1922 Moscow Trial of Socialist Revolutionaries

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The Moscow Trial of the Socialist Revolutionaries was a political trial in the Soviet Union, beginning on June 8, 1922. The trial was ordered by Lenin, and was in many ways a precursor to the later show trials under Stalin, although the death sentences were subsequently commuted.

The Right Socialist Revolutionaries had long been opponents to the Bolsheviks. Following the deposition of the democratically elected Russian Constituent Assembly by the Bolsheviks in November 1917, the SR party split in to left and right factions.

There were 12 main defendants in the trial:[1]

  • Avram Gots
  • Eugene M. Timofeyev
  • M. I. Gendelman
  • D. Donskoy
  • Eugenia Ratner
  • I. L. Guerstein
  • Nicolai Ivanov
  • M. Likhatch
  • Sergei Morozov
  • Arkadiy Altovskiy
  • Helen Ivanova
  • Vladimir Agapov

There were also SR coup participants who gave evidence for the prosecution. Among the notable Bolsheviks playing a part in the trial were Nikolai Krylenko, who was the prosecutor for the state, and Nikolai Bukharin, who was part of the defense counsel. Bukharin had even participated in demonstrations organized by the authorities that were occurring throughout Moscow, and demanded death for the 12 defendants. Four socialist lawyers from abroad attended the trial to act for the defense: Emile Vandervelde and Arthur Wauter of the Belgian Labour Party and Kurt Rosenfeld and Theodor Liebknecht of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany. Vandervelde was included in the satirical poem "Mayakovsky's Gallery" by the leading Soviet poet, Vladimir Mayakovsky. At the very outset, Georgy Pyatakov, announced that "the court does not intend to handle the case from a dispassionate, objective point of view but would be guided solely by the interests of the Soviet Government."

The alleged evidence against the accused included statements of former SRs such as Grigory Ivanovich Semyonov, who joined the Bolsheviks in 1919, and became an agent provocateur.[2] The trial concluded with death sentences for the 12, and acquittal for those who gave evidence. Upon further review by the tribunal, the death sentences were commuted. It was believed by Trotsky at least, that if the sentences were carried out, their party brethren would carry out terrorist violence against the Bolshevik government.

The conducting of the trials by the Bolsheviks was condemned by many overseas socialists, including Eugene Debs and Karl Kautsky.

All of the defendants and participants in the trial would eventually become victims in Stalin's purges.


  1. ^ Kautsky, Karl; Woytinsky, Wladimir S. (1922). The Twelve who are to die : the trial of the socialists-revolutionists in Moscow. Berlin: Delegation of the Party of Socialists-Revolutionists. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  2. ^ Jansen, M. (2012). A Show Trial Under Lenin: The Trial of the Socialist Revolutionaries, Moscow 1922. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9789400976061. Retrieved 31 December 2017.