The very look of the dead body, with its 47 pricks, half-naked, with the hands tied behind the back, thrown away as carrion shortly before Passover, could not help but give rise to rumors among the people that the murder was done by the Jews for the purpose of getting Christian blood. However, the police, having opened their investigation, directed it immediately not against the Jews, but on a completely different path that clearly excluded the possibility of Jewish guilt, the path of suspecting the nearest relatives of the murdered boy. It makes us, too, turn our immediate attention to Andrei’s family and their life.
Andrei was the
extramarital son of Alexandra Yushchinskaya and Feodosy Chirkov, who lived
together for about two years. Then, Feodosy Chirkov was enlisted into the army and sent to the Russian Far
East, where, after the war, he disappeared without a trace. Initially, he had had
some money, which he had gained from the sale of his house on the outskirts of
During the preliminary investigation of the case, Luka’s employer Kolbasov described him as follows:
“Luka Prikhodko has been working at my workshop for about five
years. I consider him to be the best master. I pay him 26 rubles a month. He is
a sober and hard-working person and a very good family man. He gives all the
money he earns to his family and spends very little on himself. All the week, Prikhodko works at my place and only goes to Slobodka on Saturdays, from where he returns to work on Mondays.
I remember well and maintain that Luka Prikhodko,
This latter fact was also confirmed by the bookbinding master who worked with Prikhodko at Kolbasov’s workshop, Vasilevsky.
Luka Prikhodko treated Andrei very well. As to Alexandra Prikhodko, she dearly loved her first-born child and cared for him even more than she did for her younger son from Luka. But even more strongly attached to Andrei was his aunt, Natalya Yushchinskaya, Alexandra’s sister. Unmarried, sickly, suffering from consumption in its early stage, she could not overcome Andrei’s death and died prematurely shortly afterwards. As Andrei was still alive, she was giving all her heart to the boy and saw all the meaning of her life in him. She earned quite well from making boxes – 50 to 100 rubles a month, and after Andrei had learned to read and write in a boarding school and spent two years in a primary school, she found him a private tutor, a psalm singer called Mochugovsky, whom she would pay ten rubles a month for about a year, so that he would prepare Andrei for entrance exams to the five-grade Sofia Theological School, where he was eventually admitted in 1910 (with the tuition fee of 75 rubles a year).
Since 1910, Natalya Yushchinskaya also lived in Slobodka, not far from her sister Alexandra. Natalya lived together with their mother, 70-year-old Olimpiada Yushchinskaya (Nezhinskaya by her second married name), who also dearly loved Andrei. He would come to his grandmother and aunt almost every day.
Andrei fully deserved all this love. All accounts on him agreed that he was a remarkably good boy: friendly, mild, humble, very gifted and diligent; he had no enemies even among his peers. During the investigation, a lot of people were asked their opinion about Andrei: his former friends from Lukyanovka, his friends from Slobodka, his schoolmates, his school’s administration, and, generally, everyone who knew the Prikhodko family, and none of those people said a bad word about him. On the contrary, many words were openly enthusiastic. Andrei studied very diligently in school, and he was even the best pupil in his class for some time. The boy’s most cherished dream was to become a priest after graduation. This dream was known to all his family, and they shared it and tried, using their last funds, to make it possible for Andrei to receive the necessary studies. In the first week of the Great Fast (he would disappear at the end of its third week), his mother fasted with him in the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, despite the fact that she had to work and the huge distance from Slobodka to the Lavra.
It would seem that all these facts proved beyond doubt that it was impossible to suspect Andrei’s family of his murder, and that it was crazy and plainly ridiculous to assume that he was killed by his mother in their apartment in Zablutsky’s house.
The testimony of Olimpiada Nezhinskaya in this
regard was a continuous cry: “It was a real torment... They broke and destroyed
everything... I shouted and cried and said: What are you
doing?! They replied: Shut up, or you all will be sent
Alexandra Yushchinskaya was arrested on March 24 (Andrei’s body had been found on March 20) and held in custody for two weeks. Every day, in the fifth month of her pregnancy, she was taken, early in the morning, from the police station where she slept to the detective police headquarters, where she was kept under stress until one or two o’clock in the morning, although she was interrogated quite seldom.
“Mishchuk treated me horribly,” testified Alexandra Prikhodko in court. “He scolded me and demanded that I confess to having killed [Andrei]. I said to Mishchuk: Arrest me, but allow me to bury my son. He replied that such an awful murderer could not be released... Thus, I could not come to the funeral.”
