The Sherlock Holmes of the Revolution

Russian exile CI methods and successes (1905-1914),
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Sherlock Holmes

not be employed as police officials anywhere in Russia. Smolyansky was well versed in the affairs of the party, but his way of life and his activities among the emigres precluded the possibility of his being a police agent. Burtzev then renewed his investigations and gathered still more evidence to support his accusation. He won in the end by appealing to the comrades not to trust anyone. They had trusted people in the past who proved to be traitors, he argued, and that must not occur again.
On the other hand, Burtzev was right and Natanson wrong about an Okhrana agent named Tsipin, who lived lavishly with his wife in a Paris suburb. Natanson's queries in Petersburg seemed to confirm Tsipin's loyalty to the cause. The reports from Russia said that he had been helpful to the party in the capital even before he joined and that he had since distinguished himself as a trustworthy activist. He was described as the son of a well-to-do merchant, who should therefore have money enough to live comfortably abroad.
Burtzev was not satisfied with Natanson's findings.   He sought help from the wife of the Socialist Revolutionary leader Viktor Lebedev, pen name Voronov, who lived in the same suburb as the Tsipins. When the two women were visiting one day, Mme. Tsipin displayed a number of picture postcards she and her husband had received from Petersburg. Mme. Lebedev was interested in more than the pictures; she was curious about the names of the writers.   She asked questions about them for which Mme. Tsipin had no ready answers. During further chatting, Mme. Lebedev wondered whether her friend couldn't keep her husband from his careless squandering of money; this turned the talk to incomes. Mme. Lebedev, protesting that it was none of her business, nevertheless pointed out discrepancies for which Mme. Tsipin could give no logical explanation.   A full account of the questions and answers went to Burtzev, who in the meantime had gathered further information that added to his doubts.
Burtzev's demand for a direct questioning of Tsipin was approved by Natanson, provided, however, that it should take the form of a friendly conversation. Lebedev and Stepan Sletov, both on good terms with the suspect, were entrusted with the disguised probing; it was hoped that they would turn up some lead for further investigation.   But Tsipin, as if sensing the purpose of the talks, had a ready answer for everything.   This increased suspicion but provided no proof


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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:15 AM
Last Updated: Aug 05, 2011 12:52 PM