[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]
The Western Mail, April 20th, 1933
O.G.P.U.’s BLOW TO TRADE
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MOSCOW TRIAL ONE OF THE BIGGEST BLUNDERS IN HISTORY
Foreign Trade Wrecked by Fanatical Suspicion
By Gareth Jones
The trial of the
British engineers in Moscow will rank as one of the biggest blunders of
history. The false step which the O.G.P.U. (the State Political Police)
blindly took when they ordered the arrest of the six Britons has had results
greatly damaging to the Soviet Union. The O.G.P.U. went about the frame-up
without consulting anybody. Its officials left the Soviet Foreign Office
in the dark and sprang the trumped-up charges upon an astonished Soviet
Foreign office could not fight against the O.G.P.U., which is now all-powerful,
and had to defend the O.G.P.U. action in public, while probably cursing it in
What the O.G.P.U.
did in keeping with the Bolshevik mentality. It was motivated by a great
fear of the capitalist nations. According to the Bolsheviks, the
capitalists are ever plotting the overthrow of the Soviet Union and send swarms
of spies to Russia.
America are preparing war on the Soviet Union. The Pope and the Hitlerites
are allies in preparing to attack the Soviet Union.”
Those are typical
propaganda posters which one sees everywhere. This fear of capitalist
attack is deeply impressed on the Russian mind, for the Bolsheviks credulously
accept Lenin’s prophecy that the war between Capitalism and Communism is bound
to come. What wonder that most British experts or observers going to
Russia are suspected of being spies?
The O.G.P.U. is
fanatical in another of its suspicions, namely, the relations between British
people and the Intelligence Service. The Bolsheviks really believe that
Scotland Yard (which they confuse with the British Intelligence Service) is an
all-powerful force dominating British life. Scotland Yard, in their
imaginations, is the exact equivalent of the O.G.P.U. and has every man and
woman and child under its control.
have been taught to believe that every British subject going abroad has to report
to Scotland Yard, has to have special permission to leave the country, and has
to call at Scotland with military information on his return to England. In
pre-war days the Tsarist police were also suspicious concerning the character of
the foreigners who entered Russia.
FANTASTIC BUT TRUE
The O.G.P.U. was
also fanatically-minded in its suspicion of sabotage. The wrecking of
machines has been a frequent crime both in Tsarist and Bolshevik Russia.
Although the accusation strikes as fantastic, sabotage is quite a natural idea
to Russians. Much valuable machinery has been wrecked by wilful damaging
by Russians who hate the Bolshevik system.
O.G.P.U.’s blunder was natural one in view of Russian history and of Russian
mentality. The O.G.P.U.’s disregard of human life is also natural in
view of Russian character. Human life has never been of much stock in
Russia, and the rights of the individual have always been scorned by the ruling
class, whether Tsarist or Bolshevik. Nor will Russian public opinion have
much effect on the Bolsheviks’ policy. The young Communists and the
members of the party will see in the trial an explanation for the breakdowns in
industry. But the rest of the country will only think and talk of one
O.G.P.U. blundered most was in its ignorance of foreign countries. It did
not foresee the first result of the trial which was a world-wide publicity of
the dangers accompany engineering trade in Russia. The trial has thrown
vivid searchlight upon the way the government treats foreign experts. The
natural reaction in a foreign firm is: “How can we trade with people who treat
the representatives of a first-class company in such a disgraceful way?”
The third degree methods employed in the trial and the invalid nature of the
evidence obtained by terrorising Russians have also damaged the Soviet
Government in foreign eyes.
consequence of the trial which the O.G.P.U. did not foresee was the barrier it
put in the way of American recognition. President Roosevelt seemed in
favour of entering upon diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, but the
Moscow trial has alarmed the American, and that goal of Soviet foreign
policy-American recognition-is now farther away than ever.
consequence unforeseen by the O.G.P.U. is the prohibition of 80 per cent. of
imports from Russia, which was proclaimed yesterday. Next week the import
of petroleum, wheat, butter, raw cotton, timber, and other commodities will be
banned. This will deal a severe blow at Soviet foreign trade, for Great
Britain has been Russia’s greatest market. Usually, almost one-third of
the Soviet exports have come to the United Kingdom. In 1931 the Soviet
Union sold to Britain goods to the value of £32,000,000, and bought from
Britain £9,000,000 worth of goods.
The ban on timber
from Russia may lead to difficulties, in view of large contracts which have been
signed and in of the suitability of Russian timber for British needs. Among the
items banned are pit-props and pit-wood.
The banning of
foodstuffs will probably not change the situation greatly, for the export of
foodstuffs will, in any case decline rapidly on account of the massacre of
cattle and of the ruin of agriculture in Russia.
EFFECTS OF THE EMBARGO
Some of the
effects of the embargo will be unfortunate. The shipping trade between
British ports and Russia will be adversely affected. The shutting off of
the British market will cause the Soviet Government great difficulties in
meeting obligations abroad, and this will hurt British businessmen who are owed
money by Russia. Moreover it will hasten Russian default in Germany, and
this will endanger the German budgetary situation. Little did the O.G.P.U.
think of the world-wide political and economic consequences of their sudden
descent upon the British engineers’ lodgings in Moscow.
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