Thursday 3 December 2009

Portrait of an Assassin

Peter Voikov was born in 1888. The son of a mining engineer, he became involed in revolutionary activity at an early age, and was expelled both from grammar school and later from the St. Petersburg Mining Institute. He went into exile in Switzerland, where he graduated from the University of Geneva. On returning to Russia in August 1917 he joined the Bolsheviks, and was appointed People's Commissar for Government Supply for the Ural region in 1918, where he was known by his party code name of 'Intellectual'.

He subsequently became an important member of the Ural Soviet. He knew N. N. Ipatiev, and had visited his house in Ekaterinburg before it was selected as the final residence of the Tsar Nicholas and his family; his wife, Alexandra his son, Alexy and his four daughters, Olga, Maria, Tatiana and, my favourite, Anastasia. It seems to have been on the basis of information supplied by Voikhov that Ipatiev was summoned to the office of the Soviet at the end of April 1918 and ordered to vacate what was soon to be called 'The House of Special Purpose.'

Clearly party to the decision to murder the royal family, Voikov was given the specific task of arranging for the disposal of their remains, obtaining 150 gallons of gasoline and 400 pounds of sulphuric acid, the latter from the Ekaterinburg pharmacy. After the killings he was to declare that "The world will never know what we did with them." His role in the affair was fully investigated by the commission set up after the White Army captured Ekaterinburg from the Bolsheviks.

Voikov was appointed Soviet ambassador to Poland in 1924, and was assassinated in Warsaw in 1927 by a Russian monarchist for his part in the killing of Nicholas and his family.


  1. I never knew the man who did this horrible act, had a history that was known. Even though I'm nominally a rather heartless person, both in respect of personal events and historical ones, the murder of the Romanov's is something I've always found to be one of the more devastatingly tragic events in history.
    The thing I detest most about Communism is the sheer loathing for tradition, and for the past--on a rather visceral level(though cloaked in the body of pseudo-science).
    Perhaps a further injustice is derived from the fact Tsar Nicholas himself as a very moderate, elegant man--no Ivan The Terrible, he. At least this Voikov met a justified fate, but his death hardly compensates for his brutal acts.

  2. It certainly does not. But they are living saints; he is just a dead Jew.

  3. Martyrdom is for the living, but the restoration of the Russian Church and national Sainthood of the Romanovs is cause for celebration.

  4. Badger, hello and a very Happy New Year! Look, I'm sorry, for some reason your comment is not appearing, so I'll publish it under my own name and then reply.

  5. Badger wrote;

    I'm not saying I approve of the murders of the Romanovs but I do understand them. From the bolshevik viewpoint it was obviously necessary but even out of a common person's sense of outrage and injustice it is understandable too.

    Take our modern times. Don't you think plenty of people in this country would have been happy to re-enact that video clip if it had been Brown and Blair, Harman, Smith and Straw and a few others?

    At the height of the expenses scandal? And every executioner picked from a list of Equitable Life pension holders?

  6. Thanks, Badger.

    Actually the whole thing seemed more grounded in inner-party politics than reasons of state. Trotsky, who wanted to act as a grand prosecutor in the trial of the Tsar, wasn’t even told until it was all over. The murder of the children, moreover, was so shameful, even for the Bolsheviks, that it was kept secret for months after. I have another piece here on this whole episode which I will look out for you once I’ve finished catching up.