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Will an Executioner's Name Disappear from the Maps of Our Cities?

Source: (info), 11/10/10

· Human Rights Education · Krasnodar Region  · Moscow Region and Moscow City  · Ryazan Region  · Samara Region 

· Victims of Repression  · Voronezh Region

Acting deputy mayor of Moscow, Valery Vinogradov, has said it cannot be excluded that the streets and the metro station named after Petr Voikov will be renamed. Petr Voikov was a terrorist and leading Soviet figure in the campaigns to expropriate food from the peasantry and nationalize industry, who was also one of the murderers of the family of Nikolai II. The head of Memorial, Arseny Roginsky, has also spoken more than once in favour of the renaming: “Our Moscow administration is overly sensitive. They easily change neutral names. In the case of Voikovskaya metro station, however, they fear taking a political decision. I am convinced that it is necessary to do this.” The public campaign for the renaming of “streets and alleys named after Voikov” is gathering strength not only in Moscow, but also in Ryazan, Voronezh, Samara, Sochi, and other cities.

Petr Voikov took part in the execution of the Tsar’s family. According to one version of the events, it was he who obtained the sulphuric acid used to dissolve the remains of Tsar Nikolai and his family. According to a report by News, Valery Vinogradov, acting deputy mayor of Moscow, noted that there is a special interdepartmental committee within the city administration in charge of the renaming of streets and public places. “Yes, there are problems associated with Voikov. We have received a number of inquiries and the committee has discussed Voikov more than once. However, at present, the committee has not found weighty arguments in favour of renaming. We cannot return the old names to the streets named after Voikov because there were no previous names. But this issue has been considered and could be discussed further in the future,” the acting deputy mayor said. The Romanov family has called on the Moscow authorities not to delay the renaming.

“This would be a just decision. It is imperative to remove the names of well known executioners and murderers, such as Voikov, from the map of Moscow,” said Aleksandr Zakatov, a representative of the Romanov family. He stated that, unlike some Soviet figures after whom streets have been named who could be seen both in a positive and in a negative light, Petr Voikov is “an entirely negative character, a murderer and butcher of children’s corpses.”

A priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, Nikon (Belavenets) also urged that the renaming not be delayed. “For how long will the Moscow city authorities play around with this issue? When they renamed two Moscow metro stations a couple of years ago, no one asked Muscovites’ opinion, and money was found to do it. When it comes to the blood-covered maniac Voikov, the authorities are stalling for some reason,” Father Nikon said. As he stressed, this is a subject “painful for all Orthodox Christians and it is high time to resolve the issue because Voikov was one of the active participants in the murder of Tsar Nikolai’s family. There is a note written by Voikov on the allocation of sulphuric acid for the purpose of destroying the bodies of the Tsar’s family.”

According to the priest, the present-day Moscow city administration “has a chance to distance itself from the bloody drama of our dark past. And it is up to them whether they are going to take this chance or not.” Father Nikon recalled that already in January 1999 a petition had been addressed to the then mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, with the request to depoliticize the map of Moscow “so that streets’ names would not cause divisions among the people of our city.”

The subject of renaming has re-emerged since then, “but each time they said that the issue would be considered by the city’s interdepartmental committee.”

Incidentally, Valery Vinograd has already stated that there will be no rush with the decision. He pointed out that the law adopted in 1997 regulating the naming of streets and other city sites lays down that existing names can be changed only in exceptional circumstances.

“It is easy to make a quick decision on renaming. One needs time, however, and history will put everything in its place,” said the acting mayor of Moscow.

The history of the renaming of Voikov Alley and the Voikov Streets has been going on a long time. Since 2007 a campaign called Return has been demanding the removal of the murderer’s name from the city map. The organizers wrote to Moscow’s mayor: “It is unacceptable that nearly a thousand Moscow churches hold memorial services for the victims of Soviet repressions, while the metro station continues to carry the name of the child murderer Voikov. Pluralism of this kind in one city resembles social schizophrenia and does not speak well of Moscow.”

The Congress of Russian Americans has spoken out in favour of the renaming. “Living in America, we all closely follow events in Russia. We were very interested in the recent news that thousands of our fellow countrymen in Moscow, Ekaterinburg, and other cities are demanding the renaming of the Voikovskaya Moscow metro station,” wrote Ludmila Foster, Washington representative of the Congress, to Yury Luzhkov. She called Voikov a state criminal.

Mikhail Moskvin-Tarkhanov, the head of the Moscow City Duma’s city development committee supported the idea of renaming. He has said: “Voikov was not only one of the participants in the murder of the Tsar’s family. He personally took the sulphuric acid and poured it on the bodies of the murdered children. He later served as a government agent selling property, confiscated from the Church, abroad. He was one of the most repulsive people of his time and even some of the Bolsheviks would not shake hands with him.”

The head of Memorial, Arseny Roginsky, has also spoken more than once in favour of the renaming: “Our Moscow administration is overly sensitive. They easily change neutral names. In the case of Voikovskaya metro station, however, they fear taking a political decision. I am convinced that it is necessary to do this.”

In 2008, deputy mayor of Moscow Anatoly Petrov, chair of the city interdepartmental committee on the naming of places, streets and metro stations, stated that Voikovskaya metro station will not be renamed. “Members of our committee have considered this problem more than once and we have had professional historians participate in the discussion. Nevertheless, despite the arguments these historians presented, the committee has not been able to support these proposals,” said Petrov. This summer, a variety of civil society organizations have again raised the issue of renaming.
According to, the public campaign for the renaming of the streets and alleys named after Voikov is gathering strength not only in Moscow but also in Ryazan, Voronezh, Samara, Sochi, and other cities.

