Northern Union of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Northern Union of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party


(also Northern Workers’ Union), a regional union of Social Democratic organizations in the provinces of Vladimir, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, and, from February through August 1903, Tver’.

The Northern Union of the RSDLP was established in 1900–01 in Voronezh by political exiles from Yaroslavl and Iva-novo-Voznesensk, including such Social Democrats as O. A. Varentsova and V. A. Noskov. It led the workers’ movement in Russia’s largest textile-manufacturing region, which numbered approximately 300,000 workers. Its activity increased significantly in August 1901, after a conference in Kineshma, Kostroma Province, of representatives from Social Democratic committees and groups in Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, and Vladimir. The union acquired its final form at a congress that met in Voronezh from Jan. 1 (14) to Jan. 5(18), 1902. The congress elected a central committee, which included M. A. Bagaev, Varentsova, and N. N. Panin; it also adopted a program, which Lenin, in a letter to the Northern Union, criticized for preserving elements of the opportunist tendency known as economism.

From its earliest days, the Northern Union was closely linked with Iskra and upheld the latter’s political line and organizational plan. In an open letter printed in Iskra (no. 34, February 1903), it declared its solidarity with the program of Iskra and Zaria and of Lenin’s book What Is To Be Done? and recognized Iskra and Zaria as the leading organs of the RSDLP. The union’s representatives—Noskov, F. I. Shchekoldin, A. M. Stopa-ni, and A. I. Liubimov—helped prepare for the Second Congress of the RSDLP, held in 1903. At the congress, the union’s delegates—L. M. Knipovich and Stopani—sided with the Leninist majority.

After the Second Congress of the RSDLP, the Northern Union was reorganized as the Northern Committee of the RSDLP, and its local committees became part of the Northern Committee. The Northern Committee was dissolved in July 1905 at a conference of the RSDLP’s northern organizations held in Kostroma, and independent committees were established for Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Yaroslavl, and Kostroma.

The Northern Union and the Northern Committee of the RSDLP played a major role in disseminating the ideas of revolutionary Marxism among the workers of the textile region and educated dozens of propagandists, agitators, and leaders of the working-class movement.


Lenin, V. I. “Pis’mo ’Severnomu soiuzu RSDRP.’” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 6.
Vtoroi s”ezd RSDRP: Protokoly. Moscow, 1959.
Varentsova, O. A. “Severnyi rabochii soiuz” i Severnyi komitet RSDRP, 3rd ed. [Ivanovo] 1948.
Ocherki istorii Iaroslavskoi organizatsii KPSS. Yaroslavl, 1967.
Perepiska V. I. Lenina i redaklsiigazety “Iskra” s sotsial-demokraticheskimi organizatsiiami v Rossii, 1900–1903, vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1969–70.


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