Blagoev Group

Blagoev Group


one of the first social democratic groups to initiate the dissemination of Marxism in Russia. It was founded by D. Blagoev and others in St. Petersburg in December 1883. It numbered as many as 30 active members, primarily students of the University of St. Petersburg and the Technological Institute. Representatives of revolutionary circles of students and military youth united around the Blagoev Group. In 1884 it took the name of the Party of Russian Social Democrats, but after ties were established with the Osvobozhdenie truda (Emancipation of Labor) group it became known as the St. Petersburg Group of the Party of Russian Social Democrats.

The Blagoev Group organized about 15 workers’ circles (up to ten people in each) at a number of metallurgical and textile enterprises beyond the Neva and Moscow Gates, on Vasil’evskii Island, the Vyborg district, and in the Narva section. The most active propaganda among workers was conducted by D. Blagoev, N. P. Andreev, P. P. Shat’ko, A. A. Gerasimov, P. P. Arshaulov, P. A. Latyshev, V. E. Blagoslavov, V. A. Kugushev, and V. G. Kharitonov. General educational and illegal literature was distributed. In the group’s first draft program (1884), a number of essential theoretical questions were resolved from standpoints close to those of Marxism (the acknowledgment of the inevitability of capitalist development for Russia and of the formation and growth of the working class; the necessity of winning democratic freedoms as a preliminary condition for further struggle toward socialism). At the same time the draft suffered from certain grave shortcomings; it still had vestiges of populism, as well as Lassallean views. When the draft was sent to Geneva, it evoked a critique from the Osvobozhdenie truda group, and G. V. Plekhanov was charged with the task of working out a common draft for the two groups. Subsequently, the second draft program was evaluated highly by V. I. Lenin (see Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 4, pp. 216–17). Under the influence of Plekhanov and of Marxist literature, the members of the Blagoev group succeeded to a considerable degree in overcoming their mistaken views, and they became more consistent social democrats.

The Blagoev Group issued proclamations, established libraries for workers’ circles and distributed the works of K. Marx, F. Engels, and G. V. Plekhanov in Moscow, Kiev, Odessa, Samara, Saratov, Tula, Kremenchug, and Taganrog; they organized the publication in 1885 of the first illegal social-democratic newspaper in Russia, Rabochii (two issues were published). Throughout its activity the group had three underground presses. After Blagoev was arrested and expelled from Russia in March 1885, the group was headed by Kharitonov and after his arrest (January 1886), by Andreev. The Bagoev Group was dealt the final blow in March 1887.


Blagoev, D. Moi vospominaniia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1928.
Istoriia KPSS, vol. 1. Moscow, 1964. Pages 142–46.
Ovsiannikova, S. [A.]. Gruppa Blagoeva. Moscow, 1959.
Polevoi, Iu. Z. Zarozhdenie marksizma v Rossii: 1883–94 gg. Moscow, 1959.
Kostin, A. F. Ot narodnichestva k marksizmu. Moscow, 1967.