In 1869, the Polish emigant Adolf Stempkowski became an agent of the Third Department with specific instructions to make contact with Nechaev, Bakunin, Ogarev and other Russians in Switzerland, which he did successfully, becoming secretary of the Zurich section of the International. It was Stempkowski who led police to Nechaev.
The Zürich section of the International, founded by Hermann Greulich, refused to read Bakunin's proclamation on the Lyon Commune of 1870. Emil Szymanowski served as "cashier".
In 1870 Arman Ross (M.P. Sazin) organized a radical reading library among Russian emigrés which included many works by Bakunin.
When the Paris Commune was established in 1871 two members of the Russian colony in Zurich, Elizaveta Juzakova, and Arman Ross went to Paris to take part in the Commune.
In early July 1872 a Slav Section of the International was founded in Zurich and became affiliated with the Jura Federation. Members included Manujlo Hrvacanin, T. Stojanovic, Stenic, Mijatovic, Kojic and Danic, and Ralli and the other members of Bakunin's Russian Federation. The section ceased to exist after September 1873 with the dissolution of the Russian Brotherhood.
Pyotr Lavrovich Lavrov, who eventually becomes a rival of Bakunin, arrived in Zurich in September 1872. Trained as an army officer, he studied natural science, history, logic, philosophy, and psychology, and he became an instructor in mathematics for two decades. In Paris in the early 1870's he became a member of the Anthropological Society. Lavrov tended more toward reform than revolution, or at least saw reform as salutory. His main points of difference with Bakunin revolved around the role of science in advancing revolution and the need to expand knowledge among revolutionaries. Lavrov, author of the Historical Letters, preached the indebtedness of the intelligentsia to the people. He had become a member of the Ternes section of the International in 1870. He was in Paris at the start of the Paris Commune, and went abroad to generate international support. He founded the journal Forward! in 1872.
M. Rozenstejn, a member of the Zebunev group in Zurich, was, by 1873 a "fervent anarchist." The aim of the group was to learn by way of science how to help "the people". The members believed that given Russia's agricultural basis, the commune had to be the basis of social improvement.
After fighting broke out between the Bakuninist and the Lavrovists in the "Russian Colony" in Zurich, Bakunin traveled to Zurich and met with Lavrov on April 16, 1873. Peter Kropotkin's brother, Alexander, also attended the meeting as a Lavrov follower.