(also Vikentii Semenovich Mitskevich-Kapsukas). Born Mar. 26 (Apr. 7), 1880, in the village of Būdviečiai, now in Vilkaviškis Raion; died Feb. 17, 1935, in Moscow. One of the organizers and leaders of the Lithuanian Communist Party; figure in the international communist movement; the first Lithuanian Marxist literary critic.
Mickevičius-Kapsukas was the son of a peasant. He studied at the University of Bern from 1902 to 1904 and joined the Lithuanian Social Democrats in 1903. A participant in the Revolution of 1905–07 in Lithuania, he was in prison and exile from 1907. He established contact with V. I. Lenin in Kraków in 1914 and then emigrated to Great Britain and the USA and edited Lithuanian Social Democratic newspapers. In Petrograd in June 1917, Mickevičius-Kapsukas joined the RSDLP(B). He became the editor of the first Bolshevik Lithuanian newspaper, Tiesa (Truth), and was a delegate to the Sixth Congress of the RSDLP(B) and to the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets. After the October Revolution of 1917, Mickevidius-Kapsukas served as commissar of the Soviet government on Lithuanian affairs and was a member of the Central Bureau of the Lithuanian Sections under the Central Committee of the RSDLP(B) and then of of the RCP(B). He was a member of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party. Chairman of the first Lithuanian Soviet government and then of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Lithuanian-Byelorussian SSR in 1918–19, he engaged in underground work in Vilnius in 1920–21. From late 1921, Mickevičius-Kapsukas lived in Moscow and engaged in party work. Working on the Executive Committee of the Comintern from 1923 to 1935, he was a candidate member of the Executive Committee of the Comintern from 1924 and a member from 1928. A delegate to the Eleventh, Twelfth, and Fourteenth through Seventeenth Party Congresses, he was elected a candidate member of the Central Committee of the RCP(B) at the Eighth Congress (1919) and was a delegate to the Second through Sixth Congresses of the Comintern.
Mickevičius-Kapsukas was the author of works on history, philosophy, and literature. In his very first articles (1901), he combined literary criticism with an analysis of the social and political phenomena of the time. His Marxist aesthetic views were definitively formed between 1913 and 1916. His most important work prior to October was the Biography of Jonas Biliunas (1917, part of which was published in 1914). He was one of the first Lithuanian literary critics to reveal the bourgeois nature of decadent art (in such articles as “Lithuanian Fiction in 1916”). Mickevičius-Kapsukas investigated trends in Lithuanian literature of the 1920’s and 1930’s and explained theoretical problems, such as party spirit, the national character of literature, and the ideological and aesthetic role of literature. His book In Tsarist Prisons (1929) is composed of diaries he kept while in prison from 1907 to 1913. He also wrote memoirs, essays, and short stories.
WORKSRaštai, vols. 1–10. Vilnius, 1960–71.
REFERENCESSniečkus, A. V. Mickevičius-Kapsukas, 2nd ed. Vilnius, 1960.
Maliukiavichius, R. I. “Revoliutsioner leninskoi zakalki.” Voprosy istorii KPSS, 1970, no. 4.
R. IA. SHARMAITIS