Ritual of Liquidation: The Case of the Moscow Trials

By Nathan C. Leites; Elsa Bernaut | Go to book overview

NOTE TO SECTION 2, PART III
Allusions to the Secret

The defendants used some of the devices of veiled language analyzed in the preceding chapters to allude to the secret pre-history of the trials.1*

A defendant might state not that his testimony before the court was not based on the facts of the case, but that it was based on the depositions he had made in the preliminary investigation. He would thus convey the falsity of his testimony by confining it to statements about previous statements. Radek answered Vishinsky's questions:

VISHINSKY: Your conversation in November 1934 with this Mr. -- of one of the Central European states, if I am not mistaken was . . . [dots in the text].

RADEK: About treason against the country.

VISHINSKY: You accepted this? And you held this conversation?

RADEK: You have learned it from me, that means that I did hold it.2

Another time, Vishinsky quoted a deposition by Muralov in the preliminary investigation and asked: "Is that right?"

MURALOV: I confirm it, that is what I said.

VISHINSKY: Is that exactly what was said?

MURALOV: In my opinion there is no contradiction in what I said.

VISHINKY: There is no contradiction; I merely want to make it clear.

MURALOV: Only there is the word 'plan.' Well, of course, he is a planning expert.

VISHINSKY: This is of some importance. Do you confirm it?

MURALOV: Yes, I confirm it.3

Throughout the trial, Muralov tended to refuse going beyond his previous depositions to the facts themselves.

Once, when Vishinsky expressed annoyance with Bukharin, the latter retorted:

"I am using the same words which I used in my testimony during the preliminary investigation. . . ." [dots in the text].4

Yagoda also used this formula during a questioning by Pletnev's counsel:

COUNSEL FOR DEFENCE KOMMODOV: Does the Accused Yagoda confirm the testimony he gave at the preliminary investigation with reference to his meetings with Pletnev?

YAGODA: I said that.5

-343-

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