Grigoriy Ordzhonikidze
Grigol Ordzhonikidze Orjonikidze, , generally known as Sergo Ordzhonikidze (Серго́); – February 18, 1937) was a Georgian
The Georgians are an ethnic group that have originated in Georgia, where they constitute a majority of the population. Large Georgian communities are also present throughout Russia, European Union, United States, and South America....

The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

, later member of the CPSU Politburo and close friend to Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

. Ordzhonikidze, Stalin and Anastas Mikoyan
Anastas Mikoyan
Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan was an Armenian Old Bolshevik and Soviet statesman during the rules of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, and Leonid Brezhnev....

 comprised what was jokingly referred to as the "Caucasian Clique."

Early life

Born in Kharagauli
kharagauli is an administrative center of Kharagauli district in Georgia. It is situated on both banks of Chkherimela river in a narrow and deep gorge, 280-400m above the sea level....

, western Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 to a Georgian noble family, Ordzhonikidze became involved in radical politics in 1903, and after graduating as a doctor from the Mikhailov Hospital Medical School in Tiflis, was arrested for arms smuggling. He was released and went to Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, but in 1907 returned to Russia and settled in Baku
Baku , sometimes spelled as Baki or Bakou, is the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. It is located on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, which projects into the Caspian Sea. The city consists of two principal...

 where he worked closely with Stalin and others. Sergo is now believed by historians to have been involved in the 1907 assassination of Prince Ilia Chavchavadze, a prominent Georgian poet and intellectual. Sergo also participated in the Persian Constitutional Revolution on a mission by the Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 party and stayed in Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

 for a while around 1909.

He was arrested for being a member of the Social Democratic Party
Russian Social Democratic Labour Party
The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party , also known as Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party or Russian Social Democratic Party, was a revolutionary socialist Russian political party formed in 1898 in Minsk to unite the various revolutionary organizations into one party...

 and deported to Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

, but managed to escape three years later. He returned with Stalin to St. Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 in April 1912, but again was apprehended and sentenced to three years hard labour. For a time he served on the collegium of the new Cheka
Cheka was the first of a succession of Soviet state security organizations. It was created by a decree issued on December 20, 1917, by Vladimir Lenin and subsequently led by aristocrat-turned-communist Felix Dzerzhinsky...

. During the course of the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

, he became a commissar
Commissar is the English transliteration of an official title used in Russia from the time of Peter the Great.The title was used during the Provisional Government for regional heads of administration, but it is mostly associated with a number of Cheka and military functions in Bolshevik and Soviet...

 for the Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 and took part in fighting against the White Army of Anton Denikin in the Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

. Appointed chairman of the Caucasian Bureau of the Russian Communist Party in 1920, he was instrumental in the incorporation of the Caucasus in the nascent Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. After Azerbaijan and Armenia had been taken over by the Bolsheviks, in 1921 Ordzhonikidze led a Bolshevik invasion
Red Army invasion of Georgia
The Red Army invasion of Georgia also known as the Soviet–Georgian War or the Soviet invasion of Georgia was a military campaign by the Soviet Russian Red Army against the Democratic Republic of Georgia aimed at overthrowing the Social-Democratic government and installing the Bolshevik regime...

 of the Democratic Republic of Georgia
Democratic Republic of Georgia
The Democratic Republic of Georgia , 1918–1921, was the first modern establishment of a Republic of Georgia.The DRG was created after the collapse of the Russian Empire that began with the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 and established the Socialist Republic of Georgia. Later, he fought to reduce Georgian autonomy from the Russian SFSR and hence became a key figure involved in the Georgian Affair
Georgian Affair
The Georgian Affair of 1922 was a political conflict within the Soviet leadership about the way in which social and political transformation was to be achieved in the Georgian SSR...

 of 1922. During the same period, he also aided Mirza Koochak Khan in establishing the short-lived Socialist Republic of Gilan
Persian Socialist Soviet Republic
The Persian Socialist Soviet Republic was a short-lived Soviet republic in the Iranian province of Gilan that lasted from June 1920 until September 1921...

 in northern Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...


Politburo member

Ordzhonikidze was appointed to the Politburo in 1926, and became Commissar of the Soviet Heavy Industry in 1932. According to historian Roy Medvedev
Roy Medvedev
Roy Aleksandrovich Medvedev |Georgia]]) is a Russian historian renowned as the author of the dissident history of Stalinism, Let History Judge , first published in English in 1972...

