12 FEBRUARY 1954, Page 4

Exit One Stalinist

The death of Matvei Fedorovitch Shkiryatov at the age of 70 removes from the Russian scene one of the most enigmatic and powerful figures of the Stalinist epoch. It is probable that to no man more than to him did Stalin owe the steady rise to personal supremacy which culminated in the Party 'Congress of Victors' of 1934. Shkiryatov joined the Central Committee apparat ' in 1921 and at once entered upon -his duties of checking and purging the ranks of the Party' in the interests of a single individual. The next year, Stalin's first as General Secretary of the Party, Shkiryatov joined the Central Control Commission, of which he was to remain the driving force until his death. Until 1934, with the Control Commission func- tioning independently of the Central Committee, Shkiryatov worked successfully to discredit the members of the anti-Stalin factions within the Central Committee itself. Trotsky, for one, had good reason to fear the man whom he dismissed so contemptuously as " a crushed, submissive, slightly drunken working-man." In 1934, its work well done, the Control Commission was brought -under the authority of the Central Committee, and Shkiryatov was able to turn his hand to the physical extermination of the Old Bolsheviks who still remained. Pravda of January 19th gives three columns and a photograph to this man whose 'shining memory will be eternally cherished in the hearts of the Soviet people.' The odd thing is that in Shkiryatov's lengthy obituary there is not a single mention of his master Stalin.