Vladimir Mitrofanovich Purishkevich (Russian: Владимир Митрофанович Пуришкевич) (August 12, 1870, Kishinev – February 1, 1920, Novorossiysk, Russia), was a right wing politician in Imperial Russia, noted for his monarchist, ultra-nationalist, antisemitic and anti-bolshevik views. Because of his restless behavior he was regarded as an "unguided missile". In the end of 1916 he participated in the murder of Grigori Rasputin.
Prominent Right Wing Politician
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. Around 1900 he moved to St Petersburg. He became a member of the Russian Assembly group and was appointed under Vyacheslav von Plehve.
During the Russian Revolution of 1905 he helped organize the Black Hundreds as a militia to aid the police in the fight against left-wing extremists and restore order. After the October Manifesto he was one of the founders of the Union of the Russian People and its deputy chairman. Following a disagreement with Alexander Dubrovin on the influence of the State Duma he founded his own organization known as "Union of Archangel Michael" in 1908.
The popular Purishkevich - described by Vladimir Kokovtsov as charming, unstable, and a man who could not stay a single minute in one place, - was elected as a deputy into the II, III and IV Imperial Duma for the Bessarrabic and Kursk province. He gained fame for his flamboyant speeches and scandalous behavior - such as flinging a glass of water at Pavel Milyukov or speeching on the 1st of May with a red carnation in his fly. He was a hardline supporter of sacerdotal autocracy, and of a unified Russian state under Russian supremacy. Purishkevich's virulent hostility to the Jews was because he perceived them to be the "vanguard of the revolutionary movement" and wanted them to be deported to Kolyma. He believed that the "Kadets, socialists, the intelligentsia, the press and councils of university professors" were all under the control of the Jews.
During the course of the war Purishkevich became critical of the performance of the government and the role of Alexandra and Rasputin but not of the Tsar.
Assassination of Rasputin
On 3 November Purishkevich went to Mogilev and had a talk with the Supreme Commander Tsar Nicholas on Rasputin. On 19 November 1916 Purishkevich gave a speech in the Duma. He coined the phrase "ministerial leapfrog" to describe the seemingly continuous government reshuffles. He compared Rasputin with the False Dmitri. The monarchy was becoming discredited.
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.
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!" “While Rasputin is alive, we cannot win”.
Prince Felix Yusupov was impressed by the speech. He visited Purishkevich, who quickly agreed to participate in the murder of Rasputin. Also Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich joined the conspiracy. Purishkevich talked to Samuel Hoare, head of the British Secret Intelligence Service in Petrograd.
The rich Purishkevich organized a medical aid train which went up and down to the Eastern front to carry wounded soldiers to the hospitals in Tsarskoye Selo. Dr Stanislaus de Lazovert assisted him on the train, and would also cooperate in the preparations for the murder on Rasputin.
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.
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, suggesting Rasputin had left the palace alive. 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.
During the February Revolution in 1917 many right-wingers were arrested but Purishkevich was tolerated by Kerensky, leaving Purishkevich to be "virtually the only former national Black Hundred leader to maintain an active political life in Russia after the Tsar's downfall". However, the revolution meant that Purishkevich initially had to moderate his politics. He called for the abolition of the Soviets - who were in turn calling for the abolition of the Duma.
In August 1917 he looked for a military dictatorship and was arrested over the Kornilov Affair but was released. Following the failure of the putsch he collaborated with Fyodor Viktorovich Vinberg in forming an underground monarchist organisation. 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. He became the first person to be tried in the Smolny Institute by the first Revolutionary Tribunal. He was condemned to eleven months of 'public work' and 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. Whilst in jail he wrote a poem describing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk as 'The Trotsky Peace'.
After his release Purishkevich moved to White Army controlled Southern Russia. There during the Russian Civil War he published the monarchist journal Blagovest, and returned openly to his traditional political stance of support for monarchy, a unified Russia and opposition to the Jews. In 1918 he formed a new political party, the People's State Party and called for an "open fight against Jewry"; the party collapsed after his death.
He was subsequently referred to as a "leader of early Russian fascism" by Semyon Reznik. who has also claims he participated in numerous pogroms and was a significant proponent of the Blood libel against Jews.
References & notes
- Ronald C. Moe, Prelude to the Revolution: The Murder of Rasputin, p. 232. (Aventine Press, 2011).
- William Korey: Russian Antisemitism, Pamyat, and the Demonology of Zionism
- Out of My Past: Memoirs of Count Kokovtsov, p. 170.
- Langer, Jack Fighting The Future: the doomed anti-revolutionary crusade of Vladimir Purishkevich Revolutionary Russia (journal) Vol 19, No.1 June 2006 P42
- Pim van der Meiden (1991) Raspoetin en de val van het Tsarenrijk, p. 71.
- Rabinowitch, Alexander Prelude to Revolution: The Petrograd Bolsheviks and the July 1917 Uprising Indiana University Press (1991) p22
- O. Figes (1997) A People's Tragedy: A History of the Russian Revolution, p. 278. 
- The Cambridge History of Russia: Volume 2, Imperial Russia, 1689-1917, p. 668 by Maureen Perrie, Dominic Lieven, Ronald Grigor Suny 
- E. Radzinsky, The Rasputin File, p. 434.
- The Russian Provisional Government, 1917: Documents, Volume 1, p. 17 by Robert Paul Browder, Aleksandr Fyodorovich Kerensky 
- Tatyana Mironova. Grigori Rasputin: Belied Life – Belied Death
- J.T. Fuhrmann (2013) "The Untold Story", p. 203
- J.T. Fuhrmann (2013), p. 207
- O.A. Platonov Murder
- J.T. Fuhrmann, p. 211.
- J.T. Fuhrmann, p. 223
- Langer, Jack Fighting The Future: the doomed anti-revolutionary crusade of Vladimir Purishkevich Revolutionary Russia (journal) Vol 19, No.1 June 2006 P45
- Kellogg, Michael The Russian Roots of Nazism: White Émigrés and the Making of National Socialism, 1917-1945 Cambridge University Press (2005) p44
- Andrew Kalpaschnikoff, A Prisoner of Trotsky's, 1920
- Kellogg, Michael The Russian Roots of Nazism: White Émigrés and the Making of National Socialism, 1917-1945 Cambridge University Press (2005) pp102-3
- Shenfield, Stephen Russian Fascism: Traditions, Tendencies and Movements Routledge (2015) p31
- 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.