Leaders of the Russian Revolution
Nikolai Muralov (1877-1937)
22 November 2017
As part of the celebration of the centenary of the October Revolution in 1917, the World Socialist Web Site is publishing a series of profiles of leaders of the Russian Revolution.This is the second of a two-part profile of Nikolai Muralov.The first part was posted here.
Due to the bloody and protracted Stalinist and bourgeois reaction against the revolution, these individuals remain largely unknown to the international working class. Yet they rank among the most complex and formidable figures of the 20th century and are an important part of the proud heritage of the working class. The stunning and often tragic vicissitudes of their political and personal lives mirror the complicated development of the Bolshevik Party itself, and the rapid succession of revolution, war, and reaction. This series seeks to introduce our readers to the major contributions these figures made to the struggle for socialism, and how their lives intersected with the development of the Russian Revolution.
Unless otherwise indicated, all translations from the Russian are by this author.
On January 21, 1924, Vladimir Lenin, whose name, like no other, was associated with the emergence and conquest power of the Bolshevik Party, died after a prolonged illness. Beyond the immediate sense of real political and personal loss that Muralov and thousands if not millions of others felt, Lenin’s death had far-reaching political implications. It deprived the Bolshevik Party of its most respected leader and intensified the inner-party struggle that had emerged in previous years.
In 1924, a centrist faction, headed by Stalin, and, until 1925, by Kamenev and Zinoviev, launched a vicious campaign against what they called “Trotskyism”—in reality, the theory of permanent revolution, of world socialist revolution, which had formed the political and theoretical basis for the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917. It was the beginning of a protracted and vicious political betrayal of the Russian Revolution, which would lead only 15 years later to the physical liquidation of virtually the entire old Bolshevik Party leadership.
The slogan of building “socialism in one country” became the central programmatic axis of the Stalinist faction’s struggle against the Left Opposition. This national orientation resulted in a subordination of the interests of the international revolution and the Communist International to those of the Stalinist bureaucracy.
Lenin had begun to take up the struggle against what he perceived as a growing nationalist and bureaucratic tendency within the party shortly before his death. In the months leading up to the creation of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics in December 1922, Stalin headed a substantial faction in the Bolshevik Party that argued for greater centralization of political and administrative power in the Russian party and state apparatus, while aiming to restrain the autonomy of the fledgling Soviet republics with national minority populations like Georgia and Ukraine.
The struggle came to a head in the “Georgian Affair,” which prompted Lenin’s last active, forceful intervention in the inner-party struggle. Ordzhonikidze, a close ally and compatriot of Stalin, essentially bullied the Georgian Central Committee, which, along with the Central Committees of other Communist parties in what was to become the USSR, strongly opposed Stalin’s proposed curtailment of national autonomy of the republics. Lenin condemned Ordzhonikidze’s behavior in the strongest terms, warning of the reemergence of “the Great-Russian chauvinist, in substance a rascal and a tyrant, such as the typical Russian bureaucrat is.” 
What was at stake, Lenin emphasized, was not just the inner cohesion of the USSR itself, but the impact that developments in the Soviet Union had on the consciousness of the millions of workers in the capitalist world. He wrote:
[T]he harm that can result to our state from a lack of unification between the national apparatuses and the Russian apparatus is infinitely less than that which will be done not only to us, but to the whole International, and to the hundreds of millions of the peoples of Asia, which is destined to follow us on to the stage of history in the near future. It would be unpardonable opportunism if, on the eve of debut of the East, just as it is awakening, we undermined our prestige with its peoples, even if only by the slightest crudity or injustice towards our own non-Russian nationalities. The need to rally against the imperialists of the West, who are defending the capitalist world, is one thing. There can be no doubt about that, and it would be superfluous for me to speak about my unconditional approval of it. It is another thing when we ourselves lapse, even if only in trifles, into imperialist attitudes towards oppressed nationalities, thus undermining all our principled sincerity, all our principled defense of the struggle against imperialism. 
In hindsight, it is clear that what Lenin fought in late 1922 were the early signs of a powerful nationalist tendency within the party and state apparatus, which would subsequently betray every single tenet of the international socialist struggle against imperialism. Due to Lenin’s illness and eventual death, the brunt of leading the struggle against this nationalist faction, which was strengthened with every defeat of the socialist revolution abroad, fell upon Leon Trotsky and a series of other leading old Bolsheviks. In the fall of 1923, several leading old Bolsheviks published the Declaration of the 46, the founding document of the Left Opposition.
