Zaichnevskii, Petr Grigor’evich
Born Sept. 18 (30), 1842, in the village of Gostinoe, in present-day Mtsensk Raion, Orel Oblast; died Mar. 19 (31), 1896, in Smolensk. Russian revolutionary. Member of the dvorianstvo (nobility or gentry).
Zaichnevskii studied in the department of physics and mathematics at Moscow University from 1858 to 1861 and was a member of the revolutionary circle Library of Kazan Students at the university. In 1859 he began to help in printing and disseminating illegal publications (by A. I. Herzen, N. P. Ogarev, L. Feuerbach, P. Proudhon, and others). Together with P. E. Argiropulo he organized a new revolutionary circle in 1861. In March 1861 he delivered a speech in Moscow supporting the independence of the Poles; the following June he addressed the peasants in Podol’sk and villages of Mtsensk District with an explanation of the extortionate character of the peasant reform of 1861. On July 22, 1861, he was arrested in Orel. In April 1862, while in confinement, he composed the proclamation “Young Russia,” containing the Blanquist program of a revolutionary coup d’etat and sociopolitical demands of a Utopian socialist nature. In 1863 he served at hard labor in the Usol’e Plant (Irkutsk Province); he spent the period from 1864 to 1868 in forced exile in Vitim. Zaichnevskii returned to European Russia in 1869. Beginning in 1874 he lived in Orel, where he organized a revolutionary circle of a Jacobin character and established close ties with circles in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kursk, and Smolensk, as well as with Nabat (Tocsin), the foreign-based group of Russian Jacobins led by P. N. Tkachev. From 1877 to 1885, Zaichnevskii was in exile in the northern part of European Russia. He was arrested again in the spring of 1889 in Orel and exiled to Eastern Siberia. Until the end of 1895 he lived in Irkutsk, where he was editor of the foreign section of the newspaper Vostochnoe obozrenie.
Zaichnevskii was the founder of the Jacobin (Blanquist) trend in the Russian revolutionary movement. He considered the revolutionary intelligentsia and an army indoctrinated by it to be the leading forces of revolution in Russia. Opposing demonstrations and terror, he limited activity among the people to agitation immediately preceding the uprising. During the 1870’s and 1880’s, Zaichnevskii exerted a significant influence on the revolutionary youth. Many well-known Social Democrats (V. P. Artsybushev, V. G. Golubev, and M. P. Golubeva) and People’s Will revolutionaries (M. N. Oshanina, M. V. Lavrova, and E. D. Sergeeva) came out of his Jacobin circles (members of which were also known as the Centralists).