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Meeting of the Russian factory workers of St. Petersburg. To the history of creation of the largest legal working organization under the leadership of Georgy Gapon

i. M. Karuseva


Work is presented by group of history of the Russian revolutions and social movements of the St. Petersburg institute of history of RAS.

The research supervisor — the candidate of historical sciences S.I. Potolov

Article is devoted to studying the largest legal working organization under the leadership of G. Gapon — the Meeting of the Russian factory workers of St. Petersburg. This research shows the history of creation and activity of the gaponovsky organization during 1902 — 1903


The article is dedicated to the study of the largest legal workers' organization under the guidance of

G. Gapon — the Assembly of Russian Factory-Plant Workers. The story ofcreation and activities ofGapon's organization in 1902 — 1903 is observed with the help of archive documents.

In a historiography of an initial stage of the first Russian revolution of 1905 — 1907 which very important for understanding of processes brought to events on January 9, 1905, the history of creation and activity of the largest legal working organization of the beginning of the 1900th — the Meeting of the Russian factory workers of St. Petersburg under the leadership of Georgy Gapon is.

It is considered to be that the Meeting of the Russian factory workers of St. Petersburg — the organization of purely zubatovsky type. A statement it is right only partly and belongs only to fall of 1902 when in the capital after Moscow under the auspices of Department of police the Benefit society of workers of mechanical production was created. It was initiated by S.V. Zubatov, to -

tory, having been given in October, 1902 new assignment on service to St. Petersburg, began to extend the Moscow experience of creation of the legal working organizations under patronage of security office among workers of the capital.

For this purpose from Moscow there arrived representatives of zubatovsky Moscow Council of workers M.A. Afanasyev and N.T. Krasivsky who at once were accepted to the organization of similar society among the St. Petersburg workers.

On November 23, 1902 the ceremonial opening of the St. Petersburg society of mutual assistance of workers in mechanical production was held. Seven workers became his founders: S.V. Kladovikov, I.S. Sokolov, M.A. Ushakov, S.A. Gorshkov, V.I. Pikunov, S.E. Ustyuzhanin and Starozhilov. The worker of the plant Lessnera V.I. Pikunov was elected the chairman of society, the secretary — the turner of the metal plant S.A. Gorshkov. The charter of society, as well as the name, submitted themselves the exact copy of the similar organization in Moscow [11, page 2].

Meetings of workers — members of newly minted society took place on Sundays, in rooms of Sobriety society, to the address: Neyshlotsky Lane, 5, and in one of houses on 18th Line of Vasilyevsky island. Almost at each meeting there was also zubatovets I.S. Sokolov. The workers attending meetings had to bring a monthly contribution — 20 kopeks for needs of the organization.

In December, 1902 on social gatherings the young priest G.A. Gapon who was known in St. Petersburg for the vigorous social evangelical activity began to appear. Gapon quickly came into the view of the employee of Security office N.M. Mikhaylov who acquainted him with the chief of Special department of Department of police of the capital S.V. Zubatov. That understood at once what huge advantages activity "going to the people" gives it the priest. Gapon was the most suitable candidacy to the place of the head of the worker of the organizations created by Zubatov in St. Petersburg and them dukhovni-

>. Therefore Zubatov takes Gapon under the protection and gives it all support.

The ideas Zubatova got a response in soul of the young priest, in their implementation he saw possibilities of realization of own outlook in the field of social service. Gapon began to visit occasionally social gatherings and quickly gained authority and respect of workers. However he did not take active part in work of society.

Time went, and the zubatovsky organization in the capital could not get up in any way. To summer of 1903 the interest of workers in the organization fell, came to the meeting less the people and "the total absence of that revival and interest which was noticed recently" reigned [1, page 48].

Meanwhile in the management of the organization between V.I. Pikunov and I.S. Sokolov there was a dissonance because of rivalry, and workers suggested Gapon to head society, but that refused, motivating the refusal with the fact that the organization is compromised with communications with police.

Only after S.V. Zubatov's resignation in summer of 1903 Gapon accepted the proposal of workers to head society and at once started implementation of the plan of creation of the new working organization.

