Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin

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(18751946), Bolshevik, president of the USSR in 1922.

Active in the Russian Social Democratic Party from 1898, Mikhail Kalinin was an Old Bolshevik who held numerous important positions, including chairman of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (1919) and president of the USSR (1922).

Born of peasant parents in Tver Province, Kalinin moved to St. Petersburg in 1889 and found employment at the Putilov factory. Kalinin's peasant origins and experience as a skilled industrial worker made him an attractive representative of the Communist Party. After the October Revolution in 1917, he became the chief administrator in Petrograd. He quickly rose to prominence as a member of the party's Central Committee from 1919, a full member of the Politburo from 1925, and chair of commissions to prepare Soviet constitutions in 1923 and 1936.

In defense of the New Economic Policy (NEP), Kalinin allied with Josef Stalin against Leon Trotsky and the Left Opposition in struggles for power following Vladimir Lenin's death. When Stalin switched sides, adopting the Left's program of forced collectivization of agriculture, Kalinin sided with Nikolai Bukharin in advocating moderation. Urging a conciliatory approach toward the peasantry, Kalinin opposed harsh treatment of the kulaks. While never publicly criticizing Stalin, Kalinin expressed reservations about the terror of the 1930s. He continued to serve the party as a propagandist until the end of World War II, and was one of the few Old Bolsheviks to survive the Stalinist purges. On June 3, 1946, Kalinin died of cancer.

See also: bolshevism; constitution of 1936


Kalinin, M. I. (1950). On Communist Education: Selected Speeches and Articles. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House.

Kate Transchel

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Kalinin, Mikhail Ivanovich (1875–1946) Soviet statesman, head of state of the Soviet Union (1919–46). He was a founder (1912) of the newspaper Pravda and fought in the Russian Revolution (1917). A supporter of Joseph Stalin, Kalinin served in the Politburo (1925–46).

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Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin (mēkhəyēl´ ēvä´nəvĬch kəlyē´nyĬn), 1875–1946, Russian revolutionary. Of peasant origin, he was active in revolutionary affairs from his youth. He became the first chairman of the central executive committee of the USSR, or titular head of state (1919–46), and was a member (1925–46) of the politburo.