Mr. Alston to Earl Curzon. ― (Received February 3.)
(Telegraphic.) Vladivostock, February 2, 1919.
FOLLOWING from High Commissioner, 31st January :―
"Following details respecting Bolshevik régime at Lisva, a town of 30,000 inhabitants between Ekaterinburg and Perm, were given to me by Mr. T―—, a British subject, who was there until 17th December, when the town was taken.
"Life was tolerable until July. A system of rations was in force before Bolsheviks came into power, and was not at first abused.
"Terrorism began after attempt on Lenin in July. Considerable number of people were shot in Lisva and other towns for no apparent reason. Persons were arrested and had to bail themselves out often several times, and often under threats of death. Orders were received to arrest all foreigners, especially British and French. Mr. T―— was able to hide, and was only under arrest for a short time.
"In the town there were 25 commissioners and 1,000 smaller officials. They drew 6,000,000 roubles salary, occupied houses of the upper and middle classes, and had plenty of provisions, as had also the soldiers.
"Non-Bolsheviks had ¼ -pound of bread per day.
"He thought wholesale murder or bodily torture was the exception, but he confirmed reports of people being led out to be shot several times. Many people went mad under this and similar mental agony.
"Churches were not closed, but soldiers were forbidden attendance, and bells were not rung. Only civil marriages were permitted. He had heard nothing about nationalization of women.
"Army was well disciplined, and he believes it is still formidable. Officers forced to serve in it did not seem to mind their position as much as might be expected. Soldiers were allowed to loot freely. When Lisva was evacuated 1,800 prisoners were removed to Perm.
"Considered as a machine for executing its own purposes, he thought Bolshevik administration efficient and energetic. There was a regular service of trains between Urals and European Russia, but only Bolshevik officers could have passenger car, others travelling in trucks.
“Peasantry were against Bolsheviks because they were subject to unnecessary requisitions, whereas workmen had much higher wages and did much less work than formerly.
Mr. T―— said that we ought not to treat with them as a political party, and that he believed conditions of life in Petrograd and Moscow were terrible, and much worse than in Eastern Russia."