Fyodor Raskolnikov

Fyodor Fyodorovich Raskolnikov (Russian: Фёдор Фёдорович Раскольников; (28 January 1892, Saint Petersburg, Russia – 12 September 1939, Nice, France),[1] real name Fyodor Ilyin (Russian: Фёдор Ильин), was an Old Bolshevik, politician, participant in the October Revolution, writer, journalist, commander of Red fleets on the Caspian and the Baltic during the Russian Civil War, and later a Soviet diplomat.[1]

Fyodor Raskolnikov


Early lifeEdit

Fyodor Raskolnikov was born to a general's daughter, A. V. Ilyina, and an Orthodox priest F.A. Petrov[2] (according to other sources, archpriest Sergushenkov[1]). Alternatively, "... his father was Fedor Ilyin, a progressive St. Petersburg churchman, a widower who could not legally remarry and whose sons were therefore technically illegitimate. The Ilyin family life was fairly normal ..."[3] He graduated from Prince Oldenburgsky Orphanage,[2] studied at Saint Petersburg Polytechnical Institute, and then at the Midshipman (gardemarin) School in Saint Petersburg.[1]

In December 1910 he joined the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, and he was attracted to Zvezda and went on to work for the Bolshevik newspaper, Pravda. He was arrested, and allowed to emigrate, but after running into trouble with the German police, he returned illegally to Russia, and was again arrested and exiled to Arkhangel, but released in 1913 under the amnesty called to mark the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty.[4] He enlisted in the navy on the outbreak of war, and in 1917 he received the Naval rank of Midshipman (michman) but he did not participate in World War I.[1]


In March 1917 he was sent to the sea fortress of Kronstadt, where he edited the newspaper Golos Pravdy (Voice of Truth): an incarnation of the forbidden at that time Pravda newspaper.[1] He was one of the organizers of the Kronstadt Mutiny in July 1917. He was arrested by troops loyal to the Russian Provisional Government but released on October 11, 1917, a few weeks before the October Revolution.[1]

Remainder of the revolutionEdit

In November 1917 Raskolnikov with a group of Kronstadt seamen was sent to fight anti-Bolshevik insurgents in Moscow. He was elected to the Russian Constituent Assembly. On 29 January 1918 he became the deputy Narkom of "Naval Affairs".[1] In summer 1918, he married Larisa Reisner.[5] In July 1918, he was sent to the Kazan, as the Commissar (member of Revvoeyensovet) of the Eastern Front. On the Eastern Front, he commanded (since August 1918) the Red Volga Flotilla, which participated in the Kazan Operation.[6]

Raskolnikov was promoted to membership of the Revvoeyensovet of RSFSR on (September 2, 1918). At the end of 1918 he became the deputy commander of the 7th Army and the Commissar of the Baltic Fleet.[1]

While commanding a fleet consisting of a battleship, cruiser and two destroyers that was supposed to counter the British fleet, he became a prisoner of war when his destroyer Spartak was captured by the Royal Navy[1] off the coast of Estonia in December 1918, and held in Brixton prison until May 27, 1919, when he was exchanged for 17 British prisoners of war. Appointed commander of the Caspian Flotilla[1] he led the assault on the British base at Enzeli, on May 18, 1920[7] which destroyed what remained of the White Russian navy, and established the short lived Iranian Socialist Soviet Republic, in northern Iran.

Soviet serviceEdit

During the Trade Union debate (1920) Raskolnikov supported Leon Trotsky. In June 1920 – January 1921 Raskolnikov commanded the Baltic Fleet. During his tenure relations between the commanding officers and seamen deteriorated and ended with the Kronstadt Rebellion. A month later Raskolnikov was removed from that command.[1]

During 1921–1923 Raskolnikov was the ambassador to Afghanistan (the first country that established diplomatic relations with RSFSR). Raskolnikov's actions caused a diplomatic rift with Great Britain and the British government insisted on his removal. Eventually he was replaced.[1]

From 1930 Raskolnikov was the plenipotentiary representative to Estonia, then Denmark, and then Bulgaria.

In March 1938 he was recalled from Sofia to the USSR, but on April 1 refused to return. In 1939 he published his famous Open Letter to Stalin,[8] and promptly died from "falling out of a window." According to historian Roy Medvedev, he might have been assassinated by NKVD agents.[1] There are theories that the assassin might have been Sergei Efron, husband of the poet Marina Tsvetayeva.[2]

Raskolnikov was posthumously rehabilitated in 1963.[1]

Literary careerEdit

During 1924–1930 Raskolnikov was the editor-in-chief of the literary magazine "Molodaya Gvardiya" (later also publishing house Moskovsky Rabochy). From 1928 he was the chairman of the Repertory Committee, the de facto main censor of theatre and cinematography. He also wrote his own play Robespierre which even servile critics labelled "dry and boring".[1]

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Zalessky K.A. Stalin Imperia Moscow, Veche, 2002 citing by "Archived copy" (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2007-05-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b c Online biography Archived 2007-06-26 at the Wayback Machine based on Zaytsev V.S. Voprosy Istorii KPSS N12 1963, etc. (in Russian)
  3. ^ Norman F. Saul, "Fedor Rashkolnikov, a 'Seconday Bpolshevik'", Russian Review v.32 no. 2, April 1973, p. 131.
  4. ^ Haupt and Jean-Jacques Marie, George (1974). Makers of the Russian Revolution. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.
  5. ^ Porter, Cathy (1988). Larissa Reisner. London: Virago. p. 53. ISBN 0-86068-857-7.
  6. ^ Brian Pearce, Introduction to Fyodor Raskolnikov s "Tales of Sub-lieutenant Ilyin."
  7. ^ The Taking of Enzeli, by F.F. Raskolnikov
  8. ^ Raskolnikov's Open Letter to Stalin
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Adolf Petrovsky
Plenipotentiary Representative of the Soviet Union in Estonia
Succeeded by
Aleksey Ustinov