Muralov signed the Declaration of the 46 “without hesitation,” and his signature counted for much.  To the objection of his comrades who urged him to leave the “Trotskyist” opposition, Muralov reportedly responded: “I support the old Bolsheviks, and not Trotsky. Stalin acts and proceeds not in the Leninist manner.” 
The Stalinist leadership swiftly proceeded to demote Muralov. In May 1924, he was replaced in his capacity as the commander of the Moscow Military District by Voroshilov, a close ally of Stalin and opponent of Trotsky since the days of the Civil War. Yet there was no way to remove him from public and party life entirely, at least not yet. At the 14th party Congress in 1925, Muralov was elected to the party’s control commission. He also continued to hold different positions in the Red Army and the Gosplan. His last position in Moscow was that of director of the Timiriazev Academy.
During these years, Muralov was among the comrades closest to Leon Trotsky. His niece wrote,
In the years of the Civil War and thereafter, N.I. Muralov often ended up working with L.D. Trotsky. They were friends. My uncle respected Trotsky for his organizational talents, for his ability to quickly orient himself in even the most difficult military situation, and provide assessments of difficult events. As I now understand, Trotsky was also an authority for Nikolai Ivanovich when it came to many political issues. 
In My Life, Trotsky fondly wrote:
He was a fearless marshal of the revolutionary war, always steady, simple, and unaffected. In his campaigning he was a tireless living example; he gave agricultural advice, mowed grain, and in his free moments gave medical treatment to both men and cows. In the most difficult situations, he radiated calm, warmth, and confidence. After the close of the war, Muralov and I always tried to spend our free days together. We were united too by our love of hunting. We scoured North and South for bears and wolves, or for pheasants and bustards. 
Like his brother Aleksander, Nikolai Muralov was a delegate to the 15th Party Congress in December 1927 at which the Party would expel the Left Opposition from its ranks. However, while Aleksander supported the line and policies of the dominant Stalinist faction, Nikolai spoke as a representative of the Left Opposition. Yet doing this at a Party Congress had already become all but impossible. In the first session of the Congress, Nikolai Muralov tried to speak, but the great leader of the revolution in Moscow and the Civil War was frequently interrupted, shouted down and eventually prevented from speaking at all.
[Nikolai] Muralov: The wars have ended, we have proceeded to peaceful construction, but before us were and still are the most daunting tasks of building a socialist state, the dictatorship of the proletariat (murmur)—for the first time in all of humanity’s existence. (One voice from a seat: ‘But you are undermining this building!’) … When there is a one-sided discussion the truth becomes, of course, very difficult to clarify or, rather, it is being obfuscated. (Voices: ‘You are the ones who are obfuscating!’) … Measures have been taken in relation to those who do not agree with the policies, the direction of the policy of our Central Committees, that have been unheard of in our party. If someone from the opposition was talking about the necessity to raise the wages for the workers, they screamed: this is demagogy (noise), when they were talking about a differentiation that was taking place in the countryside, that the kulak is growing, that the poor peasant (bedniak) is being neglected, they screamed: this is demagogy. (Voices: ‘This is a lie, down with him! He is again presenting the platform!’ ‘You go and work a bit in the countryside!’ Noise).”
… Finally, things went so far as to result in the most extraordinary, greatest, unheard-of repressions in the party in relation to old, dedicated party members, revolutionaries. … They were accused of being agents of Chamberlain. (Loud noise. Voices: ‘It’s enough, down with him!’) ... When I am criticizing, it means that I am criticizing my party, and its actions and I am criticizing in the interest of the cause, and not for the purpose of flattery. (Loud noise.)” 
Finally, the chair of the session, Petrovsky, told Muralov to yield the floor.
In a long resolution, the Congress denounced the Opposition as “anti-Soviet,” “Menshevik,” falsely accused it of trying to build a second, “Trotskyist Party” [the Left Opposition insisted on working within the Third International until 1933], and confirmed the expulsion of Leon Trotsky and Grigory Zinoviev by the Central Committee on November 14, 1927. It also resolved to expel 75 leaders of the Left Opposition, among them Smilga, Rakovsky, and Muralov. Some 1,000 Left Oppositionists had already been expelled from the party before the Congress. Further, the Congress decided to “authorize the C.C. and C.C.C. [Central Control Commission—CW] to take all measures for ideological persuasion of the rank-and-file members of the Trotskyist Opposition with the object of convincing them, simultaneously purging the Party from all obviously incorrigible elements of the Trotskyist Opposition.” 
