Vladimir Purishkevich

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Vladimir Purishkevich

Vladimir Mitrofanovich Purishkevich (Russian: Влади́мир Митрофа́нович Пуришке́вич, IPA: [pʊrʲɪˈʂkʲevʲɪt͡ɕ]; 24 August [O.S. 12 August] 1870, Kishinev – 1 February 1920, Novorossiysk, Russia) was a far-right politician in Imperial Russia, noted for his monarchist, ultra-nationalist, antisemitic and anticommunist views. Because of his restless behaviour, he was regarded as a loose cannon. At the end of 1916, he participated in the killing of Grigori Rasputin.

Early career[edit]

Born as the son of a poor nobleman in Bessarabia, now Moldova, Purishkevich graduated from Novorossiysk University with a degree in classical philology.[1] Around 1900, he moved to Saint Petersburg. He became a member of the Russian Assembly group and was appointed under Vyacheslav von Plehve.

Vladimir Purishkevich

During the Russian Revolution of 1905, he helped organise the Black Hundreds as a militia to aid the police in the fight against left-wing extremists and to restore order. After the October Manifesto, he was one of the founders of the Union of the Russian People and its deputy chairman.[2] Following a disagreement with Alexander Dubrovin on the influence of the State Duma, he founded his own organisation, the Union of the Archangel Michael, in 1908.

The popular Purishkevich, described by Vladimir Kokovtsov as a charming, unstable man who could not stay a single minute in one place,[3] was elected as a deputy of the second, third and fourth Imperial Dumas for the Bessarabian and Kursk province. He gained fame for his flamboyant speeches and scandalous behaviour such as speaking on the 1st of May with a red carnation in his fly. He was a hardline supporter of sacerdotal autocracy, and of Russification to create unity. Purishkevich's hostility to the Jews was caused by his perception of them to be the "vanguard of the revolutionary movement". He wanted them to be deported to Kolyma. He believed that the "Kadets, socialists, the intelligentsia, the press and councils of university professors" were all under the control of Jews.[4]

During the war, Purishkevich became critical of the performance of the government and the role of Alexandra and Rasputin but not of the Tsar.

Criticism of Rasputin[edit]

On 3 November 1916, Purishkevich went to Mogilev and talked with Tsar Nicolas II on Rasputin.[5] On 19 November, Purishkevich gave a speech in the Duma and coined the phrase "ministerial leapfrog" to describe the seemingly continuous government reshuffles.[6]

He compared Rasputin with the False Dmitri. The monarchy was becoming discredited:[7][8]

The Tsar's ministers who have been turned into marionettes, marionettes whose threads have been taken firmly in hand by Rasputin and the Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna—the evil genius of Russia and the Tsarina... who has remained a German on the Russian throne and alien to the country and its people.[9]

Rasputin and the Imperial couple. Anonymous caricature in 1916

Purishkevich stated that Rasputin's influence over the Tsarina had made him a threat to the empire: "an obscure moujik shall govern Russia no longer!"[10] "While Rasputin is alive, we cannot win".[11]

Killing of Rasputin[edit]

Prince Felix Yusupov was impressed by the speech.[12] He visited Purishkevich, who quickly agreed to participate in the killing of Rasputin.[13] Also, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich joined the conspiracy. Purishkevich talked to Samuel Hoare, the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service in Petrograd.[14]

A wealthy person, Purishkevich organised a medical aid that went up and down to the Eastern Front to deliver wounded soldiers to the hospitals in Tsarskoye Selo.

On the evening of 16 December 1916, the conspirators gathered in the Moika Palace and eventually killed Rasputin.

A curious policeman on duty on the other side of the Moika had heard the shots, rang at the door, and was sent away. Half an hour later, another policeman arrived, and Purishkevich invited him into the palace. Purishkevich told him that he had shot Rasputin and asked him to keep it quiet for the sake of the Tsar.

Medical aid train in 1916

They had planned to burn Rasputin's possessions. Sukhotin put on Rasputin's fur coat, rubber boots, and gloves. He left with Dmitri and Dr. Lazovert in Purishkevich's car,[15] which suggests that Rasputin had left the palace alive.[16] Because Purishkevich's wife refused to burn the fur coat and the boots in her small fireplace in the ambulance train, the conspirators went back to the palace with the larger items.

Yusupov and Dmitri were placed under house arrest in the Sergei Palace. The Tsarina had refused to meet them but said that they could explain to her what had happened in a letter. Purishkevich assisted them and left the city to the Romanian front at ten in the evening. Because of his popularity, Purishkevich was neither punished nor banned.[17]

Revolutionary Russia[edit]

Moika Embankment with the former hotel "Russia"

During the February Revolution in 1917, many right-wingers were arrested but Purishkevich was tolerated by the government and so was "virtually the only former national Black Hundred leader to maintain an active political life in Russia after the Tsar's downfall".[18] However, the revolution meant that Purishkevich initially had to moderate his politics. He called for the abolition of the Soviets, who were, in turn, calling for the abolition of the Duma.

In August 1917, he wanted a military dictatorship; he was arrested over the Kornilov Affair but was released. Following the failure of the putsch, he collaborated with Fyodor Viktorovich Vinberg in forming an underground monarchist organisation.[19] During the October Revolution, he organized the "Committee for the Motherland's Salvation". He was joined by a number of officers, military cadets, and others.

