A short account of Trotsky's involvement in the killing of Red commanders Bogunsky and Lopatkin
“At the same time a purge needs to be undertaken, a purge of the commanding personnel. In the Ukrainian units there are still too many Petlyurist, guerrilla and ataman elements such as Bogunsky, Lopatkin and others. Even the best of these guerrilla commanders still do not understand what an order means and consider disobedience to an order quite a natural thing. Those responsible commissars who, directly or indirectly, connive at wilful conduct on the part of guerrilla commanders, their non-fulfilment of military orders, commit the gravest of crimes against the cause of the working class. Not a single offence committed by commanders against discipline must be left unpunished. Only severe treatment, ruthless penalties for treacherous wilfulness, can teach the Ukrainian commanders that they must give strict obedience to military orders.
Every commissar must know precisely the family situation of the commanders in the unit entrusted to him. This is necessary for two reasons: first, so as to help a commander’s family in the event that he is killed in action, and, second, so that members of the family may at once be arrested if the commander should act treacherously.” Trotsky, Instruction to the responsible workers of the Fourteenth Army, 1919.
Anton Savvitch Shary was born on January 16th 1899 in the village of Veremeevka in Pogorile parish in Zolotov county in the Ukraine to a poor peasant family. A bright boy, he was sent to primary school. After the death of his young parents he went to Kiev and worked as a seaman on the steamer Chernigov. He managed to study at a college there and passed his external exams for high school and gained entry to the Commercial Institute in Kiev.
With the February Revolution he became a member of the Bolsheviks. He became an active Party official, and was a representative on the Cherkassy committee and participated in the Bolshevik congress at Taganrog. In summer 1918 he led a detachment of 600 partisans fighting the German invaders in Zolotov county driving them back and breaking into the neutral zone. This became the nucleus of the 1st Division of the Red Army. He was then Chief of Staff of the Zvenigorod-Tarashchansky partisan regiments. In 1919 he created the Dnieper units to fight the Central Rada with 1,500 infantry. The 5th Congress of Zolotov Soviets sent greetings to his “courageous fighters” on June 29th. Around this time he chose the name of Bogunsky (Russian- Bohunsky in Ukrainian) after the legendary hero Bogun who had fought the Poles. An efficient and successful military leader, he took part in the offensive against the White forces of Denikin in Poltava.
The former imperial ensign I.M. Lopatkin was Shary’s cousin. His units were part of Bogunsky’s division and it was their withdrawal from the front that gave Trotsky and Aralov, his lieutenant in the area, the opportunity to bear down on Bogunsky. He was summoned to a meeting with Aralov. He was never seen again. On July 31st, Aralov sent a telegram to Trotsky; “Bogunsky shot. July 31 1919. Kremenchug city”. Bogunsky was six months past the age of twenty at his death. It appears that he was charged with desertion. On hearing of his death Lopatkin raised a rebellion in the 1st Division. He was surrounded by Red forces and killed at the village of Pishchane.
Trotsky was to say in his Who Betrayed Poltava : “Poltava was betrayed by disorder in the Red Army itself. Two of our regiments, from the brigade of the bandit Bagunsky (sic), took off when they felt like it and disappeared into the blue.” Bogunsky is turned from a loyal member of the Bolshevik Party into a bandit!
After Bogunsky’s death his family were harassed. His brothers and sisters were arrested in 1920 and sent to the dreaded Solovetsky prison camps. As late as 1937, a relative on Shary’s mother’s side was shot just for his connection to the name of Shary.
On April 29th, 1990 a KGB tribunal re-investigated the case of Bogunsky (No. 2804) and decided that no crime had been committed.
The killing of Bogunsky and Lopatkin were just the start of a murderous campaign against Ukrainian Red Commanders.
Sources: Trotsky at http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1919/military/ch84.htm
Biographical details on Shary at http://pres-centr.ck.ua/person/10929