20 May 2003, 04:05
Chkheidze, Nikolay Semenovich
Politician, one of the Menshevik leaders.
Born 1864, in the village of Puti, Kutais Province, Georgia. Studied in Kutais gymnasia, then entered Novorossiysky University in Odessa as a non-credit student; in 1889, transferred to Kharkov Veterinary Institute, which he quit during the student riots. Moved to Batumi; since 1893, was a member of Social Democrat group Mesame-dasi (Third Group); in 1898, entered RSDRP (Russian Social Democrat Workers' Party) together with the entire group; Menshevik since 1903. In 1898-1902, was a speaker of Batumi City Duma and a member of city administration. Was a participant of 1905-1907 Revolution in Georgia; cooperated with social democrat press. In 1907, was elected the speaker of Tiflis City Duma; later was a deputy of the Third State Duma and a member of its social democrat faction. In November Y.O. Martov wrote to P.B. Axelrod from Paris, "The local Caucasians say that the elected Chkheidze is the most well-educated Marxist in the Caucasus" (quoted by Letters of P.B. Axelrod and Y.O. Martov, Berlin, 1924, p.173). After the Revolution's defeat considered the Duma work as the party's main task. In autumn 1912, was elected a deputy of the Fourth State Duma, headed the Menshevik faction. After Vienna Social Democrat Conference in August 1912, joint RSDRP's Organization Committee. When the WWI started, the Menshevik faction headed by Chkheidze voted against the military loans together with Bolsheviks on July 26, 1914. In 1915, announced Zimmerwald Conference's resolution in the Duma. Supported the workers' introduction into military industrial committees. In 1915-1916, was against the "strike rush" of Petrograd proletariat. In autumn 1916, appealed to "stop the riots" in the Caucasus.
On February 25, 1917, when mass demonstrations were going in Petrograd, did not see a starting revolution in them. On February 27, joined the Interim Executive Committee of Petrograd Council of Revolutionary Democrats, then was elected a member and a chairman of the Council's Executive Committee. On the same day, joined the Interim Committee of the State Duma. On the night of March 2, participated in the negotiations on forming Interim Government, facilitated the success of the negotiations, but refused a position of Minister of Labor in the Government. Was a member of the editorial staff of Rabochaya Gazeta (Worker's Newspaper) - Menshevik's central organ after its re-opening. On March 29, 1917, opened the session of the all-Russian sitting of the Council of Workers and Soldiers' Deputies, was elected its chairman. On the evening of April 3, 1917, as the head of the delegation of Petrograd Council of Workers and Soldiers' Deputies, welcoming V.I. Lenin returning form emigration at Finland Railway Station, stated, "I suppose that we should go in close rows for... victorious completion of the revolution... our task number one now is the defense of the free revolutionary Russia from all encroachments, both from inside - from counter-revolutionary forces - and from outside - from the encroachments of the external intruders" (quoted by Revolution 1917, vol. 1, p. 173). Later, condemned Lenin's April Theses underlining Russia's "immaturity" and unpreparedness for a socialist revolution. Totaling the result of the discussion, stated, "Lenin will be the only one left outside the Revolution, and we will go our own way". Represented the Executive Committee of Petrograd Council of Workers and Soldiers' Deputies at the First Congress of Military and Workers' Deputies of the Armies and the Rear of the West Front in Minsk on April 7 thru 17, 1917, and at the Meeting of the delegates of the Front in Petrograd on April 24 thru May 4, 1917; supported the ideas of "revolutionary defense", backed up the Interim Government's course.
During the April crisis, participated in the negotiations about a new agreement with Interim Government. Suggested that Social Revolutionaries enter the Government and Mensheviks stay out, "in order to protect it in front of the masses". On May 1, 1917, fearing, according to his words, "collective resignation of the bourgeois cabinet" and aggravation of the political crisis, participated in the negotiations on creating a coalition government. At the all-Russian conference of Menshevik and united organizations in Petrograd on May 7 thru 12, 1917, was reelected to the Organization Committee of RSDRP.
Opening the First all-Russian Congress of the Councils of Workers and Soldiers' Deputies (June 3 thru 24, 1917), stated that the political moment that the country was going through, was "rather critical". Saw a solution in the "uniting of all revolutionary forces" (quoted by: First Congress of the Soviets, vol. 1, p. 4); was elected the chairman of the congress; on June 9, initiated the discussion regarding a demonstration that the Bolsheviks were planning to conduct on June 10 saying, "...the day of tomorrow can be fatal" (quoted by: ibid, p.375); was elected a member of all-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Councils of Workers and Soldiers' Deputies "out of party lists"; headed its Presidium.
In July 1917, condemned the Bolsheviks as instigators and conspirators, stated the complete support of the Soviets for the Interim Government, but denounced accusations of espionage for Germany brought against Lenin and RSDRP(b).
From August 12 thru 15, 1917, participated in the State Meeting in Moscow. On August 14, on behalf of all-Russian Central Executive Committee, announced the Declaration of revolutionary democracy, "On behalf of its Soviets of the workers', peasants', and soldiers' deputies, the revolutionary democracy did not strive for the power, did not search monopolies for itself. It was ready to support any power capable of guarding the interests of the country and the revolution" (quoted by: State Meeting, p.78). The Declaration stipulated that the socialists did not defend the interests of separate classes or groups, but rather the general interests of Russia and the revolution; it appealed to organizing the country's defense, but did not contain a regular for the soviets peace formula "without annexations and contributions"; it contained measures for recovery of the economy and the social life and stated the inadmissibility of solving the national issue "on the spur of the moment, by setting apart Russia's territories from Russia" (quoted by: ibid, p. 79-80). At the meeting of Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies on August 18, was one of the four deputies to vote against the abolition of the death penalty in the navy. At the Mensheviks' Reunification Meeting (Petrograd, August 18 thru 26, 1917), was elected to the Central Committee of the united RSDRP on the "defenders" nominee list. During L.G. Kornilov's attack, addressed to Kronstadt residents for assistance, who were charged with the defense of the all-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies and Interim Government; was a member of the Committee for the people's struggle with the counter-revolution.
In the fall 1917, joined the newly created Interim Council of Russian Republic (Pre-Parliament), but soon left for Georgia for a vacation and never returned to Russia again. Was elected a member of the Constituent Assembly from Transcaucasian constituency. Denounced the October Revolution of 1917 vigorously. In February 1918, headed the Transcaucasian Sejm, which became Transcaucasian Federative Democratic Republic's supreme body since April. After the formation of Georgian Democratic Republic, was a chairman of the Constituent Assembly of Georgia. Headed the Georgian delegation at the negotiations with the western countries of recognizing de jure Georgia's independence. In 1919, was assigned to Versailles peace conference. According to N.N. Zhordania's testimonial, Chkheidze received written instructions from him: if all delegation's proposals were accepted, Georgia was to be ready to accept Great Britain's or France's protectorate on the condition of sovereignty in the interior affairs; "this addition was only known to Chkheidze and me and was under my responsibility" (quoted by: Zhordania N. My Life. Stanford, 1968, p. 92). Upon his return to Georgia, Chkheidze participated in elaborating the country's constitution.
In 1921, after Soviet Russia's Red Army entered Georgia, N.S. Chkheidze emigrated to Europe. Lived in Paris, participated in the activities of the Georgian social democrat emigration. On June 7, 1926, committed a suicide in the city of Levil, in Paris area. Left a death note saying, "Watch the movement and guide..."