Bestuzhev-Riumin, Mikhail

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bestuzhev-Riumin, Mikhail Pavlovich


Born 1803; died July 13 (25), 1826, in St. Petersburg. Decembrist and second lieutenant.

Beginning in 1818, Bestuzhev-Riumin served in the Kavalergardskii, Semenovskii (1820), and Poltavskii infantry regiments. From 1823 he was one of the most active members of the Southern Society. Bestuzhev-Riumin and S. I. Murav’ev-Apostol headed the Vasil’kov council of the Southern Society. He participated in a number of important conferences of the Society’s leaders. Bestuzhev-Riumin carried on revolutionary propaganda among the officers and soldiers and recruited a number of new members to the society. He maintained contact between the members and the councils of the Southern Society. In 1824 he successfully conducted negotiations on joint action with Polish revolutionaries. In 1825 he helped to bring about the merger of the Society of United Slavs with the Southern Society, and he directed the newly organized Slavic Council.

Bestuzhev-Riumin favored a republic that would be created as a result of an uprising of soldiers under the leadership of revolutionary officers but without the participation of the people. He and S. Murav’ev-Apostol worked out several variants of plans for an uprising (the Bobruisk and Belotser-kovsk plans). Unlike the plan worked out by P. I. Pestel, Bestuzhev-Riumin’s plan would have had the uprising begin in the south, not in St. Petersburg, and without a lengthy preparation. To achieve the complete liquidation of the autocracy, Bestuzhev-Riumin insisted on the physical annihilation of the entire tsarist family.

During the insurrection of the Chernigov Regiment (Dec. 29, 1825, through Jan. 3, 1826), Bestuzhev-Riumin was Murav’ev-Apstol’s closest collaborator. Together they drew up the revolutionary Proclamation and the Catechism, which were read to the insurgent companies and circulated among the peasants in the Kiev region. In his testimony during the investigation Bestuzhev-Riumin gave important information on the programmatic and tactical policies of the Southern Society. Bestuzhev-Riumin was hanged on July 13 (25), 1826.


Vosstanie dekabristov: Materialy i dokumenty, vol. 9. Moscow, 1950.
Nechkina, M. V. Dvizhenie dekabristov, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1955.
Porokh, I. V. “Vosstanie Chernigovskogo polka.” In Ocherki iz istorii dvizheniia dekabristov. Moscow, 1954.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.