As Alexandra Yushchinskaya, after she had been arrested, was led through the marketplace, a rumor that she killed her son had already been spread among the market crowd, and people threw various things at her.
If Alexandra Yushchinskaya was arrested by the police and held in custody for two weeks as the murderer of her child, despite her love for him, despite the fact that his dead body was found six miles from Slobodka, and despite the utter impossibility of murdering someone in the tiny Zablutsky’s house where the Prikhodko family lived, then we must assume that there was some evidence against her – evidence which would later turn out to be wrong and erroneous, but which looked quite convincing at first.
There was only one piece of such evidence (if we can call it so), and we should draw particular attention to its origin. On March 21, the judicial investigator, after he received a report from the police that the dead body of Andrei Yushchinsky was found in a cave beyond Lukyanovka, came there to make a preliminary examination of the site. Then, on March 22, when no witnesses were questioned yet, a Jew called Simon Barshchevsky came to the judicial investigator – without having been summoned, at his own initiative – and told that, on March 16, an unknown woman came to the editorial office of the Kievskaya Mysl newspaper, where Barshchevsky worked, to announce that her son had disappeared.
“From the very first word of this woman, who called herself Yushchinsky’s mother,” testified Barshchevsky, “her attitude to the disappearance seemed strange to me. While, in such cases, mothers who come to our office to announce that their children disappeared always cry, are very upset, and clearly show the bitterness of their loss by their behavior, Yushchinskaya treated the situation with great indifference and spoke calmly, as if it were some trivial case rather than the disappearance of a boy. I asked whether she thought that Yushchinsky could have gone somewhere. Yushchinskaya firmly rejected that possibility. I then asked [her] to give us an address where to inform that the boy was found or bring him in person. At that, the man who was with Yushchinskaya smiled and said that it did not really matter whom we informed; we could inform either the police or the school. As she heard that, Yushchinskaya smiled as well. Both during my conversation with them and immediately after they left, I was constantly under the strange impression that something was wrong there, because this mother was too indifferent, and the repeated smiles seemed very inappropriate to me.”
Such was the only evidence – “strange smiles” seen by a Jewish employee of a “progressive” Jewish newspaper, who rushed to see the investigator, and by nobody else. Yet, this only piece of evidence was enough to keep the completely innocent mother of the murdered boy under arrest for two weeks. Needless to say that a number of witnesses would later appear in court and testify that there were no smiles whatsoever and the mother’s grief was beyond description. Zablutskaya, for example, would testify that, after the news of Andrei’s death, she had to pour water over Alexandra Prikhodko who had fainted. However, all this would only become known later, when a lot of precious time had been lost, but at the early stage, it was enough for a certain Simon Barshchevsky to come to the investigator, without having been summoned, and tell about smiles.
behavior of the Kiev police, their persistent unwillingness to direct their investigation
not only to the Jews, but at least to Lukyanovka,
where the dead body was found, could not help but arouse the deepest indignation
of all those who do not dance to the Jewish tune yet, and, on
after this interpellation, the actions of the
Krasovsky concentrated his main efforts on Luka Prikhodko. Luka had already been arrested by Mishchuk, at the same time with Alexandra, and had been held in custody, without any incriminating evidence, for two weeks. But that was not enough. On March 26, Krasovsky arrested Luka once again and produced two pieces of evidence against him. Firstly, as he searched Kolbasov’s bookbinding workshop, Krasovsky found a scrap of paper on which medical terms relating to a temporal bone had been written with a pencil. A simple bookbinder had the medical description of the part of the body on which Andrei had the most distinctive pricks!
The second piece
of evidence was this: A witness called Vasily Yashchenko was found. He lived in Lukyanovka
and, in the morning of March 12 (that is, on the day when Andrei disappeared),
he was near the cave where Andrei’s body would later be found, and there he noticed
a man who walked by the cave and seemed strange to him. When Krasovsky showed Luka Prikhodko to
Yashchenko during the identification procedure, Yashchenko attested to a striking similarity between Luka Prikhodko and the strange man whom he had seen on March 12 near
the cave. The similarity was so great that Yashchenko
“nearly wanted to tell that he had seen Luka Prikhodko
These two pieces of evidence were much more serious than the impressions of Simon Barshchevsky and, at first glance, could have indeed created the impression that something was wrong with Luka Prikhodko.
All the more striking were the subsequent revelations about those pieces of evidence.
