Kalinovskii, Konstantin Semenovich

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kalinovskii, Konstantin Semenovich


(Kastus’ Kalinovskii). Born Jan. 21 (Feb. 2), 1838, in Mostovliany, Grodno District; died Mar. 10 (22), 1864, in Vilnius. Revolutionary democrat, one of the leaders of the 1863–64 uprising in Lithuania and Byelorussia. The son of a noble (shliakhtich) who owned a small amount of land.

Kalinovskii studied law at St. Petersburg University from 1856 to 1860. During his student years, Kalinovskii and his older brother Viktor participated in student organizations of zemliaki (persons from the same district) and revolutionary circles, and they became close associates of S. Sierakowski, J. Dąbrowski, and W. Wróblewski. Kalinovskii’s world view was shaped under the influence of the growing peasant movement and the ideas of N. G. Chernyshevskii and A. I. Herzen, as well as the best traditions of the Polish national liberation movement. Returning to his homeland in Byelorussia, Kalinovskii, together with Wróblewski and others, organized revolutionary circles in 1861 in Grodno and Vilnius provinces. These circles became part of a united, secret Polish organization. In 1862, Kalinovskii became the head of the Committee of Movement, which directed this organization and which later was known as the Lithuanian Provincial Committee. In 1862–63, Kalinovskii directed the publication and distribution of Muzhitskaia pravda, the first illegal revolutionary newspaper in the Byelorussian language. The newspaper criticized the conditions of the abolition of serfdom, struggled against the tsarist illusions of the peasantry, and called on the peasants to secure “not the freedom which the tsar could wish to grant us, but the freedom which we ourselves, muzhiks, will make among ourselves.” The newspaper propagated the idea of a revolutionary alliance of peoples oppressed by tsarism. Kalinovskii strongly supported the national-liberation struggle of the Polish people. His motto was, “The Polish cause is our cause, the cause of freedom.”

Leading the 1863 uprising in Byelorussia, Kalinovskii came out for the broad involvement of the peasants in the struggle and for the expansion of the uprising east and north of the borders of the Severo-Zapadnyi Krai. Driven deep into the underground by the brutal government reprisals, Kalinovskii led the insurgents of Lithuania and Byelorussia until his arrest at the end of January 1864. He continued the struggle even after being sentenced to death, addressing the people in Letters From Under the Gallows. He was executed in Vilnius.


Smirnov, A. F. Kastus’ Kalinovskii. Minsk, 1963.


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