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Lev Karakhan

Lev Mikhailovich Karakhan (Karakhanian) Armenian Կարախանյան Լեւոն Միքայելի, Russian Лев Михайлович Карахан (20 January 1889, Tiflis – 20 September 1937, Moscow) was a Russian revolutionary and a Soviet diplomat. A member of the RSDLP from 1904. At first a Menshevik, he joined the Bolsheviks in May 1917.

In October 1917, he was member of the Revolutionary Military Council; then served as secretary of the Soviet delegation at the Brest-Litovsk peace talks together with Leon Trotsky and Adolph Joffe. In 1918-1920 and 1927–1934, he was the Deputy People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs. In 1919, he issued a statement concerning relations with China called the Karakhan Manifesto. In 1921, he was the Soviet Ambassador to Poland; in 1923-1926, the Ambassador to China; after 1934, the Ambassador to Turkey.

Karakhan was known for his dandyish appearance; Karl Radek is quoted as having "maliciously described" him as "the Ass of Classical Beauty",[1] while a junior colleague, Alexander Barmine, wrote that "Our young staff gave him unstinted admiration, amazed that humanity could produce such perfection. He had a purity of profile such as is seen, as a rule, only on ancient coins." [2] The British diplomat Robert Bruce Lockhart, who met Karakhan in 1918, described him as:

An Armenian with dark, waving hair and a well-trimmed beard, he was the adonis of the Bolshevik party. His manners were perfect. \He was an excellent judge of a cigar. I never saw him in a bad temper, and during the whole period of our contact, and even when I was being denounced as a spy and an assassin by his colleagues, I never heard an unpleasant word from his lips. This is not to imply that he was a saint. He had all the guile and craft of his race. Diplomacy was his proper sphere.[3]

Karakhan was arrested and executed in 1937 during the Great Purge.

He was posthumously rehabilitated in 1956.

His third wife (the civil marriage), Marina Semyonova, died in 2010.


  1. ^ Haslam, Jonathan (1992). The Soviet Union and the Threat from the East, 1933-41: Volume 3: Moscow. UK: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 12. ISBN 978-0333300510. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  2. ^ Barmine, Alexander (1945). One Who Survived. New York: Putnam. p. 118.
  3. ^ Bruce Lockhart, R.H. (1932). Memoirs of a British Agent. London: Putnam. p. 254.

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