Friday, November 8, 2019

A Truly Dangerous Precedent: Russian Procuracy Says Extra-Judicial Execution of Woman who Shot Lenin Fully Lawful

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 4 – At the request of the Russian Lawyers Association, the General Procuracy has reviewed the case of Fanya Kaplan who shot Lenin on August 30, 1918, and was executed without trial three days later. The Association was not seeking her rehabilitation but a ruling on her execution without a trial.

            The Procuracy ruled that Kaplan’s crime was obvious and would be punished by Russian law today. Such “intentional” actions “cannot be justified,” thus refusing to question this act of extra-judicial execution by the Soviet authorities (

            Commenting on the Procuracy’s decision, Maria Bast, the president of the Lawyers Association said that her organization had raised the issue out of concern that this was a case when someone had been executed without due process.  In response, the procuracy “concluded that the actions of the Bolsheviks in extra-judicial execution were lawful.”

            This case and this decision represent “a violation of human rights since the right to trial is guaranteed to everyone and all people are considered innocent until their guilt is established by a court. In this case, the procuracy violated the principle of the presumption of innocence -- an extremely dangerous tendency, Bast says.

            She makes three further pints: First, “the case of Fanya Kaplan was precedential since it led to a chain of cases which ended with mass shootings.” Second, it has echoes in the present time with killings of regime opponents inside Russia and abroad. And third, Kaplan’s execution occurred only after the Bolsheviks broke with the SRs and weren’t limited by any other force.

            “The consequences of a 0ne-party system are something we are observing now,” Bast says. The only difference is that the powers now include not only bureaucrats but capitalists. “Th country long ago fell apart, but its inheritance remains in place in its former subjects such as Russia.”

            Because of the importance of this precedent, Bast says, her organization will continue to raise these issues. “The struggle for justice and human rights is always important and does not have a statute of limitations.”

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