Obukhov Defense of 1901

Obukhov Defense of 1901


a strike by the workers of the Obukhov Factory (now the Bolshevik Factory) in St. Petersburg.

In 1901 approximately 20 Social Democratic circles were conducting revolutionary propaganda at the Obukhov plant. Approximately 100 to 250 workers were involved in these circles, whose leadership included A. Shotman, S. Malyshev, A. Mann, and N. Iunikov. In addition, there were several circles of a Socialist Revolutionary tendency.

On May 1 there was a strike, initially involving 14 enterprises, which began in the Vyborg district of the city and spread to the Nevskaia Zastava. Seizing upon the workers’ indignation at the firing of 26 men out of the 1,000 to 1,500 who had stayed off the job on May 1, leaders of the revolutionary circles at the Obukhov plant called for a strike.

On May 7 several thousand workers assembled outside the Obukhov Factory. They demanded the recognition of May 1 as a holiday, the release of arrested workers and the rehiring of those who had been fired, the introduction of an eight-hour day, and the abolition of unpaid overtime, as well as of night and holiday work. Other demands included the firing of a number of administrators, legal recognition of the institution of shop stewards, and higher wages.

Also on May 7, a clash between workers and police took place. The Obukhov defense, from which the strike as a whole has taken its name, was led by two workers from the factory, A. Gavrilov and A. Ermakov. The attacks by mounted police were beaten back, but soon the resistance of the workers, who were armed only with stones, was broken, and several workers were killed and wounded. Some of the strikers were prosecuted. On May 8 workers in other St. Petersburg factories struck in support of the Obukhov workers.

The Obukhov defense showed the feasibility of taking to the streets against the police and troops, as well as the workers’ growing consciousness, organization, and sense of proletarian solidarity. In a special resolution of Dec. 30, 1901, the International Socialist Conference in Brussels hailed the Obukhov workers and condemned the use of arms against them.


Lenin, V. I. “Novoe poboishche.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 5.
Istoriia rabochikh Leningrada, vol. 1: 1703–February 1917. Leningrad, 1972. Pages 231–47.