The Mezhraiontsy (Russian: межрайонцы), usually translated as the "Interdistrictites," were members of a small independent faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP), which existed between 1913 and 1917. Although the formal name of this organization was Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (Internationalists), the names "Mezhraionka" for the organization and "Mezhraiontsy" for its participants were commonly used to indicate the group's intermediate ideological position between the rival Menshevik and Bolshevik wings of the divided RSDLP.
Russian social democrats had been split into numerous factions along political and ethnic lines since at least 1903 when the original divisions between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks arose. After the defeat of the first Russian Revolution in 1905, both the Bolshevik and the Menshevik factions split into smaller factions. In January 1912, the dominant Bolshevik faction led by Vladimir Lenin held a meeting in Prague, expelled Mensheviks from the party. In response, the Mensheviks, Leon Trotsky's followers, the Jewish Bund and other ethnic social democratic groups held a meeting in Vienna in August 1912 in which they called Lenin's action illegal and formed their own leadership of the RSDRP, the so-called August Bloc. To distinguish between competing RSDRPs, the Bolshevik one was called RSDRP(b) and the Menshevik one RSDRP(m).
As a result of these developments, by late 1912 there were 2 separate social democratic organizations in St. Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire. The Bolsheviks had their "St. Petersburg Committee of the RSDRP (bolsheviks)" and the "August Bloc" supporters had their "Initiative Group of the RSDRP". Some St. Petersburg social democrats were unhappy with this split and created an alternative organization that would, they hoped, eventually unite all fragments of revolutionary social democracy in Russia. The only exception that they made was for those Mensheviks who were concentrating on legal forms of oppositionist activity at the expense of revolutionary activities.
Formation of the Mezhraionka
The Mezhraiontsy group was founded in November 1913 by three Bolsheviks (Konstantin Yurenev, A. M. Novosyolov and E. M. Adamovich) and one Menshevik, N. M. Yegorov. Yurenev was the informal leader of the organization until May 1917 except for one year between February 1915 and February 1916, which he spent in jail on charges of subversive activities.
The members of the Inter-District Organisation occupied a centrist position between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.
Growth during the war
At the outbreak of World War I in July-August 1914 (and subsequent change of St. Petersburg's name to "Petrograd"), the faction lines within the RSDRP were drastically redrawn over the issue of support for the war. Those who supported the war were called "Defensists" and those who were opposed to it were called "Defeatists". Most members of the Mezhraionka, as well as Lenin and some Mensheviks, adopted an anti-war position and by late 1915 the organization had 60-80 members. Due to growing popular disillusionment with the war, by the time the February Revolution of 1917 broke out, the organization had 400-500 members.
Mezhraionka members were active in Petrograd during the revolution, seizing a printing plant and publishing the first leaflet calling for an armed uprising on February 27 O.S.. After the formation of the Petrograd Soviet later that night, the Mezhraionka was given one seat in its Presidium versus two seats allocated to each nationwide socialist party like the Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionary Party.
Although the Mezhraionka's original goal was to unite all Bolsheviks and Mensheviks in one party, the divisions over Russia's participation in the war proved too deep. On April 12, 1917, the Mezhraionka refused to participate in a Menshevik-sponsored unification conference because it would be dominated by the Defensist wing of the Mensheviks. From that point on, their positions began to converge with the Bolshevik positions, which were becoming more radical after Lenin's return from abroad.
Merge with the Bolsheviks
With the return of many anti-war social democratic emigres from European exile in April-June 1917, the Mezhraionka was a natural place for them to join. A number of prominent social democrats like Leon Trotsky, Adolf Joffe, Anatoly Lunacharsky, Moisei Uritsky, David Riazanov, V. Volodarsky, Lev Karakhan, Dmitry Manuilsky, and Sergey Ezhov (Tsederbaum) joined it at that time. At the elections to the Petrograd district councils in May-June 1917, the IDO and Bolsheviks formed a bloc.
The Mezhraionka (membership about 4,000) merged with the Bolsheviks at the 6th Congress of the RSDLP in late July-early August 1917 in which both the groups formed a party that was formally independent of the Mensheviks. Many of its former members played an important role during the October Revolution later in the year and the subsequent Russian Civil War.
The IDO published a journal of its own, Vperyod. One number was put out illegally in 1915, and publication was resumed in 1917, when it came out legally from June to August as the organ of the St. Petersburg Inter-District Committee of the United Social-Democrats (Internationalists). Eight issues were put out. After the Sixth Congress of the Party the editorial board was changed, and No. 9 of the journal appeared as the organ of the Central Committee of the RSDLP(b). Publication was discontinued in September 1917 by decision of the Central Committee.
- Mezhraionka and Mezhraiontsy are derived from the Russian "mezh-" (meaning "inter-" or "between'") + "raion" (meaning "district" or "region").
- Miller, Viktor Iosifovich."Konstantin Konstantinovich Yurenev," In Alʹbert Pavlovich Nenarokov (Ed.), Revvoensovet Respubliki: 6 sentiabria 1918 g.-28 avgusta 1923 g. Moscow: Politizdat, 1991.
- Yurenev, Konstantin K. "Mezhraioka (1911-1917 gg.)" in Proletarskaya Revolyutsiya, 1924, No. 1 and 2.