject parish councils to their influnce, which is being successfully pursued in several places.
There has been a notable increase of monarchist groups in Siberia. These groups are mainly composed of officers, clergy and kulaks and are preparing an uprising. The Siberian monarchist organizations have printed some 70 thousand copies of an appeal to the Russian people, conveying a program clearly monarchist in character.
The upsurge in activity on the part of emigre groups, mentioned in the February survey, has continued in March. Monarchists of all hues, beginning with the Supreme monarchist council (Vysshe monarkhicheskii soviet - VMS) and ending with the Democratic group (Demokraticheskaia gruppa), headed by Yefimovsky, have been feverishly preparing for the Genoa Conference. The Supreme monarchist council has resolved to appear at the Genoa Conference as a protest against the recognition of Soviet Russia. In order to added added authority to this endeavour, they have decided to enlist one of the old members of the former imperial family. A plan hatched by a group of officers to make an attempt upon the Soviet delegation has produced panic among the right-wing groups. They consider the plan to be meaningless, as it will not lead to a severing of negotiations with Soviet Russia. Instead, they believe that it will only provoke a new wave of Red terror, which will destroy the ongoing work of monarchist groups in the Ukraine and in other parts of Russia.
A schism has occurred within the Supreme monarchist council between Markov's faction and Yefimovsky. The cause of the schism has been the council's support for the candidature of the former Grand Prince Kirill to the throne of Russia. A council of elders summoned by Markov has only succeeded in strengthing the discord between the groups. After the well-known monarchist, Nazhivin, had announced in an open letter that he would refuse to work with the current monarchist leaders, a series of articles began to appear in the press, written by partipants of the Bad Reichenhall congress, in which the current tactics of the VMS were debated. In opposition to the Council, which has forwarded the legal claim of Prince Kirill, a group of left-wing monarchists consides it necessary to implement a general election in order to choose the Tsar. This would require a rapprochement with the peasantry and a radical revamping of the monarchist program to the side of "authentic democracy," made necessary after the experience of the socialist revolutuion in Russia. The activity of the propaganda schools is continuing as is the dispatch of agitators to Russia. A group of monarchists in London is recruiting terrorists to be sent to Genoa. The Monarchist league in Paris has received permission from the French government to infiltrate its agents into both the French regular and secret police in order to conduct surveilance on the Soviet delegation.The Supreme monarchist council is attempting to use Poincare as a means of changing French policy towards Soviet Russia. It has already managed to procure the promise of a subsidy of several million francs for the support of counter-revolutuionary organizations pursuing the ecnomic ruin of Soviet Russia. In Berlin, the Organization for a spring offiensive has been created, headed by Shirinsky-Shikhmatov. The Organization has connections with Bavaria, where they are recruiting volunteers for Wrangel's Army. Preparations for a spring offensive are being conducted at an increasing pace. The offensive is supposed to commence along the entire front, from Finland to the Black Sea. It has been proposed that the army be led by former Grand Prince Nikolai Nikolayevich. In Berlin, intensive work is being conducted by the United Russian-German monarchist circle headed by Markov and Reventlow.
There has recently been intensfied activity on the part of a group associated with the publishing house National rebirth (National'noe vozrozhdenie), which has been operating primarily in Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Austria. The group stands in stark opposition to the VMS.
In Bulgaria, there are efforts to forge an anti-Bolshevik army, subsidized and supported by Americans (who have promised unlimited financial support on condition there be a popularly-elected leader). It is intended to form regiments from natives of the Kuban and other Russia localities. The plan is to send groups supplied with agricultural implements to Soviet Russia, under the guise of being "repentent Wrangel' supporters." A delegation has been sent to the former Grand Prince Boris in order to enlist his support. In Constantinople, a union of monarchist terrorists has been formed under the aegis of Father Vostokov.
The month of March has seen an upsurge of activity among Kadet groups and the spreading of their influence across a broad stratum of society. The greatest increase in activity has been observed in higher educational institutions. Two cadet groups have been discovered, one at Tomsk technological institute, the other at Kazan university. The Tomsk group consists exclusively of students, while the major portion of the Kazan group consists of professors, who have composed a written appeal to the American government.
The activity of the right social-revolutionaries has been concentrated primarily in the southern provinces of the Ukraine, the Volga region, and Siberia.
At the all-Ukrainian meeting of the right social revolutionary committee office it was decided to establish two offices for the all-Ukrainian committee: an eastern office in Khar'kov and a western (southern) office in Odessa.
In March, the first organizational meeting of social-revolutionaries took place in Voronezh. A proposed regional military-political congress apparently did not take place. Activity has been intensifying in Nizhni Novgorod, Yaroslavl and Tsaritsyn. In the latter town, contact has been established with social revolutionaries, which are operating at the Donetsko-Yurievsky metallurgical factory (Dyumo). The Penza chapter of the right social revolutionary party has been dispersed as a result of mass arrests. In Siberia, there is an organization of right social revolutionaries in Irkutsk, which numbers some 150 members, including 30 activists. In Omsk, there has been a noticeable increase in efforts to penetrate co-operative agencies. The same has been observed in Krasnoyarsk. In Akmolinsk, there is an organization numbering some 60 persons, which is spreading rumours of an impending uprising.
