Nikolay Chkheidze

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Not to be confused with the footballer Nikoloz Chkheidze.
Nikolay Chkheidze, Russian, Transcaucasian and Georgian parliamentary president

Nikoloz Chkheidze (Georgian: ნიკოლოზ (კარლო) ჩხეიძე; Russian: Никола́й (Карло) Семёнович Чхеи́дзе; transliterated Russian: Nikolay Semyonovich Chkheidze.[1] commonly known as Karlo Chkheidze or Nicolas Cheidze (1864 – June 13, 1926) was a Georgian Social Democrat politician who helped to introduce Marxism to Georgia in the 1890s, and played a prominent role in the Russian Revolution (February to October, 1917) as president of Executive Committee of Soviet of Petrograd, Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic; as president of the Sejm (February to May, 1918) and the Democratic Republic of Georgia; and as president of the Constituent Assembly (May 1918 to March 1921).

Life[edit]

Georgia[edit]

Chkheidze was born into an aristocratic family in Poti, Shorapansky uyezd, Kutaisi Governorate (in the present-day Imereti province of Georgia). In 1892, he became one of the founders of the first Georgian Social-Democratic group, Mesame Dasi (translated literally, the "Third Team") with Egnate Ninoshvili,[2] Silibistro Jibladze, Noe Zhordania[3] and his brother Kalenike Chkheidze.

Russia[edit]

From 1907 to 1916, he was a member of Tiflis Gubernyia in the Russian State Duma and gained popularity as a spokesman for the Menshevik faction within the Russian Social Democratic Party.

In 1917, the year of the Russian Revolution, Chkheidze became Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, but failed in his attempt to prevent the rise of a more radical Bolshevism. Although Chkheidze refused a post in the Russian Provisional Government, he supported its policies and advocated the idea of the "revolutionary oboronchestvo (defencism)". He voted however to continue the war against the German Empire, to honor the promise of Russian statehood.

Transcaucasia[edit]

When the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia in October 1917, Chkheidze was on vacation visiting his native Georgia. Remaining in Georgia, he became leader of the Transcaucasian Sejm on February 23, 1918, in Tiflis. However, Armenia, Azerbaidjan, and Georgia decided to break the federation some months later.

Democratic Republic of Georgia[edit]

On May 26, 1918, he was elected chairman of the National Council of Georgia in Tiflis, and later elected chairman of Georgian Provisional Assembly. Some weeks later, when the Ottoman Empire's pressure was strong and the government of Georgia called for the army of the German Empire, Chkheidze had to accept the decision.

During the year 1919, he chaired the Georgian delegation to the Versailles Conference and tried to gain the Entente's support for the Democratic Republic of Georgia. He also proposed to Georges Clémenceau and to David Loyd George a French or British protectorate on Georgian foreign affairs and defense, but was unsuccessful.

On February 1919, he was elected chairman of the Constituent Assembly of Georgia of the newly proclaimed Democratic Republic of Georgia.[4]

Chkheidze was one of the authors of the constitution. The Democratic Republic of Georgia was a parliamentary republic. The president of the government was chosen by the Parliament for an one-year term and couldn't be elected more than twice.

France[edit]

Like others, he was forced into exile when the Bolsheviks took control of the country in March 1921. He went to France[5] after some time in Constantinople.

During 1923 and early 1924, inside of Georgian Social Democratic Party in exile, he was against the preparation of a national uprising in Georgia as other leaders (Irakly Tsereteli,[6] Datiko Sharashidze,[7] Kale Kavtaradze, ...). This minority group called itself Oppozitsia. In their mind the Red Army and Cheka were too strong, and the unarmed Georgian people too weak. After August Uprising of 1924, more than 10 000 Georgians were executed, and between 50 and 100 000 Georgians were sent to Siberia or to Central Asia.

He committed suicide on June 13, 1926, in the exile residence of the Democratic Republic of Georgia, in Leuville-sur-Orge in France.

Family and personal life[edit]

After 1921, his wife, Alexandra Taganova, and his daughter, Veronique,[8] lived and died in France.

Karlo Chkheidze was a famous orator in Georgian language and in Russian language, as able to speak to unhappy crowd in Petrograd as to Russian Duma's deputies or to Caucasian Assembly's deputies. He was well known in West Europe, especially in Great Britain and in France. When the tzar Nicolas II's police, Okrana, wanted to arrest him, French president, Raymond Poincaré, was visiting Russia: Okrana stopped the operation.

He was a marxist as well as an aristocrat politician, thinking that the only way was a parliamentary republic, without a president of the republic, with a government elected by a parliament for a short term, with a parliament elected by all citizens of the country, men, women and foreigners. He kept close to Britain Labour Party and, unlike other Georgian Social Democratic politicians, he distanced himself from the German Social Democratic Party. He was also an internationalist politician, thinking that the only way to achieve a democratic republic in Caucasian countries (Armenia, Azerbaidjan, Georgia but also in the Northern Caucasian countries) was for Russia to have become a democratic republic.[9]

References[edit]

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