Trial of the 193

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Trial of the 193


(The Great Trial), a trial involving participants of the “going to the people” movement, held in the Special Session of the Senate in St. Petersburg from Oct. 18 (30), 1877, to Jan. 23 (Feb. 4), 1878. It was the most important political trial in tsarist Russia. The main defendants were I. N. Mysh-kin, D. M. Rogachev, P. I. Voinaral’skii, and S. F. Kovalik. Other defendants included A. I. Zheliabov, S. L. Perovskaia, N. A. Morozov, M. P. Sazhin, M. F. Grachevskii, L. E. Shishko, M. D. Muravskii, F. V. Volkhovskii, L. A. Tikhomirov, A. V. Iakimova, and M. V. Langans. There were 38 women among the defendants. The total number arrested exceeded 4,000. Many of those arrested subsequently served several years in pretrial solitary confinement, and by the time the trial began, 97 persons had died or gone mad.

Although the defendants were participants of no less than 30 different political groups, most of which were propagandistic, almost all (177) were accused of organizing a single “criminal association,” the goal of which was a coup d’etat. In order to facilitate the proceedings, the court divided the accused into 17 groups for the hearing. In response, 120 of the accused boycotted the trial.

The trial’s central event was Myshkin’s speech explaining the revolutionary program of the Narodniki (Populists). Among the attorneys for the defense were V. D. Spasovich, D. V. Sta-sov, P. A. Aleksandrov, G. V. Bardovskii, A. L. Borovikovskii, V. N. Gerard, E. I. Utin, and A. A. Ol’khin, who contributed greatly to the political importance of the trial. The prosecution called in 472 witnesses but could not prove the fabricated accusation. Consequently, the court handed down a verdict that, in comparison to what the government had counted on, was very mild: of the 190 defendants (three had died during the trial), 90 were acquitted and only 28 were sentenced to hard labor. Alexander II, however, ordered administrative exile for 80 of those acquitted.

Before being sent off for hard labor and exile, 24 of those convicted smuggled out the “Testament,” which contained a call to revolution. The “Testament,” Myshkin’s speech, and the accounts of the court proceedings became weapons for revolutionary agitation. Together with the other trials of 1877 and 1878, the Trial of the 193 hastened the Narodniki’s transition from anarchistic political indifference to active political struggle against the autocracy. Documents from the trial, especially Myshkin’s speech, were published abroad and aroused the interest and sympathy of the general public for the Russian liberation movement.


Stenograficheskii otchet po delu o revoliutsionnoi propagande ν imperii: Zasedaniia Osobogo prisutstviia pravitel’ stvuiushchego Senata, vol. 1. St. Petersburg, 1878.
Protsess 193-kh. Moscow, 1906.
“K istorii protsessa 193-kh (publ. K. G. Liashenko).” Istoricheskii arkhiv, 1962, no. 3.
Antonov, V. S. “K protsessu 193-kh.” Voprosy arkhivovedeniia, 1961, no. 1.
Troitskii, N. A. “Protsess’193-kh’.” In Obshchestvennoe dvizhenie ν poreformennoi Rossii. Moscow, 1965.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.