12th Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks)

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Meeting hall during the last day of the Congress

The 12th Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) was held during 17–25 April 1923 in Moscow. The congress elected the 12th Central Committee. It was attended by 408 delegates with deciding votes and 417 with consultative votes, representing 386,000 party members.[1]

This was the last congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) during Vladimir Lenin's leadership, however Lenin was unable to attend due to illness.[1]

Much of this Congress was taken up with Joseph Stalin's struggle against the Georgian National Communists. Stalin dominated the Congress with Grigoriy Ordzhonikidze and Mamia Orakhelashvili, moving against the Old Bolsheviks Budu Mdivani and Filipp Makharadze.

Stalin accused the latter of:

  • "Violation of party discipline" - contact Lenin directly not through party channels
  • "Disobeying decisions of the Central Committee of the RCP(b)"
  • "Demanding special economic concessions for Georgia"
  • "local chauvinism" and "imperialism": - they were accused of oppressing smaller nations such as the Ossetians and Abkhazians
  • "The desire to obtain privileged positions for Georgians"

Ordzhonikidze went further:

as well as "leftism" and "adventurism"


Mirsäyet Soltanğäliev attended this Congress, but was subject to attack immediately afterwards in the Tartar newspaper Eshche and arrested during May 1923. He was roundly condemned by Stalin at the Fourth Conference of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (b) with the Workers of the National Republics of the Regions, held 9 - 12 June 1923.

At this Congress the RCP redefined the problems of nationalism identifying local chauvinism as the main problem rather than Great Russian chauvinism. The congress was the beginning of the so-called policy of Korenizatsiya. The main idea was to grow national cadres for every nationality so that the party line could be pursued everywhere by representatives of the local nationality and the national proletariat could be raised against its own exploiters.[2]


  1. ^ a b Twelfth Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik); The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979)
  2. ^ Timo Vihavainen: Nationalism and Internationalism. How did the Bolsheviks Cope with National Sentiments? in Chulos & Piirainen 2000, p. 80