Vladimir Purishkevich

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Vladimir Purishkevich

Vladimir Mitrofanovich Purishkevich (Russian: Владимир Митрофанович Пуришкевич) (August 12, 1870, Kishinev – February 1, 1920, Novorossiysk, Russia), was a Russian conservative politician, a member of the Russian Assembly, noted for his monarchist, ultra-nationalist and antisemitic views. He participated in the assassination of Grigori Rasputin, an unsuccessful attempt to save the institution of monarchy.


Union of the Archangel Michael emblem

Born in a family of a poor nobleman in Bessarabia, nowadays Republic of Moldova. Purishkevich graduated from Novorossiysk university with a degree in classical philology.[1] Around 1900 he moved to St Petersburg. Purishkevich was a far-rightist who became a member of the Russian Assembly. During the Russian Revolution of 1905 he organized the Black Hundreds, officially a militia to aid the police in the fight against left-wing extremists and the restoration of order. After the October Manifesto he was one of the founders of the proto-fascist Union of the Russian People, and deputy chairman.[2] During a disagreement with Alexander Dubrovin he founded his own organization known as "Union of Archangel Michael" in 1908.

The popular Purishkevich, described as charming, unstable, and a man who could not stay a single minute in one place,[3] was elected as a deputy into the II, III and IV Imperial Duma for the Kursk province, and he became a leader of the radical monarchist right. Because of his buffoon character, he gained fame for his flamboyant speeches and scandalous behavior. Purishkevich was noted for its participation in numerous pogroms and as a significant proponent of the Blood libel against Jews.[4] Purishkevich published in the Russkoye Znamya; he was referred to as a "leader of early Russian fascism" by Semyon Reznik.[5] "Rather, he sought to resurrect a autocracy based on sacerdotal authority, hardly a fascist objective.[6]

Assassination of Rasputin[edit]

On 3 November Purishkevich went to Mogilev and had a talk with the Supreme Commander Tsar Nicholas on Rasputin.[7] On 19 November 1916 the reactionary Purishkevich held a speech in the Duma. He compared Rasputin with the False Dmitri. The monarchy - because of what he called the 'ministerial leapfrog' - had become fully descredited.[8][9]

The Tsar's ministers who have been turned into marionettes, marionettes whose threads have been taken firmly in hand by Rasputin and the Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna—the evil genius of Russia and the Tsarina ... who has remained a German on the Russian throne and alien to the country and its people.[10]

Rasputin and the Imperial couple. Anonymous caricature in 1916

Purishkevich stated that Rasputin's influence over the Tsarina had made him a threat to the empire: "... an obscure moujik shall govern Russia no longer!"[11] “While Rasputin is alive, we cannot win”.[12]

Prince Felix Yusupov was impressed by the speech.[13] He visited Purishkevich, who quickly agreed to participate in the murder of Rasputin.[14] Also Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich joined the conspiracy. Purishkevich talked to Samuel Hoare, head of the British Secret Intelligence Service in Petrograd.[15]

It seems the rich Purishkevich quit politics and organized a medical aid train which went up and down to the Eastern front to carry wounded soldiers to the hospitals in Tsarskoye Selo. According to Antrick he had to give up his seat in the Duma after his speech.[16][citation needed] Dr Stanislaus de Lazovert assisted him on the train, but would also cooperate in the preparations for the murder.

On the evening of 16 December 1916 the conspirators gathered in the Moika Palace. There are very few facts between the night Rasputin disappeared and the day his corpse was dredged up from the river. The official police report, with details gathered in two days, and stopped with the idea the murder was solved, is unconvincing. What is left are the memoirs of the murderers, the 29-years-old Felix Yusupov and 47-years old Purishkevich, which differ in details.[17]

A curious policeman on duty on the other side of the Moika, who had heard the shots, rang at the door but was sent away. Half an hour later another police man arrived and Purishkevich invited him into the palace. Purishkevich told him he had shot Rasputin, and asked him to keep it quiet for the sake of the Tsar.

