March 4 -- Great nervous tension in the city. The strikes continue labour disorders have again taken place in Moscow. A wave of discontent is sweeping the country. Peasant uprisings are reported from Tambov, Siberia, the Ukraine, and Caucasus. The country is on the verge of desperation. It was confidently hoped that with the end of civil war the Communists would mitigate the severe military regime. The Government had announced its intention of economic reconstruction, and the people were eager to co-operate. They looked forward to the lightening of the heavy burdens, the abolition of wartime restrictions, and the introduction of elemental liberties.
The fronts are liquidated, but the old policies continue, and labour militarization is paralyzing industrial revival. It is openly charged that the Communist Party is more interested in entrenching its political power than in saving the Revolution.
An official manifesto appeared today. lt is signed by Lenin and Trotsky and declares Kronstadt guilty of mutiny (myatezh). The demand of the sailors for free Soviets is denounced as “a counterrevolutionary conspiracy against the proletarian Republic”. Members of the Communist Paity are ordered into the mills and factories to “rally the workers to the support of the Government against the traitors”. Kronstadt is to be suppressed.
The Moscow radio station sent out a message addressed “to all, all, all”:
Petrograd is orderly and quiet, and even the few factories where accusations against the Soviet Government were recently voiced now understand that it is the work of provocators. . . . Just at this moment. when in America a new Republican regime is assuming the reins of government and showing inclination to take up business relations with Soviet Russia, the spreading of lying rumours and the organization of disturbances in Kronstadt have the sole purpose of influencing the American President and changing his policy toward Russia. At the same time the London Conference is holding its sessions, and the spreading of similar rumours must influence also the Turkish delegation and make it more submissive to the demands of the Entente. The rebellion of the Petropavlovsk crew is undoubtedly part of a great conspiracy to create trouble within Soviet Russia and to injure our international position. . . . This plan is being carried out within Russia by a Czarist general and former officers. and their activities are supported by the Mensheviki and Social Revolutionists.
The whole Northem District is under martial law and all gatherings are interdicted. Elaborate precautions have been taken to protect the Government institutions. Machine guns are placed in the Astoria, the living quarters of Zinoviev and other prominent Bolsheviki. These preparations are increasing general nervousness. Ofiicial proclamations command the immediate return of the strikers to the factories, prohibit suspension of work. and warn the populace against congregating in the streets.
The Committee of Defence has initiated a “cleaning” of the city. Many workers suspected of sympathizing with Kronstadt have been placed under arrest. All Petrograd sailors and part of the garrison thought to be “untrustworthy” have been ordered to distant points, while the families of Kronstadt sailors living in Petrograd are held as hostages. The Committee of Defence notified Kronstadt that “the prisoners are kept as ‘pledges’ for the safety of the Commissar of the Baltic Fleet, N. N. Kuzmin. the Chairman of the Kronstadt Soviet, T. Vassiliev, and other Communists. If the least harm be suffered by our comrades, the hostages will pay with their lives”.
“We want no bloodshed,” Kronstadt wired in reply. “Not a single Communist has been harmed by us.”
The Petrograd workers are anxiously awaiting developments. They hope that the intercession of the sailors may turn the situation in their favour. The term of oflice of the Kronstadt Soviet is about to expire, and arrangements are being made for the coming elections.
On March 2 a conference of delegates took place, at which 300 representatives of the ships, the garrison, the labour unions and factories were present, among them also a number of Communists. The Conference approved the Resolution passed by the mass meeting the previous day. Lenin and Trotsky have declared it counter-revolutionary and proof of a White conspiracy.
RESOLUTION or THE GENERAL MEETING or THE CREWS 0F THE FIRST AND SECOND SQUADRONS OF THE BALTIC FLEET
Held March 1, 1921
Having heard the report of the representatives sent by the General Meeting of Ship Crews to Petrograd to investigate the situation there, Resolved:
1. In view of the fact that the present Soviets do not express the will of the workers and peasants, immediately to hold new elections by secret ballot, the pre-election campaign to have full freedom of agitation among the workers and peasants;
2. To establish freedom of speech and press for workers and peasants, for anarchists and Left socialist parties;
3. To secure freedom of assembly for labour unions and peasant organizations;
4. To call a non-partisan conference of the workers, Red Army soldiers and sailors of Petrograd, Kronstadt. and of Petrograd Province, no later than March 19, 1921;
5. To liberate all political prisoners of socialist parties, as well as all workers, peasants, soldiers, and sailors imprisoned in connection with the labour and peasant movements;
6. To elect a commission to review the cases of those held in prison and concentration camps;
7. To abolish all politodeli (political bureaus) because no party should be given special privileges in the propagation of its ideas or receive the financial support of the Government for such purposes. Instead there should be established educational and 353 cultural commissions, locally elected and financed by the Government.
8. To abolish immediately all zagraditelniye otryadi (Armed units organized by the Bolsheviki for the purpose of suppressing traffic and contiscating foodstufls and other products. The irresponsibility and arbitrariness of their methods were proverbial throughout the country).
9. To equalize the rations of all who work, with the exception of those employed in trades detrimental to health;
10. To abolish the Communist fighting detachments in all branches of the Army, as well as the Communist guards kept on duty in mills and factories. Should such guards or military detachments be found necessary, they are to be appointed in the Army from the ranks, and in the factories according to the judgment of the workers;
11. To give the peasants full freedom of action in regard to their land, and also the right to keep cattle, on condition that the peasants manage with their own means; that is, without employing hired labour;
12. To request all branches of the Army, as well as our comrades, the military kursanti, to concur in our resolutions;
13. To demand for the latter publicity in the press;
14. To appoint a Travelling Commission of Control;
15. To permit free kustarnoye (individual small-scale) production by one’s own efforts.
Resolution passed unanimously by Brigade Meeting, two persons refraining from voting.
PETRICHENKO, Chairman Brigade Meeting.
Resolution passed by an overwhelming majority of the Kronstadtgarrison.
Kalinin and Vassiliev voted against the Resolution.■