The scrap of paper with the information on a temporal bone was indeed found in Kolbasov’s bookbinding workshop, but it lay in a pile with other scraps and shreds which were thrown on the floor as the books were being bound. Kolbasov had among his customers Prosyanichenko’s store which was selling used books. Their books always had a lot of bookmarks inside, which were thrown away in the process of binding, and Luka Prikhodko did not hesitate to tell that the scrap that had drawn Krasovsky’s attention was of this origin, and therefore one, most probably, could even find the book from which that scrap had fallen out.
However, Krasovsky made no verification of these explanations, and did his best to gloss over the fact that the scrap produced by him as evidence had been found in a pile of other similar scraps which were part of the bookbinding process.
Even more outrageous and downright criminal turned out to be the story of the identification of Luka Prikhodko by Yashchenko. First, according to the procedure, Yashchenko was asked by the police to describe the man he had seen. Yashchenko gave the following description: Good-quality overcoat with an astrakhan or sealskin collar, good-quality hat, galoshes, a kerchief or scarf on the neck – dressed like an aristocrat. Black hair. Beardless. Upward-pointing moustache. Prominent back of the head, with tousled hair.
Luka Prikhodko did not fit this description even close. He could not even dream of a good-quality overcoat with an astrakhan or sealskin collar. His hair was dark blonde rather than black. His moustache drooped, he had a beard, and the hair on the back of his head was sleek rather than tousled.
Krasovsky, however, was not
stopped by such trifles. After he arrested Luka Prikhodko,
he ordered to have his beard shaved off, his hair dyed black and fluffed up on
the back of his head, and his moustache dyed and curled up in ringlets. Also,
an overcoat and a hat that fitted the description given by Yashchenko
were procured. These were put on Luka Prikhodko, and
then, dressed up and made up in that way, he was brought to the “identification
procedure”. Yashchenko was put on the place from
which he, at a distance of about thirty steps, had seen the suspicious man,
while Luka Prikhodko was made to walk at the same
distance. Obviously, Yashchenko, acting in complete good
faith, attested to a “striking similarity”, having paid particular attention to
the “distinctive features”: clean-shaven chin, black moustache, and tousled
hair on the back of the head. Later, when he saw Luka Prikhodko
in court in his normal appearance, Yashchenko, of
course, said that he had seen a different man on
The extent of the moral torture to which Luka Prikhodko, a completely innocent man, was subjected can be seen from his account: “After I had been shaved, dyed, dressed in a foreign overcoat and taken away, I saw that my end was near and I could not avoid prison. I began to cry, but the detective pulled me up: ‘Wipe the tears, you scoundrel! You’ll spoil the moustache!’ And when Kolbasov was saying that, in the morning of March 12, I worked, in front of everybody, in his workshop, Krasovsky shouted: ‘Shut up, you old prisoner! If you repeat that again, you’ll get 12 years of hard labor!’ ”
turned out that Luka Prikhodko had allegedly nearly
confessed to the murder. Krasovsky’s right hand, a detective
called Vygranov, as he was questioned as a witness in
this case by Judicial Investigator Fenenko on
Later, as Vygranov saw that their undertaking with Prikhodko had failed, he did not hesitate to disown his own
words. As he was questioned a year later, on
How opportunely, exactly when Krasovsky needed it, the confession of the suspected person (reported “verbatim”) appeared, and how adroitly, after that need had disappeared, a man devoted to Krasovsky explained that it was actually not a confession, but rather a slight misunderstanding due to the quick reading of the examination record: the word “if” was omitted!
The same man, Vygranov, had to acknowledge that when Prikhodko was brought to the place where Yashchenko would “identify” him, several policemen dressed in civilian clothes were present there in addition to Yashchenko. Krasovsky spoke to them as if they were witnesses, and, pointing to Prikhodko, asked them whether they had seen that man in Zagorovshchina in the morning of March 12, and they, having been instructed beforehand, responded affirmatively. It was done in order to “put pressure upon Prikhodko and compel him to confess”.
Vygranov failed to appear in court, even if
he had been summoned, and he gave no reason for his failure to appear. As it
was announced in court, he had been seen in
As we finish with
this episode, it is worthwhile to add that Yashchenko,
the witness who nearly proved to be fatal to Luka Prikhodko,
had been found by the very relatives of Andrei Yushchinsky.
As they went to Lukyanovka to make inquires, they
found that, on March
In addition to Luka Prikhodko, who was kept in custody after his second arrest for two and a half weeks, the following persons were arrested at about the same time, in the summer of 1911: 1) Luka’s father – an old and almost blind man; 2) Luka’s brother; 3) brother of Andrei’s father (Feodosy Chirkov), Vasily Chirkov; and 4) Alexandra Prikhodko’s half-brother, Fedor Nezhinsky.