Well knowing psychology of bulk of the St. Petersburg workers, their suspicious relation to police, Gapon during creation of the organization tried to consider it and to limit communications with secret police and governmental bodies, to give to the organization formally independent character that the father of "police socialism" S.V. Zubatov, being already in resignation, frankly condemned. On the other hand, knowing about the negative relation from the Ministry of Finance and industrialists to zubatovsky experiments, Gapon sought to limit in every possible way a framework of activity of the organization to carrying out readings religious and moral character, musicales, the organizations tea, cash desks of mutual aid, etc. [9, page 210].

In August, 1903 the constituent assembly at which there were workers took place:

H. A. Stepanov, I.V. Vasilyev, F.M. Gorbachev, S.V. Kladovikov, S.E. Ustyuzhanin, I. Zimin, V.A. Maslov, A.S. Semyonov, V. Smirnov, A. Lekhvonen, N.M. Varnashev, etc. (only 15 — 20 people).

On it G. Gapon as the leader of the created new organization, presented the action plan which was in that first of all "it is final to throw a form of the Moscow organization, to be exempted from guardianship of administrative nurses and to create material independence" [1, page 49].

Thus, the vigorous and in advance thought over by Gapon reorganization of activity of society in several directions begins with the first steps. The responsible circle which defined the direction of organizational and economic activity of the organization was chosen. Nikolay Mikhaylovich Varna-shev was chosen as the chairman of meetings, the secretary — Ivan Vasilyevich Vasilyev managing buffet — Semyon Efimovich Ustyuzhanin, library — Nikolay Aleksandrovich Stepanov. Work of the new organization for a request of workers — founders, was headed by the priest Georgy Gapon.

Gapon solves new case to begin on the new place. On its initiative and with the permission of the city's mayor Kleygels on August 1, 1903 for needs of the new organization the workers (on own means) rented at the owner Aly-shevsky big apartment on the Vyborg side, to the address: Orenburgskaya St., 23, quarter

I, for a period of three years, with payment of 55 rub a month. The apartment consisted of several rooms and the big hall for holding general meetings. On the and offered money (300 rub) the workers repaired all room and equipped in it tea - club, having bought for this purpose all most necessary. The room of tea was decorated with portraits of Peter the Great, the tsar-liberator Alexander II, the reigning emperor Nicholas II and the empress Alexandra Fiodorovna. The manager of buffet, worker S.E. Ustyuzhanin, issued on the name commercial law, and already

On August 30, 1903 after consecration tea - club was open. Even before the end of repair on Saturdays the circle meetings devoted to current affairs and discussion of the charter, care of which all very much occupied, especially paragraphs about meetings of members for discussion of the needs, about combination of working all specialties, about the right to act to a meeting on protection of the members, about strike fund and so forth [7 — 44 began page 43 here].

Tea for workers it was open daily from 6 o'clock in the evening, and on holiday from 2 o'clock in the afternoon. "Work, impartially speaking, it is got on — G. Gapon hurried to share news with the mentor S.V. Zubatov at the beginning of October. — The circle already expanded up to 25 people. Tea - the club functions, though it is not so good, kind of followed (it is not arranged yet, there are no special means on it yet). Now a question of great importance — about legalization tea - clubs. Mr. city's mayor very much is interested in tea - club and the day after tomorrow I should make to it the report and to the director of the department of police Lopukhin. You, the teacher, we do not forget — we remember. And recently in one of kruzhkovy meetings when the question of you was brought up — safely and hotly acted for you and your idea. The impression turned out very good, in a word — we do not hide that the idea of a peculiar labor movement — your idea, but we emphasize that now communication with police is torn (so it actually is) that our business right, open that the police can only control us but not leash" [5, page 170].

In several days, October 14, 1903, G. Gapon submitted to the director of the department of police A.A. Lopukhin the report which in essence is the program document, in which Gapon proves ideology of the organization.

In detail characterizing structure and the nature of activity of the created legal working organization, Gapon especially noted need to give to aspiration of workers to the organization and amateur performance "a lawful exit". "... Let better workers satisfy the natural aspiration to the organization and sa-

mopomoshch also show the reasonable amateur performance for the good of our homeland obviously and openly, than will be (and differently by all means will) self-organize and show unreasonable amateur performance secretly and prikrovenno to the detriment of themselves and all, maybe, people. We highlight it — otherwise others will use — enemies of Russia" [7, page 44].

