Lev Karakhan

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Karakhan, Lev Mikhailovich


(pseudonym of L. M. Karakhanian). Born Jan. 20 (Feb. 1), 1889, in Tbilisi; died Sept. 20, 1937. Soviet statesman and diplomat. The son of a lawyer.

Karakhan graduated from a Realschule. He became a member of the RSDLP in 1904. In 1905, Karakhan moved to Harbin, where he was arrested in 1910, his first arrest. From 1910 to 1915 he was a student at the school of law of Petrograd University. From 1912 on, he was involved in the labor union movement; and beginning in 1913 he was one of the mezhraiontsy (interfaction group of the Social Democrats). In 1915 he was arrested and exiled to Tomsk, where he passed examinations at the University of Tomsk. Karakhan carried on active work in underground Social Democratic organizations. On Apr. 2, 1917, he returned to Petrograd. In June 1917, at the first session of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, Karakhan was elected to the Soviets’ All-Russian Central Executive Committee. In August he was elected a member of the Presidium and secretary of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. At the Sixth Congress of the RSDLP (Bolshevik), Karakhan and the mezhraiontsy were accepted into the Bolshevik Party. During the October Revolution of 1917 he was a member of the Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee. From November 1917 to early 1918, Karakhan was the secretary to the Soviet delegation at the negotiations leading to the Brest-Litovsk Treaty of 1918. From March 1918 to 1920 he was deputy people’s commissar for foreign affairs. In 1921 he was plenipotentiary in Poland, and from September 1923 to August 1926 he served as plenipotentiary in China. From 1927 to 1934, Karakhan was deputy people’s commissar for foreign affairs. Then, until May 3, 1937, he was ambassador to Turkey. He was a member of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR.


Kapitsa, M. S. “L. Karakhan (1889–1937).” In Vidnye sovetskie kommunisty—uchastniki kitaiskoi revoliutsii. Moscow, 1970.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.