Henceforth, former members of the opposition could reapply for party membership only on an individual basis, with the Central Committee deciding about their application six months after its submission. Above all, the oppositionists had to renounce the “Platform of the 83” of the United Left Opposition from 1927—which had been signed by some 3,000 party members, many of them with high and long standing—and all other main opposition platforms. 
Kamenev and Zinoviev, who had played a central role in the struggle against “Trotskyism,” i.e., permanent revolution, in 1923-25, and had joined the United Opposition in 1926, with many differences unresolved, capitulated to the party’s demands already during the Congress, seeking to be readmitted immediately. However, the Congress rejected even discussing their statement.
Other leading Trotskyist Left Oppositionists, such as Muralov and Smilga, submitted very different statements and declarations. Muralov was a signatory of two of them. The most important one was the longer declaration which he signed along with Ivar Smilga, Karl Radek, and Christian Rakovsky. Another statement to the chairman of the Congress, signed only by Muralov and Rakovsky, said:
Submitting to the decision of the Congress, we cease all our factional work, dissolve all factional organizations, and call upon our fellow thinkers to do likewise.
We categorically reject the path of a second party, and consider every attempt in that direction to be absolutely counter to the existence of the proletarian dictatorship and therefore doomed to failure. … At the same time, we think that our views laid down in the platform and thesis can be defended by everyone of us in the Party within the limits of its Statutes. To renounce the advocacy of our views in the Party is politically tantamount to a renunciation of the views themselves. Such renunciation would be our duty if we were convinced of their incorrectness, *i.e.*, that they are not in keeping with the program of the C.P.S.U. or are of minor importance from the point of view of the fate of the Party and the proletarian dictatorship. Otherwise to renunce (sic!) the defiance of these views would really be renunciation of the right to fulfill the most elementary duty in relation to the Party and the working class… We firmly believe that the Party will find a way of readmitting to its ranks those who have been expelled and liberating from prison those under arrest for Opposition activity. 
What followed were mass expulsion, imprisonments and demotions of leading revolutionaries to minor posts in Siberia or Central Asia. Nikolai Muralov was sent to Novosibirsk in Siberia.
Half a year later after the Congress, on June 6, 1928, Muralov wrote in a defiant letter to Leon Trotsky, who was by then already exiled to Alma-Ata:
We wrote in an honest and correct manner to the XVth Congress (signed by four of us); nothing better could be written, nothing new could be added. Do they really intend to send anyone related to us into exile? This is not our argument, but the argument of the Uglanovs, the Voroshilovs, and others like them. … “This is a fight to the death,” Menzhinskii told Smilga. Kamenev and Zinoviev, who have weak nerves, and are “not entirely courageous,” chickened out and crawled through the door of the pigsty, whose floor was scattered with all sorts of “trash”; “We crawled into the party on our bellies” (Zinoviev’s exact words). As you will remember, we both rejected such an unattractive, unaesthetic, unhygienic entry into the revolutionary Bolshevik party because our party was a structure absolutely unlike a pigsty, or any other building for piglets, chickens and other beasts or animals. … If we cannot now “go to the sailors” (and it is true that we cannot), then it is all the more important that we do not go to the VTSiK. But to write a confession—I would rather die than write one, I would rather be drawn and quartered than write one. Even if am alone—I will not write it. We are formally without a party. We are honest workers, we will do everything correctly that they tell us to, we will contribute our relatively broad knowledge to the majority of ignoramuses (which is really a misfortune and one of the reasons for our defeat), both in the economy, and in specific questions of Soviet agriculture. But neither the little nor big cowards, not those who are braver, will turn us into philistines and imposters. This will no more happen than the Irtysh starts flowing from the Arctic Ocean. Greetings, N. Muralov. 
While seeking repeatedly to be readmitted to the party, Muralov for years categorically refused to renounce his criticisms of and views on the party line. For this reason, none of his requests for readmission to the party were ever accepted.