Gapon gives a detailed report about activity in a note tea - club and notes that "on the next purpose tea - the club really is the place where factory workers do serious and practical attempt to be improved, self-study and show reasonable, sober and honestly the amateur performance in off-duty time.

A further task — Gapon continues — the circle of responsible persons sees in putting into practice and on Wednesday workers the idea of mutual aid and that to promote improvement of working conditions and legality in the attitudes towards owners and the government.

To solve the specified problem workers think by foundation of library, by kruzhkovy and general meetings and mainly — by the organizations of lectures on the general objects and in particular on a working question, think to resolve also by establishment of cash desks of mutual aid, consumer benches, shops and the device of cheap, but hygienic apartments for workers, etc." [7, page 33].

In the following letter S.V. Zubatova Gapon reports: "Matter in tea - club moves slowly, but it seems progressively and firmly. Already there is the chorus from workers so on the assumed prayers (19th) and a memorial service on October 20 she will be able to sing. The musical circle in a germ, but was the reliable teacher and the head who is disinterestedly bringing the work. According to the report of the last audit commission it turned out that at us, despite quite heavy expenses on the equipment tea in the rest of 213 rub, 100 rub of them put in a savings bank, as makes a germ of fixed capital of the designed cash desk of mutual aid, and 113 rub make working capital for development of business in

club. The circle increased up to 30 just over people. Smirnov (chairman of Sobriety society) wants to accept us to himself, but at us the hope flashed, to be society independent in some way" [5, page 171].

Management of tea - club was performed by a circle of responsible persons, i.e. founder workers who as signed the contract, answered to the owner for the correct contribution of the rent, for the right of business management and were responsible for everything undertaken by them before the authorities.

Got out of a circle of responsible persons: the managing director-house-keeper of tea - club, the manager of issue of organizational tickets, the treasurer, duty controllers and audit commission.

The managing director-house-keeper was elected for a period of three months. He managed all economic part tea - club and was responsible for stock tea which it accepted from a circle of responsible persons on receipt. On it acquisition, storage and an order expenditure of provisions lay. Besides, the managing director-house-keeper employed and watched servants and once a week at a kruzhkovy meeting submitted the report on the activity.

The manager of issue of organizational tickets was also elected for three months. He was responsible for sale of organizational tickets which granted the right to visit the general a meeting within a month. Cost such monthly ticket of 20 kopeks. The manager stored at himself booking books, kept the special book in which wrote down the number of the sold tickets and weekly reported to a responsible circle.

Only the member of a responsible circle was also elected to the treasurer's position. He kept the cash-book and had no right to spend money without resolution of a circle. Check of work of the treasurer was carried out by audit commission which submitted the report to a circle of responsible persons.

Assistants to the managing director were duty member controllers. They were not less than three, and one of them was elected from a circle of responsible persons, other of workers,

attending region meetings. Assistants to the managing director were elected for a period of a week by a majority vote. Belonged to their duties to keep order during opening of tea - club, that workers did not bring with themselves alcoholic drinks, did not gamble and did not gather at an entrance to tea for a talk or discussion of the problems. Besides, controllers watched purity of the room, ware and so forth and weekly reported on the work [7, page 34].

The audit commission consisted of 5 or 6 persons who were elected for three months. Once a month the commission carried out general audit of all activity tea - club.

It should be noted that - club workers carried out all positions in tea absolutely gratuitously on a voluntary basis.

Every week on Saturday from 20:30 in tea there took place kruzhkovy meetings at which chairmen of regional meetings how there took place the general meeting of workers and also messages of officials about how there were affairs in a week in tea spoke. Right there the forthcoming general meeting of working all areas was discussed and the agenda to it which was beforehand hung out in tea was formed. The statements of workers concerning life, needs and their legal status and also concerning the read newspaper and journal articles on a working question were listened.

The general, so-called region, meetings took place once a week, on Sunday, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. For conducting meetings from a circle of responsible persons the chairman and the secretary for a period of three months was elected. According to the active participant of the organization I. Pavlov, the main direction of activity of the new organization went from "headquarters" i.e. a circle of responsible persons. Here also basic provisions of the Charter of future Labor Union as G. Gapon dreamed to call the working organization were developed. This name speaks for itself. In it ambitious plans of Gapon which stretched far for a framework of benefit society were expressed. "Nobody can imagine —

it shared the thoughts with I. Pavlov — that will turn out from our Labor Union. In two-three years of all 20,000 people of the St. Petersburg workers will be members of the Union, and the province? We will develop activities for all Russia: all industrial centers, everything even the remote back streets will be involved by us in the Union, we will cover all Russia with network of our organizations. It will be the enormous organization what else light did not see. we will have such force that everything will have to submit to the worker, and in general labor Luda, and then." [8, page 34].

