Kalinin, Mikhail

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kalinin, Mikhail Ivanovich


Born Nov. 7 (19), 1875, in the village of Verkhniaia Troitsa, in present-day Kashin Raion, Kalinin Oblast; died June 3, 1946, in Moscow. A prominent figure in the Communist Party and Soviet government. Hero of Socialist Labor (1944). Became a member of the Communist Party in 1898. The son of a peasant.

Kalinin graduated from the village school in 1889. In 1893 he began to work as an apprentice lathe operator at the Staryi Arsenal Munitions Works in St. Petersburg, and in 1896 he became a lathe operator at the Putilov Works. There he organized a Marxist study circle, which joined Lenin’s League of Struggle for the Liberation of the Working Class. In July 1899, Kalinin was arrested in the case involving the League of Struggle, and after ten months’ imprisonment he was deported in April 1900 to Tbilisi, where he worked as a lathe operator in the Central Railroad Shop and joined the central group of the Tbilisi Social Democratic organization. He helped organize the strike of August 1900 and was arrested and imprisoned in the Metekhi Castle. In March 1901 he was deported to Revel (now Tallinn), where he was employed in the Vol’ta Works as a lathe operator and later in a railroad shop. In 1902 he organized a Marxist circle and an underground printing press and was an Iskra agent. In January 1903 he was arrested and confined in the Kresty Prison in St. Petersburg. In July 1903 he was once again deported to Revel, where he was arrested in early 1904 and deported to the town of Povenets in Olonets Province.

In 1905, Kalinin went illegally to St. Petersburg, where he carried out assignments from the Bolshevik center. Granted amnesty in October 1905, he came out into the open and functioned legally as the head of the Bolshevik organization at the Putilov Works; he was elected a member of the Narva raion committee of the RSDLP. He helped to organize the fighting druzhiny and was a member of the raion battle staff. In December 1905 he was one of the organizers of the strike by workers at the Putilov Works in solidarity with the insurrection of the Moscow workers. In 1906 he worked at a pipe factory and was elected to the St. Petersburg committee of the RSDLP. As a delegate to the Fourth Congress of the RSDLP in 1906, he supported the Leninist line. From 1908 to 1910 he worked in Moscow as a fitter at the Lubianka power plant and the Miusy streetcar station, carrying on active party work. In September 1910 he was arrested and deported in November to his home village. In 1911 and 1912, while working as a patternmaker at a cannon foundry in St. Petersburg, he was a member of the St. Petersburg committee of the RSDLP and led the party organization in the Vyborg raion.

At the Sixth (Prague) Conference of the RSDLP in 1912, Kalinin was elected a candidate member of the Central Committee of the RSDLP and placed on the Russian Bureau of the Central Committee. He participated in the founding of the newspaper Pravda and assisted the work of the Bolshevik faction in the Fourth State Duma. In the summer of 1912 he led a strike by the workers in the cannon foundry. From 1913 to 1915 he worked at the Aivaz plant, continuing his party activities. In January 1916 he was arrested in the case involving the Petrograd Committee of the RSDLP, and after a year of imprisonment he was sentenced to exile in Eastern Siberia but managed to go into hiding and continue his party work illegally in Petrograd. He took an active part in the February Revolution of 1917 and was a member of the first legal Petrograd Committee of the Bolsheviks and the representative of this committee on the bureau of the Central Committee of the RSDLP (Bolshevik). He was a member of the editorial staff of Pravda. In September 1917 he was elected councillor (glasnyi) of the Petrograd municipal duma and chairman of the raion board of the Lesnovskii Raion, in whose offices was held the Oct. 16, 1917, session of the Central Committee of the RSDLP(B) that adopted the resolution for armed uprising.

After the victory of the October Revolution, Kalinin was elected to the Petrograd municipal duma, which chose him to be mayor (gorodskoi golova). In 1918 he worked as commissar of municipal services in Petrograd. In March 1919, at the Eighth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik), he was elected to the party’s Central Committee. After the death of Ia. M. Sverdlov he was elected chairman of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee. On Mar. 30, 1919, in recommending Kalinin for this post, V. I. Lenin said: “Here we have a comrade who has been engaged in party work for nearly 20 years. He is a peasant from Tver’ Province, who has close connections with peasant farming…. Petrograd workers have witnessed his ability to approach wide sections of the working masses” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 38, p. 224). During the Civil War of 1918–20, Kalinin carried on important agitation and propaganda work among the workers, peasants, and Red Army soldiers. He was in charge of the October Revolution propaganda train, which made 12 trips through the central regions of Russia, the Ukraine, the Northern Caucasus, Siberia, and virtually all the fronts of the Civil War. In December 1922, after the formation of the USSR, Kalinin was elected chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR. After the Fourteenth Congress of the ACP (Bolshevik) in 1925 he was placed on the Politburo of the party’s Central Committee. From January 1938 to March 1946 he was chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and after that continued to be a member of the Presidium.

Kalinin had an enormous range of experience and knew the life of the people intimately. He was instrumental in strengthening the alliance of the workers and peasants and in building the Soviet state. The “all-Union peasant elder” was the term of endearment that the Soviet working masses had for him. Kalinin wrote many works on various questions of socialist construction, communist education, and literature and art, in all of which he propounded the ideas of Marxism-Leninism. His speeches and articles devoted special attention to the tasks of developing a socialist world view among the young and of training youth in the spirit of communist morality. In 1931 the city of Tver’ was renamed in honor of Kalinin, and many raions and settlements also bear his name. His awards include two Orders of Lenin and two Orders of the Red Banner, as well as many medals. He is buried on Red Square. A memorial museum for Kalinin was opened in Moscow in 1946.


Izbr. proizv., vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1960–62.
Voprosy sovetskogo stroiteVstva: Stafi i rechi (1919–1946). Moscow, 1958.
O molodezhi, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1940.
O kommunisticheskom vospitanii i voinskom dolge: Sb. statei i rechei. Moscow, 1958.
O vospitanii i obuchenii: Izbr. stat’i i rechi. Moscow, 1957.
O nekotorykh voprosakh agitatsii ipropagandy. Moscow, 1958. (A collection.)
O profsoiuzakh: 1919–1945. [Moscow] 1958.
Ob iskusstve i literature: Stat’i, rechi, besedy. Moscow, 1957.


Lenin, V. I. “O kandidature M. I. Kalinina na post predsedatelia VTsIK: Rech’ na XII zasedanii VTsIK 30 marta 1919 g.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 38.
Zemlianskii, D. S. M. I. Kalinin kak propagandist i agitator. Moscow, 1960.
Tolmachev, A. Kalinin. [Moscow] 1963.


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