Report from a reliable source, dated Petrograd, March 21.
STRIKES at the Putilof and other factories have been the main events of interest during the past week.
The outbreak was economic rather than political. The cry for "Bread" gave place to a new cry, "Down with Lenin."
Both the strikes and the rising were due in part to the instigation of the Social Revolutionary party.
In the various workshops Bolshevism no longer keeps its hold, though a few factory committees endeavour to keep it alive. These committees are made up mainly of Communists, who maintain their power by manipulating the elections, and will even introduce total strangers in order to maintain a majority ; while they terrorise the workmen, and compel them to vote for the Soviet candidates.
The workmen now regard the factory committees as Soviet spies, and believe that their words are passed on by agents, who claim to be Social Revolutionaries, and who are sent to the works in order to report on the so-called "crime" of political opposition.
It is probable for this reason that the Social Revolutionaries had less to do with the rising than had the actual workmen, though the Bolsheviks would not admit this.
On the 10th March a mass meeting was held at the Putilof works ; 10,000 men were present, and a resolution was passed, with only twenty-two dissentients, all of whom were complete strangers unconnected with the works. The following extracts show the tenour of the resolution :―
"We, the workmen of the Putilof Works Wharf, declare before the labouring classes of Russia and the world that the Bolshevik Government has betrayed the high ideals of the October revolution, and thus betrayed and deceived the workmen and peasants of Russia ; that the Bolshevik Government, acting as formerly in our names, is not the authority of the Proletariat and peasants, but an authority and dictatorship of a central committee of the Bolshevik party, self-governing with the aid of extraordinary commissions, Communists, and police.
"We protest against the compulsion of workmen to remain at factories and works, and the attempt to deprive them all of elementary rights, freedom of the press, speech, meetings, inviolability of persons, &c.
"1. The immediate transfer of authority to a freely elected Workmen's and Peasants' Soviet.
"2. The immediate re-establishment of freedom of election at factories and works. barracks, ships, railways, and everywhere.
"3. The transfer of wholesale management to released workmen of the professional union.
"4. The transfer of the food supply to Workmen's and Peasants' Co-operative Societies.
"5. The general arming of workmen and peasants.
"6. The immediate release of members of the original revolutionary peasants' party of Left Social Revolutionists.
"7. The immediate release of Marie Spiridonova."
The carrying of the resolution was received with cries of "Down with dictatorship!" "Down with the Kommissars!" "To the Courts with the Bolshevik hangmen and murderers!"
The Government took steps to put down any further manifestations, and anyone found in possession of the resolution was at once arrested. Various promises were made, and money, in the shape of "Kerensky" notes, was distributed by the Bolsheviks, but the workmen refused to be pacified, and incited their comrades to strike.
On the 15th of March the Baltic, Skorohod, and Tramway works came out on strike.
The situation was so serious that Lenin came from Moscow and attempted to pacify the workmen by speeches and promises of an extra bread ration. He also promised that passenger traffic between Petrograd and Moscow should be suspended for four weeks, in order that the transport of supplies might be facilitated.
His proposals were refused, and the workmen demanded his resignation. Zinoviev and Lunacharsky, the only two Kommissars who dared to address the workmen, had no better success. Zinoviev was greeted with cries of "Down with that Jew!" and was compelled to escape. Lunacharsky found it almost impossible to obtain a hearing, and eventually promised that the Bolsheviks would resign if the majority desired their resignation.
The following couplet was placarded upon the walls of Petrograd ―
" Down with Lenin and horseflesh,
Give us the Tsar and pork."
A demand was made by the delegates of the Putilof Works that the resolution of the 10th March should be published in the “Northern Commune" ; but this was refused by the Kommissars of the Interior.
On the 16th March Torin incited Bolsheviks to kill the Social Revolutionaries, and Zinoviev brought into Petrograd a number of sailors and soldiers of the Red Army. The force was composed of foreigners, mainly Letts and Germans. During the next two days 300 arrests took place in the workshops, and suspected ringleaders and Social Revolutionaries were shot wholesale.
Though order has been partially restored, and many workmen have been driven to work by means of threats, they are still incensed against the Bolsheviks, and demand the freedom of the press in order to voice their grievances.