Vasily Sokolov (1874-1959) > view in the Catalogue
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Creativity and courage are two of the main attributes of revolutionaries and underground activists.
In the beginning of the 20th century, the Social Democratic Party succeeded in accomplishing what is arguably the most audacious enterprise in the whole history of revolution in Russia. Not only did they legally settle right under the nose of the police department, but also arranged for the periodic publishing of “disruptive literature,” that is illegal newspapers and leaflets.
Today, the “1905-1906 Underground Printing Office” museum reproduces the atmosphere surrounding these extraordinary events with astonishing accuracy.
covert printing office
In modern times this building is just an ordinary residential building.
In 1903, the staff of the Sushchevsky unit was burdened with another big headache: a new district became part of Moscow city. A part of this district fell under their jurisdiction. We can assume that because of this change, the police loosened its grip over the “trouble-free” district which housed the underground printing office.
Today, the Central Ministry of Internal Affairs Museum occupies the building of the former imperial police station.
Nowadays the building has been fully reconstructed, with spacious industrial premises turned into offices.
Luckily, the founders and operators of the underground printing office on Lesnaya Street did not have to experience the jailhouse life, in spite of being located closely to it.
The Butyrskaya Prison is still functional. The former “Butyrskaya Prison Fortress” has not changed at all, from the architectural point of view, over the past 100 years.
“Shepetilnikov Trolley Depot” (yes, named after that very Shepetilnikov) is currently located at this site. This depot is not used for public transport service and only serves as a repair workshop.
The tram line across Lesnaya Street is still functional, just as it was 100 years ago, but nowadays it offers more of a scenic or tourist ride.
The Georgian settlement is an old Moscow district, which had been populated by Georgians coming to Moscow since the beginning of the 12th century.
The establishment of yet another Georgian company, close to the Georgian settlement, planning to do good business, did not arouse any suspicion among the authorities.
The close proximity to the Tishinsky Market situated in the Georgian settlement, was also a plus, because one could always buy fresh Georgian fruits there. These fruits were a must to imitate the functioning of the “Caucasian shop” which housed the covert printing office.
Nowadays you can see the monument to the friendship between the Russian and Georgian people, standing in the middle of Tishinsky Square.
For the most part, it was a detailed, well thought operation, which was finely carried-out by the masters of covert activity, who were specifically called in by the party leadership from Georgia.
The choice for the location of the planned printing office in Moscow was a lucky one: a Georgian settlement was situated nearby and the emergence of new fellow countrymen on the adjacent streets did not arouse any suspicions.
However, the covert operation was located in truly dangerous environment: amidst buildings directly associated with the imperial guard.
To better understand and see the district, please use our interactive map.
Open the map to learn more!
The First Russian Revolution (1905-1907)
The covert enterprise was established during the course of the First Russian Revolution of 1905-1907. It was triggered by the so-called Bloody Sunday of January 22, 1905, when unarmed demonstrators willing to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II were fired upon by soldiers of the Imperial Guard in St. Petersburg. More than two years of mass political and social unrest resulted in establishment of limited constitutional monarchy, the parliament (the State Duma), the multi-party system, and the Russian Constitution of 1906.
«9th of January 1905, Vasilievsky Island»
The shop’s owner, Marian Kalandadze, was in fact a revolutionary and a port loader in Batumi.
The shop’s owner, Marian Kalandadze,
was in fact a revolutionary and a port loader in Batumi. > view in the Catalogue