This text was taken from In Russian and French Prisons, London: Ward and Downey; 1887.

In Russian and French Prisons

by P. Kropotkin


(Page 109.)


THE accused, who were brought before the court under this charge in December, 1882, were: Eugene Dubrovin, student of the Medical Acadamy; the artillery sub-officers Alexander Filipoff, and Alexei Ivanotf; the soldiers of the St. Petersburg depot-troops; Andrei Oryekhoff, Egor Kolibin, Kir Byzoff, Timofei Kuzuetsoff, Vlas Terentieff, Grigori Yushmanoff, Ivan Shtyrloff, Yakov Kolodkin, Adrian Dementieff, Grigori Petroff, Ivan Tanyshoff, Emelian Borisoff, Leon Arkhipoff, Platon Vishuyakoff, Ivan Gubkin, and of the 38th Tobolsk regiment Prokopi Samoiloff.

"In the last days of December, 1881," the official document of accusation says, "disorders were discovered in the Alexeievskiy ravelin of the St. Petersburg Petropavlovsk fortress, which disorders consisted chiefly in the circumstance, that the soldiers appointed to mount the guard at the ravelin carried correspondence between the state's criminals detained there as also with their co-religionaries outside. A special inquiry was than made, by order of the Minister of the Interior, by the chief of the St. Petersburg gendarme. It appeared from the inquiry that the just-mentioned state's criminals, numbering four, were detained in separate cells of a special building situated in the Alexis ravelin. Until November, 1879, there were in the cells only two prisoners, namely, in cells Number Five and Number Six; in November, a third prisoner was brought in and imprisoned in cell Number One; end a fourth on November l9th(o.s.), 1880, who was put into cell Number Thirteen.

"The military watch was maintained by soldiers under the orders of the Chief of the ravelin. For that purpose one or two sub-officers were commissioned, and a number of soldiers who mounted the guard at each cell, and moreover five gendarmes, who were instructed with keeping the strongest watch on the soldiers themselves and with prohibiting any intercourse between the prisoners.

"Nevertheless, notwithstanding these strong measures, it was discovered in March, 1881, from letters found on the executed state's criminals Jelaboff and Sophie Perovskaya, that the state's criminals who were kept in the Alexis ravelin, carried on a lively correspondence with members of the Criminal Secret Society at St. Petersburg through the intermediary of the ravelin soldiers.

"The intercourse, as proved by the inquiry, consisted in the following: (1) conversation of criminal content was carried on by the soldiers with the prisoner of cell Number Five; (2) letters were exchanged between the cells Number One, Five, and Thirteen; (3) different periodicals were brought to the prisoners; (4) letters were carried from the prisoners to persons living in town, and to these letters answers were brought to the prisoners, as also money.

"It was impossible to ascertain when this intercourse began, because the state's prisoner of cell Number Five tried to convert to his ideas every soldier who entered the ravelin, and said that since the very beginning of his seclusion (1873?) everybody had conversations with him. As to carrying letters, it seems that this began since the end of 1879, when a new prisoner was brought to the ravelin and confined in ce]l Number One; because all soldiers have testified that no letters were carried between the cells Number Five and Six,(1) but only between cells Number One, Five and Thirteen. When a fourth prisoner, confined to cell Number Thirteen, was brought to the ravelin, letters began to be carried to the town; it was about December, 1880, when one of the soldiers transmitted a letter from the ravelin to medical student Dubrovin, arrested on February 2nd this year (1882)."

It would be too long to give here in full this very interesting document, which describes in detail the intercourse which was carried on between the prisoners, and the conversation between the soldiers and the prisoner of the cell Number Five. The above is already sufficient to prove that the government itself has avowed the existence of some oubliettes within the fortress. I may add that the whole document has been published in Russian in the Vyestnik Narodnoi Voli, No. 1; and that the St. Petersburg court martial, sitt,ng on December 1st and 2nd, in the Petropavlovskaya fortress, condemned: student Dubrovin to four years' hard-labour; sub-officer Ivanoff to six months' imprisonment; sub-offlcer Filipoff to five years hard-labour; and fifteen soldiers to imprisonment in the ispravitelnyia roty (military convicts' companies); two soldiers more died during tbe preliminary detention which lasted abont eighteen months. This sentence must have been published in the Official Messenger.

(1) That is, between Netchaieff and Shevitch.
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