Why were they arrested? Apparently, only because they were Andrei’s relatives; at any rate, despite my having studied the case very thoroughly, I could not find even a hint of any evidence against Luka Prikhodko’s father or brother, for example.
shown by the police as they continued to suspect Andrei’s relatives of his
murder made it necessary to indicate some reason that those alleged murderers
had. As a result, a rumor was spread that Andrei had owned a large amount of
money which he had inherited from his father. In order to get hold of that
money, Andrei’s relatives killed him. This rumor was given a tangible form in
the following way: In imitation of Barshchevsky, another
employee of Kievskaya Mysl, Ordynsky, came to the judicial investigator – voluntarily,
without having been summoned – and claimed that in the house of his Jewish
acquaintance, Trayna Kleyn,
he heard a laundress by the name of Simonenkova saying
that Alexandra Yushchinskaya had told Simonenkova’s sister about the disappearance of her son, with
a smile on her face. Alexandra’s brother (Fedor Nezhinsky) had also been smiling. Then, one or two days
after the boy had disappeared, a man and a woman with
a sack that apparently contained some heavy object hired a cab to take them to
Trayna Kleyn testified, more definitely, that, according to Simonenkova’s account, Andrei was killed by his mother, who was aided by her husband and brother, in order to get hold of the money deposited to his account.
They killed him in Slobodka and then took the body to Zagorovshchina.
As she was questioned
in this regard, Simonenkova testified that she had
been telling various rumors and hearsay that circulated at the marketplace. She
personally knew nothing about this case, and could not understand why she was
being drawn into it. She never made any reference to her sister, and could not
possibly do it because her sister had been living in
As Ordynsky was questioned in court, several amusing incidents occurred. It turned out that, first of all, Kleyn had spoken with Simonenkova in the kitchen, while Ordynsky had been in the dining room. Kleyn asked him to “come to the door and listen”, which the “progressive” employee of Kievskaya Mysl readily did.
Next, Ordynsky, in his testimony given to the investigator, reported
Simonenkova’s account as follows: “A man and a woman
hired a cab to the
Prosecutor: Witness, do you maintain that the laundress told you all this?
Ordynsky: Almost all of this.
Prosecutor: Did she say the words that the cabman felt a panic attack?
Ordynsky: No, it was my expression, but the thought was hers.
Durasovich, attorney of the civil plaintiff: Did she actually say that they were transporting the sick boy in a sack at the doctor’s suggestion? Have you not been surprised by such a suggestion?
Ordynsky: I considered it my duty to report what I heard, without going into criticism.
One probably wonders how they could, in such a serious and horrible case, waste so much time on that kind of rubbish. The subsequent narrative will show that the whole case was purposely enveloped in such rubbish like in a sticky web, but at this point it would be enough to remind that for several months “progressive” newspapers were full of sensational disclosures, such as that Andrei had been murdered by his relatives, who, fortunately, had already been arrested by the vigorous Kiev police. How much grief these “disclosures” caused to completely innocent people! How many people were baffled by them! And what was the basis for such disclosures other than the stories told by Barshchevsky and Ordynsky, or the tricks made by Mishchuk? There was no basis whatsoever, except for the pressing need to divert suspicion from the Jews.
In the autumn of
1911, as the meetings of the Third State Duma resumed
after the summer recess, the Rightists submitted a second interpellation on the
Yushchinsky case, which was signed by a large number
of deputies and dealt specifically with the criminal actions of the officials
“According to the Code of Criminal Procedure (art. 254-260, 271), after the preliminary investigation of a case was
initiated, the police may only act within the limits of the powers conferred
upon them by the judicial investigator. Even if the police are allowed to
arrest a suspect, they must, in any case, bring him immediately to the investigator,
rather than subject him, by virtue of their authority, to a prolonged arrest.