One letter to the Central Committee from April 12, 1930, which Muralov signed along with Christian Rakovsky, V. Kasparova, and V. Kosior, provided an early and sharp criticism of one of the greatest crimes and disasters produced by the Stalinist regime—forced collectivization in the Soviet Union. This document is worth quoting. Along with numerous articles by Leon Trotsky, and other documents and statements by the Left Opposition, it provides irrefutable evidence that the massive loss of human life in Ukraine and Central Asia during the famine cannot be ascribed to “communism” or “socialism,” as is now the fashion among anti-Communist and right-wing academics.
In its declaration to the CC and CCC (TsKK) of October 4 of last year, the opposition of Bolshevik-Leninists warned against extreme administrative measures in the countryside, because they would have negative political consequences… The CC issued a directive which in and of itself constitutes the most grotesque deviation from socialism. The slogan of complete collectivization—regardless of whether it is scheduled for 15 years, as it was done initially, or for 1 year, as they then did—constitutes in and of itself the greatest economic absurdity. We are Marxists and we know that new property forms can emerge on the basis of new relations of production. But these new relations of production do not yet exist. … It was also economically absurd to abolish both the kulaks as a class and the NEP [New Economic Policy] by decree. … Complete collectivization has been undertaken in violation of the most basic principles of Marxism, and in disregard of basic warnings by Lenin about collectivization, the middle peasants, and the NEP. 
Muralov did in the end capitulate, just a few months before his final arrest and execution.
The exact reasons for his capitulation are not entirely clear, but several people, including his niece, suggest that his younger brother Aleksander Muralov as well as his good friend, the Old Bolshevik Reingold Berzin, exerted a substantial amount of pressure on Muralov. It is very well possible that they were genuinely concerned about his life in the wake of the murder of Kirov on December 1, 1934, which all thinking party members understood to be the prelude to an escalation of the Stalinist terror.
In his “confession,” Muralov wrote:
I have not abandoned the Bolshevik party since 1903. ... I can no longer remain outside of its ranks. I again want to be in the ranks of my party—the party of Lenin and Stalin, and devote my strength and energy to it. I hope that the CC will reinstate me in the ranks of the party and I hereby ask for it. 
His “confession” was sent to all Central Committee members on January 7, 1936. But it did not help him at all. In his diary, Reingold Berzin suggested that Yagoda and other members of the Politburo continued to suspect Muralov of sympathies for the Left Opposition, as he had failed to denounce Trotsky in his letter of capitulation. Before the six-month period formally required to review a readmission had passed, the NKVD arrested Muralov on April 17, 1936, in Novosibirsk to “prepare” him for the first Moscow Show Trial. 
There is great tragedy in the end of Nikolai Muralov. Judging by all accounts, it took months of torture to break him. Rebecca Boguslavskaya, the daughter of one of Muralov’s co-defendants, recalled seeing the tortured Muralov in the Moscow prison Lubyanka when visiting her father:
Unexpectedly, I saw a convoy that accompanied an older man in his sixties in a warm Tolstoyan shirt. The man being escorted attracted my attention with his energy, his grey, magnificent hair, the grey beard and mustache and his small steps which did not harmonize at all with his appearance. I told myself, it must be painful for him to walk normally. I was nailed to the wall. I could not stop looking at him, my eyes filled with pity, and one thought burned in my head: who is he? 
The man was Muralov, who had apparently been tortured so severely that he could hardly walk.
The last blow to crush Muralov was the arrest of his beloved 16-year-old son Vladimir on November 6, 1936. He signed his false confession just a few weeks later, on December 5, 1936.  Soon thereafter, he was tried at the Second Moscow Trial in the so-called case of the “parallel anti-Soviet Trotskyist center.” Other defendants included Georgy Piatakov, Karl Radek, Leonid Serebriakov, and Grigori Sokolnikov, Mikhail Boguslavsky and Yakov Drobnis. Along with 12 of the other defendants, among them, Serebriakov, Piatakov, Drobnis and Boguslavsky, Nikolai Muralov was shot on February 1, 1937. (Only four defendants were not executed immediately, but they all were killed within the next four years.)
