January 9, 1887|
Budayka, now part of Cheboksary in Chuvash Republic
|Died||September 5, 1919
West Kazakhstan Province
|Ethnicity||Erzya, Chuvash, Russian|
|Known for||Red Army commander during the Russian Civil War|
|Parents||Ivan Stepanovich Chapaev, Yekaterina Semyonovna Chapaeva|
Vasily Ivanovich Chapayev or Chapaev (Russian: Василий Иванович Чапаев; February 9 [O.S. January 28] 1887 – September 5, 1919) was a celebrated Russian soldier and Red Army commander during the Russian Civil War.
Chapayev was born into a poor peasant family in a village called Budayka, now part of Cheboksary. During World War I, he fought as a non-commissioned officer and was awarded the Cross of St. George three times. In September 1917, he joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks). In December was elected commander of the 138 Infantry Regiment by a vote of the regiment's soldiers. He later commanded the 2nd Nikolaev Division and the 25th Rifle Division.
On September 5, 1919, the divisional headquarters near Lbishchensk (now renamed Chapayev in his honour) were ambushed by White Army forces. According to official sources, Chapayev tried to escape by swimming across the Ural River, but was never again seen alive. His body was never recovered, but the town where he died was later renamed Chapaev, and a museum was established in 1927.
After the Soviet Union had been established, Chapayev was immortalized by Soviet propaganda as a hero of the Russian Civil War in a popular book by Dmitri Furmanov and a 1934 movie. The German actor and singer Ernst Busch also recorded the song Tschapajews Tod, which talks about his death in the Ural. In later years Chapayev became a recurring character in numerous Russian jokes. More recently, he became one of the central characters in the novel Chapayev and Void by modern Russian writer Viktor Pelevin.
Private life 
In 1908 Chapayev became acquainted with Pelageya Metelina, who was 18. Although his father didn't approve of their relations, Vasily Ivanovich married her. They lived together for 6 years, and had three children. Though there was no official divorce, in 1917 Chapayev started living with the widow of his deceased fellow-soldier Petr Kishkertsev. Curiously enough, her name was also Pelageya. Chapayev adopted both of her children.
Chapaev in Russian culture 
In 1923, a Russian writer, Dmitriy Furmanov, who served as a commissar in Chapayev's division wrote a popular novel entitled Chapaev. Later, in 1934, it was made into a film by the Vasilyev brothers. The movie became highly popular in the Soviet Union.
See also 
- Chapayev, the book by Dmitri Furmanov.
- Chapayev, the 1934 movie.
- Chapayev, a board game named after Chapayev.
- Jokes about Chapayev
- Chapayev class cruiser, a group of cruisers built for the Soviet Navy
- Chapayev and Void
- Chapaev Battalion
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Vasily Chapayev|
- Chapaev the novel a detailed summary at SovLit.net
- (Russian) Василий Иванович Чапаев: Biography in Russian.
- (Russian) "ГУЛЯЛ ПО УРАЛУ ЧАПАЕВ-ГЕРОЙ..."