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100 years ago: Infamous Soviet tactics

30 June 2023

June 29th, 1923.

AT THE end of last week there were reports that the Soviet authorities had considerably increased the harshness of the treatment in prison of the Patriarch Tikhon, who was said to have been refused proper medical treatment and proper food, and to be subjected to periodical cross-examinations by the General Prosecutor Krylenko. The motive was sufficiently clear. It was to compel the Patriarch by mental and physical torture to make some admission which would serve the Soviet better than his execution. On Wednesday most of the morning papers briefly announced that he had been released from prison. The Daily Express, which is often singularly well served by its foreign correspondents, was able to add that his release was due to his acknowledgment of guilt, and to his promise that he would give up counter-revolutionary actions in future. The document of submission is said to have been signed on June 16. It relates that having been reared in Monarchist surroundings he had been opposed to Soviet authority; he had pronounced anathemas against the Soviet Government, and had protested against its decree requisitioning the treasures of the Church. It admitted the justice of the decision of the Court to bring him to trial for these actions, and petitioned for release. The document is worthless. To have wrung it from the tortured and weakened Patriarch is an act of which the Soviet, alone among Governments, could have been guilty. They think to justify themselves by its publication; they will but enhance — if that were still possible — their infamy.

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