Mikhail Sergeevich Lunin

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lunin, Mikhail Sergeevich


Born Dec. 18 (29), 1787, in St. Petersburg; died Dec. 3 (15), 1845, in Akatui, present-day Borzinskii Raion, Chita Oblast. Russian revolutionary. Decembrist. Son of a nobleman. Educated at home.

Lunin served in a Horse Guards regiment from 1803. He saw action in the battle of Austerlitz (1805), the Prussian campaign (1807), the Patriotic War of 1812, and the foreign campaign of the Russian Army of 1813-14. He was awarded a gold sword with the inscription “For Valor” for the battle of Borodino. In 1815 he was retired from service with the rank of captain of cavalry. During 1816-17 he lived abroad in Paris, where he made the acquaintance of Saint-Simon and converted to Catholicism.

In 1816, Lunin joined the Union of Salvation; he was a founding member of the Union of Welfare (1818) and a member of its Fundamental Council. An advocate of a republic, he was the first to present a project for regicide. In the second half of 1820, along with N. M. Murav’ev, he traveled to the south for joint discussions of programmatic questions with P. I. Pestel’. After the Union of Welfare was abolished, he was one of the founders and leaders of the Northern Society of Decembrists. He returned to military service at the beginning of 1822; he was a lieutenant colonel of the Life Guards of the Grodno hussar regiment and adjutant of Grand Prince Konstantin Pavlovich in Warsaw. After the uprising on Senate Square of Dec. 14, 1825, he came under surveillance in Warsaw, and he was arrested on Apr. 9, 1826. The supreme criminal court sentenced him under the second category to loss of political and civil rights and life at hard labor; the sentence was subsequently reduced to a ten-year term. He was incarcerated in Sveaborg fortress (1826-27) and Vyborg castle (1827-28) and did hard labor in Chita (1828-30) and Petrovskii Zavod (1830-36).

In June 1836, Lunin went to the exile settlement in the village of Urik (near Irkutsk). Here, from 1836 to 1840, he wrote and partially distributed (in manuscript) a number of works of illegal literature: Letters From Siberia, A Historical Inquiry, A View of the Secret Society in Russia (1816-1826), An Analysis of the Reports Presented to the Russian Emperor by the Secret Commission in 1826 (with N. M. Murav’ev), A View of Polish Affairs, and The Social Movement in Russia. While defending the ideas of the Decembrists, Lunin at the same time attempted to resolve the tasks confronting progressive Russian thought of the late 1830’s and opposed the ideas of the official nationality.theory. His conviction that no revolutionary transformation was possible without the people becoming aware of the goals of the coup represented significant progress in comparison with his views of the 1820’s. On Mar. 27, 1841, he was arrested on the basis of a denunciation and confined to Akatui prison, where he died.


Soch. i pis’ma. Petrograd, 1923.
Obshchestvennoe dvizhenie v Rossii. Pis’ma iz Sibiri. Moscow-Leningrad, 1926.


Okun’, S. B. Dekabrist M. S. Lunin. Moscow, 1962.
Eidel’man, N. la. Lunin. Moscow, 1970. (Bibliography.)


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