, Ordjonikidze opposed the purges of Stalin, Lazar Kaganovich
Lazar Kaganovich
Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich was a Soviet politician and administrator and one of the main associates of Joseph Stalin.-Early life:Kaganovich was born in 1893 to Jewish parents in the village of Kabany, Radomyshl uyezd, Kiev Governorate, Russian Empire...

 and Nikolai Yezhov
Nikolai Yezhov
Nikolai Ivanovich Yezhov or Ezhov was a senior figure in the NKVD under Joseph Stalin during the period of the Great Purge. His reign is sometimes known as the "Yezhovshchina" , "the Yezhov era", a term that began to be used during the de-Stalinization campaign of the 1950s...

 and the arrest of his deputy in the Commissariat of Heavy Industry, Georgy Pyatakov
Georgy Pyatakov
Georgy Leonidovich Pyatakov was a Bolshevik revolutionary leader during the Russian Revolution, and member of the Left Opposition.Pyatakov was born August 6, 1890 in the settlement of the Mariinsky sugar factory which was owned by his father, an ethnic Russian, Leonid Timofeyevich Pyatakov.He...

. Historian Oleg Khlevniuk has found no evidence in Soviet archives that suggests Ordzhonikidze disagreed with the Moscow Trials
Moscow Trials
The Moscow Trials were a series of show trials conducted in the Soviet Union and orchestrated by Joseph Stalin during the Great Purge of the 1930s. The victims included most of the surviving Old Bolsheviks, as well as the leadership of the Soviet secret police...

, including the arrest, conviction, and execution of Pyatakov. According to them, Ordzhonikidze questioned Pyatakov personally, and was convinced of his guilt. He drafted a speech for the February-March 1937 Central Committee Plenum that left no doubt of his determination to uproot saboteurs like Pyatakov from his commissariat . There allegedly exists a copy of the speech, which was delivered to the Plenum by Molotov after Ordzhonikidze's death. In general, Khlevniuk maintains that Ordzhonikidze may have been a soft Stalinist but a Stalinist nonetheless.


Ordzhonikidze died during the night of February 17-18 1937. His death was ruled the result of a heart attack. On February 19, Pravda
Pravda was a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union and an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party between 1912 and 1991....

published a report signed by three doctors and by the People's Commissar for Health Grigory Kaminsky
Grigory Kaminsky
Grigory Naumovich Kaminsky , was the 2nd First Secretary of Azerbaijan Communist Party, Soviet politician and one of founders of health care system in Soviet Union.-Early life:...

, affirming that Ordzhonikidze "died of paralysis of the heart."

The story that Ordzhonikidze committed suicide was first mentioned by Nikita Khrushchev during his Secret Speech
On the Personality Cult and its Consequences
On the Personality Cult and its Consequences was a report, critical of Joseph Stalin, made to the Twentieth Party Congress on February 25, 1956 by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. It is more commonly known as the Secret Speech or the Khrushchev Report...

 of February 25, 1956. Khrushchev made this claim again in his speech to the 22nd Party Congress in 1961. In his memoirs Khrushchev gives two contradictory sources for this story: Anastas Mikoyan
Anastas Mikoyan
Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan was an Armenian Old Bolshevik and Soviet statesman during the rules of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, and Leonid Brezhnev....

, who supposedly told him after the war, and Georgy Malenkov
Georgy Malenkov
Georgy Maximilianovich Malenkov was a Soviet politician, Communist Party leader and close collaborator of Joseph Stalin. After Stalin's death, he became Premier of the Soviet Union and was in 1953 briefly considered the most powerful Soviet politician before being overshadowed by Nikita...

, who supposedly told Khrushchev about this during the war itself.

Roy Medvedev reports a rumor that Ordzhonikidze's files and papers were later confiscated by Lavrentiy Beria
Lavrentiy Beria
Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria was a Georgian Soviet politician and state security administrator, chief of the Soviet security and secret police apparatus under Joseph Stalin during World War II, and Deputy Premier in the postwar years ....

, and that Ordzhonikidze's bodyguards and personal secretary, along with his brothers Ivan and Konstantin, were also arrested. In fact his brothers were arrested, but at different times and apparently unrelated to Ordzhonikidze's death. The possibility remains that his death had been ordered by Stalin.


Several towns and districts in the USSR were renamed Ordzhonikidze after him, such as Vladikavkaz
-Notable structures:In Vladikavkaz, there is a guyed TV mast, tall, built in 1961, which has six crossbars with gangways in two levels running from the mast structure to the guys.-Twin towns/sister cities:...

 in Russia and Vahdat
Vahdat is a city in western Tajikistan, just 10 km east of Dushanbe. In the last century the city has been renamed several times. Former Kafirnahan...

 in Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

. Sokol plant, the main producer of MiG fighters, was named in honour of Sergo Ordzhonikidze, as well as the Moscow Aviation Institute
Moscow Aviation Institute
Moscow Aviation Institute is one of several major engineering higher education establishments in Moscow .Although the school is currently offering a wide range of majors and research...

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