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One case that especially moved

Soon after these arrivals there came fresh batches of “politicals,” until the great prison was full to overflowing. The Lopàtin case contributed many. Hermann Lopàtin is one of the best-known figures in our Russian revolutionary movement. In 1884 he had returned from abroad (whither he had earlier been obliged to flee), in order to resuscitate the organisation of the Naròdnaia Vòlya, all the active members of which were in prison in consequence of Degàiev’s treachery. Lopàtin had almost to begin at the beginning again in reorganising that terrorist society, and travelled for this purpose all over Russia, establishing fresh connections everywhere. As he could not depend on his memory he had to write down the names of members, with notes as to their capacity for usefulness, and he kept the bit of paper with this list on it always about his person, meaning to destroy it if in any danger. Unfortunately, this proved impossible, for one day he was seized in the street by the secret police and overpowered before he could manage to swallow the compromising document, though he had actually got it into his mouth. All whose names were on his list were, of course, arrested, and imprisonments were made all over Russia. The numerous persons who were sent to the central prison in Moscow in consequence of Lopàtin’s capture were for the most part scarcely out of boyhood, and their guilt entirely consisted in their being named in Lopàtin’s list.
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There was much said in our prison (and throughout Moscow, too) about the fate of another young student of the Peter Rasoumòvsky Academy. His name was Kovalièv; he had been arrested on some trifling count, and confined in the police prison. A certain officer of the guard, Belino-Bshezòvsky, was also there, under examination for some criminal offence. This representative of our gilded youth entered into league with the gendarmerie to take advantage of the young student’s inexperience; and they planned no less than the concoction of a false attempt at assassination. The officer pretended to Kovalièv that he himself belonged to the revolutionists, and tempted the boy with the suggestion of killing the Public Prosecutor of the Moscow Courts (the present Minister of Justice, Mouravièv).

The unwary youth fell into the trap, and the agent provocateur furnished him with a loaded revolver; then, when Kovalièv was to be examined by the Public Prosecutor, he was suddenly seized on his way to the office by the gendarmes (instructed, of course, by Belino-Bshezòvsky), searched, and the weapon found on him. He was at once charged with being caught in an attempt to murder the Public Prosecutor. In his despair he tried to commit suicide, but was prevented. The provocative r?le played by the gendarmerie was here too flagrant to be concealed, and the representations of the victim’s father were successful in rescuing him from their clutches. An order was sent from Petersburg to hush up the affair. Rumours were current everywhere that Mouravièv had been privy to the action of the gendarmerie, his attempted assassination being designed to fix public notice upon him and bring him to the front. But I have no means of knowing how far there was any foundation for this report.
CHAPTER XIV

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