The Revolt in Sveaborg
During the summer of 1906 the counter revolution took place in Russia with full force. The Tsar makes a decision to dissolve the Russian Duma. Most of the members gather in Viborg in Finland for a meeting. The russian governor announced that the city would be declared to be in a state of siege. But there is also preparations going on for an open resistance in the Red Brigades and for a mutiny on the major naval bases in Sevastopol, Kronstadt and Sveaborg. One of the leaders of the revolt movement in Sveaborg is the captain Sergei Zion (alternative spelling: Tsion, Cyon). The
authorities have long regarded him with distrust, because he was in great favor with the soldiers.
Captain Zion often likes to entertain the soldiers and to explain what socialism is and what it is striving for. His home was constantly open to anyone who was interested in social issues. The revolt in Sveaborg starts on July 30, 1906, and is defeated August 4th when russian ships with a loyal crew and soldiers arrive. There was more than one support organization for the insurrection in Helsinki. Sergei Cyon was connected to a group which sometimes had meeting in the apartment of Evira Willman, journalist and writer, to drink tea and discuss socialism. Cyon had his own
newspaper which he edited and spread among the soldiers.
Contemporary report: The swedish ”Socialdemokraten” correspondent had an opportunity to talk with members of the Finnish strike Committee. They emphasized that the uprising was premature, and they thought the government provoked the mutiny before it was fully planned and prepared.
There was a vigilante squad who prevented the revolt in Sveaborg from being spread to supporters through various actions in Helsinki. The National Guard defended energetically dynamite stocks so that the Red guards could not hit the railroad . Captain Johan Kock (Leader of the Finnish Red Brigades) hadn´t slept for several nights, seemed somewhat tired but had not lost his excitement. He felt that the uprising started to early because of its unimaginable circumstances that so often destroyed the work of russian revolutionaries. Kock felt felt an obligation to of proclaim a strike – otherwise, the russian revolutionaries could claim that we had our privileges, and were ready to betray them.
According to Aftonbladet, the military analysis and the plan for the uprising in Sveaborg was superbly settled, undoubtedly by a good officer, but the implementation had been such a failure that the insurgents had no chance to gain control of Sveaborg and Kronstadt. Despite the suppression of the mutiny of Sveaborg and Kronstadt, there was a fear that it could could be spread to the naval base in Sevastopol. The military court in Kronstadt sentenced 50 sailors and soldiers to death penalty and executed them in the first dayas after the revolt. Two officers, Captain Emiljanoff and Lieutenant Kahanski, are arrested and executed. Captain Cyon avoided being arrested as he was in Helsinki to obtain provisions and lwas left behind at the
embarkation due to a misunderstanding.
A sympathy strike action was launched and there was a conflict with the vigilante guards in Helsinki. Russian military went out on the streets, cossacks with their whips. The red guard was defeated and detained. Even after the vigilantes had been disarmed, there was a tense atmosphere in
the city between bourgeois and labour elements. The revolt is over 4th of August the funerals have begun and the warships have disappeared. The
military authorities themselves are beginning to doubt the effectiveness of all the death penalties to restore order. Both Captain Sergei Cyon and Captain Johan Kock escape the reprisals and fly through Sweden to the west. Johan Kock ends up in the United States and Cyon settles in London.
It will subsequently be discussed both their and the other officers’ actions during the revolt. Didn´t they have any opportunity to stop the spontaneous revolt in Sveaborg ?`Was there any deliberate provocation in the military or elsewhere?
All the officers were invited to attend the execution. The officer who had the duty to carry the command was so vehemently upset that it took a long time before he could express commands. He fell unconscious and was taken to hospital. The soldiers who were supposed to execute the order had trembling hands. The first discharge did not kill the unfortunate victims. Before his death, Lieutenant Emeljanoff should have pronounced a few words of resignation. He explained that those who had now executed the death sentence would soon have teh same fate. The execution must have
been performed by a pluton of the revolting artillery. Behind them stood infantry with loaded rifles …
Branting and Cyon against the Militarists
In April 1914, there was a political crisis in Sweden. The right wing and the monarchists organized a national manifestation and collectionto build armored ships for the swedish defense. This leads to the political crisis and new elections and the liberal government Staaff is forced to resign. With the
initiative from Hjalmar Branting “Socialdemokraten” has an article by Sergei Cyon on the election day. It is followed by two more articles that play down the dangers from the East and the russian military capacity. The ”russian danger” which broke out almost simultaneously in Germany and
Sweden must, to a great extent, originally be a new maneuver of the international armaments capital … . Gaps have been formed between different classes of privileged, who intrigue and fight each other … … The entire staff of army officers are under surveillance from liberal influence.
Cyon eamines Russia and does not consider the army to be a threat and not prepared for attack. Five months later, the First World War is underway. Hjalmar Branting gives space for Sergei Cyon to write in “Socialdemokraten” and this raises criticism not only from the right wing. Cyon’s articles appeared after the election campaign, and Branting himself was probably not particularly fond of Cyon’s military anecdotes. But Branting had to take into account that the party majority was more
pacifistic and defense-critical than himself. Robert Ågren, eyewitness to the Sveaborg Revolt as the correspondent for “Socialdemokraten” (the
only authentic and neutral description of events that have occurred, and upon which both Finnish Russian and European history of this revolt is founded, he claims) complains to Branting that he permitted Cyon to write in the newspaper.
