Viktor Chernov

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Viktor Chernov
Viktor Chernov
Chairman of the Russian Constituent Assembly
In office
November 25, 1917 – January 19, 1918
Personal details
Viktor Mikhailovich Chernov

(1873-12-07)December 7, 1873
Novouzensk, Russian Empire
DiedApril 15, 1952(1952-04-15) (aged 78)
New York, United States
Political partyRussian Social Democratic Labour Party (Mensheviks)
Socialist Revolutionary Party
OccupationRevolutionary, political activist, minister, writer

Viktor Mikhailovich Chernov (Russian: Ви́ктор Миха́йлович Черно́в; December 7, 1873 – April 15, 1952) was a Russian revolutionary and one of the founders of the Russian Socialist-Revolutionary Party. He was the primary party theoretician or the 'brain' of the party, and was more analyst than political leader. Following the February Revolution of 1917, Chernov was Minister for Agriculture in the Russian Provisional Government and advocating immediate land reform.[1] Later on, he was Chairman of the Russian Constituent Assembly.


Early years[edit]

Viktor Chernov was born in Novouzensk, a town southeast of Saratov in Samara guberniya. He was the son of a former serf peasant who had risen to become a low-level functionary in the local civil service.[2]

Chernov attended gymnasium in Saratov, a hotbed of radicalism, where he joined a populist discussion circle in which he studied the works of Nikolay Dobrolyubov and Nikolay Mikhaylovsky. His radical proclivities attracted the attention of the local police and Chernov transferred to school in Iurev for his final year of study.[2]

Chernov enrolled in the Law department of Moscow University, where he once again joined a radical discussion circle, defending populist views against Marxists.[2] He was arrested for his political activities in the spring of 1894 and spent 9 months in Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg.[2] Following his incarceration, Chernov was sentenced to a period of administrative exile in central Russia.[2]

Political career[edit]

By the end of the 1880s, he was involved in revolutionary activity. He attended the law faculty of Moscow University and in the early 1890s joined the Narodniks; in 1894, he joined Mark Natanson's "People's Right" (Narodnoe pravo) group, an attempt to unite all the socialist movements in Russia, and with other members was arrested, jailed, and exiled. After spending some time organizing the peasants around Tambov, he went abroad to Zurich in 1899. He joined the Socialist-Revolutionary Party upon its founding in 1901 and became the editor of its newspaper Revolutionary Russia. He returned to Russia after the Revolution of 1905; after boycotting the elections for the First Duma, he won election to the Second Duma and became a leader of the SR faction.

In 1907, he published Philosophical and Sociological Studies in which he espoused the viewpoint of Richard Avenarius. As such, he was one of the Russian Machists criticised by Lenin in Materialism and Empirio-criticism (1909).[3]

Under Alexander Kerensky's provisional government in 1917, Chernov was the Minister for Agriculture. On 17 March the Provisional Government issued its first appeal to the peasant population. It stated that the land question must be solved not by force but by legislation to be passed by the people's representatives. In summer the Stolypin land-tenure laws were suspended. Chernov resigned shortly after the departure of Prince Lvov. Then on 9 August the elections were postponed until 12 November. Chernov continued his campaign for immediate agrarian reform. The Union of Landowners saw in Chernov its principal enemy.[4] Until January 1918 he was Chairman of the Russian Constituent Assembly, which was dissolved by the Bolsheviks shortly after it began meeting. He became a member of an anti-Bolshevik government leading the more moderate Social Revolutionaries in Samara, before fleeing to Europe and then the United States.

Chernov died in New York City in 1952.

See also[edit]


  • "Viktor Mikhaylovich Chernov". Britannica Online. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
  • "Chernov, Viktor". The Columbia Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on November 29, 2005. Retrieved October 2, 2005.


  1. ^ Lazar Volin (1970) A century of Russian agriculture. From Alexander II to Khrushchev, p. 123. Harvard University Press
  2. ^ a b c d e Maureen Perrie, "Viktor Mikhailovich Chernov," in George Jackson with Robert Devlin (eds.), Dictionary of the Russian Revolution. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1989; pp. 116-119.
  3. ^ Lenin, Vladimir (1909). Materialism and Empirio-Criticism. Moscow: Zveno Publishers.
  4. ^ Lazar Volin (1970) A century of Russian agriculture. From Alexander II to Khrushchev, p. 121, 124, 127. Harvard University Press

External links[edit]