While the loyal Russian officers were being murdered in their beds, other events not less important were happening. When Admiral Koltchak assumed supreme authority the Directorate was surrounded by a party of Royalist officers as turbulent and lawless as Trotsky himself. Private code messages passed between these officers as freely as if they already had the power in their own hands. The first intimation that Koltchak had of these conspiracies was a code message from General Evanoff Renoff to General Beloff, General Bolderoff’s Chief of Staff, which unfolded many of the aspirations of these men, and showed their objects to be exclusively personal. I read these messages with great interest, as they gave me an excellent insight into the mainsprings of the revolution and incidentally into the character of the average Russian officer. General Antonovsky, of the old Russian Military Academy, who also assisted in the drafting of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty with the Germans, was a participant in the scheme, and was within an ace of becoming the admiral’s Chief of Staff. Everything was working splendidly, when the cipher message from Renoff opened the ball. Beloff was sent to the east, and Antonovsky to the south, and the Absolutists became broken up.
On February 1 my liaison officer informed me that as he waited in the corridor of headquarters, General Beloff came out of General Lebediff’s room. A little later General Antonovsky came out of another room, and then these two were suddenly joined by a certain Cossack general of a very truculent type. I knew that this boded badly for order, and I warned Koltchak’s young aide-de-camp. Shortly after it was reported to me that an attempt had been made to exchange a sham guard for the real one at the Supreme Governor’s residence. That night I held our direct wire from Colonel Johnson to my ear till 12.30 A.M., and found that it was tapped by Russian Headquarters. General Knox had got to know things, and took certain action, with the result that I sent my officer to Russian Headquarters with instructions to inform General Lebediff we were anxious for the Supreme Governor’s safety; that if any harm was contemplated against him we should hold him responsible unless he made us acquainted with the danger in time to avert it; further, that if the Absolutist officers thought they could murder Admiral Koltchak and proclaim an absolute Monarchy without the sanction of the people of Russia they were mistaken; that whoever, whether high or low, attempted to destroy the present Government and throw Russia back into violence and anarchy would be treated as enemies by the British soldiers. General Lebediff answered that he knew of no special danger threatening Admiral Koltchak at the moment, but he thanked Colonel Ward for his offer to help protect the Government in case of necessity.