Andrei Zheliabov

Zheliabov, Andrei Ivanovich


Born Aug. 17 (29), 1851, in the village of Nikolaevka, Feodosiia District, in present-day Crimean Oblast; died Apr. 3 (15), 1881, in St. Petersburg. Russian revolutionary and Narodnik (Populist). Member of the executive committee of People’s Will.

Zheliabov was the son of household serfs. He graduated from the Kerch’Gymnasium in 1869 and entered the law school of Novorossiisk University in Odessa. He was expelled from the university and exiled from Odessa for participating in student disturbances in October 1871. In 1873 he lived in Gorodishche, in Kiev Province, and maintained ties with revolutionary circles in Kiev and with members of the Ukrainian Hromada. Upon his return to Odessa he joined the F. V. Volkhovskii circle (the Odessa group of the Chaikovskii circle) in 1873–74 and conducted propaganda among workers and the intelligentsia. Arrested in late 1874, Zheliabov was freed on bail and continued his illegal activity. A defendant at the Trial of the 193, he was acquitted in 1878 and moved to Podoliia Province to conduct propaganda among the peasants. He gradually came to recognize the need for political struggle and terror.

Zheliabov took part in the Lipetsk congress of political terrorists in June 1879. He was admitted into Land and Freedom at the Voronezh congress and became one of the main defenders of a policy of terror. After Land and Freedom broke up, Zheliabov took a leading part in founding workers’ , students’, and military organizations of People’s Will and in the People’s Will newspaper Rabochaia Gaieta (autumn 1880). He was one of the authors of several important programmatic documents of the party. Zheliabov was one of the organizers of the assassination of Alexander II on Mar. 1, 1881. He was arrested on the eve of the assassination on February 27 but demanded that his case be included in the case of March 1. He delivered a policy speech at the trial. He was executed on Apr. 3, 1881, along with the other defendants found guilty of the assassination. Lenin placed Zheliabov in the same rank with such great revolutionaries as Robespierre and Garibaldi.


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