At the time, Purishkevich was living in the Hotel Russia at Moika 60. He had a false passport under the surname "Yevreinov". On 18 November 1917, Purishkevich was arrested by the Red Guards for his participation in a counterrevolutionary conspiracy after the discovery of a letter sent by him to General Aleksei Maksimovich Kaledin in which he urged the Cossack leader to come and restore order in Petrograd.[20] He became the first person to be tried in the Smolny Institute by the first Revolutionary Tribunal.[20] He was condemned to eleven months of 'public work' and four years of imprisonment with obligatory community service and won the admiration of his fellow prisoners in the Fortress of St Peter and St Paul by his courageous bearing.[21] He was given an amnesty on May 1 after the mediation of Felix Dzerzhinsky and Nikolay Krestinsky, as he refrained from any political activity.[20] In jail, he had written a poem describing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk as 'The Trotsky Peace'.

White Russia[edit]

Union of the Archangel Michael emblem

After his release, he moved to White Army controlled Southern Russia. There, during the Russian Civil War he published the monarchist journal Blagovest and returned openly to his traditional political stance of support for the monarchy, a unified Russia, and opposition to the Jews. In some of the towns occupied by the Volunteer Army, he gave lectures in which he denounced the British policy towards Russia. In 1918, he formed a new political party, the People's State Party, and called for an "open fight against Jewry";[22] the party collapsed after his death.

Vladimir Purishkevich died from typhus that raged Novorossiysk in 1920, just before the final evacuation of Denikin's Army.[21]


In 1925, Soviet writer Liubosh would describe Purishkevich as the 'first' fascist.[23][24] He was subsequently referred to as a "leader of early Russian fascism" by Semyon Reznik,[25] who also claimed that Purishkevich participated in numerous pogroms and was a significant proponent of the blood libel against Jews.[26]


  1. ^ Ronald C. Moe, Prelude to the Revolution: The Murder of Rasputin, p. 232. (Aventine Press, 2011).
  2. ^ "William Korey: Russian Antisemitism, Pamyat, and the Demonology of Zionism". Archived from the original on August 12, 2004.
  3. ^ Out of My Past: Memoirs of Count Kokovtsov, p. 170.
  4. ^ Langer, Jack Fighting The Future: the doomed anti-revolutionary crusade of Vladimir Purishkevich Revolutionary Russia (journal) Vol. 9, No. 1 June 2006 P42
  5. ^ Pim van der Meiden (1991) Raspoetin en de val van het Tsarenrijk, p. 71.
  6. ^ Rabinowitch, Alexander Prelude to Revolution: The Petrograd Bolsheviks and the July 1917 Uprising Indiana University Press (1991) p22
  7. ^ O. Figes (1997) A People's Tragedy: A History of the Russian Revolution, p. 278. [1]
  8. ^ The Cambridge History of Russia: Volume 2, Imperial Russia, 1689-1917, p. 668 by Maureen Perrie, Dominic Lieven, Ronald Grigor Suny [2]
  9. ^ E. Radzinsky, The Rasputin File, p. 434.
  10. ^ The Russian Provisional Government, 1917: Documents, Volume 1, p. 17 by Robert Paul Browder, Aleksandr Fyodorovich Kerensky [3]
  11. ^ "Tatyana Mironova. Grigori Rasputin: Belied Life – Belied Death". Archived from the original on November 10, 2013.
  12. ^ "Letters of Felix and Zenaida Yussupov - Blog & Alexander Palace Time Machine". www.alexanderpalace.org.
  13. ^ Fuhrmann, Joseph T. (September 24, 2012). Rasputin: The Untold Story. Wiley. ISBN 9781118226933 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ Fuhrmann, Joseph T. (September 24, 2012). Rasputin: The Untold Story. Wiley. ISBN 9781118226933 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ "Murder of Grigori Rasputin". omolenko.com.
  16. ^ J.T. Fuhrmann, p. 211.
  17. ^ Fuhrmann, Joseph T. (September 24, 2012). Rasputin: The Untold Story. Wiley. ISBN 9781118226933 – via Google Books.
  18. ^ Langer, Jack Fighting The Future: the doomed anti-revolutionary crusade of Vladimir Purishkevich Revolutionary Russia (journal) Vol 19, No.1 June 2006 P45
  19. ^ Kellogg, Michael The Russian Roots of Nazism: White Émigrés and the Making of National Socialism, 1917-1945 Cambridge University Press (2005) p44
  20. ^ a b c Andrew Kalpaschnikoff, A Prisoner of Trotsky's, 1920
  21. ^ a b Irene Zohrab, "The Liberals among the forces of the Revolution: from the unpublished papers of Harold W. Williams". New Zealand Slavonic Journal, 20, (1986), 63-64.
  22. ^ Kellogg, Michael The Russian Roots of Nazism: White Émigrés and the Making of National Socialism, 1917-1945 Cambridge University Press (2005) pp102-3
  23. ^ Liubosh, S. B., Russkii fashist V. M. Purishkevich, Leningrad: Byloe Publishing House, 1925
  24. ^ Shenfield, Stephen Russian Fascism: Traditions, Tendencies and Movements Routledge, 2015, p. 31
  25. ^ "krotov.info". www.krotov.info.
  26. ^ "Семен РЕЗНИК: ВМЕСТЕ ИЛИ ВРОЗЬ? [WIN]". www.vestnik.com.


  • Vladimir Pourichkevitch (1924) Comment j'ai tué Raspoutine. Pages de Journal. J. Povolozky & Cie. Paris. Translated and published as The murder of Rasputin (1985) Ardis.
  • Stern, Amory (10 May 2019). "Vladimir M. Purishkevich and the Black Hundred". Arktos. Retrieved 6 September 2019.