RUSSIA: Poison in Jest

Russia's purges are traditionally grim affairs. The conspicuous difference between the current nationwide"houseclean-ing" and others is the sprightly (and skin-crawling) humor with which the tares of the malefactors have been exhibited in the Soviet press. Thus the toughest sentence is doubly justified, since the defendants have been proved not only criminal but ridiculous.

The latest case is the "Olkhovatka Hermes." Olkhovatka is a remote rural region of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. Its Hermes is one Comrade Vakhlin, the "unrelenting" prosecutor of a local committee engaged in snooping into irregularities on collective farms. He was nicknamed for...

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