As Leon Trotsky observed, the chief purpose of the show trials was to discredit the October Revolution, by dragging its best-known and most important representatives through the mud. Of course, the accusations of “espionage” for the secret services of the fascist governments of Germany and Japan, and of participating in a “counterrevolutionary Trotskyist conspiracy,” were despicable lies. The false testimonies and confessions given by the defendants like Muralov, who still rank among the greatest men produced by the 19th and 20th centuries, remain a profoundly tragic and disturbing read. While the names of the defendants were henceforth wiped out from Soviet accounts of the revolution, the Civil War, and early Soviet history—leading to the most absurd distortions—these false and humiliating confessions were distributed in thousands of copies by the Soviet press in the USSR and around the world.
The Muralov family, like so many of the great revolutionary families whose fate was intimately tied to the October Revolution, was destroyed almost entirely in the terror. Aleksander Muralov, who had written a letter to the Central Committee vouching for his older brother, was convicted and executed on June 28, 1937. His sister, Sofia Ivanovna, also an old Bolshevik, perished in the camps in 1943. Nikolai Muralov’s son, Vladimir, was arrested and sentenced to eight years in a labor camp. He died in 1943, reportedly of diphtheria. His daughter, Galina (whose later married name was Poleshchuk), seems to have been the only immediate relative who was not executed or sent to the camps.
Muralov’s wife, Anna Semionova (who seems to never have been very political), was imprisoned in a camp and not released before the late 1950s. She would learn of her son’s fate only in the late 1950s. For decades, she tried unsuccessfully to fight for the rehabilitation of her husband. He was rehabilitated only in late perestroika, in 1987 (along criminal lines) and in 1990 (along party lines), several years after her death. The rest of his family had been rehabilitated after the XXth Party Congress in 1956 under Khrushchev.
Whatever his tragic end, the role of Muralov in the October Revolution and the Civil War was so visible, and Muralov himself so greatly admired, that he left an enduring imprint on Soviet culture and literature. Vladimir Mayakovsky mentioned Muralov in an early version of his poem, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
from a distance,
from the red banners,
and our silent honor guard, hear
someone’s voice—it must be—
“Forward, march!”… 
The great Soviet writer Varlam Shalamov, himself a supporter of the Left Opposition in the 1920s and a victim of the terror, once aptly noted that the Great Purges were directed against all those who had “remembered the wrong part of Russian history.” This “wrong part of Russian history” included literally every document and figure of the Trotskyist movement, not least among them Muralov, a man who, by all accounts, made a profound and lasting impression on everyone whom he met and worked with.
In “The First Chekist,” one of his Kolyma Tales—which rank among the most important literary documents of the crimes of Stalinism—Shalamov provides a glimpse into how traumatizing and agonizing Muralov’s persecution and slander was for the people who had been trained and educated by him. In the story, he describes his encounter with Alekseev, one of Muralov’s Moscow soldiers in a prison cell, who is accused of “conspiracy against the government:”
He argued very often. Prison life, the life of being interrogated, makes you prone to arguments. You need to know this, to understand it, and always control yourself or be able to distract yourself. ... Gavriil Alekseev did not understand these subtleties of prison life, and threw himself into arguments, into fights. This one reproached Gavriil Alekseev, that one insulted Muralov. Muralov was Alekseev’s god. He was the god of his youth, the god of his entire life.
When Vasia Zhavoronkov, a railway mechanic from the Stahelski depot, said something about Muralov in the vein of the latest party textbooks, Alekseev threw himself on Vasia, and grabbed the copper kettle, with which we distributed tea in the cell. … Alekseev, the strongman, the Hercules, courageously grabbed the kettle by the handle, but could not move it from its place. The kettle was filled with water—it was still a long time until the dinner, when they brought the kettle away.
Thus, everything ended in laughter, even though Vasia Zhavoronkov had become pale and was prepared to meet the blow. 
Shalamov was influenced by the literary and inner-party struggles of the 1920s and remained friends with the family of the Trotskyist literary critic Alexander Voronsky until his death in 1982. In 1927, he was arrested for participating in a demonstration by the Left Opposition on the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution. After his second arrest in 1937 for “counterrevolutionary Trotskyist activity,” he spent some 20 years in Kolyma.
In 1990, a few months before the dissolution of the USSR, a small volume appeared in Russia with a biographical essay on Muralov, memories of contemporaries, and several essays and speeches by Muralov himself, as well as pictures and documents from his family’s archive. This 200-page volume contains an enormous amount of highly significant material on the October Revolution and the Left Opposition. While little has been added to this material since the dissolution of the USSR, we should hope that it shall prove only the beginning of more extensive research into the life and times of one of the major figures of the working class.
