F. F. Raskolnikov (1892-1939). Otkritoe Pis’mo Stalinu
Original typescript, 3rd copy, 7 looseleaf sheets printed recto only. Bound with original paperclip.
Under a pseudonym generally accepted to have been adopted from Dostoevskii’s protagonist in “Crime and Punishment” Raskolnikov refused to return to the USSR after having been posted to Berlin. Raskolnikov feared that arrest and trial would be imminent upon his return and so eventually settled in Paris where he wrote for émigré publications. In 1939 his infamous “Open Letter to Stalin” was published in “Novaia Rossia” and, at least according to Roy Medvedev, the letter was smuggled into Moscow by the author’s widow in 1964. Raskolnikov’s letter accused Stalin of repeated acts dishonesty, of trampling on the Soviet constitution, of sadistic extermination of any who were perceived to be dangerous to his personal dictatorship and finally of creating a nepotistic circle of elites.
Raskolnikov never saw the letter make it to publication. Several versions of his death exist. According to Nina Berberova in her book “The Iron Lady” he checked into a clinic in Nice after a bout with depression and then either died of pneumonia or was pushed to his death from the fifth floor by agents of the NKVD; Roy Medvedev believed the latter. In 1963 Raskolnikov was rehabilitated and several mentions were made in the press about the letter but no complete version appeared in print until 1987 when publishing restrictions were relaxed.
Mentioned in Mark Barbakadze’s Anthologie of Samizdat.