On the night of the October 7, 2023 attack in Southern Israel, I was staying overnight at my nephew’s place in Saint Petersburg, in the apartment I had grown up in, prior to emigrating from the Soviet Union over fifty years ago.

The following morning, as I walked in the neighbourhood located in the very centre of the former imperial capital, I recalled the names of the streets around me. I realized that most had honoured theoreticians and practitioners of political terrorism of the late 19th century [Russian Empire]: Pyotr Lavrov, Ivan Kalyaev, Stepan Khalturin, Andrei Zhelyabov, and Sofia Perovskaya.

They were proud to call themselves terrorists and were involved in several acts of violence.

It dawned on me that these streets are within a few minutes’ walk from the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. The multicoloured onion-domed church, so unusual in the austere cityscape of Petersburg, was erected to commemorate Emperor Alexander II near the place of his assassination in 1881 by some of the revolutionaries whose names these streets bore during the Soviet period.


For these terrorists, assassinations were a means of bringing about social and political change.

They aimed at terrifying the ruling circles in the absence of elections or almost any form of public participation in the country’s administration.

These revolutionaries triumphed in October 1905 when Tsar Nicholas II was forced to bestow limited political rights on the population. His concessions proved unsatisfactory to many convinced revolutionaries, and they continued their campaign of assassinations.

Posted in

Iron Will

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.