Mr. Alston to Mr. Balfour―(Received January 4.)
(Telegraphic.) Vladivostock, January 2, 1919.
I HAVE derived following information, which may be considered authentic, with regard to position in Moscow, partly from the Vladivostock press and partly from persons having connections there :—
With the exception of the Bolsheviks, the whole population is terrorised almost to a point of physical paralysis and imbecility. Slender supplies of even the simplest food are only to be had when the watch of the Bolshevik guard weakens, and three-quarters of the people are slowly starving to death. At the expense of the poor, hoarders see their chance to realise enormous profits. Throughout the daylight hours, long queues wait to try to get half-pound of tea, potatoes, or a bit of fish. Tea may be anything up to 100 roubles per pound, coarse black bread varies from 15 to 20 roubles per pound, according to the section of the town in which it is sold, and sugar is 50 roubles a pound, when obtainable. A second-hand suit of clothes costs anything up to 2,000 roubles, and a pair of boots 800 roubles. Horseflesh is the mainstay of the population at present, but even supplies of that are fast dwindling. Five hundred hostages were taken to Kronstadt for reprisals, soon after attempted assassination of Lenin, and these were subjected to most horrible tortures. The people often prefer to starve rather than risk torture at the hands of Chinese and Lettish hooligans who form "militia" on streets, and cower in their cellars, numbed with cold. To avoid extermination, the "intellectuals" have largely gone into the service of Bolsheviks. Their wages are insignificant if compared even with the camp followers of Bolshevik garrisons, who, at any rate, get fed fairly regularly.
All officers were ordered in July to report to Alexandrovsky school to be registered, About 20,000 appeared, and were shut up for three days without air, food, or sleep. Many went mad, and Lettish and Chinese guard mercilessly bayonetted those who attempted to escape when they were finally let out.
Residents in area round Butirsky prison abandoned their houses owing to the numerous executions of "counter-revolutionary intellectuals."
Every day typhoid and tuberculosis are increasing, and ordinary population are quite unable to procure medical supplies even at the most outrageous prices.
Infants have been nationalised and become property of State upon attaining the age of eighteen.
As Petrograd has ceased to be the Bolshevik headquarters, military situation there is better. In spite of this, after the murder of Uritsky, the Bolshevik commissary, the town virtually ran with blood. Owing to there being less food even than in Moscow, the death roll from disease is much higher. This is also due to the fact that, without being buried, corpses of horses, dogs, and human beings lie about in the streets.
Cholera took very heavy toll in summer, as all the canals are polluted with decomposed bodies of men and animals.
Things are considerably better on Viborg side, but although Bolsheviks get food themselves, they take good care that none gets to the bourgeoisie from Finland side.
It may be considered that whole population of Petrograd is virtually insane, if not hunger-stricken, and, unlike the people in Moscow, who have suffered less, it is unable to appreciate possibility of utter extermination of educated elements. To release and provide food for themselves and their armies, Bolsheviks will be forced ultimately to kill off the greater portion of population. In any of big towns, as at Petrograd, Moscow, and Kursk, a horrible massacre is possible at any moment.