During the Sveaborg Revolt in 1906, Robert Ågren wrote that ”the Supreme Commander was the day after” forgotten ”in land. He is safe now ”. Now, eight years later, he explains, ”Strange enough, no one came to think that this Cyon was a humbug at best – people think so much of each other in revolutionary times – otherwise he would have been convicted. His subordinate officers fought, were defeated and executed. But Cyon, he was ”in security” as said. The Finnish Socialdemocrate Party Board did not want to have anything to do with Cyons unknown Russian committee, nor with Captain Kock…. I don´t claim that Sergey Cyon was a conscious provocator
and spy then, I only claim he was a terribly miserable phenomenon at Sveaborg in 1906. “
Appointed to Colonel Sergei Cyon returned to Russia in June 1917 and was immediately appointed responsible officer and commander of the russian troops at Sveaborg . While he is a military, he also edits a russian newspaper distributed by the social revolutionaries to the soldiers. There were two legitimate organizations among the soldiers who took orders from Petrograd and an organization for “the anarchists” with about 1,000 members who had their headquarters in Helsinki. They were impossible to command.Another armed Russian organization had emerged, the Russian Red Guard, which also had elements excluded from the Finnish Red Guard, unreliable and without discipline. But most Russian troops chose not to participate in fighting. Cyon believed that it would be possible to keep Mannerheim’s troops away if they were to attack Helsinki or Viborg – but if there was a German attack, things would be different.
During the revolution, the military discipline among the russian troops in Helsinki had almost disappeared. The German fleet approached Tallinn (Reval) but the Russian fleet in Sveaborg could not come to rescue due to lack of manpower and because many parts of the machines had been sold.
When engineers were called in and spare parts were made, the fleet was sailing after three days – but then Reval (Tallinn) had already fallen to the Germans. A week later, street life in Helsinki has changed completely. Thousands of Estonian soldiers had arrived and Russian red guards who in
desperation could do just anything. It was the German troops and the Finnish hunter battalions who determined the outcome in favour to the whites.
Burtsev arrives in Finland in April 1918, a few days before the Germans take over in Helsinki. He is transferred to another hotel by the Germans and is advised to move on to Stockholm after some inconvenience. He arrives in association with Cyon, who states that he has been arrested twice in Finland. What makes Cyon choosing Stockholm as a refugee is not explained. For Burtsev it is obvious that he is heading west, there is no possibility for him to return to Russia now. For the former members in his political group it i is a worse situation. Elvira Willman Eloranta and Voitto Eloranta were also social revolutionaries whom Cyon collaborated with during the Savewaborg revolt in 1906. They now choose to become Bolsheviks and follow the red guards flying east towards Petrograd. There they are victims in internal struggles within the Finnish red guards.
8 leading Finnish Bolsheviks are shot at the Kuusinen Club incident.
Voitto Eloranta is accused of being involved and executed in 1923, his wife Elvira Willman is also executed two years later. Sveaborg becomes a prison camp after the whites have won the civil war in Finland. Many of those
who belonged to the red side and failed to escape were executed or died of the substandard conditions as prisoners. Cyon was commissioned to lead Sveaborg during Kerensky’s short time in power, but in the police records in Sweden, Cyon is named monarchist after starting his career as
anarchist in Helsinki. Burtsev, as opposed to Cyon, never had any sympathies for Kerensky. He supported General Koltjak’s rebellion in the summer of 1917, which threatened both the Kerensky and Bolsheviks growing influence. For the second time, Sergei Cyon has managed to escape from an almost impossible situation. It is no wonder that rumours arose that he belonged to the other side. Vladimir Burtsev gets a visa to France and avoids being caught in what will be the 1919 great assassination trial and the largest criminal investigation in Sweden’s history. Those who face justice is the ”Russian League” led by the charismatic cossack Mohammed Hadjetlaché. In a villa in Bollstanäs at Lake Norrviken in Roslags Näsby, they have locked in at least 4 victims, tortured and killed them and threwn the corpse into a nearby lake. It is a blend of purely criminal and political
murders aimed at exiles who are perceived as representatives of the Bolsheviks. Sergei Cyon participates as a witness in the trial against ”Russian League” and Hadjetlaché. He is interviewed in the Swedish press where he presents a theory that the “Russian league” is monitored by an
international network of interesents . The league is led from London and, as a figure head there is, Tsar Alexander III’s widow Mary Feodorovna.
In Helsinki, the leauge´s business was in the hands of General Judenitj. He appeared in the trial in Stockholm. In Stockholm, the chief representative was Countess Orloff-Davidoff, according to police protocols. The bestial murders in Bollstanäs and all intrigues were revealed after the largest
police investigation ever in Sweden’s history. Hajedlatché is the last in Sweden who got a death penalty. It was never carried out and he died in captivity. Some other members of the league got prison sentences. Sergei Cyon doesn´t get a visa to England and he stays in Sweden, where he
seems to have lived without any more adventures. He was the chairman of the literary association ”Ivan Bunin”, named after the first Russian writer who gets the Nobel Prize. He holds lectures in Stockholm in Russian about various cultural subjects. It has been a confusing time for those who
worked as secret agents, reporters or provocators. Power has changed, and those who have been in exile returns to Russia while others leave. But as a whole, it is a branch with brilliant prospects