When a Russian revolutionary known only as Pokotillof was sentenced to be hanged in Odessa on Thursday, October 4th, 1906, the city’s military governor, short of an executioner, paid a convicted murderer £10 to carry out the job, allowing him to be “moderately” drunk and to wear a mask to fulfil the task.

Pokotillof had murdered a Jewish factory owner called Kirchner at a time of pogroms, when murdering Jews was semi-officially sanctioned. Fearful that other revolutionaries would try to rescue Pokotillof, military governor General Alexander Kaulbars ordered him to be hanged at 3 a.m.