Nikolay Vasilyevich Ustryalov

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Nikolay Ustryalov
Born Nikolay Vasilyevich Ustryalov
(1890-11-25)November 25, 1890
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Died September 14, 1937(1937-09-14) (aged 46)
Moscow, Russian SFSR
Cause of death Executed by shooting
Nationality Russian
Occupation University lecturer
Employer Moscow University
Known for Writer, politician
Notable work Smena vekh (1921)
Political party Constitutional Democratic Party, Smenovekhovtsy
Relatives Nikolay Gerasimovich Ustryalov (great uncle)

Nikolay Vasilyevich Ustryalov (Russian: Никола́й Васи́льевич Устря́лов; November 25, 1890 – September 14, 1937) was a leading pioneer of Russian National Bolshevism. His grandfather's brother was Nikolay Gerasimovich Ustryalov.

Early years[edit]

Ustryalov was born in Saint Petersburg. Teaching at Moscow University, he was initially a member of the Constitutional Democratic Party.[1] Ustryalov belonged to a tendency of Slavophile intellectuals, although from early on he departed from his contemporaries by being less enthusiastic about the Orthodox Church than the likes of Sergei Bulgakov and Peter Berngardovich Struve.[2] Starting out as a supporter of the "Whites" in the Russian Civil War Ustrialov changed his views towards a fusion of nationalism with Bolshevism, with the new communism presented as the best hope for re-establishing Russia as an international power.[3]


Amongst Ustrialov's written works were contributions to "The Problems of Great Russia" and "Morning of Russia", two pre-Bolshevik journals in which he called for unity amongst the Slavs and rejoiced in the overthrow of Tsarist rule. In exile he founded the journal "Okno" (Window) with other dissidents and in 1921 published his seminal collection of articles "Smena vekh" ("Change of Landmarks"), in which he expounded his theories of nationalism and that gave rise to a weekly magazine, Smena vekh. The main ideologue for the Smenovekhovtsy as his followers became known, Ustryalov used written works such as In the Struggle for Russia (1920) and Under the Sign of Revolution (1925) to argue against the views of Struve.[1] Claiming to be inspired by figures such as General Aleksei Brusilov and Vladimir Purishkevich, both of whom had said they would serve the Bolsheviks in the interests of Russia, Ustryalov called for a reconciliation with the Soviet Union as it was only the Bolsheviks who could guarantee Russia's security.[4] With the introduction of the New Economic Policy Ustryalov saw a process of "normalisation" beginning in the Soviet Union and argued that increasingly the USSR was "like a radish" in that it was red on the outside but white on the inside.[4] Ustryalov did not consider himself a communist, rejecting the ideology as a foreign import, but began to use the term "National Bolshevik" after discovering it in the writings of German dissident Ernst Niekisch.[3] Despite his enthusiasm Ustryalov was dismissed as an enemy by Vladimir Lenin[5] and lived in exile in Harbin, Manchuria.[6] Here he worked as an advisor at the China Far East Railway, (KVZhD).[citation needed]

Return to the Soviet Union[edit]

With attitudes towards National Bolshevism having thawed under Stalin, Ustryalov was able to return to the Soviet Union in 1935.[7] Ustryalov's past as a White counted against him, however, and he struggled to find employment or even acceptance as a Soviet citizen in Moscow.[8] In 1937, during the Great Purge, he was arrested on charges of espionage and "anti-Soviet agitation" and shot dead.[9]


  1. ^ a b S.V. Utechin, Russian Political Thought: A Concise and Comprehensive History, JM Dent & Sons, 1964, p. 253
  2. ^ George Ginsburgs, Alvin Z. Rubinstein, Russia and America: From Rivalry to Reconciliation, M.E. Sharpe, 1993, p. 45
  3. ^ a b Martin A. Lee, The Beast Reawakens, Warner Books, 1998, p. 316
  4. ^ a b Utechin, Russian Political Thought, p. 254
  5. ^ Vladimir Lenin, On the Intelligentsia, Progress Publishers, 1983, pp. 297-298
  6. ^ Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal, New Myth, New World: From Nietzsche To Stalinism, Penn State Press, 2004, p. 207
  7. ^ Jochen Hellbeck, Revolution on my Mind: Writing a Diary under Stalin, Harvard University Press, 2006, p. 64
  8. ^ Hellbeck, Revolution on my Mind, p. 94
  9. ^ Hiroaki Kuromiya, Stalin, Pearson Education, 2005, p. 138