A jolly, eerie winter, when everything shifted and took off into obscurity.
Having assembled not far from the Tavrichesky Palace, we are walking, to be there at the scheduled time of twelve o’clock, with the main group of about two hundred people. The square in front of the palace is cluttered with some cannons, machine guns, and “ammunition”—for an attack or for a siege? Only the side, narrow entrance is open: they let people in one by one there, after checking the tickets, and some are asked whether they have weapons on them.
On the fateful day of the 18th January, the capital looked just as if a state of siege had been declared. A few days previously, the Bolsheviks had created the so-called Extraordinary Command and the whole district around Smolny had been put under the jurisdiction of Lenin’s henchman Bonch Bruevich. The area around the Tauride Palace was put under the supervision of the Bolshevik commandant Blagonravov. The palace itself was surrounded by troops armed to the teeth - Kronstadt sailors and Latvian riflemen, some of them stationed within the building. All the streets leading to the palace were closed off.
A call from the Northern Hotel: there are large demonstrations on Nevsky, but they are not letting anyone on Liteinyi Prospekt. One demonstration on Liteinyi has already been gunned down, by the building number 19. Most of the demonstrators are workers. One member of the Constituent Assembly has been killed, one soldier, some workers, many are wounded. There are machine-guns ambushes—from where they were shooting. Somewhere close to Kirochnaya or Furshtadtskaya a demonstration of 6 Red Army Soldiers was gunned down. While sailors were sitting on rooftops (instead of policemen). One girl was stabbed in the neck by a Red Army soldier, and when she fell he kept stabbing her until she died.
Today, right here in this Assembly, the fate of our revolution is being decided. The Constituent Assembly is meeting at a time when the entire country is swept with the conflagration of civil war; when all democratic freedoms have been stifled; when there is no safety from threats to personal integrity, no shelter, no freedom of speech, no freedom to assemble or form unions, no right even to strike; when the jails are full of experienced revolutionaries and socialists and even members of the Constituent Assembly; when there is no criminal justice, and all the worst forms of outrage and lawlessness that we thought were dead and buried for ever after the glorious February Revolution have once more been given legitimacy.
We went for a walk all together today, all the members of the Constituent Assembly, meaning Sorokin and Argunov joined us, too.
The day-long debate has shown that the Party of Right Socialist-Revolutionaries continues, as it did under Kerensky, to lavish the people with promises of all manner of things; actually it has decided to fight against the power of the workers’, peasants’ and soldiers’ Soviets, against the socialist measures, the transfer of land and all implements to the peasants without compensation, the nationalisation of banks, and the repudiation of the state debt. Refusing for a single moment to cover up the crimes of the enemies of the people, we make this announcement of our withdrawal from the Constituent Assembly, leaving it to Soviet power to take the final decision on the attitude to the counter-revolutionary section of the Constituent Assembly.
Trotsky’s presentation of peace terms may well appeal to the average man, who will not perceive the fundamental errors on which they are based. If the Bolsheviks intend to suggest that every community can determine its allegiance to this or that political state or to become independent, the present political organization of the world would be shattered and the same disorder would generally prevail as now exists in Russia. It would be international anarchy.
I was instructed to let you know that everyone present had left the room, because the guards had grown tired.
Almost everybody is better; Marie was still bedridden during the day. At 3:00 vespers was held and all the rooms were sprinkled with holy water. I was talking with some of the First Platoon of the 4th Regiment about their taking off their shoulder straps and about the behavior of some of the guardsmen of the 2nd Regiment who were cruelly denounced.