It had been a difficult case. Leo had found nothing incriminating among the pages. His mentor had then read the same journal, highlighting an apparently innocent observation:

6th December, 1936. Last night Stalin’s new constitution was adopted. I feel the same way as the rest of the country, i.e. absolute, infinite delight.


Borisov had been unsatisfied that the sentence conveyed a credible sense of delight. The author was more interested in aligning is feeling with the rest of the country. It was strategic and cynical, an empty declaration intended to hide the author’s own doubts. Does a person expressing genuine delight use an abbreviation – i.e. – before describing their emotions? That question was put to the suspect in his subsequent interrogation.

INTERROGATOR BORISOV: How do you feel right now?

SUSPECT: I have done nothing wrong.

INTERROGATOR BORISOV: But my question was: how do you feel?

SUSPECT: I feel apprehensive.

INTERROGATOR BORISOV: Of course you do. That is perfectly natural.

                But note that you didn’t say: “I feel the same as anyone would in my circumstances, i.e., apprehension”.


The man received fifteen years.


(T. R. Smith, ‘Agent 6’)

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