Today in Labour History
Propagandist and Assassin
On August 4, 1878 the Russian anarchist and nihilist Sergei Stepniak-Kravchinskii assassinated Nikolai Mezentsov, the head of Russia's secret police with a dagger in the streets of St Petersburg. Earlier, Stepniak had been active in the 'Going to the People' or Narodniki movement. The Narodniki movement started in the 1870s among students and young intellectuals. They considered it their duty to devote their lives to the improvement of the people's fate. Stepniak and other revolutionaries did so by going to the countryside armed with illegal educational pamphlets to read to the mostly illiterate countrymen. Some of these pamphlets were written by Stepniak himself.
After the killing, Stepniak left Russia and lived and lectured in several countries. He finally settled in England and was killed at the age of 44 by a train in Chiswick, London, when he was on his way to resume a conference with his associates in Russian propaganda work.