V. I.   Lenin

Trepov in the Saddle

Published: Vperyod, No. 5, February 7 (January 25), 1905. Published according to the text in Vperyod.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 8, pages 132-135.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs and The Late Isidor Lasker
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2003). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.README

Cruel reprisals against all the discontented have become the government’s slogan since January 9. On Tuesday, Trepov, one of the most hated servitors of tsarism in the whole of Russia, notorious in Moscow for his brutality, his coarseness, and his participation in the Zubatovist attempts to demoralise the workers, was appointed Governor-General of St. Petersburg with dictatorial powers.

Arrests came thick and fast as from a horn of plenty. The first to be arrested were the members of the liberal delegation, which, late on Saturday evening, had gone to Witte and Svyatopolk-Mirsky to request the government to receive the workers’ petition and not to order the troops to fire on the peaceful demonstration. It goes without saying that these requests proved of no avail. Witte referred the delegation to Svyatopolk-Mirsky; the latter refused to receive it. The Deputy-Minister of the Interior, Rydziewski, received the delegation very coldly and declared that it was not the government that had to be persuaded, but the workers, that the government was fully informed of everything that was going on, and that it had already made decisions which no requests could alter. It is interesting that at the meeting of the liberals which appointed this delegation the suggestion had even been made to dissuade the workers from marching to the Winter Palace, upon which a friend of Gapon’s who was present at the meeting declared that this would be use less, since the workers’ decision was irrevocable. (This in formation was reported by Mr. Dillon, correspondent of the English Daily Telegraph, and subsequently corroborated by other correspondents.)

The members of the delegation—Gessen, Arsenyev, Kareyev, Peshekhonov, Myakotin, Semevsky, Kedrin, Shnitnikov, Ivanchin-Pisarev, and Gorky (who was arrested in Riga and brought to St. Petersburg)—were held in custody on the ridiculous charge that they intended to organise a “provisional government of Russia” on the day after the revolution. Such a charge, of course, is bound to collapse of itself. A number of the arrested men (Arsenyev, Kedrin, and Shnitnikov) have been released. A vigorous campaign in behalf of Gorky has been started in educated bourgeois circles abroad, and a petition to the tsar for his release was signed by many prominent German scientists and writers. These have now been joined by scientists and men of letters in Austria, France, and Italy.

On Friday evening, four members of the staff of the newspaper Nasha Zhizn were arrested: Prokopovich and his wife, Khizhnyakov, and Yakovlev (Bogucharsky). Of the staff of the newspaper Nashi Dni,[1] Ganeiser was arrested on Saturday morning. The police are trying very bard to intercept the funds sent from abroad for the strikers or for the widows and orphans of those killed in the massacre. People are being arrested en masse. The warrant for Bogucharsky’s arrest was numbered 53 and for Khizhnyakov 109. On Saturday the offices of both mentioned papers were raided and all manuscripts without exception were confiscated, including detailed accounts of the events of the entire week, accounts written and signed by reliable eyewitnesses who had noted down all they had seen for the edification of future generations. None of this material will ever see the light of day now.

On Wednesday the number of arrests was so considerable that the prisoners had to be placed two and three in a cell. In the case of workers, the new dictator is casting all ceremony aside. Since Thursday they have been rounded up in batches and hustled back to their home towns and villages. There they will, of course, spread the story of the events of January 9 and advocate struggle against the autocracy.

Trepov is falling back on his old Moscow tactics of ensnaring the working-class masses with economic sops.

Employers are conferring with the Minister of Finance to devise various concessions to the workers; there is talk of   the nine-hour day. On Tuesday the Minister of Finance received a delegation of workers, promised economic reforms, and warned against political agitation.

The police are trying their hardest to sow distrust and enmity between the general public and the workers. Wednesday’s reports in foreign newspapers state most definitely that the police are trying to terrorise the population of St. Petersburg with lurid accounts of robberies and other atrocious deeds alleged to have been committed by the strikers. Deputy-Minister of the Interior Rydziewski himself assured a visitor on Tuesday that the strikers were out to loot, burn, destroy, and kill. Wherever they have been able, the strikers—at least their class-conscious leaders—have branded this as slander. The police themselves sent out agents-provocateurs and house janitors to smash windows, burn news-stands, and loot shops, in order to terrorise the population. The workers, in fact, behaved so peacefully that they roused the wonder of the foreign press correspondents who had witnessed the horrors of January 9.

The police agents are now busy with a new “workers’ organisation”. They pick suitable elements from among the workers, supply them with money, set them on students and writers, and praise “the true public-spirited policy of Our Father the Tsar”. It is not difficult to find among two or three hundred thousand uneducated workers, crushed in spirit by starvation, a few thousand who will nibble at this bait. These will be “organised”, they will be made to curse “the liberal frauds” and to declare loudly that they were fooled last Sunday. Then this scum of the working class will appoint a delegation which will “humbly beseech the tsar to allow them to fall at his feet and repent them of the crimes they committed last Sunday”. “According to my information,” continues the correspondent, “this is precisely what the police are now engaged in arranging. After they have put the finishing touches to this organisation, His Majesty will most graciously deign to receive the delegation in the Manage, which will be specially prepared for this occasion. He will make a moving speech professing His fatherly concern for the workers and His anxiety that measures be taken to improve their condition.”

P.S. These lines were already set up in type when telegrams arrived confirming the predictions of the English correspondent. At his residence in Tsarskoye Selo the tsar received a delegation of thirty-four workers hand-picked by the police, and he delivered a speech reeking with official hypocrisy about the government’s paternal solicitude and about the forgiveness it held out to the offending workers. Of course, this ghastly farce will not deceive the Russian proletariat. The proletariat will never forget Bloody Sunday. It will yet speak to the tsar in a different strain.


[1] Nashi Dni (Our Days)—a liberal-bourgeois newspaper which appeared in St. Petersburg in 1904-05.

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