To conclude this profile of one of the most impressive figures of the October Revolution, it seems fitting to cite Leon Trotsky’s scathing indictment of Stalinism:
No one, not excluding Hitler, has dealt socialism such deadly blows as Stalin. This is hardly astonishing since Hitler has attacked the working class organizations from without, while Stalin does it from within. Hitler assaults Marxism. Stalin not only assaults but prostitutes it. Not a single principle has remained unpolluted, not a single idea unsullied. The very names of socialism and communism have been cruelly compromised, from the day when uncontrolled policemen making their livelihood by “communist” passport, gave the name socialism to their police regime. … The memory of mankind is magnanimous as regards the application of harsh measures in the service of great historical goals. But history will not pardon a single drop of blood shed in sacrifice to the new Moloch of self-will and privilege. Moral sensibility finds its highest satisfaction in the immutable conviction that historical retribution will correspond to the scope of the crime. Revolution will unlock all the secret compartments, review all the trials, rehabilitate all the slandered, raise memorials to the victims of wantonness and cover with eternal infamy the names of the executioners. Stalin will depart from the scene laden with all the crimes which he has committed—not only as the gravedigger of the revolution but as the most sinister figure in the history of mankind. 
Literature on Nikolai Muralov
Muralova, Yulia, “O tom, chto nikogda ne zabudetsia” [About what can never be forgotten]. The Russian original is available here: http://scepsis.net/library/id_3568.html
Poleshchuk N. (ed.), Nikolai Muralov, Moscow: Moskovskii rabochii 1990. This volume comprises several essays on Muralov, autobiographical works of his, as well as original documents and recollections of his contemporaries.
Poleshchuk N., I. P. Donkov, “Sud’ ba bol’ shevika” [The fate of a Bolshevik], in: Oni ne molchali [They would not remain silent], ed. by A. V. Afanasev, Moscow: Politizdat 1991, pp. 86-101.
 Vladimir Lenin, “The Question of Nationalities or ‘Autonomisation’” (December 31, 1922).
 Poleshchuk N., I. P. Donkov, “Sud’ba bol’shevika” [The fate of a Bolshevik], in: Oni ne molchali [They would not remain silent], ed. by A. V. Afanasev, Moscow: Politizdat 1991, p. 93.
 Yulia Muralova, “O tom, chto nikogda ne zabudetsia” [About what can never be forgotten]. The Russian original is available here: http://scepsis.net/library/id_3568.html
 Leon Trotsky, My Life, Ch. 26. https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1930/mylife/ch26.htm
 This incident does not appear in the official transcript of the Congress which was printed and distributed by the Comintern. The passages quoted are taken from Yulia Muralova: “O tom, c hto nikogda ne zabudetsia.”
 Quoted from: Report of the XV Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Official Report with Decisions and Discussions. Published by the Communist Party of Great Britain, London 1928, p. 407.
 Ibid., p. 410.
 Ibid., p. 391.
 Quoted from: Poleshchuk N., I. P. Donkov, “Sud’ba bol’shevika” [The fate of a Bolshevik], in: Oni ne molchali [They would not remain silent], ed. by A. V. Afanasev, Moscow: Politizdat 1991, pp. 96-97.
 Quoted from: Ibid., pp. 95-96. Emphasis in the original.
 Quoted from: Ibid., p. 98.
 Ibid., pp. 98-99.
 R. M. Boguslavskaya, “Vstrecha na lubianke,” in:Poleshchuk N. (ed.): Nikolai Muralov, Moscow: Moskovskii rabochii 1990, p. 185.
 Poleshchuk N., I. P. Donkov, “Sud’ba bol’shevika,” p. 100.
 Vladimir Mayakovsky, “Vladimir Ilyich Lenin,” in Selected Works in Three Volumes, Volume 2, Raduga, 1986, p. 203 (in a different translation).
 Varlam Shalamov, Pervyi chekist. For the Russian original story, see: https://shalamov.ru/library/1/15.html.
The translation from the Russian is by this author. Only a few of Shalamov’s Kolyma Tales have been translated from Russian, and “The First Chekist” is not among them.
 Leon Trotsky, “The Beginning of the End” (October 1937).
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