Purishkevich' medical aid train in 1916

They had planned to burn Rasputin’s possessions. Sukhotin put on Rasputin’s fur coat, his rubber boots, and gloves. He left together with Dmitri Pavlovich and Dr. Lazovert in Purishkevich' car,[18] suggesting Rasputin had left the palace alive.[19] Because Purishkevich' wife refused to burn the fur coat and the boots in her small fireplace in Purishkevich' ambulance train, the conspirators went back to the palace with these big items.

Prince Yusupov and Grand Duke Dmitri were placed under house arrest in the Sergei Palace. The Tsarina had refused to meet the two, but they could explain to her what had happened in a letter. Purishkevich assisted them and left the city to the Rumanian front at ten in the evening. Because of his popularity Purishkevich was not punished or banned.[20]

The Bolshevik Revolution[edit]

Moika Embankment with the former hotel.

After the February Revolution in 1917, he called for the abolition of the Soviets. During the October Revolution, he organized the "Committee for the Motherland's Salvation", and was joined by a number of officers, military cadets and others.

At the time Purishkevich lived in hotel "Russia" on Moika 60, and had a false passport under the surname "Yevreinov". On 18 November 1917, Purishkevich was arrested by the Red Guards for his participation in a counterrevolutionary conspiracy, after the discovery of a letter sent by him to General Kaledin in which he urged the Cossack leader to come and restore order in Petrograd.[21] He became the first person to be tried by the first Revolutionary Tribunal.[21] He was condemned to four years of imprisonment with obligatory community service, but was amnestied the following May 1, on mediation of Felix Dzerzhinsky and Nikolay Krestinsky, on the condition of a promise to refrain from any political activity.[21] After his release Purishkevich immediately moved to the Southern Russia, controlled by the White Army. There he published the monarchist journal "Blagovest". During the Russian Civil War Vladimir Purishkevich died from typhus in Novorossiysk.

Claiming to be inspired by figures such as General Aleksei Brusilov and Vladimir Purishkevich, both of whom had said they would serve the Bolsheviks in the interests of Russia, Nikolay Vasilyevich Ustryalov called for a reconciliation with the Soviet Union as it was only the Bolsheviks who could guarantee Russia's security.[22]

References & notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ronald C. Moe, Prelude to the Revolution: The Murder of Rasputin, p. 232. (Aventine Press, 2011).
  2. ^ William Korey: Russian Antisemitism, Pamyat, and the Demonology of Zionism
  3. ^ Out of My Past: Memoirs of Count Kokovtsov, p. 170.
  4. ^ http://www.vestnik.com/issues/2002/0515/win/reznik.htm
  5. ^ http://www.krotov.info/lib_sec/17_r/rez/reznik.html
  6. ^ C.R. Moe (2011), p. 235.
  7. ^ Pim van der Meiden (1991) Raspoetin en de val van het Tsarenrijk, p. 71.
  8. ^ O. Figes (1997) A People's Tragedy: A History of the Russian Revolution, p. 278. [1]
  9. ^ The Cambridge History of Russia: Volume 2, Imperial Russia, 1689-1917, p. 668 by Maureen Perrie, Dominic Lieven, Ronald Grigor Suny [2]
  10. ^ E. Radzinsky, The Rasputin File, p. 434.
  11. ^ The Russian Provisional Government, 1917: Documents, Volume 1, p. 17 by Robert Paul Browder, Aleksandr Fyodorovich Kerensky [3]
  12. ^ Tatyana Mironova. Grigori Rasputin: Belied Life – Belied Death
  13. ^ Alexanderpalace
  14. ^ J.T. Fuhrmann (2013) "The Untold Story", p. 203
  15. ^ J.T. Fuhrmann (2013), p. 207
  16. ^ O. Antrick (1938) Rasputin und die politischen Hintergründe seiner Ermordung, p. 121.
  17. ^ Alexander Palace Forum
  18. ^ O.A. Platonov Murder
  19. ^ J.T. Fuhrmann, p. 211.
  20. ^ J.T. Fuhrmann, p. 223
  21. ^ a b c Andrew Kalpaschnikoff, A Prisoner of Trotsky's, 1920
  22. ^ Utechin, Russian Political Thought, p. 254


  • Vladimir Pourichkevitch (1924) Comment j'ai tué Raspoutine. Pages de Journal. J. Povolozky & Cie. Paris. Translated and published as The murder of Rasputin (1985) Ardis.

See also[edit]