Li Fu-jen

Stalin Saves Rakovsky for New Frame-up Trial

(March 1938)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 12, 19 March 1938, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

In sparing the lives of three of the eighteen defendants in the Moscow frame-up trial, the counter-revolutionary Stalin regime displayed neither a sense of justice nor a disposition to be merciful. The prison sentences imposed on Christian G. Rakovsky, S.A. Bessonov and Dr. Pletnev were calculated to serve purely practical ends.

First of all, it was necessary to spare some of the defendants in order to make possible the extraction of “confessions” from future trial defendants. If all were killed, how could Stalin’s future victims be persuaded to “confess” in exchange for a promise to spare their lives?

Role of Rakovsky

Secondly, that phase of the recent frame-up which relates to an alleged Trotskyist conspiracy with Japan against the Soviet Union, the United States and China was not completed. Rakovsky was the only defendant-witness used for the unfolding of this angle of the “crimes” of the Trotskyists. He said just sufficient to indicate that there was a “plot” and then it was left hanging in mid-air.

When he arrived in Tokyo in September 1934 (after having spent six years in jail and exile) as head of a Soviet delegation to the International Red Cross Conference, he was, he said, met by “an important Japanese public figure.” The pair discussed drawing Rakovsky “into work as a spy, an informer of a certain government.” Rakovsky’s reluctance to specify the Japanese government surrounds the “plot” with the necessary aura of mystery.

There were more mysterious conversations, and Rakovsky mentions the names of C.C. Yurenev and Dmitri Bogomolov, former Soviet ambassadors to Japan and China, respectively who have been lodged in Stalin’s jails for several months and who reportedly, may be brought to trial in the near future.

How He Spied

Then Rakovsky relates how he returned to Moscow “with the credentials of a Japanese spy in my pocket.” What spying activity did he thenceforth engage in on behalf of Japan?

“During 1935 and in the first half of 1936, i.e. prior to the trial of Kamenev and Zinoviev, I handed over through Naid five reports to the Japanese secret service.” What was the nature of the spy information thus transmitted? (Vyshinsky was not interested, of course, in asking who “Naid” was.)

“I handed over material regarding the influence of the abolition of the rationing system, on the level of wages, on the condition of the collective farms, on the fulfillment of the industrial and financial plan. Statements and conclusions were deliberately made sharply pessimistic in thick black colors. I did this in order to whet the appetite of the aggressors.”

Spy Information

Rakovsky had nothing to say regarding the payment he received for this wonderful “spy information,” which, incidentally the Japanese imperialists could have gotten quite cheaply and easily by reading the New York Times’ Moscow dispatches, the International Press Correspondence, the Moscow Pravda, or the Isvestia. This is unimportant, anyway. What was important was that Rakovsky involved the jailed Soviet ambassadors to China and Japan and thereby laid a basis for a new trial.

How did he involve them? He related that after speaking with the “important Japanese public figure” whom he met in Tokyo, he talked with Yurenev, the Soviet ambassador to Japan. Yurenev showed him a letter from Piatakov (shot in January 1937). The letter, of course, was not produced, but “in it, side by side with the text written in ordinary ink, was another text written in invisible ink.”

What did the invisible message say? “It is very likely a certain government will itself take steps in this direction (i.e., in the direction of utilization of Rakovsky).”

He “Helped Britain”

Continuing his testimony, Rakovsky said that “Piatakov wrote Yurenev regarding Bogomolov, the Ambassador to China, pointing out that a certain government was dissatisfied with his political line, that he was giving more help to Britain than to the government in question.”

Piatakov is dead, but presumably Yurenev and Bogomolov are still sufficiently alive to be brought into a new treason trial. This is why Rakovsky’s life has been spared.

An obvious question occurs: If the trial was honest and above-board (which no honest and intelligent person believes), why were not Yurenev and Bogomolov confronted in court with Rakovsky’s testimony? Why did they not occupy the defendants’ bench with the twenty-one?

Victims Not Ripe

The answer is simple: the G.P.U. has not had sufficient time in which to break them and force them to confess. When that stage is reached they will be hailed into court, broken, to be confronted by the broken Rakovsky, who is being “saved” for that purpose and that purpose alone.

Rakovsky, the ex-oppositionist last of the capitulators, had, of course, to involve Leon Trotsky too. Trotsky, through the Communist League of China (Fourth International), was needed by the Japanese imperialists “to create an incident in China” which would give the Japanese imperialists “a desirable ground for being able to intervene in Chinese affairs.” Meanwhile, a furious campaign of provocation and vilification is being conducted in China against the Chinese revolutionists, who are charged by the Stalinist allies of Chiang Kai-shek with being paid agents of Japan. In China, too, a favorable atmosphere is needed for the coming trial.

Everything of importance in this new amalgam is already sufficiently clear. Trotsky and his followers, in China and the U.S.A., are responsible for the Japanese invasion of China. At the same time, they plotted with the Japanese imperialists against the Soviet Union and the United States. Rakovsky, Yurenev and Bogomolov will be Stalin’s witnesses in Moscow. Persons arrested recently in China and dubbed “Trotskyists” by the Stalinist press (although they are not and never have been members of the Communist League – see Socialist Appeal, March 5) will by their confessions, posthumous or otherwise, furnish the China angle of the frame-up.

The links between Moscow, the U.S.A., Mexico (Trotsky) and the Far East will be furnished, in part at least, by the Robinson-Rubens couple now being “interviewed” by the G.P.U. in a Moscow jail.

But a frame-up is a frame-up, and Stalin’s new effort will be no more convincing than its predecessors.

Last updated on 12 September 2015