1923 - Letter from peasant Alfey Kichilin to Krest'yanskaya gazeta

Translator's note: This letter was sent to the peasant newspaper Krest'yanskaya gazeta at the end of 1923 by a peasant, Alfey Kichilin, from somewhere in the USSR (the source does not indicate where). From the spelling and syntax it is clear that Kichilin had received only the most basic schooling. In this translation I have tried to preserve the style, but have not tried to find English equivalents for the writer's spelling. - Dr Francis King.

Tell us how Soviet power is different from Tsarist power, we peasants don't know, beforehand we used to pay just the obrok [quitrent, tax in kind, formerly paid to landowners - FK] and nothing else and now we pay one big direct tax and loads of indirect ones. But they tell us and write that Soviet power is better. But who's saying it well it's those who are in power and work with their heads and not with their hands to feed themselves like everybody ought to. But it looks like it's easier and quicker to work out a law on taking grain away than to work 14 hours without a rest therefore the powers are the same and if one takes over from the other it's no easier for the peasants, you know if we peasants don't give grain to these useless people and their like they'd all die of cold that's true and obvious.

But in order to feed themselves easier people are leaving the fields for light town work or government jobs, but for the peasant who stays it gets harder and harder because all the physical workers are leaving and the brain workers are coming in. Of course education is not bad for the peasants either, but it would be better if the worker and peasant bosses fed themselves by working the land.

No matter how hard Soviet power tries to build Soviet Russia it's been going six years now and everything is just as dirty uneducated only the sufferings have multiplied.

Alfey Kichilin, peasant for 15 years.

Archive source: RGAE 396/1/1/30
Published source: S S Kryukova (compiler), Krest'yanskie istorii: rossiyskaya derevnya 1920-kh godov v pis'makh i dokumentakh, ROSSPEN, Moscow, 2001, p. 103.