A short account of the anarchist Mikhail Bukin and the letter he wrote to the Bolsheviks
The anarchist communist Mikhail Bukin, who sometimes went under the aliases of Bukov or Peletchenko, was a turner/lathe operator. In March 1917 he had a key role in an anarchist communist group in Ekaterinoslav (now Dnipro). In May of that year he was arrested for carrying out expropriations. By autumn he had been released and moved to Alexandrovsk (now Zaporozhye) and became a member of the Federation of Anarchists there. In February 1919 he had become a member of the Gulyai-Polye Anarchist Communist Group, and took an active part in the Makhnovist movement. In autumn 1919 the Makhnovists occupied the city of Ekaterinoslav, and Bukin became a labour organiser there. In early 1920 the Reds occupied Ekaterinoslav, and Bukin was targeted as an active anarchist. One Cheka report from February 14th, 1920 describes him as middle aged, with a full body, flattened nose, thinning red hair, and clipped “English” moustache, with tinted glasses and wearing a black cloth jacket.
Searching for him, the Cheka arrested the woman he was living with in April 1920. In indignation, Bukin wrote the following letter. It is not clear who this undated handwritten letter is addressed to, but it ended up in the archives of the Special Department of the Cheka in the 13th Army. It demonstrates his impeccable revolutionary record, his touching belief that the Bolsheviks should behave like other revolutionaries in a fair and decent manner, as well as his relatively undeveloped skills in literacy.
I appeal to your conscience; I hope that the class-conscious socialists, the Communists, still have enough of it. Tell me, that is, answer me my question. Yes, why was my common-law wife arrested, just because she lived with an anarchist and not with her husband? It’s a shame, Communist comrades, to put women in the basement. Tell me, am I also a robber, because I was the commander of a partisan detachment consisting of peasants, and who lost half of their comrades in battles, because I fought for 10 years against the old regime and have 8 wounds? Four of them are for Soviet power in the ranks of the detachments of Mokrousov and Krylov (1). Here in Aleksandrovsk I worked underground with Communist comrades during the times of reaction. For blowing up trains of Denikin gangs? And now the robber [and] do you think I need to be shot like a dog? Shame on comrades, class-conscious Communists to call themselves the government of the workers and peasants and to scoff at them like cattle. You want to know who I am, so wouldn’t it be better for you to declare publicly that you are calling such-and-such to answer. Believe me, I would immediately appear to you as a revolutionary,….I will answer you myself that I am here in Aleksandrovsk and I am waiting for you to honestly summon me to account, and not raid my flat [and] beat people at night. It was only practised by Nicholas’s gendarmes and bailiffs, and not by the socialists. If you want to know who I was before, you can inquire in the Union of Port Workers , where I was a member … Ask any citizen of Aleksandrovsk, they will tell you what I was doing. And if it will be as you wish, then I will be [what] you wish, but I will die as an anarchist for personal freedom. And I ask you to pounce on me here, I will show you how robbers defend their freedom.
Bukin was to die under torture at the hands of the Chekists later in the year.
(1) Alexei Mokrousov. See his biography here at libcom.