Voline, The Unknown Revolution, 1917-1921 (1947)

Book Two: Bolshevism and Anarchism


The Case of Leon Tchorny and Fanny Baron

Thirteen Anarchists, held for no plausible reason in the Taganka prison in Moscow, inaugurated a hunger strike in July, 1921, demanding either to be arraigned or set free. This action happened to coincide with the gathering of the International Congress of Red Trade Unions (the Profinterri) in the capital city. A group of foreign Syndicalist delegates (mainly French) questioned the .."Soviet" government about the strike, having learned of it, with full details, from the prisoners' relatives. The questioning also bore on other analagous cases, and even on the Bolshevik policy of repressing Anarchists and Syndicalists.

In the name of the Government, Leon Trotsky cynically answered: "We do not imprison the real Anarchists. Those whom we hold in prison are not Anarchists, but criminals and bandits who cover themselves by claiming to be Anarchists."

Well informed, the delegates did not give up. They carried their interrogations to the tribune of the Congress, demanding at least the setting free of the Anarchists confined in the Taganka bastile. That questioning caused a great scandal at the Congress, and forced the Government to give ground -- for it feared more serious revelations. It promised to free the thirteeen Taganka prisoners. The strike ended on the eleventh day.

After the departure of the delegates, and after letting the affair drag out for two months, during which it sought an adequate pretext for accusing the prisoners, still behind the bars of Taganka, of serious crime, and thereby get out of keeping its promise, the Government finally felt compelled to release the thirteen in September. And immediately it expelled all but three from the U.S.S.R.

In revenge (vengeance was a constant element in the Bolshevik repression), and especially to justify, before the foreign workers and their delegates, its terrorist procedures against "the so-called libertarians", the Lenin regime staged, a little later, a brazen frame-up against [some of the same group].

For purported "criminal" acts, and particularly for the alleged counterfeiting of Soviet bank notes, its agents shot, (naturally in secret, in the night, in one of the cellars of the Cheka, without the shadow of any judicial procedure) several of the most honest, sincere, and devoted Anarchists: the young Fanny Baron (whose husband was in prison), the well-known militant Leon Tchorny (whose real name was Tourtchaninoff), and others.

It was proven afterward that the libertarians who were shot had nothing to do with the specified "crimes". And it was proven also that the counterfeiting was done by the Cheka itself. Two of its agents, one named Steiner (but called Kamenny) and a Chekist chauffeur were introduced into libertarian circles, and at the same time into certain criminal hang-outs, in order to be able to show "'connections" between the two and build up a case against the chosen victims. The indispensable appearances established, the "case" was formulated, and made public.

Thus, to justify its other crimes, with the aid of a new one, the Bolshevik government sacrificed several more Anarchists and tried to sully their memory.