A short biography of Vladimir Kaminsky, active in Ukraine and then in Siberia
Vladimir Konstantinovich Kaminsky was born in 1889 or according to another source 1891. We are not even sure of his real surname as sources differ as to whether he was called Kaminsky or Kamensky. We know that he was born in Kiev, received a secondary education that may not have been completed, and later attended a commercial school.in the city that was not completed either. Whilst a student he became an anarchist communist in 1906, and was involved in the movement in Kiev,.
In early 1907 he moved to Yekaterinoslav, where he belonged to the Yekaterinoslav Group of Anarchist Communists. He was arrested in Yekaterinoslav on February 13, 1907, accused of belonging to a group of anarchist-communists. He was held in the Yekaterinoslav prison through 1908, but was released no later than early 1909. He then moved to Kiev, where he took up study again at the commercial school. There he was a member of the Kievan Group of Anarchists. Arrested in Kiev on March 26, 1909, while trying to relieve the owner of a grocery store named Herbilsky of 50 rubles (an "ex" (expropriation) ordered by his group). During his arrest he offered armed resistance, and was wounded. He was prosecuted in Kiev in 1910, accused of belonging to the Initiative Group of Anarchists of the South, and sentenced to katorga (hard labour) for 4 years, 8 months.
He served the prison sentence in Riga. We know about this because the Social Revolutionary Kolosov later slandered Kaminsky by saying that he had taken part in the beating of political prisoners by criminals in 1913,to settle personal scores. Kaminsky vehemently denied this at the Krasnoyarsk soviet in 1917.
In 1915, Kaminsky was exiled to the Yenisei region. Later he tried to organise a group of “anarchist-federalists” but there were disagreements over attitudes to the war so that the project was stillborn. After this he moved to Krasnoyarsk and took an active part in political life there.
There he helped set up the Initiative Group of Anarchist Communists, based on the original group in Kiev. Its first organising meeting took place on March 28th, 1917. Later it published a manifesto. The group believed that the February Revolution was just a change of government, paving the way or a real revolution. They called on the masses to bring about the complete socialisation of machinery and production and create a voluntary associative society. They called or the seizure of the land and factories and for the whole earth to be turned into the property of the entire people, They regarded the soviets as the only revolutionary organs of the workers and peasants, contrasting them with the Constituent Assembly.
Kaminsky put forward a resolution calling for peasants to seize the land at a peasant congress held on April 8th. With other revolutionary groups they took part in the May Day celebrations, flying a black flag inscribed with the slogan Bread and Freedom.
They were reinforced by other anarchists, including Korabelnikov, who had come from the USA, and the veteran woman anarchist Korotneva (1).
The Krasnoyarsk soviet mandated Kaminski to seek out moonshiners and destroy their stills of samogon (moonshine vodka).
The Social Revolutionaries opened a media war against the anarchist group, with Kolosov bringing up the Riga prison charge. They similarly made accusations against a Bolshevik for his behaviour during the 1905 Revolution.
As a result an informal political alliance develop between the anarchists and the Bolsheviks as well as the Left SRs.
However, even before October the anarchists adopted a more radical position than the Bolsheviks. Kaminsky called for the continuation of the strike of railway workers whilst the Bolsheviks voted against because they feared a split in the rail union. Some railway workers began to gravitate towards the anarchists in the Krasnoyarsk railway workshops by the end of September.
The anarchists, Bolsheviks and Left SRs acted together in calling for the transfer of power to the soviets in the Krasnoyarsk region. Kaminsky played a key role with his anarchist squad in suppressing the Kadet revolt in Irkutsk in December.
By now anarchist activity in Krasnoyarsk had increased considerably. Partly as a result of the arrival of anarchists from Petrograd who had fled after the July Days. A new group, the Union of Anarcho-Syndicalist Propaganda was formed alongside the original Initiative Group. On December 8th this group began publishing The Siberian Anarchist , a weekly paper edited by A. Larin, Ya. Bez and K. Kalikis. Both groups collaborated and Kaminsky had several articles (and a poem) in Siberian Anarchist.
The anarchists now started intensive propaganda among the soldiers.
New elections to the Soviets led to an overwhelming majority for the Left SRS and Bolsheviks in Krasnoyarsk, but now anything discussed by the Soviets had to be first discussed and approved by its Bolshevik faction, This caused disquiet among the anarchists, In the pages of Siberian Anarchist they called on the masses to organise themselves in non-party class organisations and to take over the distribution of products and the organisation of production.
