Although Ruff has been coming to Latvia since the 80s of the last century and for quite a while his visits are connected with his research of the biography of one of the possibly best known anarchists of Latvian descent Peter the Painter, this time his visit is special. In the middle of August the publishing house “Dienas Gramata” is releasing the result of his 9-year research – the book Pa stâvu liesmu debesîs. Nenotveramâ latvieðu anarhista Pçtera Mâldera laiks un dzîve (On a Towering Flame to the Skies: The Life and Times of the Elusive Latvian Anarchist Peter the Painter).
The name of Peter the Painter in Great Britain first came up in connection with the so-called Houndsditch Murders in 1910. That was a daring and unsuccessful attempt to burgle a jeweller’s shop in the East End of London, which ended in violence unheard of in those days – several policemen had been shot dead. An even more outrageous event happened soon after that, which became known as the Siege of Sidney Street. Several Latvian anarchists managed to stand up to an overwhelmingly greater force for hours in a besieged house in Sidney Street. The house was surrounded not only by police and even army units with cannons, but also by huge crowds of onlookers and even the Home Secretary of the time Winston Churchill turned up. No one surrendered alive, but Peter Piatkov, or Peter the Painter, who was widely regarded as the main culprit, managed to escape.
The completion and publication of the book does not at all mean that Ruff’s interest in Peter the Painter and other revolutionaries of 1905 has been exhausted. He is full of determination to find a publisher also in Great Britain, and he is still not satisfied that he has found out everything to the end.