Kollontai, Aleksandra Mikhaylovna

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Aleksandra Mikhaylovna Kollontai (əlyĬksän´drə mēkhī´ləvnə kələntī´), 1872–1952, Russian revolutionary, diplomat, and novelist, whose maiden name was Aleksandra M. Domontovich. The daughter of a general, she early rebelled against her society. Although she married an officer of the czarist army, she was active in revolutionary circles and in 1908 was forced to flee abroad. She visited the United States in 1916 and edited, with Bukharin, the Communist daily Novy Mir [new world] in New York City. In 1917 she returned to Russia to take part in the Bolshevik Revolution. In 1920 she became people's commissar for social welfare. She was a leader of the "Workers' Opposition" that opposed party and government control of trade unions; this position was defeated by Lenin in 1921. Kollontai joined the people's commissariat for foreign affairs and became (1923) minister to Norway—the first woman to hold that diplomatic rank. After several ministerial appointments she became (1930) minister to Sweden and remained there until 1945. She was raised to ambassadorial rank in 1943 and was instrumental in conducting the Soviet-Finnish armistice negotiations of 1944. Known as a proponent of free love, she wrote extensively on this and on other social questions.

See her autobiography (tr. 1971).