Sunday, February 20, 2022

Russian Supreme Court Rehabilitates Bolshevik Double Agent Shot in 1918

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 30 – One of the greatest internal scandals of the Bolshevik Party in the first year of its time in power was the discovery that Roman Malinovsky, who led the party’s fraction in the Duma, was a double agent who worked for the Okhrana, the tsarist secret police. Upon his discovery, he was shot on November 5, 1918.

            Now, in the same week that it banned the Memorial organization, the Russian Supreme Court has posthumously rehabilitated Malinovsky (, an action that appears to send the message that “betrayal is the norm” among at least some intelligence operatives and Soviet officials.

            At least that is the conclusion, Novaya gazeta commentator Aleksey Tarasov draws in an article which contrasts what the court did in the case of Memorial and what it has now done by rehabilitating a Bolshevik who worked closely with the tsarist police (

            It seems clear, Tarasov says, that people like Malinovsky who led a double or even triple life inevitably have serious psychological problems and that these problems distort them in serious ways. And with regard to the Bolsheviks, there were many comrades who also were working with the tsarist police and also foreign powers.

            For documentation on that, see Viktor Serge’s From Revolution to Totalitarianism (in Russian; Moscow: 2001) in which the revolutionary writer says that in Moscow in 1912 alone, the Okhrana had 55 agents in revolutionary parties, including 20 among the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.

            Serge says that when he spoke to the novelist Maksim Gorky about such people, the latter demanded that the lives of these provocateurs be saved because they represented “unique social and psychological” types. “These people,” Gorky remarked according to Serge, “are something like monsters who should be allowed to remain for study by others.”

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