Anti-Stalinist Demonstration on November 7, 1927

Address: Meeting in the yard of MGU on Makhovaya Street, then along Granovskii Street (now Romanov Lane) until Vozdvizhenka, further until Manezh, first across Vozdvizhenka, then back across Granovskii and Gerzen streets (now Bolshaya Nikitskaya). The other part of the demonstration took place near the “National” Hotel (Second House of Soviets) at the corner of Tverskaya and Okhotnyi Riad streets, and at the 27th House of Soviets.

A voluntary citizen patrol held back the demonstration. 

Column of demonstrators on November 7, 1927

A column of demonstrators on November 7, 1927

By November 1927, the resistance of the oppositon led by Trotsky, Kamenev, and Zinoviev reached its peak. The opposition participated in the demonstration held on the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution. Trotsky and his supporters believed that this act would give Stalin’s opponents the support of the masses and force the authorities to acknowledge them.

The demonstration began in the morning with students giving speeches in the yard of Moscow State University’s old building on Makhovaya Street. Then a crowd consisting of several thousand participants marched toward Red Square, but the entrance from the side of Vozdvizhenka Street was blocked. The office balcony of the 27th House of Soviets (formerly Hotel Paris), which was located on the corner of Okhotnyi Riad and Tverskaya streets, played an important role. Ivar Smilga, Yevgenii Preobrazhenskii, and other speekers hung a red banner there, which stated: “Back to Lenin!” They also greeted participants of the demonstration there. At the same time, officials gathered and small, armed groups of people soon clustered under the balcony and began to throw stones, sticks, cucumbers, and tomatoes at Smilga and Preobrazhenskii. Additionally, ice bricks, potatoes, and wooden logs were thrown at them from a nearby balcony. Smilga and Preobrazhenskii were beaten and imprisoned. The same fate befell the majority of the opposition members of the demonstration.

Ivar Smilga. Photo: Memorial Society Photo Archive

Ivar Smilga. Photo: Memorial Society Photo Archive 

 

This demonstration was the last open political act against dictatorship in the Soviet Union. Trotsky and Zinoviev were excluded from the Party, and eleven other opposition members were excluded from the Cheka and the Central Control Commission of the Communist Party.

Participation in the demonstration was also deemed inexcusable and constituted grounds for imprisonment. This did not apply only to those participants who were arrested and sent into exile immediately after the demonstration. In the case of Varlam Shalamov, who was arrested in 1929, participation in this demonstration was considered one of the main pieces of evidence pointing to his “counter-revolutionary activities.” Until the end of his life, Shalamov was proud that he had taken part in the demonstration.

The next political demonstration was held almost forty years later (on December 5, 1965) against the condemnation of writers Sinyavsky and Daniel.

Sergey Solovyov, Dina Suleymanova