A short biography of Sergei Borisov, organiser of anarchist combat groups in south Russia and the Ukraine
Sergei Makarovich Borisov was born in Kharkov on 4th of October 1884 into a family of workers. At the age of 16 he started working as a turner and then as a fitter in a Kharkov factory. In 1901 he joined a social-democratic circle. In summer 1904 he left the Social Democrats to join the Odessa Group of Anarchist Communists and soon became a leading member. He persuaded several Social-Democrats and Social-Revolutionaries to join the group. On 30th September 1904 Borisov was arrested at a workers meeting. He was tried on March 1905 (the first trial against Russian anarchists in the 20th century) and condemned to 4 years imprisonment. A few days later he escaped abroad.
In December 1905 he illegally returned to Odessa to create new groups, but at the end of February 1906 he had to leave again under threat of arrest. In spring 1906 went to Ekaterinoslav and became a leading light of the Anarchist Communist Group there. He worked as a propagandist in the factories, creating anarchist circles among workers and organising work place meetings. He returned to Odessa in June 1906, and created combat groups. In September 1906 the Ekaterinoslav organisation sent Borisov to Switzerland for a rest, but at the end of the year he returned to Russia. In Sevastopol he created armed groups, which carried out several spectacular actions. He organised the freeing of prisoners from Sevastopol prison on the 15th June 1907 (this freed 15 men, among them the future Bolshevik leader Antonov-Ovseenko and several Potemkin mutineers condemned to death), the expropriation of the mail train near Khotin netting 80,000 roubles in September 1907, and two other big expropriations in Ekaterinoslav and Nizhin.
In September 1907 he returned to Odessa to prepare an attack upon general Kaulbars. Because of the danger of a mass arrest the operation was abandoned and the group fled to Ekaterinoslav. Later in the same month he was involved in the expropriation of around 60 thousand roubles at Verkhnedniprovsk and with this fled to Switzerland. There he persuaded the Russian exile anarchist communist groups the Stormy Petrel (Burevestnik) and The Rebel (Buntar) to unite in one group under the name The Stormy Petrel and financed the paper of the same name. He was one of the authors of the proclamation For the Congress, which stated that the anarchist movement was in crisis, partly for lack of organisation and unity and partly for the large number of provocateurs and that it was necessary to create many anarchist-communist organisations locally, and to drive out provocateurs and people who dishonoured the movement; and to organise an all-Russia congress and create a united anarchist federation.
In November-December 1907 Borisov travelled to towns in Switzerland and France to set up the International Combat Group of Anarchist –Communists which went to Russia. They planned to create combat groups in south Russia with centres in Kiev, Ekaterinoslav, Odessa and Kharkov, starting mass anarchist propaganda and preparing for an uprising of workers in the big industrial centres and sailors in the Black Sea fleet. He also planned several attentats, including an explosion at the All-Russian Congress of Mining Industrialists, the killing of several governors and others.
In December 1907 Borisov organised the transport of large amounts of arms and illegal literature across the Russian borders. He continued to move between Odessa and Ekaterinoslav, where he succeeded in creating a united anarchist organisation and re-started anarchist propaganda among workers and students. He provided funds and literature for local anarchist groups in southern Russia through the expropriations.
In February 1908 Borisov went to Sevastopol to organise the escape of the activist "Nikolai", who had been sentenced to death. But in the meantime "Nikolai" had killed himself, and Borisov returned to Odessa. In February 1908 he was arrested after being denounced by the provocateur known as B.Londonski. In December 1909 the Odessa tribunal condemned him to death for the expropriation of 24th October 1907. In February the same judge sentenced him to 10 years of hard labour at the trial of the International Combat Group with 31 others. At the public trial Borisov gave a long speech on anarchist communism. He was hanged on the 11th February 1910.
On the gallows he warned his executioners, like Afanayi Matiushenko had done before him , that their own deaths might come soon, and before he dropped through the trapdoor cried out his last words:"Long live anarchy!"
Les anarchistes russes, les soviets et la revolution de 1917 by Alexandre Skirda
The Russian Anarchists by Paul Avrich