Varlam Cherkezishvili

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Varlam Cherkezishvili.jpg

Prince Varlam Cherkezishvili (Georgian: ვარლამ ჩერქეზიშვილი) (15 September 1846 in Tiflis – 18 August 1925 in London) was a Georgian politician and journalist, involved in anarchist communist movement, and later in the Georgian national liberation movement. He was also known as Warlaam Tcherkesoff or Varlam Cherkezov in Russian manner.

He was born into the family of the Georgian Prince Aslan Cherkezishvili in Tbilisi, Georgia (then part of Imperial Russia). He was sent to be educated in Russia in the 1850s. He joined the Russian socialist movement at its very beginnings, and was arrested twice between 1866 and 1869. Following a trial in the summer of 1871, he was imprisoned at the Peter and Paul Fortress, and then exiled in Tomsk in 1874. Two years later, he escaped to Western Europe, where he worked with the press in the circles of Russian emigration and fellow anarchists. He was also prominent in his criticism of Marxist ideas. His main work, Pages of Socialist History, was translated into nine languages. Actively involved in the Georgian national liberation movement, he helped to found the Georgian Socialist-Federalist Party. He wrote for The Times a series of articles in 1877 to bring to the attention of an English speaking audience the situation in Georgia.

He returned to Tiflis, Georgia, with the break-up of the Russian Revolution of 1905, but its failure and the repression in Georgia compelled Cherkezishvili to return to Europe (1907). With Kropotkin, Rudolf Rocker and Alexander Schapiro he participated in the foundation of the Anarchist Red Cross. Back in London, he rallied Kropotkin's position in defense of the Allies in World War I, and signed in 1916 the so-called Manifesto of the Sixteen. With the October Revolution of 1917 he returned to Petrograd, and when Georgia obtained its independence in May 1918, he obtained a seat in the Constituent Assembly of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. The Soviet occupation forced him into exile in March 1921. He returned to London where he would continue to fight again for Georgia’s independence, until his death in 1925.

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