Anarchists in the Gulag (and prison and exile)

Bolshevik repression of anarchists after 1917

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Files from the Boris Yelensky Papers

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Some files from the Boris Yelensky Papers have just gone up at The Senya Fleshin Papaers blog. Notes on contents at:

Folder 61. Political prisoners in Russia. 1924-1927 and n.d. (Letters)

Folder 62. Russian refugees in Europe, Canada and USA. 1927, 1939-1963.

Folder 68. Chicago Aid Fund and Alexander Berkman Aid Fund.
Administrative documents ; Financial statements and reports of the activities. 1926-1965.

Folder 80. Chicago Aid Fund and Alexander Berkman Aid Fund.
Publication initiatives ; Documents concerning the publication of the book of G.P. Maximoff The guillotine at work, including the agreement for publication, reviews and correspondence concerning orders, delivery and receipt. 1939-1957.

Happy researching!

Written by gulaganarchists

26, June 2015 at 8:52 am

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New files on the Senya Fleshin papers blog

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The introduction to the scanned Senya Fleshin papers has been updated.

The new files are:
Extra material from Folder 76 – Venger, Rachil’. 1931, 1932.
Folder 85
Folder 86 part one and
Folder 86 part two
Folder 85 and 86 are administrative documents including minutes, letters to the Aid Fund etc)

Happy researching!

Written by gulaganarchists

24, May 2015 at 10:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Anarchist artist Vladimir Kotliarov-Tolsty had died in Paris

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On Saturday, February 23, artist, actor and publisher Vladimir “Tolsty” Kotliarov died in Paris, aged 75, a well-known representative of the left-wing wave of Soviet emigres, Kommersant [daily] reported.

Kotliarov was born in Moscow in 1937, and graduated from the Moscow State University’s historical faculty, earning a degree in art history.

He served in aviation, and in 1958 he barely survived after crashing a nuclear bomber aircraft. The artist, who adopted alias Tolsty (“Fat”), later recalled that experience when he used X-Ray plates in his work. In the Soviet Union he worked as a radio announcer, electronic engineer, and art renovator.

In 1979 Vladimir left the USSR and settled in Paris. At first, he lived in misery and earned a living washing dishes. However, being a radical avantgardist, Tolsty scorned bourgeois greed, and was not ashamed of his poverty. Quite the opposite, Kotliarov sought to underscore his rejection of monetary spirit, and in 1995 he invented a new type of art: he started to destroy money, cutting bills and covering the glued-together shreds with political and philosophical texts and slogans, turning them into works of art.

In Paris he created the Russian anarchist group Black Repartition of Land and Liberty (Rus: Cherny Peredel Zemli I Voli, combines names of two 19th century Narodnik secret societies – translator’s note) and developed its theoretical conception, proposing to augment the classic “Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood” triade with an extra one – “Mutual aid, Education, Honour”.

In France, after securing support from emigre rebels – Eduard Limonov, Konstantyn K. Kuzminsky, Alexei Khvostenko, Vagrich Bakhchanyan – Tolsty started publishing almanac magazine Muleta, and later the newspaper Vecherniy Zvon (Evening Bells), in which he often explicitly mocked the rest of emigre “elites”.

Tolsty was actively propagating anarchism in his publications. The entire 4th volume of Muleta [published in 1986] was dedicated to anarchism. Tolsty published two of his own articles in it – “Lessons of the Chinese Anarchism” and “Praising Makhnovtchina” (under pen name Katsapov), and fully reprinted Peter Kropotkin’s brochure “Anarchism”.

As an actor, he played in dozens of films, including Un Indien Dans la Ville (1994), La Reine Margot (1994), and Ronin (1998).

According to Tolsty’s comrades, he was distinguished by his unflinching lust for life, and he even referred to his art as “vivrisme” (from the French vivre, to live). In 2003, Kotliarov wrote that “The principles of vivrisme do not at all coincide with the principles of counter-cultural artists. The counter-cultural artists, which is to say the people who were so-called non-conformists here [in Russia] turned into most common conformists over there, in the West. In no way do I agree with the situation when an artist “mathematically” calculates what is marketable right now: okay, now black colour and devilry are in fashion, and he gets to produce black colour and devilry.”

From: ( website, February 25, 2013) .

Translated by Szarapow. also posted at

Written by gulaganarchists

9, May 2013 at 9:43 am

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Freedom Bookshop attacked

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Our bookselling team gets creative

London’s Freedom Bookshop has suffered a firebomb attack. It looks as though lots of books have been damaged.

Their website gives an idea of what’s been going on:
Freedom firebombed
The clean-up continues
Open as usual
Bookshop re-opens

“Our stock is somewhat reduced, but now features some interesting fire-damaged memorabilia.

“As so much of our stock was damaged, we would appreciate any book donations you can make.

“Please drop off books at the bookshop during our normal opening hours: Monday to Saturday 12 noon to 6pm, Sunday 12 noon to 4pm.”

The Freedom collective have made the following suggestion for how comrades who can’t get to the actual bookshop can give financial support:

“We are setting up a donation page. In the meanwhile, anyone who wants to donate can do so by ordering a book/s through the website, and emailing us at to let us know that your purchase was a donation.

“Alternatively, [UK] cheques or postal orders made payable to Freedom Press can be sent to Freedom Press, 84b Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX.”

Further info at
See also

Written by gulaganarchists

3, February 2013 at 5:31 pm

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“The Tragic Procession : Alexander Berkman and Russian Prisoner Aid” Reviewed in Anarcho-Syndicalist Review

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“The book is a valuable record both of the brutal repression the Bolshevik regime inflicted upon Russian revolutionaries, and of the valient efforts by our movement to sustain these comrades during their imprisonment and to work toward their freedom.”
Anarcho-Syndicalist Review #54, Summer 2010, p.41

More on the book here.

Written by gulaganarchists

13, August 2010 at 8:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized