Shlyapnikov, Alexander Gavrilovich

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(18851937), highly skilled metalworker, trade union leader, and revolutionary.

Alexander Shlyapnikov, an ethnic Russian from the town of Murom in central Russia, joined the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party in 1902 and became a Bolshevik in 1903; he was imprisoned in 1904 and 19051907. From 1908 to 1916 he lived in Western Europe. During World War I, Shlyapnikov organized a route through Scandinavia into Russia for smuggling illegal Marxist literature and Bolshevik correspondence.

In February 1917 Shlyapnikov led the Bolshevik Party organization in Petrograd and became a member of the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' Deputies. Subsequently Shlyapnikov became chairman of the All-Russian Metalworkers' Union (19171921). He became commissar of labor (19171918) after the October 1917 Revolution. During the Russian civil war, Shlyapnikov was chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Caspian-Caucasian Front (19181919).

From 1919 to 1921 Shlyapnikov led the Workers' Opposition and advocated the role of unionized workers in directing and organizing the economy. Shlyapnikov continued to criticize Soviet economic policy and treatment of workers throughout the 1920s. In 1933 he was purged from the Communist Party. In 1935 he was arrested on false charges, imprisoned, and sent into internal exile. In 1936 he was arrested again. In September 1937, in a closed session, the Military College of the USSR Supreme Court found Shlyapnikov guilty of terrorist activities, based on false testimony from compromised witnesses, and ordered his execution. Shlyapnikov was rehabilitated of criminal charges in 1963 and restored to membership in the Communist Party in 1988.

See also: bolshevism; social democratic workers party; workers' opposition


Daniels, Robert. (1988). The Conscience of the Revolution: Communist Opposition in Soviet Russia. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Shliapnikov, Alexander. (1982). On the Eve of 1917, tr. Richard Chappell. London: Allison and Busby.

Barbara Allen