Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov
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Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov (Russian: Влади́мир Дми́триевич Набо́ков; 21 July 1870 – 28 March 1922) was a Russian criminologist, journalist, and progressive statesman during the last years of the Russian Empire. He was the father of Russian-American author Vladimir Nabokov. He was murdered in Berlin on 28 March 1922 by far-right Russian monarchists.
Nabokov was born in Tsarskoe Selo, into a wealthy and aristocratic family. His father Dmitry Nabokov (1827–1904) was a Justice Minister in the reign of Alexander II from 1878 to 1885, and his mother Maria von Korff (1842–1926) was a Baroness from a prominent Baltic German family in Courland.
Nabokov married Elena Ivanovna Rukavishnikova in 1897 with whom he had five children. Their eldest son was the writer and lepidopterist Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, who portrayed his father in his memoirs (Speak, Memory, 1967) and included in his novel Pale Fire a scene of misdirected assassination evoking the death of his father. Other children were Sergey (1900–1945), Kirill (1911–1964), Elena (1906–2000) and Olga (1903–1978), who was a childhood friend of novelist Ayn Rand.
From 1904 until 1917 he was the editor of the liberal newspaper Rech ("The Speech").
A prominent member of the Constitutional Democratic Party (CD, the "Kadets"), Nabokov was elected to Russia's parliament, the First Duma. He was regarded as the most outspoken defender of Jewish rights in the Russian Empire, continuing in a family tradition that had been led by his own father, Dmitry Nabokov, who as Justice Minister under Tsar Alexander II successfully opposed anti-semitic measures being passed in the government.
In 1917, after the February Revolution, Nabokov helped draft the document for Grand Duke Michael's refusal of the throne. Nabokov was made secretary to the Provisional Government; however, he was forced to leave St. Petersburg in December 1917 after the Provisional Government was overthrown by the Bolshevik revolution. In 1918 he served as minister of justice in the Crimean Regional Government, where he and his family had taken refuge. In 1919 the Nabokovs fled to England and later settled in Berlin.
From 1920 until his death, Nabokov was the editor of the Russian émigré newspaper Rul ("The Rudder"), which continued to advocate a pro-Western democratic government in Russia.
Nabokov attended a CD political conference in Berlin on 28 March 1922. During the proceedings, a far-right Russian activist from Vasily Biskupsky's circle approached the stage singing the Tsarist national anthem and then opened fire on liberal politician and publisher Pavel Milyukov. In response, Nabokov jumped off the stage and wrestled the gunman down to the floor. Another assassin then shot Nabokov twice, killing him instantly.
One of the assassins was Pyotr Shabelsky-Bork, who was subsequently convicted of the murder and sentenced to a 14-year prison term, but who served only a fraction. The judicial system of Germany was more lenient with right-wing criminals than with their leftist equivalents. Upon his release, Shabelsky-Bork befriended Alfred Rosenberg, the notorious Nazi ideologue.
Nabokov's demise was in keeping with his career as a democrat: he died in Berlin defending Milyukov, one of his own political rivals. After the shooting, the assassins realised that they had failed even to wound their intended target. Nabokov is buried at the Berlin-Tegel Russian Orthodox Cemetery.
Brian Boyd: Vladimir Nabokov: The Russian Years