Bolshevik Fraction of the Fourth State Duma

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bolshevik Fraction of the Fourth State Duma


(also called the Russian Social Democratic Labor fraction), the group of Bolshevik deputies elected in September and October 1912 from the workers’ curia to the Fourth State Duma. The fraction was formally set up on Oct. 27,1913. It consisted of the following people: A. E. Badaev, from St. Petersburg Province; G. I. Petrovskii, from Ekaterinoslav Province; M. K. Muranov, from Kharkov Province; N. R. Shagov, from Kostroma Province; F. N. Samoilov, from Vladimir Province; and R. V. Malinovskii, from Moscow Province. (In 1914 the last left the country and resigned from the Duma; in 1917 he was exposed as a provocateur.) The Mensheviks succeeded in having seven of their candidates elected—three from Transcaucasia, and one each from the Oblast Voiska Donskogo (Oblast of the Don Cossack Host) and Irkutsk, Tavry, and Ufa provinces.

Initially the Social Democratic fraction of the Fourth Duma was organized as a united fraction of both tendencies, as it had been in the Second and Third Dumas. However, from the very first a sharp struggle broke out within the fraction, reflecting the differences in principle between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks on key questions of the revolution. Taking advantage of their formal majority, the Mensheviks tried to put forward liquidationist slogans. In 1913, the “February” Conference of the Central Committee of the RSDLP and Party Functionaries condemned these actions as direct violations of the party program. However, until October 1913 the differences within the fraction did not reach the point of organizational rupture. The “August” 1913 Conference of the Central Committee of the RSDLP and Party Functionaries stated that the narrowly factional activity of the Mensheviks, who had violated the elementary rights of the six workers’ deputies by taking advantage of an accidental majority, threatened the unity of the fraction. The conference also made it clear that only full equality between the two sections of the Duma fraction would make it possible for a united fraction to continue to exist.

Guiding themselves by the Central Committee decision, the six Bolshevik deputies presented a declaration on Oct. 16, 1913, which had been written by Lenin and which demanded equality for the two sections of the fraction. On October 25 the Mensheviks responded by refusing. As a result of this the Bolsheviks organized themselves as an independent Duma fraction with the name proposed by Lenin—the Russian Social Democratic Labor fraction. Together with Pravda, the Bolshevik fraction served as a basic legal center for the party on which the Bolsheviks based themselves in conducting revolutionary work among the masses. Even before the split the Social Democratic fraction confronted the government with several demands for investigations: into the shooting of workers in the Lena River strikes in 1912, the persecution of trade unions, and the banning of meetings and elections in the workers’ insurance societies, and other things. The practice of demanding investigations became even more frequent after the Bolsheviks established a separate fraction. In the first month and a half alone, during which there were 24 sessions of the Duma, the Bolsheviks introduced 13 demands for investigations: into police provocation at the time of the arrest of the Social Democratic fraction in the Second Duma, fatal accidents in the mine fields, insurance society meetings, and so forth. In their speeches in the Duma the Bolsheviks exposed the antidemocratic policies of tsarism, pointing to specific examples. Thus, Shagov and Samoilov spoke on the lockouts at the textile plants, and Petrovskii and Badaev spoke on the arrests of workers who had been elected as authorized representatives to the insurance society treasuries, on the workers’ press, and so forth. The Bolshevik deputies frequently spoke in defense of the rights of peasants. The texts of two speeches—one by Shagov on the government’s agrarian policies and one by Petrovskii on the Ministry of Agriculture’s budget proposals—were drafted by Lenin. The Bolsheviks also spoke on the national question. The text of Petrovskii’s speech on this theme was written by Lenin, who also prepared two draft bills on the national question. The Bill for the Abolition of All Disabilities of the Jews and of All Other Restrictions on the Grounds of Origin or Nationality was tabled by the Duma, and the Bill on the Equality of Nations and the Safeguarding of the Rights of National Minorities could not be introduced. Besides its legal activity, the Bolshevik fraction carried on important illegal work, maintaining communication among local party organizations. This work gained especially great importance at the beginning of World War I, when the Bolshevik organizations and their legal centers were subjected to an all-out assault on the part of the government. The Bolshevik Duma fraction was taking part in a conference of Bolsheviks at Ozerki from Nov. 2 to Nov. 4, 1914. All the participants in the conference, including the Bolshevik Duma deputies, were arrested. The trial of the Bolshevik fraction took place from Feb. 10 to Feb. 13, 1915. All five deputies were found guilty of participating in an organization aiming at the overthrow of tsarism and were sentenced to exile in Eastern Siberia (Turukhansk Krai), from whence they returned after the February Revolution in 1917.


Lenin, V. I. “Deputat peterburgskikh rabochikh.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 22.
Lenin, V. I. “K voprosu o nekotorykh vystupleniiakh rabochikh deputatov.” Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “K voprosu o rabochikh deputatakh v Dume i ikh deklaratsii.” Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “Rabochii klass i ego ’parlamentskoe’ predstavitel’stvo.” Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “Soglashenie ili raskol?” Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 23.
Lenin, V. I. “Dumskaia ’semerka’.” Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 24.
Lenin, V. I. “Materialy k voprosu o bor’be vnutri s.-d. dumskoi fraktsii.” Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “Zakonoproekt o natsional’nom ravnopravii.” Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 25.
Lenin, V. I. “Otklik rabochikh na obrazovanie Rossiiskoi sotsialdemokraticheskoi rabochei fraktsii v Gosudarstvennoi dume.” Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “Chto dokazal sud nad RSDR fraktsiei?” Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 26.
KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s’’ezdov, konferentsii i plenumov TsK, 7th ed., part 1. Moscow, 1954.
Gosudarstvennaia Duma v Rossii: Sb. dokumentov i materialov. Moscow, 1957.
Badaev, A. Bol’sheviki v Gosudarstvennoi dume: Vospominaniia, 8th ed. Moscow, 1954.
Samoilov, F. N. Po sledam minuvshego, [3rd. ed.] Moscow, 1954.
Istoriia KPSS, vol. 2. Moscow, 1966. Pages 394–400, 408–09, 500–01.


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