1. It is fallacy of the single cause to assume it was solely Stalin who supported, or enacted the purging. The fact of the matter is that there was an entire Party that voted on the matters, and was subject to constant changes in leadership.
2. On the other hand, the purges and assassination were often led, however, by other individuals aside from Stalin such as Yezhov. Yezhov for example was later shot for his injustice. However, even he did not act alone and it is anti-Marxist to blame one individual.
3. The truth of the matter is that many of these figures were often indeed opposed to the Bolsheviks in some way, but yes, the charges may have been exaggerated. At times, some of the basis’ of crimes were that they were “foreign spies,” which was not always the case. Such was the nature of the bitter, sometimes paranoid class struggle in the Soviet Union, and was one of the faults as well. But again, to attribute this solely to Stalin is unjustified.
4. It should be noted in regards to Trotsky and Stalin, that first of all, Stalin attempted to resign several times, but the Party voted against it. On the other hand, during the more than five years of debate between Trotsky and pro-Stalin groups, Stalin was voted in favor of by 740,000 whereas Trotsky received a mere 4000 votes.
5. It has been argued by both pro-Communist and non-Communist scholars (such as J. Arch Getty), that the purges were not initiated by Stalin. It is likewise important to note that beloved figures such as Lenin and Trotsky participate in purges or “purge-like” behavior themselves (e.g. Trotsky’s suppression of Anarchists, his temper against opponents, and so forth).
6. These assassinations do not necessarily discount socialism in the Soviet Union; they are not the fundamental essence of the Soviet state, which had been practicing and developing socialism from 1917 to roughly 1956. They sometimes are exaggerated greatly, in regards to both views (pro-Trotsky and pro-Stalin, for example).
7. Attempting to name-drop “Old Bolsheviks” who were “victims of Stalinism” is irrelevant and useless unless the arguer knows who these old Bolsheviks were, which many times, they do not.
8. This list is merely meant as a brief analysis from a pro-Stalin perspective; disagreements will of course follow, logically. The list is also to show that nobody was specifically “innocent” in regards to these matters, and the nature of history and class struggle are more complex than “black and whites” such as “Stalin killed everybody” or whatever such claims are made.
Lenin: He did die of natural causes. He had strokes and suffered fatigue which led to paralysis. Considering his closest family members constantly surrounded him, he could not have been poisoned either.
Gorbunov: Eventually after participating in a Soviet-German expedition, he was accused of being a German spy, and squandering grain. He willingly accepted his arrest, however.
Milyutin: There is virtually nothing available on what he was charged of. If I had to guess, it would perhaps have been forming an alliance with the Kulaks or taking up a line of thought deemed detrimental in regards to the nature of collectivization or the Kulaks.
Antonov-ovseenko: He was openly pro-Trotsky and left communist, and had previously been a member of the Mensheviks, which were considered dangerous and counter-revolutionary by Bolsheviks. He was plotting against Stalin and the Bolsheviks.
Dybenko: Politically incompetent and untrustworthy. He refused to fight in occasional military battles, which led to obvious negative consequences in the revolutionary period. Lenin personally stated that his army was not even passable as a legitimate army. The original trial of 1918 of this deemed him innocent, but because he then refused to support the Soviet-German peace treaty and instead took up the adventurist notion of continuing the fight with the Germans, he was once again deemed a detriment. He then headed local oppositions against the Bolsheviks. Again in 1918 he was tried, and it was determined he would be pardoned of all crimes so long as he did not intervene in politics again; of course he disregarded the trial, however. Regardless, his military role in the civil war was absolutely horrible, and his army behaved as anarchist-like, without order and without any incentive. He was then put on trial for unjust execution of soldiers, but fortunately for him wasn’t found guilty. In the late 20s, he continued to display military ignorance and political uselessness. Between 1936 and 1937 he led many purges himself, which led to a lack of trust by Stalin and the other Party leaders. Finally, when his last trial came, he openly admitted to taking state money to spend on parties, sex, and drugs. He was also accused of being an American spy, but this is disputable.
Nogin: He took a relatively moderate position which would not have actually gotten the Bolsheviks, let alone any communist organization, anywhere. He foolishly attempted to unite the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks, despite strong oppositions from both parties. He was excessively pacifistic as well, although he did later admit errors in his judgments. This didn’t stop him from taking up a “proto-peaceful coexistence” type view with the US, however. But there is nothing I know of to suggest Stalin harmed him, and harming him would have been useless anyway.
