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Boris Souvarine

On the Trial of the Russian Social Revolutionaries

An interview with Konopleva and Semenov

(12 April 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 35, 11 May 1922, pp. 278–279.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Moscow, April 12th, 1922

I thought it very interesting to interview the two comrades Semenov and Konopleva, against whom the entire press of the various counter-revolutionary Internationals has so persistently and disgracefully vomited mud.

It was a rare experience indeed for me to meet comrades so sympathetic and so devoted to the revolutionary cause with body and soul as were these two former Social Revolutionaries, who had in the meantime turned Communists, and who for this very reason have been called “agents provocateurs” and police spies by the social traitors of all countries.

Semenov and Konopleva belonged to the most fearless fighters of their party. They were among the most active members of the “flying fighting division”, a terrorist organization that assigned them to be the most dangerous daring tasks.

They belonged to the minority wing of the Russian Social Revolutionary Party, led by Volski, a fraction which demanded the recognition of the Soviet power and cooperation with it.

Having left the country on an illegal mission for the Party, Semenov soon became convinced of the counter-revolutionary character of his party, and like many other Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviki left his party in 1920 and entered the Communist Party of Russia. Shortly after, Konopleva also effected her transfer into the C.P.R.

It is superfluous to waste any words on the legend of the relationship between these two comrades, or upon the other awkward fables invented by numerous social traitors and yellow Syndicalists. All one needs to do is to see the healthy mirth with which these two friends greet these lies and slanders of the counter-revolutionary Press. The slanders cast against Semenov and Konopleva are no different from the latest reports of Lenin’s death, or the many millions of similar falsehoods, which have been manufactured and put in circulation without stop in the past five years.

Semenov and Konopleva declared that until the opening of the trial they will maintain the most diligent reticence. It is remarkable, however, that of their numerous enemies who had venomously attacked them, because of Semenov’s pamphlet and Konopleva’s statements, to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Russia, not one of them could gather enough courage to deny a single one of the accusations brought to light. And that is of the utmost importance.

It is absolutely impossible to deny a syllable of the honest and true disclosures made by these two comrades. These disclosures will bring the truth into the light of day, and the evidence gathered from the numerous witnesses will make it still more incontestable.

Tchernoff alone has made a timid attempt to deny these accusations, with the statement that Semenov’s pamphlet is a mixture of truth and untruth. But he was very careful not to dispute any statement of fact or even as much as point out which statements were true and which untrue. As a matter of fact it is absolutely impossible for him to support his statement, which is nothing more than a futile as well as desperate attempt at a denial.

In the course of the trial, Semenov and Konopleva will be given an opportunity to elaborate upon their evidence face to face with the defendants. Both of these comrades are awaiting the confrontation with the greatest inner calm.

The Social Revolutionary Party has an interesting history and its leaders undoubtedly have a great and honorable past. But today the world must also learn of its present. This present is decisively counter-revolutionary, and it is only inevitable that those belonging to the S.R.P. will be set by it upon a counter-revolutionary track. Its secret activities and its cooperation with the notorious Savinkoff and with the agents and spies of the Entente, constitute the sad symptoms of its moral degeneration.

In the limelight of the trial proceedings, when the truth will become known all over Russia, many revolutionary Socialists will leave their former party and a great many of these will surely reinforce the ranks of the C.P.R.

Should it still be necessary, Semenov will, at the end of the trial, answer the many slanders and denunciations directed against him and his pamphlet. However, he is convinced even now that the effect of the trial will be such that the facts revealed by it will cover this matter too, making Semenov’s self-defence superfluous. In about four weeks, the trial will have created complete accord among the honest and sincere elements of all parties.

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