Why Was There Delay ?
From Our Russian Correspondent The death of Radek, Sokolnikov, Pyatakov and their fourteen companions was a foregone conclusion five months ago, when the first group of sixteen Trotskyists, headed by Zinoviev and Kamenev, were executed. Why so much time was wasted and why this new trial has been staged is a question that puzzles many, and the unanimous confession of all the accused makes the matter still more obscure.
All these men have accused themselves of the greatest crimes—high-treason, trafficking with hostile foreign powers, sowing disaffection in the country, wrecking the industry, and organising pit disasters, and lastly plotting against the life of tt dictator. Such an accumulation of crimes, when any one of them would have sufficed for the imposition of the death penalty, has emphasised the unreality of the whole thing.
It has been rumoured that some of the accused — Sokolnikov was mentioned in particular—had refused to confess to nonexisting misdeeds and maintained a firm attitude towards their gaolers. It was even rumoured that some of them would be disposed of on the quiet, without any trial, in view of their intractibility. Yet time was on the side of the G.P.U.—five months have been sufficient to break all resistance: by methods of moral and physical torture self-accusation has been extorted from all the seventeen men. It may be that when threatened with immediate execution they agreed to make any confession demanded of them on the condition of a further short lease of life.
Others May be Tried
The objects of the trial, from the Soviet point of view, are elimination of all potential rivals, reassertion of Stalin's unlimited power over the life and death of his slaves, and the intimidation of all those who dare even to think of a change. The question of how long such a state of things may last, remains unanswered.
Another similar trial may be already foreseen in a few months with General Puma, Bukharin, perhaps Rykov, the former "Prime Minister," and others as the villains. The Army is scarcely to be relied upon, again sonic superior officers have been arrested in the districts of Kharkov and Kiev, and urgent measures are taken to segregate the troops from the people lest the former be contaminated by the prevailing discontent.
After the much trumpeted declaration of the triumph of Communism in the U.S.S.R. it seems that never has disaffection been so strong in Russia as now, and that only by such methods of arbitrary tyranny can Stalin maintain himself in power.