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Russian Brutality.

Of all the atrocities , which^hay^wjW*' appealing to the indignation 61' civilised Europe in connection i^rith the Russian; treatment of political prisoners, - none is worse'than the,, flogging to death of; Madame, Sihida in. tljfe prison of'Ust-Kara; for a revolt against tie indignities of penal, discipline.'' A fuller account of :this than, has yet appeared. is /gi^en by Adolphe Smith in-the "UmVer&l-'Re viewy" -in,-an article entitled 'By Administrative Order:— „ There- is at present in Paris a. lady who,, knew Madame Sihida personally; and who was for some time her companion in e££le". From this lady I have ascertained a Mew supplementary, details.wjiich only paint in > darker colors the drama of the Ust Kara prison house., Madame Sihida was; not "more than twenty rseven years old at the time she was flogged to death. She jwas the daughter of a merchant, and completed' her education at the gymnasium of, her,, native town, Taganrog. When her| examinations hadallbeeh successfully passed she became a school teacher^ and exercised' her profession in the.same town. In appearance she was a .bmhefcte of medium size. Her features werefvofi a very jpronounced character, though/her nose fwas of a genus' c tip tilted;'' but her large black eyes never failed to attract all whom she met by ..their j in? telligent and energetic expression. \ In her manners she. was extremely quick; and lively. Easily rousedi, Easily agitated; her t friends were wont to describe her as! "a bundle of nerves." She dressed very simply but with much neatness and good taste. Her general, appearance didjnpt belie her remarkable 1; character. Eve,ri ( in Russia it'?would be^difficult to find a more extreme idealist than Madame Sihida. She insisted on-^the mOsfc/implicit fidelity t to principle, and could tolerate;.- no comprp,-; misejnot even in.the. minute details of ( daily life.-. For these trifles she demanded the same courageous consistency as in the most important moments of trial.) If once a friend rendered' himself culpable, in private life, of some little action, however trifling, which was not in harmony with his principles, he was at once lost her estimation, and this in spite of a very great merit displayed in public life and in graver circumstances. . f; pur*. Ust-Kara, where Madame Sihida swas imprisoned, is the first of the villages, which, taken together, constitnte jth'e 1 gold-mining district of Kara. It ia!a large village, boasting of three shops, and inhabited principally by Russians, who live either by agricultural pursuit^ or by trade. Here is the female political prison. • It is a""lsrge square building, situate' in th^middle of fields,* and therefore cannot be approached without attracting attention. J As'usual^the prison-is surrounded' by a high stockade, whichforms 'a spacious yard. The rooms or cells are small, and they all give on in- a passage. This passage is carefully closed and watched, but the doors are left open so that the prisoners are free to visit the, various rooms, and make the most of each otherV .society. The atmosphere, jor Tatherfiihe small rooms, are very damp and. unwholesome. The prisoners com r ; plain that;there is no ambulance chest, provided in fthis -prison, though it exists in the Ordinary convict gaols. The service also is not done by women bub by gendarmes, which is of course very unpleasant •for the female "prisoners. It was in this damp prison, and in a climate where the temperature, in winter, falls sometimes toj 48 deg. Reaumur below zero, and 42dpg» Reaumur of, cold-vis quite usual, that, Madame Kovalsky was dragged, from her bed in her nightdress, and made, to walk down the passaged-the officer's, r00m..;. Herb leven!her slender night garment was .torn from' her,. and pony-jict's robes substituted, amd thp ;jeer« nf brutal, solctiers.br gaoler*. Tisjv-.' inn-."- i!i-> women" organised ;i ! ;;t.!i.t :-■ iil»*» i<> obtain' tlie'remdvil or M'lMikii.r, ;!n----director of tlie prison who 1 had' ciatised this outrage-to -be.committeiL ,'The last of strikes, it will jbe "remembered by r those whp, have read \ the; account, lasted twenty-two days. The women wece^nl^' kept alive by,, food -mechanically,,forcWT upon them. '/ Their a.tf'la'st Madame' Sihida,^ that energetic "bundle bf'n^rVes'j'jasher' ifiends describe"' her,'!corilrived )ltb box .Masukoff's < ears ;; and instead, of being , hung: as, she had hoped f6r < this ; ., offence,. she was flogged to death. The Russian^ Government t boasts that it has abolished the knouV'b'ut it has established in its stead the plet, a sort of birch, which, according to the testimony of Russian officers, quoted by Mr George Kennan, can be made to cause death in a hundred blows. It was precisely to a hundred blows that Madame Sihida was condemned, and this in spite of the protest of the prison doctor, who refused to be present. The execution, there is great reason to believe, was illegal, since, according jto law, corporal punishment should only^ |>c administered ;after, judgmenPpi^ngitaced :by'»&i4bunals <iind(Kfter! yaimniteoi^jaiid approval By a medical man. Both these conditions were wanting in the presents ■case. Nevertheless, and at the single command of the 3 chief director of Convict" prisons ';in* 3i Siberia, Madame Sihida was flogged. This dreadful and degrading punishment is generally administered in a manner as simple as it Is jbrutajl;/^The\ Victim is stripped and" thrown down on a bench, some soldiers hold the arms, others hold or sit upon the legs, while the executioneer flogs tHe naked back from 7 the neck down to tKe hip's. No wonder so'sensitive, nervous,, and 1 highly-strung a woman as Madame Sihida died from the shock of such inhuman treatment;.; Nbtis it surprising that' all the political prisoners who had t heard of \.this brutality joined together in sucli "a 1 protest as woul<l impress even the Russian authorities. Madame Sihida's three prison coniEanions,lMesdames Mursa Kovaleoskai^,', mirnizk'i,' andKalnujy, poisoned themselves. The thirty male political prisoners at liower tKaraialsoJ it '•is/.kn«wh^'io6ki poison, though only two died, the authori-^ ItieV ,being able to administer emetics in time to 3 save'the rest. »

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18900625.2.12

Bibliographic details

Russian Brutality., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2450, 25 June 1890

Word Count
975

Russian Brutality. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2450, 25 June 1890

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