New article on repression of Ukrainian anarchists, 1947-49 by Viktor Savchenko

«Ukrainian Cases» of Anarchists-«Repeaters» by Viktor Savchenko: ( [August 2020]

Abstract: This article describes a little-known campaign of state terror in Soviet Ukraine in 1947-1949, directed against anarchists who remained faithful to their radical ideology. During these years, the Soviet punitive organs launched a new phase of extirpating “suspicious” elements as “dangerous state criminals,” re-arresting and sending to camps and exile anarchists who had survived their sentences and were living either in exile in remote settlements or in freedom. Specific examples are the well known historical figures A. Andreyev (anarchist theorist) and his wife Z. Gandlevska, as well as the Makhnovist commander and propagandist M. Uralov. There were also ordinary citizens “dissatisfied with the regime,” who expressed “left” radical views about the Soviet system, analyzing the campaign of state terror as irrational (from the point of view of law and logic). The fate of these victims shows that the Stalinist regime aimed at the complete spiritual and legal subjugation of its subjects.

Besides the trio of Andreyev, Gandlevska, and Uralov, Savchenko, whose article is based on secret police archives, mentions a number of lesser known figures. They include Mariya Petrivna Polyakova (1902—?) and her husband Pavel Uskov. She had been a university student, when her studies were interrupted by exile to remote places. Investigators were aware that as far back as 1917 she had belonged to an anarchist group in Petrograd, for which in 1925, now living in Dnipropetrovsk, she was arrested and exiled for three years (together with Pavel Uskov). The authorities had information that Mariya during her period of exile corresponded with former anarchists and anarchists in France and Germany (probably with the Black Cross organizations). In 1939, while she was a student at the Dnipropetrovsk medical institute, she was again arrested and received a sentence of five years of VTT (Corrective Labour Camp), being released only in 1946. Upon returning to Dnipropetrovsk, according to information in her file she “did not change her anarchist views, and began to group around herself people with anti-Soviet inclinations and spread slanderous fabrications about Soviet reality.” She received a new sentence of 10 years of VTT in 1948. Her husband Pavel Uskov also received a new sentence of exile in 1948.

Savchenko points out the three stages of repression of anarchists in the USSR: (1) 1920-1934: three years in political isolator, three years of exile, three years of “minus”; (2) late 1930s: VMN (highest measure of punishment) or 10 years in the camps; (3) 1948-1950: 10 years in the camps or exile. But in the third period, few anarchists could be found – those who survived were often too well hidden.

Translated by: Malcolm Archibald.