Meetings in club - tea on Orenburgskaya Street involved more and more workers. "Till that time — the worker N. Petrov wrote later — I did not trust in any legal unions and it and is clear under conditions of the mode of that time. And here, suddenly, we workers gather on 300 — 400 people, we read all kinds of things, everything is opened, without fear. I did not trust in opportunities of the legal organization, and here grabbed it both hands" [4, page 37].

Within September and October, 1903 at populous meetings of workers in tea there was a strengthened development and discussion of the charter of the new organization. "Workers made many amendments. Gapon did not protest, did not force the expressed opinions and emphasizing what put workers to build the organization, called workers for amateur work in the organization" [2, l. 2].

On November 9, 1903 developed by workers having been tired G. Gapon handed to the city's mayor Clay-gelsu, and that, without waiting for a statement him by the Minister of Internal Affairs, allowed the new organization to organize meetings.

At first activity of society was still careful, uncertain. "Social democrats and revolutionary socialists came to the meeting — A.E. Karelin remembered — acted, smashed Gapon and our tea, called us zubatovets" [6, page 107].

As a result until the end of 1903 the activity of the organization came down generally to dancing musicales which enjoyed wide popularity of workers and their families and brought quite good to -

course. Generally, at the beginning of the activity "Meeting" looked quite well-intentioned loyal organization and, quite naturally, got all support including material, from the omnipotent then Minister of Internal Affairs V.K. Plehve, local secret police and the city authorities. According to S.I. Potolov, during this period the gaponov-sky meeting represented one of zubatovshchina options, and absolutely not accidentally St. Petersburg workers in the weight actually ignore the organization. The circle attending in the winter of 1904 gaponovsky meetings was the same, as in former zubatovsky group [10, page 534].

Thus, at the beginning Gapon does not manage to carry out the ambitious plans of creation of the mass legal working organization. Seeking for its expansion and enhanced action, Gapon at the end of 1903 was forced to look for the help in this case from the initiative authoritative workers having strong communications and experience in the proletarian environment whom he attracts to the management of "Meeting" [10, page 534 — 535]. Entered into this group of workers V.M. Karelina,

And. E. Karelin, D.F. Kuzin, I.M. Kharitonov, etc. All of them as N. Varnashev wrote, "were people already experienced in policy, visited alterations and with a brand of political unreliability" [1, page 49].

The accession to the organization of this group of workers known as the Karelina group, played a huge role in the course of evolution of "Meeting" from frankly monarchic, with a certain raid of great-power chauvinism (association only of the Russian workers) of the organization the professional organization of workers. However, how this group of workers was included into the organization and occupied in it the leading role it was unknown. The documents which are stored in the State museum of Political History of Russia allow to track succession of events. These are the minutes of active participants of the Gaponovsky meeting made at the evening devoted to another anniversary of the first Russian revolution in 1929

So, it is known that the leader of group A.E. Karelin got acquainted with G. Gapon even in the spring

1903 in tea Sobriety societies where it often came with the acquaintances in the evenings — young workers N.M. Varnashe-vy and S.V. Kladovikov [6, page 106].

As for Vera Markovna Karelina, A.E. Karelin's wife, she, according to her memoirs, for the first time got acquainted with G. Ga-ponom only in the fall of 1903. In September, 1903 her familiar worker-weaver Egor Afanasyev told it about meetings of workers in tea on Orenburgskaya Street. She became interested and went. There Karelina got acquainted with N.M. Varnashev and for the first time saw M.A. Ushakov who sat in presidium. Ga-pon acted and said that Society of workers has to be without foreigners, meaning Jews. His speech made a negative impression on Karelina. Therefore when the worker-weaver Ivan Petrov suggested to acquaint it with Ga-ponom, she refused. But, accidentally having faced Gapon later, expressed indignation concerning his performance. However next Sunday in the company of other workers of V.M. Karelin went to a meeting again.

