Nikolai Sukhanov was born in Moscow. He became involved in a socialist group while he was at high school and joined the Socialist Revolutionary Party soon afterwards. Following his arrest in 1904 for being in possession of illegal literature, he was given a one-year sentence in the Taganka Prison. After his release he took part in the 1905 Revolution, became a contributor to Russkoe Bogatstvo (Russian Wealth) and published several books on agricultural economics. He was rearrested in 1910 and sentenced to exile in Archangel. Following his release in 1913 he returned to St. Petersburg, where he soon became an editor of the radical journals Letopis (Chronicle) and Sovremennik' (Contemporary).
In 1917 Sukhanov was elected to the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet and became an editor of Novaya Zhizn. He had been friendly with Anatoly Lunacharsky, but did not follow the latter when he joined the Bolsheviks.
- "Nikolai Sukhanov". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved September 28, 2012.