Postnikov, Vasily Matveyevich (1894-1937)

Vasily Postnikov

A short biography of Russian anarchist Vasily Postnikov

Vasily Postnikov was born in the village of Morgunovo, in the Suksunsky district of Perm province in the Ural region of Russia in 1894.

In 1915 he was conscripted and after a month’s training was sent to the front where he was injured, losing one of his big toes. He appears to have joined the Bolsheviks. In 1918 he was commander of a Red Guard military detachment fighting the White army of Admiral Kolchak in Kungursky uyezd, an administrative region of Perm province. The following year he was involved in the suppression of a peasant revolt there. The same year he left the Bolsheviks. After the Civil War he worked as a secretary of the Morgunovo volost (administrative subdivision), as well as working on his farm he organised the commune “Dawn” , and helped create an anarchist group there, which numbered 26 members by 1924, with hundreds of sympathisers throughout the Suksun, Kisert and Kungur districts. He was alleged to have had extrasensory powers and was able to induce someone into a state of hypnosis!(1)

That year he was arrested for the first time on August 26th. It was alleged that he had visited Moscow and met with Kropotkin who had given him literature and membership cards, and that he was an anarcho-syndicalist. Witnesses alleged that he had urged the robbery of a state institution or of a wealthy Nepman in order to buy a printing press. After his arrest he behaved with dignity and refused to implicate anyone, and said that only he had personal anarchist convictions. Provocateurs were placed in his cell, and reported that he received letters from the group and corresponded with them through friendly security guards.

Postnikov was sentenced to 3 years of exile and 3 yeas of concentration camp on December 23rd, 1924 for being an anarchist and or anti-Soviet agitation. He served 6 months in the Solovki camps, and then in the northern political isolator of Verkhneuralsk. Here he received letters from the leading Perm anarchist Nikolai Vissarionovitch Khudyakov (born 1897) which were intercepted and used against him in a subsequent trial.

In 1927 he was exiled to Yeniseisk in Siberia for three years and released in 1930. He was only allowed to reside in the major cities, with fixed residence or three years. He settled in Sverdlovsk. After the lapse of this period he moved to Sarapul to live with his sister and her husband Stepan Gladkikh, a comrade from the Civil War. There he was joined by Stepan Parfenovich Bashkirtsev(2) who had been a member of the anarchist group in 1924. In 1933 he was again arrested and exiled to Ufa for three years. Bashkirtsev joined him there.

He and Bashkirtsev were arrested on March 23rd, 1937 and sent to Sverdlovsk despite harsh interrogation and torture Postnikov denied all charges against him. One of these tortures involved the prisoners being put under a toilet seat and NKVD officers defecating on them.

Bashkirtsev broke under interrogation and signed a confession. On being confronted with Bashkirtsev Postnikov continued to deny everything. Both were sentenced to death on November 2nd, 1937 and shot the following day. Their murders were followed by the arrest of Gladkikh, the expulsion from the Communist Party of the husband of Postnikov’s sister, even though he had never met him, and the dossiers of Postnikov’s cousins had a note added that their relative was an anarchist.

(1) He apparently wrote a letter from Yeniseisk to his family telling them what they had done on a particular day. Many years later at a family reunion he again described the events of that day but refused to say how he had done this, only saying that it had required a great effort and that he had slept for several days afterwards.
(2) Born 1898 in the Suksunsky district. From a peasant background, he worked as a photographer. Member of the Communist Party from 1917 to 1920. Anarchist since the Civil War, since 1919 he was repeatedly arrested, almost constantly in political prisoners, camps and exiles, in 1921-1922 he participated in two armed escapes of imprisoned anarchists. Arrested with Postnikov and Shabarschin in 1924.

Nick Heath


Posted By

Jul 6 2017 14:11


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