They were extremely critical of continued Bolshevik participation in the local dumas and zemstvos where “the bourgeoisie organises the domination and enslaves through laws the working class”. They also called for the immediate socialisation of industries managed by workers’ collectives rather than the “half-hearted” Bolshevik policy of workers’ control. They also argued against the creation of the Supreme Economic Council in December 1917 seeing it as an attempt to centralise the management of production. They called for the direct exchange of goods between town and country. Thus they became advocates of the “Third Revolution”.
As a result the Bolsheviks began to move against their former allies. On December 27th Kaminsky was arrested on the orders of the Krasnoyarsk soviet and accused of looting during the actions against the Kadets in Irkutsk. He was put in solitary confinement “under strict supervision,” with a ban on all communication with other prisoners.
The Siberian Anarchist defended Kaminsky and pointed out that in fact Kaminsky had taken items from marauding Red Guards and was going to pass them on to headquarters. As a result the tribunal took no action for lack of evidence and the case was sent for further investigation. However, there is no further information on further sessions of the tribunal. It is known that shortly after the meeting of the tribunal that Kaminsky was released. However he was arrested again by the Bolsheviks in May.
In March 1918 Siberian Anarchist was closed down by the Bolsheviks. Despite the repression, the anarchists still maintained an influence among the railway workers.
The violent overthrow of Soviet power in Krasnoyarsk province by the forces of the Czech Legions and White monarchist officers in June 1918 forced the anarchists to go underground ( however, the fleeing of the Bolsheviks caused a vastly increased anarchist influence among the railway workers).
There is no information about where Kaminsky was during the fall of Krasnoyarsk.
We do know from the memoirs of the organiser of the Bolshevik underground and Chekist Nikolai Kharitonovich Molchanov (born 1894) that he found himself in the prisons of the White Admiral Kolchak and that he shared a cell with Kaminsky and “a certain Lamberg, whom we had previously heard of as provocateurs.”
Subsequently, after the fall of Kolchak and with the involvement of Molchanov, Kaminsky was arrested on contrived charges of collaborating with Kolchak. He was sentenced to death on March 20th, 1920 by the Krasnoyarsk Cheka and shot on the same day. (Molchanov himself was arrested and shot in Tuva for being a “counter-revolutionary and “Trotskyite” in 1937).
(1) Lidiya Nikolaevna Korotneva (aka Zakrzhevskaya, Korotneva-Zakrzhevskaya, aka Grandmother. (1861 - August 1919) From the Kazan nobility. She became a Socialist- Revolutionary in the early 1900s. The civil wife of the famous operatic tenor Julian Zakrzhevskaya from Galicia. She was exiled to Vologodskaya province in 1906 for having in her possession brochures published by the Kazan Committee of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party. After 1907 she became an anarchist communist . In winter 1913 she set up an anarchist communist propaganda group in Kazan, the Kazan Federation of Anarchists. It was attended by workers and students from Kazan University. At the beginning of 1914 the group came to the notice of the local Gendarme Administration. The group established links with workers at the Alfuzov factory. The group was visited by many local Social Democrats and Social Revolutionaries and discussions were carried out with Tolstoyan anarchists and members of left parties. Propaganda was carried out in the local factories and educational institutions. In the winter of 1913-14 the student Gusev from the group went to St Petersburg to obtain supplies of anarchist literature for distribution in Kazan. In spring 1914 Korotneva, Gusev and another anarchist, Mayorov, were arrested and deported to the Yenisei Territory as a result of actions by provocateurs who had been infiltrated into the group. She died from typhus in prison, presumably whilst in White captivity. Her daughter Lyudmila became a Bolshevik!
Photograph of Krasnoyarsk anarchists on May 1st 1917. Banner reads Bread and Freedom. Long live communist anarchy!
Dementiev, A. P. V. K Kaminsky - the leader of Krasnoyarsk anarchists:
Dementiev, A.P. Krasnoyarsk Anarchists in 1917-1918:
Information about diary of Krasnoyarsk gymnast Katya Gaidukovich. “This is a private history of the revolution, the way a young girl in Krasnoyarsk, 1917-1918, experienced it. She was the daughter of a locksmith at the Krasnoyarsk railway workshops, she writes about boys, rallies and anarchy”:
Excerpts from Katya Gaidukovich's diary:
Kaminsky and Kolosov: