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Natanson, Mark


NATANSON, MARK (1849–1919), Russian revolutionary. Born in Svenziany, the son of a wealthy Jewish businessman, Natanson graduated from a Kovno secondary school. He was the leading figure of the "Chaikovski circle," which played a great part in molding the opposition spirit against the Czarist regime among the Russian university youth in the 1870s, and was prominent in the Populist movement ("narodniki"). A brilliant organizer, and possessed of considerable business abilities, he was responsible for many daring revolutionary undertakings. Together with his first wife, Olga – a highly intelligent person and a passionate believer in radical ideas – he masterminded Prince Peter Kropotkin's escape from prison. He was a close friend of Georgi Plekhanov, who later became "the father of Russian Marxism." He managed to continue his revolutionary activities even during the many years he spent as a convict in Siberia. In 1917, he joined the left wing of the Russian Social Revolutionary Party and helped Lenin to disband the Constituent Assembly. He later became disillusioned with the Communist regime, left the Soviet Union, and died a lonely man in Switzerland. From the time that he joined the Russian revolutionary movement, he completely identified himself with Russian life, taking no interest in Jewish affairs.

[Schneier Zalman Levenberg]

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