- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 12, 2005

MEXICO CITY — One of history’s most infamous murder weapons, the mountaineer’s ice pick police think was used to kill Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, has resurfaced just weeks before the 65th anniversary of his assassination.

Tests to authenticate the weapon have been delayed by a dispute between the current owner, who might sell it, and Trotsky’s grandson, who wants it for his museum — evidence of the ongoing struggle between socialist ideals and capitalism.

The ice pick is in the hands of Ana Alicia Salas, whose father apparently removed it from an evidence room while serving as a secret police commander in the 1940s. She is considering selling the foot-long mountaineer’s ice pick, but hasn’t decided on a price.

Trotsky’s grandson, who keeps the revolutionary flame alive by maintaining Trotsky’s home in Mexico City as a museum, wants the ice pick for his display.

Trotsky helped lead the 1917 Russian Revolution, but split with dictator Josef Stalin and fled to Mexico in 1937, accusing Stalin of betraying the revolution. Stalin is widely thought to have arranged Trotsky’s Aug. 20, 1940, slaying, in which a man sneaked up behind Trotsky and sank the ice pick into his skull.

The murder weapon has become infamous, inspiring an indie rock band TrotskyIcepick.

The weapon in Mrs. Salas’ possession has faint, reddish-brown stains. But there’s only one sure way to prove the stains are Trotsky’s blood, and Esteban Volkov, Trotsky’s grandson, holds the key: his DNA.

“Looking at it objectively, this is a piece of history,” Mr. Volkov said from the home in the leafy Mexico City district of Coyoacan where Trotsky was killed. “It should be in the museum.”

Mr. Volkov, 79, has offered a sample of his DNA for comparison with whatever material can be recovered from the pick, but only if Mrs. Salas donates the artifact to his museum.

“If it is for commercial purposes, I refuse to participate in this kind of thing,” said Mr. Volkov, who charges about $1 for admission to the museum.

Mrs. Salas, 50, refuses to consider donating the ice pick.

“Sometimes, people don’t value things that are given away,” she said.

In a country where police misconduct is legendary, Mrs. Salas is quick to paint her father, Alfredo, as a model secret service agent. She said her father, who retired in 1965 and died in 1985, had been granted permission by superiors to keep the ice pick for a “museum of criminology.”

She says her father put the ice pick with his personal possessions after someone tried to steal it from a display. And although she previously has said she is seeking “some financial benefit” in exchange for the pick, Mrs. Salas now hedges when asked whether she will sell.

“I think this instrument is valuable. It is a piece of world history,” she said, displaying the ice pick, wrapped in flannel and kept in an old cardboard box labeled “Kenmore Electric Heating Pad.”

Asked what the ice pick is worth, Mrs. Salas says: “I don’t know, because I don’t know who’s interested in it.”

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