“We asked for freedom of the press, thought, and civil liberties in the
past because we were in the opposition and needed these liberties to
conquer. Now that we have conquered, there is no longer any need for
such civil liberties” . Nikolai Bukharin, 1917
Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin (Russian: Никола́й Ива́нович Буха́рин) (9 October [O.S. 27 September] 1888 – 15 March 1938) was a Bolshevik revolutionary, Sov
Bukharin’s political life began at the age of sixteen, with his lifelong friend Ilya Ehrenburg, when they participated in student activities at Moscow University related to the Russian Revolution of 1905. He joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1906. As a young man, he spent six years in exile working closely with fellow exiles Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky. After the revolution of February 1917, he returned to Moscow, where his Bolshevik credentials earned him a high rank in the party, and after the October Revolution became editor of their newspaper Pravda.
Within the Bolshevik Party, Bukharin was initially a left communist, but gradually moved to the right from 1921. His strong support for and defence of the New Economic Policy (NEP) eventually saw him lead the Right Opposition. By late 1924, this stance had positioned Bukharin favourably as Joseph Stalin‘s chief ally, with Bukharin soon elaborating Stalin’s new theory and policy of Socialism in One Country. From 1926 to 1929, Bukharin enjoyed great power as General Secretary of the Comintern‘s executive committee. However, Stalin’s decision to proceed with collectivisation drove the two men apart, and Bukharin was expelled from the Politburo in 1929.
When the Great Purge began in 1936, some of Bukharin’s letters, conversations and tapped phone-calls indicated disloyalty. Arrested in February 1937, Bukharin was charged with conspiring to overthrow the Soviet state. After a show trial that alienated many Western communist sympathisers, he was executed in March 1938.
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