The police can neither search nor interrogate during this stage of legal
proceedings. They are not entitled to any independent action whatsoever. Yet,
in their efforts to divert any suspicion from the Jews and direct it against
the Christian relatives or acquaintances of Andrei Yushchinsky,
the Kiev police made a whole number of searches and preliminary arrests; at any
rate, that was said in numerous reports that appeared in newspapers of all
kinds of political shades – reports which have not been refuted by the
government. We will not mention the prolonged arrest of Andrei Yushchinsky’s mother, because it had occurred before the
first interpellation was submitted. But then, on
“In No. 176 from
June 30, the Rech
newspaper reported: “The arrested persons are being released. Today, Andrei’s
uncle, Chirkov, who had been suspected to be the main
participant in the murder, was released. The other arrested persons are also
expected to be released.” On July
“At about the
same time, the Novoye Vremya
newspaper (No. 12697 from July 19) basically confirmed the fact of the obviously
illegal and quite prolonged arrests to which a whole number of Andrei’s
relatives had been subjected by the
“It must be added that the judicial investigator, as far as it became known in the press, has only instituted criminal proceedings against one person, a Jew called Beilis, and it only happened recently. Obviously, only a thorough, authoritative and independent investigation (for example, a senatorial revision) can establish exactly, on the basis of documentary evidence, the full scope of the evil intent and criminal nature of the actions made by officials of the Kiev police in the Yushchinsky case, but the illegality of the arrests they made is obvious even without that kind of investigation already now. Therefore, by virtue of art. 33 of the Regulations of the State Duma and under the consideration that, in accordance with the procedure of criminal investigations, the police are subordinated not only to their direct superiors, but also to prosecutorial supervision (art. 279 of the Code of Criminal Procedure), in this particular case to Brandorf, Public Prosecutor of the Kiev District Court, recently appointed as the Deputy Public Prosecutor of the Saint Petersburg Judicial Court, we submit the following interpellation to the Minister of Internal Affairs and the Minister of Justice:
“1) Do they know that, this summer, the officials of the Kiev police, during the investigation of the case of the murder of Andrei Yushchinsky, made a whole number of illegal arrests of the relatives of the murdered boy?
“2) If they do know that, what measures have been taken to bring the guilty persons to account, and to establish the purpose of those illegal arrests?”
It would seem that the representatives of the left-wing parties should have been the last to object to this interpellation. After all, are they not the ones who use every opportunity to scream about the lawlessness of the police even when there is not the slightest sign of lawlessness? Are they not the ones who pretend to be “democrats”, the closest friends of the people, and defenders of all the “orphaned and crippled”? Are they not the ones who demand the broadest freedoms and, first of all, a “full personal immunity and inviolability of the home”? Are they not the ones who pose as vigilant guardians of the much talked-about “rule of law”?
In what other case could one find more striking examples of violence, lawlessness, abuses, shameless violation of personal immunity, violation of the inviolability of the home, and violation of all kinds of freedoms? Who else but the meek, long-patient and long-suffering common Russian people could have been subjected, with impunity, to what was done to the Prikhodko family? Was it possible to commit a grosser violation of the law that limits the right of the police to arrest, to deprive of freedom?
this interpellation was considered in the Duma Committee
on Interpellations, the whole left wing voted unanimously against its approval,
and Kadet attorneys, Barristers Teslenko
and Gerasimov, gave speeches about the lack of grounds
to consider that the actions of the
The nice slogans about democracy, lawfulness, love for freedom, and hate for arbitrary rule, which are needed so much to gain popularity – they all came to nothing in a blink, and were sacrificed and thrown aside with no hesitation after the blood interests of the Jewish Kahal had been placed on the other side of the scale. To serve Jewry – this is the essence; here, one would not be forgiven even for the slightest disobedience, let alone for treachery. As to the high-flown “progressive” principles, they are for the crowd which can always be properly brainwashed by “honest and independent” newspapers that have seized the market.
In addition to the members of the Committee on Interpellations, Nisselovich, a Jewish member of the Duma, who was not part of the Committee, was allowed to participate in the debates (apparently, as a representative of the Jewish people), but even his oratory did not help the Jews, and the interpellation was approved by the votes of the Rightists and most of the Octobrists. However, the interpellation would not be allowed to be discussed at a general meeting of the Duma until the term of the Third State Duma eventually expired.
This was the
first page of the
To win time is to win everything. To lose time is to lose everything.
How often these aphorisms can be fully applied to a criminal investigation!
And how much precious material was lost while the police busied themselves with the Prikhodko family, or with Nezhinsky or Chirkov!
And if against these people, whose complete innocence had been obvious and indubitable from the very first moment, suspicious smiles, incriminating scraps of paper, a near identification, and a near own confession of guilt could be concocted, then it was clear that it had only been a beginning and much more was still to come.
The accusations made against Andrei’s family had done their part. Jewry did not need to return to them...
“A saint,” said Beilis’ lawyer Gruzenberg about Alexandra Prikhodko during his speech.
“Yes, a saint,” replied I, “but it is not for you to say that, Mr. Gruzenberg.”
The President stopped me.