One of the many victims of the Moscow purge trials of 1936–8 was the first assistant to the Commissar for Heavy Industry, Georgy Leonidovich Pyatakov. Pyatakov was an old Bolshevik accused of conspiring to sabotage Soviet industry as part of a Trotskyite fifth column. During his trial, an agent of the Soviet secret police named Alexei Shestov falsely testified that Pyatakov had ordered him to assassinate the Secretary of the Siberian Communist Party, Eiche. Pyatakov was found guilty and shot.
Eager to cover up the conspiracy, Stalin had Shestov executed for good measure. The putative victim, Eiche, was also arrested for treasonous conduct shortly afterwards. Eiche’s conviction was engineered by the ferocious deputy of the Military Collegium, I O Matulevich. But after loyally carrying out Stalin’s orders, Matulevich