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Chkheidze, Nikolai Semenovich

CHKHEIDZE, NIKOLAI SEMENOVICH

(18641926), revolutionary activist.

Born into a Georgian noble family in the west Georgian district of Imereti, Nikolai, or "Karlo" as he was better known, Semenovich went on to become a prominent figure in the Georgian social democratic movement and the RSDLP (the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party). He played a central role in the February revolution in Russia. His revolutionary career began with his expulsion from Odessa University (now in Ukraine) for participation in a student demonstration. On his return to Georgia, he became involved in local Marxist activities in the west Georgian town of Batumi. Prominent in the 1905 revolution in Georgia, and active in the local social democratic press, in 1907 he was elected as Georgian deputy to the Third State Duma (Russian imperial parliament). He led the RSDLP faction in the Third and Fourth Dumas where he was threatened with expulsion a number of times. He led the faction in refusing to vote war credits to the Russian government in 1914.

Chkheidze made a name for himself as a great orator and was extraordinarily popular among Russian workers. It was no surprise that in February 1917 he was elected the first Chairman of the Petrograd (St. Petersburg) Workers' and Soldiers' Soviet. Given the Soviet's powerful role in the revolution, Chkheidze was a key figure in Russian government policy during 1917. A menshevik, he became increasingly disillusioned with the path of Russian politics, as well as the ineffectiveness of his own Menshevik colleagues and the provisional government. On the eve of the October Revolution in 1917, Karlo returned to Georgia where he became, in 1918, Chairman of the Transcaucasian Seim (parliament). From 1919 to 1921, he was a member of the Georgian Constituent Assembly. After the Red Army invasion of Georgia in February of 1921, Karlo was forced into exile in Paris. He left behind two of his elder daughters; his only son had died in 1917. Unable to bear the petty politics of emigré life, he committed suicide in 1926.

See also: georgia and georgians; mensheviks

bibliography

Brovkin, Vladimir N. (1987). The Mensheviks after October: Socialist Opposition and the Rise of the Bolshevik Dictatorship. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Stephen Jones

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