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John G. Wright

International Notes

G.P.U. Supervises Soviet Election – Arrests and Shootings Continue –
Last Minute Removals from Ballot

(18 December 1937)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. 1 No. 19, 18 December 1937, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Stalin Elects Himself

The elections in Russia are over – “officially”. As was guaranteed in advance, 100% of the voters turned out “unanimously” to elect Stalin and 1,142 other members of the Supreme Council (569 for the Council of the Union and 574 for the Council of Nationalities), i.e., 1,142 stooges for Stalin.

Advised Ballots Be Signed

In addition to the previous vast mobilization of the apparatus, from the 900,000 school teachers down to all school children of “pioneer age”, more than 1,000,000 “agitators”’ were sent out to the rural districts and 2,000,000 “volunteers” (as proudly reported by the Daily Worker for Dec. 13) assisted the G.P.U. in driving the people to the polls. The Soviet citizen in these elections had the choice between either showing up at the polls or explaining to the G.P.U. his failure to vote for Stalin. While the Stalin press cynically kept up the sham of the “secret” ballot – Pravda insisted, if you please, that unless the ballot was sealed it would be invalid – it at the same time made it quite clear to the citizens that they had better have iron-clad proof of having voted, suggesting, in fact, that they sign their names to the ballot, thus placing the illiterates on the spot.

Sender Garlin reports in the Daily Worker that “Children refused to stay at home and insisted on accompanying their parents to the polls.” Apart from the fact that the absence of a schoolchild (previously “mobilized” for the campaign) would have to be explained by the parents, the presence of children constituted an additional proof that the parents had not been remiss in their duties.

Voting “Safe-Guarded”

Detail after detail provides proof of the vast reign of terror under which the elections were held. “Virtually nothing was allowed to interfere with the sacred right of all Soviet citizens to vote. People voted in home districts, in sanatoriums and vacationing places, on battleships on the Red Fleet and on trains which sped over the rolling steppes of Russia”, howls the Daily Worker. Even being sick in bed was no excuse for failure to vote. A Soviet citizen could provide against such contingency either like Stanislavsky, “the venerable director of Moscow’s history-making theatre”, by making an official request “to be permitted to vote at home, or, if he happened not to be a dignitary, by applying for one of “the fleet of cars placed at the disposal of aged and invalid voters to drive them to and from the polls.” (D.W., Dec. 13) It is hardly to be wondered at that many harrassed functionaries, seeking to safeguard themselves against corpses being suddenly resurrected or possible errors in documentation, placed on the rolls the names of people recently deceased, and of new born babes, to save nothing of the feeble-minded and the insane. (See Pravda for Nov. 25).

From the pages of the official Stalin press, it is quite apparent that toward the latter stages of the election campaign, particularly when it became clear that only those handpicked by Stalin would be placed on the ballot, a serious apathy, to put it mildly, set in among the “activists” engaged in organizing the elections. Thus, Pravda for November 25, after giving a glowing account of the progress of the campaign, comments cautiously: “However many party and trade union organizations, city and district Soviets forget about the organizational and technical preparation for the elections.”

* * *

The drive against the “enemies of the people” has not abated and it is certain that far from slackening it will gather in momentum especially in the coming days before the convocation of the Supreme Council “sometime in January”.

Last Minute Changes in Ballot

To the long list of Soviet embassies that are being purged, should be added the personnel of the Tokio embassy, the majority of whom have been “recalled.” Rumours will not down of a pending trial of no less than 15 Soviet diplomats – on the charge of “Trotskyism.” A purge, the scope of which will become clear only when the complete list of candidates is finally made public, is taking place even among the newly “elected” deputies. To the names of Postyshev, formerly of the Political Bureau, and Mezhlauk, who replaced Ordjonikidze as the head of Heavy Industry, and both of whom were previously removed from the roll of candidates, Stalin has now added the names of General Alksnis and General Bokis, head of the Air and Tanks Corps respectively. Alksnis was among those who sent Tukhachevsky and others to the executioner’s block.

So brazen is the work of the frame-up artists that even the pages of Izvestia had to be devoted to the “exposure” of one over-zealous individual. The editor of Russian Art has been fulminating against the staff of another Soviet publication Theatre as guilty of every kind of anti-Soviet crime, up to and including “Trotskyism”. Simultaneously, the editor of Theatre has been conducting the same sort of campaign against the staff of Russian Art. The “scandal” comprises the fact that one and the same individual, I. Altman, is editor of Theatre while he also happens to be editor of Russian Art. The gentleman was playing safe. (See Izvestia for Nov. 24).

In every one of its aspects the “election” reflects the depraved and brutal regime of Stalin. To the long list of his judicial frame-ups, Stalin has merely added an electoral frame-up.

Last updated: 29 July 2015