Having ascended to the throne, Emperor Paul I canceled many decrees of his mother, Catherine the Great, and among other things released those whom the Empress had imprisoned in prison. Political prisoners and even dangerous criminals – everyone got a chance.
All but five of the innocent prisoners of Kexholm fortress. They were two wives and three children of the rebel Yemelyan Pugachev.
And although the official investigation announced their innocence, they were no longer free. What is the reason why these unfortunates spent their whole lives in prison?
On January 24, 1775, the two wives of Yemelyan Pugachev, Sofia Dmitrievna and Ustinya Petrovna, and three of his children from their first marriage (the last member of the family died in Kexholm after 58 years) were for life imprisoned for life.
Pugachev had a peculiar family – two wives at the same time. Pugachev’s wife Ustinya Kuznetsova, as she testified during the interrogation, was only ten days old, and then she spent thirty-three years in a fortress. She died the very first at the age of 50 years.
Ustinya was famous for her extraordinary beauty, she had huge eyes, long brown hair to the toes. Catherine II wished to examine her. Having made the inspection, Catherine concluded: “You are not as beautiful as you have been glorified.”
Then Sofia Dmitrievna died, then the children died – Trofim (he was over 50), then Christina (at 56, she was paralyzed). The eldest daughter Agrafena lived the longest, she died at the age of 58.
January 5, 1775 in the sentence on the execution of E.I. Pugachev stated: “… But, in fact, neither the self-appointed wives did not participate in any crimes, the first Sophia was the daughter of Don Cossack Dmitry Nikiforov, the second was Ustinya, the daughter of Cossack Yaitsky Peter Kuznetsov, and the juvenile son of his first wife and two daughters, then distance them without punishment where the governing Senate favors. ”
The decree of January 9, 1775 noted: the Pugachev family "to keep in Kexholm, not letting go of the fortress, giving only freedom in it to get work and food for themselves and, moreover, and from the treasury for each 15 kopecks a day" . 15 kopecks per person per day – it was very good content, for 4 kopeks you could buy a pound of meat.
But the money came irregularly, so sometimes they went hungry.
In December 1796, Paul I sent to Kexholm A.S. Makarov, who returned to St. Petersburg, reported: “In Keksgolmskoy fortress Sophia and Ustinya, the wives of the former impostor Emelyan Pugachev, two daughters of the girl Agrafen and Christina of the first and son Trofim from 1775 are kept in the castle in particular peace, and the guy in the castle in the special room. The contents of the treasury are 15 kopecks per day.
Live decently. They have the freedom to walk around the fortress, but they are not issued from this.
They cannot read and write. ”
The oldest daughter, Agrafena, had a son, Andrei. While they thought what to do with him, leave with his mother or send to Petersburg in a shelter, he, before reaching three months, died on January 5, 1798.
The commandant of Kexholm fortress, Colonel Yakov Hoffman was transferred to another place, the matter was hushed up without giving publicity.
The new commandant, Comte de Mendoza-Botello, reported in the report that he had not found any prescription for lighting the cell in which the Pugachev family lived, and “ordered for dinner at his own risk and evening for dinner, until he went to bed will fall asleep and do not extinguish themselves, then the guard noncommissioned officers with the sentinels performed this b. ”
On May 5, 1802, Alexander I signed the "Register of those people whom the commission believes to leave in their present position." Not pardoned in the list remained 115 people (from seven hundred). After the number forty-seven, the subtitle was “Participating in the Pugachev revolt”, and wives and children of Yemelyan Ivanovich were listed from 48 to 52.
Everyone forgot the original wording of the verdict: “I did not participate in any crimes, then to put them off without punishment …” Now it turned out that they participated in the Pugachev rebellion and there could not be condescension for them.
A year later, the emperor went on a journey through the northwestern lands. On June 2, 1803, he saw the Pugachev family in Kexholm fortress.
He “most highly commanded the deign of the wives of the famous Yemelyan Pugachev with three children contained in the fortress, as well as the peasant Pantelei Nikiforov” to be released from under the guard, “to give them a residence to have free time in the city, so that for the actions of their unflagging stare. "
The commandant of the fortress had to send monthly reports on the actions of the “liberated.” For the maintenance from the treasury they were still paid 15 kopecks a day to each.
On November 18, 1808 Ustinya Petrovna died. The priest of Kexholm Christmas Cathedral was ordered the second wife of Pugachev Ustinya Petrovna "to bury according to Christian debt."
When Sofia Dmitrievna died, it is unknown. No documents have been found yet.
F.F. Wiegel, in his Notes, he reports: “March 1811, Kexholm. I went to see the abolished fortress and they showed me the Pugachev family, I don’t know why everything is still being kept under guard, although not very strict.
It consisted of an elderly son and two daughters. A simple peasant and a peasant woman who seemed meek and timid. ”
The children of Pugachev were again in the fortress.
In July 1826 the Decembrists were brought to Kexholm fortress. One of them – I.I.
Gorbachevsky – left a story recorded by PI. Pershin in Siberia:
“At that time, in the Kexholm fortress there were two old women, the Pugachevs, who were called Emelka’s“ sisters ”. To a certain extent, they used freedom within the walls of the fortress: they walked around the yard, walked with buckets behind the water, cleaned their cell themselves, in a word, settled down, were at home and, it seems, they didn’t know any other living conditions … "The Decembrists called for fun or not their "princesses."
I.I. Gorbachevsky said that, out of boredom, prisoners made fun of the “princesses”, rendered them honor, sent matchmakers and made fun of each other, for example:
– Marry, Gorbachevsky, on the "princesses", – prince Baryatinsky joked, – all the protection will be.
It is interesting that according to the metric book it was possible to establish that one of Pugachev’s daughters, Christina, died "on June 13, 1826, was paralyzed, confessed and joined by priest Fyodor Myzovsky and was buried in the city cemetery." Who then saw Gorbachevsky?
The old city orthodox cemetery still exists today, but the graves of the members of the Pugachev family have not survived.