V. I. Lenin
Against the Riot-Mongers
TO THE WORKERS, SOLDIERS, AND THE WHOLE POPULATION OF PETROGRAD
Written before April 14 (27), 1917
Published April 15, 1917 in Pravda No. 33.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 24, pages 127-130.
This document is a redraft of the appeal To the Soldiers and Sailors, and was adopted by the Petrograd City Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. (Bolsheviks) on April 14 (27), 1917 during the discussion, out of order, of Point 6 of the agenda, namely, “The Hounding Campaign Against Pravda”.
Citizens! The paper Russkaya Volya, founded by the tsar’s Minister Protopopov and despised even by the Cadets, is carrying a riot-provoking campaign against our Party, against the paper Pravda, against our Comrades Lenin and Zinoviev, against the Petrograd [Soviet] Committee of our Party housed in the Kshesinskaya mansion. We have received a number of reports, written as well as oral, concerning threats of violence, bomb threats, etc.
From the very first days of the [February] revolution, the capitalists, masking as “republicans”, have been trying to sow enmity between the workers and the soldiers. First they lied about the workers wanting to leave the army without bread. Now they are trying to inflame feeling against Pravda.
We appeal to the sense of honour of the revolutionary workers and soldiers of Petrograd, and declare:
We not only have not been guilty, directly or indirectly, of any threats of violence against individuals, but, on the contrary, we have always maintained that our task is to explain our views to all the people, that we regard the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, elected by all the workers and the soldiers, as the only possible revolutionary government.
On the very next day after their arrival, the comrades, members of different parties, who passed through Germany, made a report to the trusted representatives of all the workers and soldiers, namely, to the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. On this Executive Committee were Chkheidze, Tsereteli, Skobelev, Steklov, and others.
Comrades! These leaders of the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies differ with us on many questions pertaining to the organisation of the state. They could be anything but biased in our favour.
Now what did the Executive Committee do?
In its Izvestia No. 32, for April 5, 1917, it published the full report dealing with the passage through Germany.
This report gives all the facts, and the names of the foreign socialists from two neutral countries, Switzerland and Sweden, who checked our protocols.
And what was the decision of the Executive Committee? Did it express condemnation or even disapproval of the fact that Lenin and others travelled through Germany?
It did not. This is how the editors of Izvestia, in the same issue, reported the resolution of the Executive Committee:
“Having heard the report of Comrades Zurabov and Zinoviev, the Executive Committee decided to take the matter up immediately with the Provisional Government and to take steps towards securing the immediate return to Russia of all emigrants, irrespective of their political views and their attitude towards the war. The results of the negotiations with the government will be published in the near future.—Editors.”
As anyone can see, not a single word is said here against Lenin and his comrades. What we have is a warning to the Provisional Government, a decision to take steps to prevent it from hindering return to Russia.
Following this, Martov’s telegram and Trotsky’s arrest in Britain have shown that Milyukov is either powerless against Britain and France, who keep their own internationalist socialists imprisoned, or that he does not want to take serious measures.
The Germans and Russians have made exchanges dozens of times throughout the war. Kovalevsky, member of the Council of State, was exchanged for an Austrian, etc. For wealthy people such exchanges have been arranged by the governments many a time. Then why doesn’t the present government want to arrange such an exchange for the emigrants? Because it wants to prevent a number of fighters from taking part in the revolutionary struggle.
What does Russkaya Volya do, and papers like Rech and Yedinstvo that follow in its footsteps?
They continue their hounding campaign, thereby inciting ignorant people to acts of violence against individuals. They refuse to publish either the report or the resolution of the Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies has been given the names of various socialists who verified and approved every step taken by the emigrants in connection with their journey. They are the French socialists Loriot and Guilbeaux, the Swiss socialist Platten, the Swedish socialists Lindhagen (Mayor of Stockholm), Carleson, Striom, Nerman, the German socialist Hartstein of Karl Liebknecht’s group, the Polish socialist Bronski.
By acting this way Russkaya Volya, Rech and Yedinstvo are aiding and abetting the dark forces which threaten violence, bombs, and riots.
Comrades, soldiers and workers!
We warn you against these gentlemen of Russkaya Volya, Rech and Yedinstvo, and declare over and over again that we stand for explaining to the whole nation the views of all the parties, we stand for respecting the Soviet of Soldiers’ and Workers’ Deputies.
If the Provisional Government, if Rech, if Mr. Plekhanov are displeased with the way the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies has acted, why do they not say so openly? Why do they not demand a re-examination of the case? Why are they afraid to reprint what was published in Izvestia No. 52? Why? Because they are out to sow discord!
If violence in any form is resorted to, we shall place the responsibility on the editors and contributors of Russkaya Volya, Rech, Yedinstvo, and others, who have dared to keep the report and the resolution of the Executive Committee out of the press, and to carry on an insidious propaganda.
The paper Dyelo Naroda, to which Minister A. F. Kerensky is an active contributor, has already pointed out that the methods used by these newspapers are helping the riot-mongers (Dyelo Naroda No. 23).
We want the Milyukovs, Amfiteatrovs, Plekbanovs and Co. to know that if their baiting leads to violence they will be the first to suffer the consequences.
Down with riot-mongering! Down with the heroes of baiting and deception, who suppress the resolution of the Executive Committee!
Comrades, soldiers and workers! You will not allow the people’s freedom to be marred by riots! You will see to it that the decisions of your Soviet of Soldiers’ and Workers’ Deputies are respected.
Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.
Petrograd Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.