Lunacharsky: When the Bolsheviks split between Lenin and other members, Lunacharsky went on to side with his brother in law instead of the Bolsheviks. Lenin went on to oppose his decision to embrace what was essentially an idealist, subjectivist, anti-Marxist philosophy. Nonetheless, there is no reason to suggest Stalin had anything to do with his death; he died on a trip to France of natural causes. His remains were actually returned to the Soviet Union and given a prestigious burial ceremony, which was something rare for anybody at the time. Surely, Stalin would not have permitted this had he any involvement in Lunacharsky’s death.
Teodorovich: He supported a broad coalition in the revolutionary conflict, against the will of Lenin and the Bolsheviks. By1930, he was deemed a counter-revolutionary and executed, taking influence from pro-Kulak views.
Trotsky: Putting aside the years of constant and bitter struggle he led against Lenin and the Bolsheviks, and against Stalin as well, once exiled, he fled to Mexico where he threatened communist organizations. He would contact Western authorities about their presence, claiming they were all allies of the Soviet Union. He furthermore tried to gain citizenship to the US, where he would have effectively been a snitch for the FBI and the anti-Marxist US government. Furthermore, he actively engaged in clandestine anti-Soviet organizations and was deemed as an ultra-leftist by numerous members of the Party, not merely Stalin; nor was it entirely Stalin’s decision to finally assassinate Trotsky. The fact that the Bolsheviks enabled Trotsky to live for so long, even after his anti-Marxist behavior was espoused, is somewhat interesting in my opinion.
Rykov: His disputes with Lenin began when he claimed the Bolsheviks should not be an independent party, a claim counter to Leninism. After eventually returning from an exile sentence, he was hesitant of joining the Bolsheviks, wishing for a moderate approach instead of a Bolshevik approach of politics. Regardless, there was a period where he joined with the pro-Stalin faction of the Bolsheviks during the early and mid 1920s. However, he then began to oppose the wishes of the Bolsheviks and Stalin in favor of views held by those such as Bukharin, which would have demolished the socialist construction in the country side. He also admitted to plotting with Trotsky against the Soviet government.
Oppokov: Initially a leftist-communist who took up the same detrimental, radical idealism of opposing the Brest-Litovsk treaty, he then voted against the Soviet government, and participated in counter-Bolshevik activity.
Shilapnikov: Did not support the dictatorship of the proletariat, and thus did not support the Bolshevik vanguard. He led leftist, opportunistic revolts against the Soviet government. He then finally refused to cooperate with his trial and did not explain his motives.
Glebov-Avilov: He took up a fundamentally Menshevik position which weakened workers and union control. He was then accused of “wrecking” and counter-revolutionary activity, as he deliberately gave wrong information, commands, etc. which harmed the Soviet government.
Skvortsov-Stepanov: He was personally commemorated by Stalin for being a true Leninist in one of his personal letters, even despite his earlier influence from the pro-Mezhraiontsy faction of the Bolshevik party. There is therefore no reason to believe Stalin played any role in his death.
Kamenev, Zinoviev, Smirnov, Bukharin: All of these figures had shifted their allegiances numerous times, suggesting political incompetence or opportunism. There was times when they were pro-Stalin and times where they pro-Trotsky as well, in these regards. All of them, however, took up opportunist beliefs and engaged in counter-revolutionary, counter-Bolshevik groups, including ties with Trotsky’s clandestine anti-Communist organization. None were innocent.
Syrtsov: There is little information on him available to suggest he was a victim of “Stalinism” or anything else. If I had to guess, I would assume he took up fundamentally rightist positions.
Smilga: He was an active member of the Trotskyist opposition.
Piatakov: According to trial, he openly admitted to plotting with Trotsky against Stalin and the leaders of the Soviet state. He and his allies also assisted in the assassination of Kirov, sabotaged work areas, published openly anti-Bolshevik literature, etc.
Rakovsky: Had been a leftist-communist, pro-Trotsky and anti-Stain. He admitted to spying for Japan and for holding land. He was denounced as a counter-revolutionary.
Kotsiubynsky: Alleged to have joined in the Ukrainian Trotskyist Opposition. On the other hand, Ukrainian scientists themselves came forth and stated that he had committed crimes against the Ukrainian people.
Mdivani: Inherently nationalistic, helped lead the Georgian opposition against Stalin. He had the goals of assassinating Soviet officials and establishing his pseudo-revolutionary government in place. He was a counter-revolutionary in the eyes of the Soviets, including Lenin.