Matvey Skobelev
Matvey Ivanovich Skobelev was a Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n Marxist revolutionary and politician.

Trotsky's Disciple in Vienna (1908-1912)

Skobelev (see the NYPL Digital Gallery for his picture) was born in the family of a wealthy 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...

Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

man . He joined the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party in 1903. After the Russian Revolution of 1905
Russian Revolution of 1905
The 1905 Russian Revolution was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire. Some of it was directed against the government, while some was undirected. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies...

 he went abroad to study at a polytechnic in Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

. While in Vienna, he became a friend and supporter of Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky , born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army....

, whose bi-weekly 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....

he helped edit in 1908-1912. Skobelev and another editor, Adolph Joffe
Adolph Joffe
Adolph Abramovich Joffe was a Communist revolutionary, a Bolshevik politician and a Soviet diplomat of Karaim descent.-Revolutionary career:...

, both scions of wealthy families, also helped Trotsky finance the paper.

Duma Deputy (1912-1917)

In the summer of 1912 Skobelev went back to his native 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...

 and was elected to the 4th Duma
A Duma is any of various representative assemblies in modern Russia and Russian history. The State Duma in the Russian Empire and Russian Federation corresponds to the lower house of the parliament. Simply it is a form of Russian governmental institution, that was formed during the reign of the...

 (1912-1917) from the Social Democrats. He soon came under the influence of the head of the Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

 part of the Social Democratic faction in the Duma, Nikolay Chkheidze
Nikolay Chkheidze
Nikoloz Chkheidze was a Georgian Menshevik politician who helped to introduce Marxism to Georgia in the 1890s and played a prominent role in the Russian and Georgian revolutions of 1917 and 1918....

, and supported him against 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....

 emigre leaders (Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

, Grigory Zinoviev
Grigory Zinoviev
Grigory Yevseevich Zinoviev , born Ovsei-Gershon Aronovich Radomyslsky Apfelbaum , was a Bolshevik revolutionary and a Soviet Communist politician...

 and Lev Kamenev
Lev Kamenev
Lev Borisovich Kamenev , born Rozenfeld , was a Bolshevik revolutionary and a prominent Soviet politician. He was briefly head of state of the new republic in 1917, and from 1923-24 the acting Premier in the last year of Lenin's life....

) who, in 1912-1913, were trying to get the Bolshevik deputies to break away from the Menshevik majority and form a separate faction in the Duma. After the faction finally split in mid-1913, Skobelev and Chkheidze went to London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 for the December 1, 1913 meeting of the International Socialist Bureau
International Socialist Bureau
The International Socialist Bureau was the permanent organization of the Second International, established at the Paris congress of 1900. Before this there was no organizational infrastructure to the "Second International" beyond a series of periodical congresses, which weren't even given a...

 to apply pressure on the Bolshevik deputies to preserve socialist unity, ultimately unsuccessfully . At the outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 in 1914, Skobelev and Chkheidze tentatively supported the war effort while remaining critical of the Russian government's internal policies and prosecution of the war.

Revolutionary Leader (1917)

During the February Revolution
February Revolution
The February Revolution of 1917 was the first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917. Centered around the then capital Petrograd in March . Its immediate result was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of the Romanov dynasty, and the end of the Russian Empire...

 of 1917, Skobelev and other Menshevik Duma deputies became leaders of the Petrograd Soviet
Petrograd Soviet
The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies , usually called the Petrograd Soviet , was the soviet in Petrograd , Russia, established in March 1917 after the February Revolution as the representative body of the city's workers.The Petrograd Soviet became important during the Russian...

 when it was formed on February 27, Skobelev at first serving as chairman. On March 7, Skobelev became one of the 5 original members of the Contact Committee of the Petrograd Soviet which coordinated policy decisions with the newly formed Russian Provisional Government
Russian Provisional Government
The Russian Provisional Government was the short-lived administrative body which sought to govern Russia immediately following the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II . On September 14, the State Duma of the Russian Empire was officially dissolved by the newly created Directorate, and the country was...

. On March 12, he was elected deputy chairman of the Petrograd Soviet's Executive Committee with Chkheidze as chairman. When the Mensheviks agreed to join the Provisional Government on May 5, Skobelev became the new government's Minister of Labor. On May 23-24, Skobelev and Irakli Tsereteli
Irakli Tsereteli
Irakli Tsereteli was a Georgian politician, one of the leaders of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party and later the Georgian Mensheviks....

 hammered out a compromise with rebellious Kronstadt
Kronstadt , also spelled Kronshtadt, Cronstadt |crown]]" and Stadt for "city"); is a municipal town in Kronshtadtsky District of the federal city of St. Petersburg, Russia, located on Kotlin Island, west of Saint Petersburg proper near the head of the Gulf of Finland. Population: It is also...

 sailors who, led by Bolsheviks Fedor Raskolnikov
Fedor Raskolnikov
Fyodor Fyodorovich Raskolnikov , real name Fyodor Ilyin , was a Bolshevik, participant in the October Revolution, commander of Red fleets on the Caspian and the Baltic during the Russian Civil War, and later a Soviet diplomat...

 and Semion Roshal, had formed a self-styled autonomous Kronstadt Republic. The compromise avoided a showdown with the Provisional Government .

He was also elected deputy chairman of the All Russian Soviet Executive Committee
All-Russian Central Executive Committee
All-Russian Central Executive Committee , was the highest legislative, administrative, and revising body of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Although the All-Russian Congress of Soviets had supreme authority, in periods between its sessions its powers were passed to VTsIK...

 at the first Soviet Congress in June 1917. In August 1917 he published two government "circulars", which attempted to limit factory workers' rights as follows:
  • August 23 - restated the prerogative of management to hire and fire, and the illegality of "coercion", which rendered the culprits liable to criminal prosecution

  • August 28 - reminded factory inspectors and commissars that factory committees could only meet outside hours, and that workers had a duty to maintain productivity, "in order to satisfy the demands of the country’s defense and the urgent needs of the population"

After resigning his post as Minister of Labor in September 1917, on October 3-5 Skobelev was made the All-Russian Soviet Executive Committee's representative at the upcoming Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 conference of Allied powers
Triple Entente
The Triple Entente was the name given to the alliance among Britain, France and Russia after the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente in 1907....

, a position made defunct 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....

 seizure of power during the October revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 of 1917 .

After the Revolution (1918-1938)

Opposed to the Bolshevik regime, Skobelev moved to his home city of Baku in then-independent Azerbaidjan ca. 1919 . After the Bolshevik victory in 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...

 and re-annexation
Annexation is the de jure incorporation of some territory into another geo-political entity . Usually, it is implied that the territory and population being annexed is the smaller, more peripheral, and weaker of the two merging entities, barring physical size...

 of Azerbaidjan in 1920, he fled to Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. Once the Bolshevik government instituted the NEP
New Economic Policy
The New Economic Policy was an economic policy proposed by Vladimir Lenin, who called it state capitalism. Allowing some private ventures, the NEP allowed small animal businesses or smoke shops, for instance, to reopen for private profit while the state continued to control banks, foreign trade,...

 policy of partial liberalization, Skobelev became reconciled with the new regime and eventually joined the Bolshevik party in 1922 (over Trotsky's objections ). In late 1922, he worked on facilitating trade relations between France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

  and then returned to Russia, where he continued working in the Soviet foreign trade system until his arrest and execution in 1938 during the Great Purge
Great Purge
The Great Purge was a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin from 1936 to 1938...


External links

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