Iskra Agents

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Iskra Agents


professional revolutionaries who in 1901–1903 rallied around the Leninist newspaper Iskra. These agents of the editorial board were directly associated with the board and were its local representatives and the bearers of its ideas and slogans. The Iskra agents devoted themselves full time to the struggle for the creation of a Russian Marxist party, and were the nucleus of the party. Among the Iskra agents were V. P. Artsybushev, I. V. Babushkin, E. V. Baramzin, O. B. Basovskii, N. E. Bauman, Ts. S. Bobrovskaia (Zelikson), O. A. Varentsova, I. F. Dubrovinskii, R. S. Zemliachka, M. I. Kalinin, V. Z. Ketskhoveli, L. M. Knipovich, P. A. Krasikov, L. B. Krasin, G. M. Krzhizhanovskii, Z. P. Krzhizhanovskaia, F. V. Lengnik, P. N. Lepeshinskii, M. M. Litvinov, V. P. Nogin, G. I. Okulova, O. A. Piatnitskii, I. I. Radchenko, L. N. Radchenko, M. A. Sil’vin, N. A. Skrypnik, I. G. and P. G. Smidovich, E. D. Stasova, A. M. Stopani, D. I. Ul’ianov, M. I. Ul’ianova, A. D. Tsiurupa, and others. V. I. Lenin directed the Iskra agents, and N. K. Krupskaia handled their communications.

At first, the main task of the Iskra agents consisted of organizing an illegal apparatus, which Lenin called the Russian socialist post office, for disseminating the newspaper in Russia, getting the literature across the border, setting up secret storage places for the newspaper, and distributing it across the country. The Iskra agents arranged contacts between the Iskra editorial board and local Social-Democratic committees and groups. They carried on an energetic struggle against the opportunist element known as the Economists, recruited supporters for the newspaper, collected money for it, procured legal and secret addresses for corresponding with the editorial board and shipping the newspaper, supplied the editorial board with materials, and organized three underground presses (in Kishinev, Baku, and Nizhni Novgorod) for the printing of Iskra and other Marxist literature. Gradually, the tasks of the Iskra agents broadened, and their influence and authority increased; they became members of the local committees of the party and rallied them around Iskra. By the fall of 1901, Iskra agents were active in Aleksandrovsk, Astrakhan, Batumi, Vil’nius, Voronezh, Ekaterinburg, Ekaterinoslav, Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Kaunas, Nizhni Novgorod, Odessa, Orekhovo-Zuevo, St. Petersburg, Riga, Rostov-on-Don, Saratov, Smolensk, Tomsk, Ufa, Kharkov, and Kherson.

Lenin proposed the task of creating an all-Russian party organization with the aid of the Iskra newspaper. In January 1902 a conference held in Samara created an all-Russian organization of Iskra supporters and elected a central committee. G. M. Krzhizhanovskii directed the work of the organization, and Z. P. Krzhizhanovskaia and M. I. Ul’ianova were its secretaries. These three made up the Bureau of the Russian Organization of Iskra. The Iskra agents attracted the most active and most conscious part of the Russian proletariat. They were the guiding nucleus of the organizing committee for the convocation of the Second Congress of the RSDLP, and two of them became members of the Party central committee elected by the congress. They constituted a galaxy of heroes of the time when the labor party was being organized. Lenin spoke of them as people who “... worked persistently and steadfastly among the proletarian masses, helping them to develop their consciousness, their organization, and their spontaneous revolutionary activity” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 20, p. 82). The Iskra agents played a prominent role in the creation and development of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.


Lenin, V. I. “I. V. Babushkin.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 20.
Lenin, V. I. “N. E. Bauman.” Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 12.
Istoriia KPSS,vol. 1, 1964, ch. 5, no. 4.


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