The caption below, "Yezhov's gloves of steel," is a friendly (or else ...) pun off Yezhov's surname, a common one, derived from the word for "hedgehog." A Russian idiom, "derzhat' [kogo-nibud'] v ezhovyx rukavicax" (literally, "to grip [someone] in hedgehog gloves") means "to deal harshly with" or "rule with an iron hand."
The cartoonist was Boris Efimov, a well-known survivor.
The reptilian creature being squeezed to death in Yezhov's hand has three human heads, caricatures of Trotsky (in exile), as well as Bukharin and Rykov, forced to "confess" to being murderers and fascist agents at a 1938 Moscow show trial. The tail of the creature ends in a swastika.
Yezhov's actual height was only 154 cm, about 5' 1".
Scan provided courtesy of Raoul Xemblinosky.
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