KRONSTADTERS AND BOLSHEVIKS
On March 4th, at 6 P.M., there occurred a session of the Conference of Delegates from the military units of the garrison and from trade unions, for by-elections to the Prov. Rev. Com. 202 deputies were present at this assembly. The majority arrived straight from work.
Twenty candidates were nominated and the following ten elected: Vershinin, Perepelkin, Kupolov, Ososov, Valk, Romanenko, Pavlov, Boikov, Patrushev and Kilgast.
A report by Petrichenko on the work being carried out by the Prov. Rev. Com was met with stormy approval by the Conference.
"On the question of arming the workers, the Conference mandated the universal arming of the working masses," says 'Izvestiia of the Prov. Rev. Com.' "This was done to the loud approval of the workers themselves, and exclamations of 'Victory or Death.' The workers were assigned the internal guard of the town, as sailors and soldiers are bursting for active work in the combat units."
Next, it was decided to newly elect the administrations of all unions within three days, and also that of the Soviet of Unions. The latter was the leading organization for workers, and would be in constant contact with the Prov. Rev. Com.
All the forts came out in support of Kronstadt, with the exception of Krasnoflotskii (formerly Krasnaya Gorka), which had been captured by the chekists who fled there from Kronstadt on March 2nd.
As was shown above, the people of Kronstadt left almost all the Communists at liberty in the first days. The only ones restrained were those who attempted to flee Kronstadt or were captured by patrols, and also Kuzmin, Commissar of Baltflot, Vasiliev, President of the Ispolkom, Batis, head of the Politotdel of Baltflot, and several other persons.
Despite this complete nobility of conduct by the people of Kronstadt, the Petrograd Defense Committee arrested as hostages a mass of people in Petrograd, among whom very many were completely non-participant in the movement. And besides this, the Petrograd families of Kronstadters were arrested.
The Defense Committee brought this all to Kronstadt's attention by means of leaflets thrown from airplanes. "The Defense Committee," it says in these leaflets, "declares all those arrested to be hostages for those comrades restrained by the mutineers in Kronstadt, and in particular for N. N. Kuzmin, Commissar of Baltflot, for Comrade Vasiliev, President of the Kronstadt Soviet, and for other Communists." "If even one hair falls from the heads of the restrained comrades," declared the Bolshevist Defense Committee in Petrograd, "the named hostages will answer for this with their heads."
To this declaration, disgraceful in its cruelty, 'Izvestiia of the Prov. Rev. Com.' made the following elucidation. "This is the spite of the powerless. Jeering over innocent families will not add new laurels to the comrade Communists. In any case, not by this path will they hold the power which is being torn from their hands by the workers, sailors and soldiers of Kronstadt."
"Considering for various reasons why a person became a Communist," a prominent member of the Prov. Rev. Com. [Petrichenko in "Zritel," No 189, p. 1] later said, "in the great majority of cases we left them at their work. We even allowed them to organize their group of Communists. May they be organized for action, and may they learn how their comrades in confinement are fed and cared for."
"The truth is," he added, "it should be said that despite our attitude toward the Communists, they, remaining in Kronstadt, aided the chekists. We declared, and took as our slogan, the equal rights of all citizens, independent of their political beliefs. Be a person a Communist or of other beliefs, he must have the right to vote. And we fulfilled that."
"Under us, not one Communist was executed," the people of Kronstadt proudly declared.