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Rykov A. I.

Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the RSFSR

Aleksey Rykov joined the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party in 1898 and sided with the Bolsheviks. He participated in the Russian Revolution of 1905 and was elected a full member of the party Central Committee (Apr 1905 - May 1907). In 1907, Rykov was demoted to a candidate member (May 1907 - Jan 1912). He broke with the Bolsheviks opposing reconciliation within the party and lost his seat on the Central Committee at the Prague conference directed by Lenin. Having been exiled to Siberia, Rykov returned to Moscow after the February Revolution (1917) and became a member of the presidiums of the Moscow and Petrograd Soviets. The 6th party congress reinstated Rykov as a full member of the Central Committee (Aug - 4 [17] Nov 1917). He participated in the October coup and became people's commissar for internal affairs of Soviet Russia (27 Oct [9 Nov] - 4 [17] Nov 1917) in the first Bolshevik government, but resigned the office after a joint declaration with Lev Kamenev and other party members in support of a coalition government strongly opposed by Lenin. Kamenev, Rykov, Milutin, Zinovyev and Nogin also declared their withdrawal from the Central Committee on 4 [17] Nov 1917.

Despite this schism, Rykov accepted the post of chairman of the Supreme Council of National Economy (3 Apr 1918 - 28 May 1921). During the civil war, Rykov briefly served on the Revolutionary Military Council (8 Jul - Sep 1919). In July 1919 - Aug 1921, Rykov served as a special representative of the Council of Labor and Defense for food supplies for the Red Army and Navy. He returned to the Central Committee at the 9th party congress as a full member (Apr 1920 - Feb 1934) and was elected to the Orgburo (5 Apr 1920 - 23 May 1924). In 1921, he was made deputy chairman of the Council of Labor and Defense (26 May 1921 - 2 Feb 1924) and deputy chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Russian SFSR (29 Dec 1921 - 2 Feb 1924). With creation of the Soviet Union, the 2nd session of the 1st Central Executive Committee approved Rykov as deputy chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR (6 Jul 1923 - 2 Feb 1924). By 1923 he occupied a strong position in the Soviet leadership as one of de facto acting premiers during Lenin's incapacity, full member of the Politburo (3 Apr 1922 - 21 Dec 1930) and chairman of the USSR Supreme Council of National Economy (6 Jul 1923 - 2 Feb 1924). When Lenin died in 1924, Rykov succeeded him as head of governments of the Soviet Union and Russia (2 Feb 1924).

Rykov supported the New Economic Policy initiated by Lenin and found an unexpected ally in the person of Stalin, who joined Rykov in advocating an economic policy that encouraged the development of a prosperous agricultural sector that would finance industrialization. In 1926-28 Rykov helped Stalin defeat his political opponents Leon Trotsky, Grigory Zinovyev, and Lev Kamenev. In 1926, he took over from Kamenev the chairmanship (19 Jan 1926 - 19 Dec 1930) in the Council of Labor and Defense of the USSR. In the late 1920s Stalin turned against Rykov and his right-wing associates, Nikolay Bukharin and Mikhail Tomsky, labeled the "Right Opposition." Rykov lost his post of the head of Russian government (18 May 1929) and had to denounce publicly his own views at the November plenum of the Central Committee in 1929. His ultimate defeat occurred in December 1930, when Stalin orchestrated his dismissal from all important party and state posts including chairmanship in the Soviet government (19 Dec 1930) and membership in the Politburo (21 Dec 1930). He was made people's commissar for post and telegraph (30 Mar 1931 - 17 Jan 1932) and demoted to a candidate member of the Central Committee (Feb 1934 - Feb 1937) at the 17th party congress. After a transformation of the commissariat, Rykov also served as people's commissar for communications (17 Jan 1932 - 26 Sep 1936).

In 1936 Rykov was falsely accused of plotting against the Soviet state and Communist leadership by the defendants of the Zinovyev-Kamenev show trial. On 27 Feb 1937, he was arrested and expelled from the Central Committee and party. On 13 Mar 1938, the Military Board of the USSR Supreme Court sentenced him to death in the course of a show trial. He was executed two days later along with Bukharin, Chernov, Rozengolts and others. His political and party rehabilitation took place in 1988.

Notes: 1 Rykov had some reservations about his date and place of birth. According to "Vremya Alekseya Rykova" he supposed that he might have been born in Kukarki, Yaransk region, Saratov province.


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