Soviet justice: The case of Gavriil Pavlyuk

A very short article on the prsecution of anarchist peasant Gavriil Pavlyuk

Submitted by Battlescarred on June 1, 2016

In issue 34 of the Russian anarchist paper Dielo Truda-Probuzhdenie (Workers’ Cause-The Awakening) published in New York in 1950 an article by one “L. A.O” now in exile after having survived the camps refers to an old peasant, Gavriil Tihonovich Pavlyuk. He lived In the village of Dolinsky in 1935-36 near the city of Mariupol in the Ukraine and was then 92 years old.

When the Communist authorities learned that he had been involved in an anarchist group in the past they took away his last cow and calf.

Pavlyuk had little reading ability but loved to read articles on the Stalinist constitution. Every day he stood in line for the newspaper in which these articles appeared. A book on the constitution soon appeared and he studied it in detail, hoping to have his requisitioned shack returned to him and to live there the remainder of his days, based on points in the constitution.

However the Communists found an old rusty bayonet near his old farm, now collectivised. One member of Komsomol (Young Communist League) demanded why Pavlyuk had use for such an item. He allegedly replied “ To rip the belly of Young Communists at the time”. He was arrested, his hands tied and he was marched off to prison.

L.A.O. met Pavlyuk in Mariupol prison in 1937. He kept his spirits up and was convinced that his case would be held in open court, that the lies and false accusations would be dismissed.

On August 13th of that year Pavlyuk was summoned to court. But this was no open court but a closed “special” court where a panel of judges decided the verdict. After 15-20 minutes they doled out a sentence of ten years in a concentration camp. This would mean death in a short time for such an old man. He caustically thanked the judges for letting him preserve his health for the next ten years, and then added that the charges against him were totally false , were lies fabricated by the Komsomol but that the true charge against him of being an anarchist was true. “I belonged to the anarchist group. Yes, I am an anarchist and will die an anarchist”.

Nick Heath