Peter Petroff, Justice January 1911
Source: letter, Justice, 21 January, 1911, p.10;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
DEAR COMRADE, – The Houndsditch affair, and the famous Sidney Street “Battle,” where armies of police, guards, artillery, engineers, fire brigade, and nursing staff have shown the greatest heroism in failing to capture two men armed with revolvers, has given an opportunity to a portion of the capitalist Press to inspire hooligan feelings among the people, and to start a campaign against aliens – Russians in particular. There is no doubt that the panegyrists of the great victorious army are out to catch fish in the troubled waters, their aim being to create among the masses ill-feeling against Russian political exiles. They are trying to confuse the quarry of the late raid with Russian Socialists, whom they, on the other hand, confuse with Anarchists. Their imagination creates organisations where there only exist isolated, desperate individuals.
There can be no two opinions for any thinking person as to the Houndsditch and Sidney Street affair. But what have these people to do with Russian political exiles? Their action is a crime against the Russian revolutionary movement, while, on the other hand, it may be of great use to the Russian Government. The two dead men, like many their kind in Russia, are the direct product of the régime of the Czar’s Government. The estimable Russian régime, described by the Russian proverb, “There is no law; there is pole, and on the pole a crown!” with its gangs of criminal officials, agents-provocateurs and official thieves, and their arbitrary “administration,” are creating day by day, ignorant citizens according to their design. Only the other day the “Daily Telegraph” St. Petersburg correspondent reported that ninety thousand complaints of fraud, bribery, etc., are brought against the officials of the Siberian Railway. For everyone who knows anything about Russia, it is an accepted fact that most of the police officials confiscate the pay of those immediately below them in rank, who have recourse to robbery, fraud, and dealings with thieves to obtain their living. Occurrences of the Sidney Street character are systematically organised in Russia by the agents-provocateurs. In 1905, the Russian Revolutionary parties issued a manifesto urging the people to withdraw their deposits from the banks, demanding payment in gold, owing to the bankruptcy of the Government. The latter, seeing great numbers of people clamouring at the banks for their money, organised, on a large scale, “expropriation,” in order to compel them to reinvest their money. I myself, in 1906, in Ekaterinoslav, witnessed that when such an “expropriator” was caught by the public a policeman’s uniform was found beneath his disguise. And during the last three or four years, in most of the trials, agents-provocateurs figured as organisers of these bands. While the Russian Social Democratic Parity at their London Congress, in 1907, adopted a resolution to open a campaign of propaganda against the degrading acts of any kinds of “expropriators,” the Russian Government used all their machinery to develop these evils. One of these gentlemen was three times captured, tried and sentenced to death, and three times released for the continuation of his useful work.
The volume of hatred generated by the Press would, therefore, be wisely directed against the Czar’s Government. They merit the resentment, for they are responsible for the production of such human types.