The left social-revolutionaries and maximalists both experienced some upsurge in activity in March compared to January. True, the separate organizations and groups are still not united and each operates at its own risk, but the number and activity of these groups has evidently grown during March, as has their efforts to create a single party center.
A circular was distributed by the Central Union of the maximalists, which reports on the preparations being made for the 7th maximalist congress. The agenda of the congress includes: 1) a report by the Central Bureau 2) discussion of the Union program 3) the New Economic Policy and the tactics of the Union 4) organizational structure 5) elections to the TsB (Central Bureau).
The most energetic of the left social-revolutionaries are operating in the Ukraine. At a January assembly of of the Khar'kov organization of the PLSR (Left Social Revolutionary Party), a three-member bureau was elected, which was entrusted with the task of establishing contact with the party center. In Poltava, a united bureau of maximalists and syndicalists was established. In case of its disapproval by the all-Russian congress, this union decided to establish an independent organization called "Soyuz levonarodnichestva (Union of Leftists)." From among other groups, one should point out the organization based in Tver'. In March, a non-party peasants' conference was conducted across Tver' province, at which the social revolutionaries, who enjoyed a clear majority, managed to carry their resolutions.
As before, the social-revolutionaries have been attempting to penetrate agricultural co-operative agencies in order to enter into close contact with the peasant masses. The New Economic Policy is viewed by the maximalists as a rerteat from the gains of the October revolution. In connection with this they proposes to cross over into active work among the masses.
The current month has not disclosed anything significant on the part of the Mensheviks. Scattered across various provinces, disconnected groups continue to engage in minor activities, expressed primarily in the form of inciting strikes at various enterprises or - in rare cases - attempting to distribute party literature of some sort among workers.
More or less energetic work is being carried out by their Moscow committee, which regularly issues leaflets and which is preparing to publish a regular journal of the social-democratic youth, Yunii proletarii (the Young Proletariat). In the provinces, work is being performed primarily in the labour unions (among printers, education workers, and so on). It may be mentioned that there has been somewhat of an upsurge in activity on the part of the Ukrainian organization, especially in Khar'kov, where under the guise of a training college they have managed to establish something similar to a party school at the local Economics Institute. The Mensheviks in the Caucasus are continuing to spread rumours concerning preparations for a new alleged intervention, which has the goal of "liberating the Caucasus."
There is almost nothing to report for the month of March. The most energetic anarcho-communists are active in maintaining contacts in the provinces and distributing their literature. In Petrograd, an underground anarcho-bandit organization has been eliminated.A resurgence in anarchist activity is expected in the spring as they intend to transfer their operations to the famine regions, primarily along the Volga.
A resurgence of activity on the part of the emigre Ukrainian movement continues. On November 21, an all-Ukrainian congress, was convened, which was attended by representatives of the Ukrainian assembly, labour congress, Central Rada, and other organizations. It was decided that Ukrainian liberation from Bolshevik occupation would be demanded at the Genoa Conference.
Non-party "White-guard" groups
According to the latest information, Savinkov is in Paris, where he is conducting negotiations with the French general staff about organizing terrorist operations in Soviet Russia. However, until the issue of the Genoa Conference is cleared up, the General Staff will not give Savinkov an answer. According to reports, the General Staff has entrusted Savinkov with the task of observing the Soviet delegation at Genoa. Savinkov has been attempting to vindicate himself before the social-revolutionaries and has made a personal appeal to Minor that he be allowed to explain himself. Minor has announced that he considers Savinkov a traitor and that he should give an account of himself before the Central Committee of the Right Social-Revolutionary Party in Moscow.
The activity of the clergy has been primarily focused on the issue of the confiscation of church valuables. The entire course of the confiscation campaign can be broken up into two sharply defined periods. Prior to the publication of Tikhon's appeal to the clergy (as mentioned in the section on the political situation of the peasantry), the clergy had conducted itself in a generally passive manner. From the moment the clergy in the provinces received the appeal, an intensive campaign of provocation, agitation and rumour began, alleging that the Communists will be confiscating the valuables for their own use. In addition, unrest has begun in several places (Petrograd, Shuya, Smolensk, Yelat'ma and so on). The clergy has undoubtedly played a significant role in this unrest. It is a telling point, that there has be no unrest anywhere, where the clergy has had a more or less sympathetic attitude towards the confiscations. Organizational activity on the part of the clergy during the current month has not been observed.
There have been individual cases of supposed robberies of churches, that have been committed by Church officials.In Simbirsk, several clergymen were guilty of selling valuables to speculators.
Catholic clergy. There has been no discernible activity on the part of the Catholic clergy over the current month. The attitide of the Catholics towards the issue of confiscation of valuables is unfavourable.
Baptists.There has been a noticible increase in the organizational activity of the Baptists. Their contacts with America are continuing through the ARA.
Deputy Chairman GPU
Chief, Information Section GPU