Italian comrade deported from Russia to Italy! [1936]

[In “Freedom” December 1933 issue we published a protest against the imprisonment and exile of Alfonso Petrini by the OGPU in Russia. (Petrini’s “crimes” were advising a woman not to work eleven hours a day, and declining to invest in a State Loan!)

Postcard protests were sent from many countries to Moscow against the persecution of this comrade.

We quote the following, printed below, exactly as received, and can only say that, if it is true, the conduct of Stalin and Company is nothing less than the most dastardly treachery.]

Petrini

Alfonso Petrini is an Italian anarchist, who, after the fascists came into power, emigrated to Russia. In the factory where he worked he advised a working woman who complained about the long hours, to object and not work longer than she was able. The woman followed his advice, with the result that both she and Petrini were dismissed. For this reason, and because of Petrini’s refusal to give up money for a compulsory loan - the amount was equal to a month’s salary - he was regarded as a “disorganiser of the production”, whereby it was made impossible for him to get any other work. By administrative measure he was thereupon soon exiled to the Solovetsky Isles.

A campaign waged in his behalf by the West European and American workers brought some improvement in his lot: he was transferred to Astrakhan.

The Soviet Government accused him of espionage on behalf of Fascism, but never listened to Petrini’s demand that he should be publicly tried. He was not allowed to leave the land either. As a result of the privations he underwent he has become a consumptive. The most remarkable thing in connection with the accusation of espionage is that the Soviet Government offered him, via the GPU, a post in the Russian Secret Service.

Some months ago the term of Petrini’s exile in Astrakhan expired. On the 9th June he reported that he would be expelled from Russia. Now it appears that he has not been expelled, but in all probability extradited! From Ancona, (Italy) comes the report: “Alfonso Petrini, after having passed three days in the prison of Ancona, has been transferred to the prison of Aquila”.*

How did Petrini get to Italy? In view of the manner in which he was treated by the Bolshevists, it must not be considered impossible that this Anti-Fascist has been delivered, via Odessa, into the hands of the Fascists. This would explain why nothing more has been heard from Petrini himself since 9th June, in spite of his promise to write as soon as he was free: probably he never has been free.

*Aquila is the town where Petrini has been sentenced for his revolutionary activities.

Press Service I.A.C.

From: Freedom (London) January 1936.