V. I.   Lenin

Revolts in the Army and Navy

Published: Rabochaya Gazeta No. 9, July 30 (August 12),[2] 1912. Published according to the text in Rabochaya Gazeta.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1975], Moscow, Volume 18, pages 233-236.
Translated: Stepan Apresyan
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). 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

Recently a few reports have slipped even into our legal press about revolutionary unrest in the armed forces. We shall mention three chief reports.

Black Sea Fleet. On June 27 a naval court in Sevastopol tried behind closed doors Zelenin, an electrician of the battleship Ioann Zlatoust. Together with Karpishin and Silyakov, he was charged with writing and circulating an appeal for an armed revolt. Zelenin, Karpishin and Silyakov were sentenced to death and were shot on July 10.

On July 2 the same court tried the crew of the same battleship. It charged sixteen sailors with incitement to seize the battleship. Ten of the sailors were sentenced to death and five to penal servitude for six years. On July 4 official telegrams reported that the ten men condemned to death had appealed for pardon.

Baltic Fleet. On July 16 the naval court in Kronstadt harbour is to try sixty-five sailors of the training ship Dvina, the cruiser Aurora and the battleship Slava. On July 3 the Octobrist paper Golos Moskvy received a telephone report from St. Petersburg saying that there was much talk in the city about that sensational trial. The sixty-five sailors are said to be charged with membership of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party and of “a secret association which had planned an open revolt and the assassination of superior officers”. The case goes back, according to the same report, to the arrest of a Dvina sailor on January 22, 1912.

It is known, furthermore, that during May arrests were made among the sailors of the Baltic Fleet in Helsingfors.

Lastly, on July 1, there was an attempt at revolt by engineering troops in the village of Troyitskoye, near Tashkent. The insurgents bayoneted Junior Captain Pokhvisnev. The telegram reporting the incident was not released for publication. Not until July 10 did a reprint appear in St. Petersburg from Turkestanskiye Vedomosti, an official paper, which admitted that there had been a battle with the insurgents. Riflemen and Cossacks had smashed the insurgent engineers, alleged to have numbered in all 100 to 130 men. The revolt began in the evening and was over, according to the official report, by the morning. Some 380 engineers were arrested, of whom “more than one-half [the government paper asserts ] undoubtedly [??] had no share” in the revolt. The insurgents killed, besides Pokhvisnev, two second lieutenants—Krasovsky and Koshchenets—and two privates, and wounded five officers and twelve privates. The official paper says nothing about the number of the insurgents killed.

Such is the scant information, clearly incomplete and clearly distorted and minimised by the police, that we now have at our disposal.

But what do these facts mean?

They fully confirm what was pointed out in the decisions of the All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. in January 1912 and explained in greater detail in the Central Organ, Sotsial-Demokrat (No. .27), a month ago.[1]

A revolutionary upswing has begun in Russia. With the mass strikes in April and May the Russian proletariat began to pass to the offensive—against capital and against the tsarist monarchy, for a better life for the workers, worn out by counter-revolutionary persecution and tyranny in 1908–11, and for freedom for the whole people, for a democratic republic.

It is an idle tale the liberals are putting about (followed by the Nevsky Golos liquidators) when they say that the   basis of the April-May movement was the struggle for freedom of association. The facts belie that tale. One cannot fight for only one of the political rights in enslaved Russia, nor can one fight for constitutional reforms under the tsarist autocracy. The struggle of the proletariat swept over Russia in a wave of strikes that were both economic and political. The strength of the movement lay, and lies, in the combination of the two types of strike. They are not ordinary strikes, they mark a revolutionary upsurge of the masses, the beginning of an offensive by the mass of the workers against the tsarist monarchy.

The mass strikes were bound to kindle the flames of revolution everywhere. And the outbreaks of revolt among the armed forces are a proof that those flames are flaring up—there is inflammable material everywhere, and everywhere a revolutionary mood is growing among the masses, including even those workers and peasants who are held down by barrack drill.

The mass strikes in Russia are inseparably linked with an armed uprising. Where strikes grow, the uprising grows too.

That is what the events mentioned at the beginning of this article have shown.

Those events provide a lesson which is pointed out in the Central Organ, Sotsial-Demokrat No. 27. Appeals for an uprising are most unwise now. An uprising would be premature. Only a combined onslaught by the mass of the workers, by the peasantry and the best section of the armed forces can create conditions for a victorious, i.e., timely uprising.

And the foremost workers must do their utmost to strengthen, restore and develop the illegal party of the working class, the R.S.D.L.P. Only a party such as this will be in a position, by conducting revolutionary agitation and using every means of legal propaganda through the working-class press and through the worker deputies to the Duma, to keep the army of the proletariat from frittering away its forces in hopeless petty revolts and to train it for the great victorious uprising.

Long live the revolutionary soldiers and sailors!

Long live concerted, persevering, stubborn revolutionary   work to develop a wide revolutionary onslaught by the millions, to develop workers’ strikes and peasant movements! It is only by being at the head of the onslaught of the millions, and only in the closest inseparable alliance with them, that the revolutionary section of Russia’s armed forces can and will defeat the tsarist monarchy!


[1] See pp. 102–09 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] Rabochaya Gazeta No. 9 gave the wrong date of publication—August 12 (30) instead of July 30 (August 12).

Rabochaya Gazeta (The Workers’ Gazette)—a popular Bolshevik newspaper published in Paris from October 30 (November 12), 1910, to July 30 (August 12), 1912. In all nine issues appeared. Among those who wrote for it were pro-Party Mensheviks. The newspaper was founded and led by Lenin, who contributed more than ten articles. The Prague Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. (January 1912) noted that Rabochaya Gazeta firmly and consistently defend ed the Party and the Party principle, and made it the official organ of the C.C. R.S.D.L.P.(B.).

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