Petr Lazarevich Voikov
Petr Lazarevich Voikov (a Party alias) was born Pinkhus Lazarevich Vainer in 1888 in Kerch, the son of a teacher. His Party nicknames were ‘Petrus’, ‘Intelligent’, and ‘Fair Hair’. He became involved in political activities as a high-school student. When a split occurred in the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party in 1903 between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, the 15-year-old Voikov joined the Mensheviks. He carried out Party assignments such as distributing revolutionary leaflets and helping to hide Party members who came to the city. According to Wikipedia, Voikov was expelled from the sixth grade of Kerch boys’ high school for underground activities. His family moved to Yalta where his parents, at great effort, enrolled him in the eighth grade of Aleksandrovsky High School for boys (nowadays the Magarach Institute for Grapes and Wine). He was, however, shortly afterwards expelled from there as well. While working in the docks, he passed his high school exams as an external student and received a high school diploma. He then enrolled in the St. Petersburg Mining Institute, from which he was expelled for revolutionary activities.

In the summer of 1906, Voikov became involved in terrorist activities and entered a fighting unit of the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party. He took part in transporting bombs and in the assassination attempt on the life of the mayor of Yalta, General I. A. Dumbadze. In the autumn of 1906, in the midst of the revolutionary disorders, a state of emergency was declared inYalta. General Dumbadze ruled the city in an authoritarian way and consequently earned the hatred of liberals and revolutionaries. The latter demanded his immediate resignation and threatened to kill him.

On 26 February 1907 a bomb was thrown at Dumbadze’s carriage from a balcony of Novikov’s dacha not far from Yalta. The mayor was concussed by the explosion but otherwise received only superficial injuries (the explosion blew the peak off his cap); his coachman and horse were wounded. The attacker, who belonged to one of the terrorists’ “mobile strike units” shot himself on the spot. It later turned out that 18-year-old Petr Voikov had been the organizer of the assassination attempt on Dumbadze.

In 1907, Voikov emigrated to Switzerland. He studied at the University of Geneva. There in Geneva he met Lenin, and although Voikov was not a Leninist (he continued to be a Menshevik-Internationalist during the First World War), he spoke out against “Socialist-Chauvinists” together with the Bolsheviks. He also studied chemistry at the University of Paris.

After the February Revolution in 1917, Voikov returned to Russia (but not “in one sealed car with Lenin”, as has sometimes been said), some time later than Lenin in the company of other Russian revolutionaries who were allowed through by the German government. He was the Labour Commissar in the Provisional Government responsible for settling conflicts between factory owners and workers. Voikov, however, always sided with the workers, welcoming worker takeovers of the factories.
In August 1917, he was sent by the Ministry to Ekaterinburg where he served as Inspector for Labour Protection. At first, he did not distinguish himself in any way from other officials in the Urals region. It was in the October days that the citizens of Ekaterinburg found out his true nature. In Ekaterinburg, Voikov joined the Bolsheviks. He became a member of Ekaterinburg Soviet. After the October Revolution, Voikov joined the local Military-Revolutionary Committee that called on all the Soviets of the Urals region “to seize power in the localities and suppress any resistance by force.”

From October 1917, Voikov was appointed a Secretary of the Urals Regional Bureau of Trade Unions and chair of the Ekaterinburg City Duma. In January-December 1918 he was Commissar for Supplies for the Ural Soviet, in which post he was in charge of the food expropriations conducted against the peasantry. In this role, Voikov set prices for food supplies and fuel at a level that made private trade in the Urals impossible. This resulted in shortages of consumer goods and a serious drop in living standards. During the programme of nationalisation of industry that Voikov implemented in the Urals, the former owners of factories were arrested and sent to camps or executed. Brutal measures were taken against peasants who resisted the grain expropriations.

Voikov took part in the execution of the Tsar’s family. He was an active advocate of the murder of all the Tsar’s family. In particular, he signed the official order allocating a large quantity of sulphuric acid for the purpose of completely destroying the bodies of those murdered.

In March 1919, Voikov became deputy chair of the board of the newly created Central Union of Consumer Cooperatives. In October 1920, while still deputy chair of the board of the Central Union of Consumer Cooperatives, he became a member of the board of the People’s Commissariat of External Trade. In 1921, he was appointed deputy chair of North Forest, a mixed state-and-private trust (after the end of the New Economic Policy in 1929, the trust was merged into the Supreme Economic Council). Voikov was one of the organizers of the sale abroad by the Soviet government of the treasures of the Imperial Family, the Kremlin Armory and the Diamond Reserves.

In 1921, Voikov headed the Soviet negotiating delegation to discuss with Poland the implementation of the Riga peace accord. In his attempt to establish diplomatic relations at any price, Voikov presented the Poles with Russian archives, libraries, art objects, and other valuables. In August 1922, he was appointed diplomatic representative of the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic to Canada. However, because of his involvement in the murder of the Tsar’s family, he did not receive the approval of the Canadian government.

In October 1924 Voikov was appointed Soviet Plenipotentiary Representative to Poland. On June 7, 1927, Voikov was shot dead by B. S. Koverda, a Russian emigré, at Warsaw railway station. In response to his assassination, on the night of 9-10 June 1927 the Bolshevik government summarily executed 20 representatives of the aristocracy of the former Russian Empire who at that time were either in prison on various charges or had been arrested after Voikov’s assassination. Voikov was given a solemn burial at the Kremlin Wall in Moscow. A Moscow metro station, a Moscow chemical plant and five streets were all named after Voikov. This was done not only in Moscow. To this day in a whole series of Russian cities there are streets, alleys and thoroughfares that bear the name of Voikov.
Illustrations: Petr Voikov: Soviet Stamp; Moscow's Voikovskaya Metro Station; Voikov Alley in Ryazan