A FLESHY FRAUD
The plot began to unravel almost immediately.
Octobriana was presented as the groups primary obsession, a character that was the the brain child of the group at large and published under their collective pseudonym, Roy Pavel Drakov. Sadecky describes in the book how many of the PPP remained Communist idealists, believing the revolution to have been betrayed, thus Octobriana was to embody the the true principles of the October Revolution.
With superpowers acquired in the crater of a radioactive volcano, Octobriana travels in space and time in her spherical wonder-machine, tackling the worst excesses of Soviet and imperialist oppression. Sadecky provides his readers with tantalising titles of stories he claims featured in various issues of Mtsyry such as Headhunters for the Polish and Czech Communist Parties, Better a Neanderthal than a Komsomol and Two Million Black Mummies Par Avion via Sydney.
He also includes two examples within the pages of the book, The Living Sphinx of the Kamchatka Volcano 1934 and The Atomic Suns of Chairman Mao. Both tales are arranged in three parts and strangely only the middle chapters are presented for the reader with the rest described by several pages of text. It's also worth noting that the political overtones described by Sadecky appear conspicuous by their absence.
The book was published on 29th October 1971 alongside an extensive article by Tom Stacey in The Daily Telegraph Magazine and an exhibition in London's Ceylon Tea Rooms, but by 1st November articles began to appear in the British press implicating the entire book as a fabrication by Sadecky.
This group of idealists (he maintained) held the revolution close to their hearts, but despised the oppression and totalitarianism of the Stalin years. They began attending meetings and publishing anti-Stalinist leaflets and manifestos.
But by 1960 PP became disillusioned at their inability to change the status quo and decided to withdraw into isolation. After a period of dabbling with philosophies of passive resistance, PP began to investigate free love and held wild parties in which they indulged in large amounts of alcohol.
Eroticism became a feature of their work but PP still wanted to make political statements and as time wore on the forbidden fruit of free love became normalised and so PP became PPP and they combined their porn with their politics within the pages of their samizdat magazine Mtsyry. By the time Sadecky got involved in 1961, word had spread and the PPP had secret cells operating in nine Soviet cities.
The reality emerged on both sides of the Iron Curtain that Sadecky's book was a complete fake. Far from being a member of an illegal underground organisation, he had actually been a spy for the Czechoslovak Secret Police. The vast majority of the Octobriana artwork in his book was stolen and modified to make it appear political, when the truth was the original comic strip was a non-political adventure story entitled Amazona.
Originally published in 1971 by Tom Stacey Ltd in London, Octobriana and the Russian Underground tells the fantastical tale of Czech émigré Petr Sadecky, who despite his relative youth when he fled to the west in 1967 had already enjoyed a varied and unusual career behind the Iron Curtain..
He paints a self portrait of an accomplished young academic leading a double life as the member of an illegal underground network that communicated only through their self published (Samizdat) magazines. Contributing to the formation of their most popular creation, Octobriana, a kind of Russian Wonder Woman and the Spirit of True Communism, he eventually risked everything to defect and publish their work in the western world.
Within days of publication Sadecky's tale began to unravel. Articles began to appear in the press questioning the truth of his claims.
A YOUNG COMMUNIST GOES WRONG
In his book, Petr Sadecky tells the reader that a slip-up during a lecture he gave at the Kiev Academy of Arts in 1961, led to his involvement with a group of underground dissidents calling themselves Progressive Political Pornography (PPP), thus betraying his own past as a good Communist and the ideals his father had nurtured in him since childhood.
He goes on to tell us that the PPP were in fact formed out of an organisation called Progressive Politics (PP). PP he claimed were formed during the optimism of the late 1950s and Kruschev's de-Stalinisation programme
Sadecky didn't tell his readers how a chain of secret cells could have developed so quickly across such distances, but he did imagine them an unwritten but rigid constitution preventing the groups from meeting collectively and instead nominating a Special Officer to deal with group admin and security. Communication between groups was only possible through the Samizdat (self published) magazines they published circulated by the Special Officers.
MTSYRY: THE NOVICE
Sadecky goes into some detail about the publishing activities of the PPP and he projects a prolific output on his imaginary friends. Alongside their regular magazine, Mtysry (The Novice) the Kiev group produced a series of pamphlets and manifestos, produced a whole series books under the collective title of the Romantic Encyclopedia, translated at least three James Bond novels and produced what he describes as being probably the first illegal experimental film in Soviet Union.
The pages of Mtsyry, he claimed, serialised Dr Zhivago, reprinted the work of other émigré authors, provided critiques of official books and newspaper articles and of course contained the adventures of Octobriana.