The charter was discussed. "Paid attention — Karelina remembered — that under the charter no part is assigned to the woman as though she as working unit did not exist, me was necessary to act that the woman was included. also by lt;...> Acted and met repulse from outside and enough conscious workers. But were who supported us, and the offer on participation of women in Society passed with restriction that in board to women not the place. Gapon did not object, and maliciously laughed" [2, l. 2].

Since then V.M. Karelina began to attend regularly meetings and soon invited to a meeting in tea members of a working circle who often gathered on the apartment Karelinykh. Entered this circle: I.M. Kharitonov (printer), A.E. Karelin (printer), E. Afanasyev, Heiko (mechanic), S. Sergeyev (mechanic), K.V. Belov (printer), G.S. Usanov (printer), Ya. Ivanov, V. Ivanov (printers), E.I. Ro-

zuvsky (falsovshchitsa), Bystrov (printer),

V. A. Andrin (turner), I. Petrov (weaver), the engraver Smirnov, the engraver Liechtenstein with the wife, Maklakov, the worker of a rubber manufactory, with the wife and Yakov Kozlov (weaver). All of them visited social democratic circles [2, l. 2].

At meetings in tea this group kept aloof. Treated Gapon mistrustfully and with him did not enter the intercourses. "We knew that Gapon has some communications with police and kept carefully — Karelin wrote later. — I was a Bolshevik and participated in Brusnev's organization, had big communications with workers and with the intellectuals — with Krasin, Tsivinsky, Alexandrov, Golubev, Afanasyev, Mefodyev. These old contacts also prevented to believe somehow Gapon and when believed him, and it was necessary to break up with the intellectuals and party therefore christened me — zubatovets. Got acquainted closer with Gapon, learned him, but after all somehow it was not believed that acquaintance to it will leave something good for workers" [6, page 107].

Workers from the Karelina circle often gathered at somebody on the apartment, in order that as V.M. Karelina remembered, "it is simple to spend time, to sing, underground literature was distributed here and the necessary negotiations were conducted. At these meetings, issues of performances at gaponovsky meetings were handled, subjects and performances were distributed. Here it was decided to watch Gapon, the leading role was assigned in this case to Kharitonov. Gave instructions to some and to extort him in a talk" [2, l. 3].

G. Gapon who understands by this time that without attraction to the management of "Meeting" of the authoritative workers activists who had strong communications and experience of advocacy work in the proletarian environment, its ambitious plans of creation of the mass working organization are doomed to failure applies all forces to come into contact with workers of a karelinsky circle.

He repeatedly appeals to V.M. Karelina to allow it to come to their evenings, but she under different pretexts

refused to it. "Were afraid to let Gapon in the circle in the beginning and meetings from it hid — Vera Markovna remembered — but, once, he arrived to the apartment where we gathered without invitation. Found in a working situation and gradually became the regular customer of our meetings. All our group" [2, l already took part in further development of the charter. 3].

According to N.M. Varnashev, the fact of the accession to the organization of karelinsky group should be admitted for an event of crucial importance. "Opposition, so I will call Karelin with the company — Varnashev noted, one emergence created absolutely other atmosphere. The meeting — shifted to the Left" [1, page 49].

Thus, in the management of "Meeting" a peculiar center was created. Having made from the very beginning in the management of "Meeting" isolated and, generally, according to many memoirists, oppositional to Gapon group, Karelin and his companions quickly hold a leading position and begin to play the leading role in the organization. They sharply criticize Gapon's activity, demanding from him the termination of cooperation with secret police and resolute activization of "Meeting" in protection of the economic and political rights of the St. Petersburg workers [9, page 210]. With the assistance of these working activists in March

1904 the wide democratic program which later entered the petition with which the St. Petersburg workers will go on January 9, 1905 to the tsar was developed.

At full capacity the leading role of working "headquarters" was shown in December, 1904 — January

1905 when four workers - "gaponovets" fired from the Putilovsky plant were defended by all 10-thousand organization. "There are all bases to think that the Meeting of the Russian factory workers played very essential role in the emergence of the general January strike: it prepared conscious discontent with the current situation in quite wide circles of working class and from the very beginning supported the first Protestants and the thought of a strike..." [3, page 199].


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