The Chief of the Division of Russian Affairs, Department of State (Poole) to the Secretary of State

Mr. Secretary: Mr. Skvirsky, the local agent of the Soviets, talked this morning with an officer of the Military Intelligence Division. He asked this officer what had been the real effect on American opinion of the execution of Butchkavitch. The officer said that it had been very deep and very unfavorable to the Soviets. Skvirsky said that Butchkavitch had acted traitorously and the Soviets were well within their right in executing him. He read a cablegram which he had just received from Tchitcherin stating briefly the Soviet side of the matter. This cablegram, which the officer described as weak, stated that the sentenced priests had resisted the Soviet law (for example in connection with civil marriage), and had acted upon direct orders from Rome. In particular, Butchkavitch had received money from Poland during the Polish-Soviet campaign of 1920. This money was ostensibly for church purposes but had really been used politically. Butchkavitch as well as the other priests had preached sedition and resistance to the Soviet authority.

Skvirsky went on to say that to a Russian within Russia the justice of the execution of Butchkavitch must be clear, but to a Russian outside, like himself, it had plainly been unwise. Skvirsky confessed to great dejection on the subject saying that all his work in this country for recognition had now been undone by a single act. He said that he talked with Governor Goodrich who, while professing still to believe in recognition, said that the pendulum had swung back from the favorable situation recently existing and was now at the other extreme, from which it would presumably swing back again in due course. Skvirsky had also talked with Senator Borah. He said that the Senator said that he was very sorry that this priest had been executed but that it was an internal affair of Russia and did not alter in his mind the question of Russian recognition.


D. C. P[oole]