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Irakli Tsereteli
Georgian journalist

Irakli Tsereteli

Irakli Tsereteli
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Georgian journalist
Was Diplomat Historian Journalist
From Georgia Georgia Russia
Field Journalism Social science Politics
Gender male
Birth 20 November 1881, Kutaisi, Imereti, Georgia
Death 21 May 1959, New York City, New York, U.S.A. (aged 77 years)
The details (from wikipedia)


Irakli (Kaki) Tsereteli (Georgian: ირაკლი გიორგის ძე წერეთელი; Russian: Ира́клий Гео́ргиевич Церете́ли; 20 November 1881 – 20 May 1959) was a Georgian politician, one of the leaders of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party and later, the Georgian Mensheviks. A leading member of the Petrograd Soviet in 1917, Tsereteli served as Minister of Post and Telegraph, and interim Minister of the Interior, in the Russian Provisional Government. After the October Revolution and rise of the Bolsheviks, he returned to Georgia, leaving when the Red Army invaded in 1921. He spent the rest of his life in exile.

Early life

Tsereteli in 1904

Irakli Tsereteli was born in Kutaisi (western Georgia, then part of the Russian Empire) in the family of a radical writer Giorgi Tsereteli, of the noble family of Tsereteli, and Olympiada Nikoladze, sister of the journalist Niko Nikoladze. He studied law at Moscow University where he became involved in student protests. After taking part in a student demonstration in 1902 he was briefly exiled to Siberia. On his release from prison Tsereteli joined the Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP) and at the party's 1903 congress in London sided with Julius Martov against Vladimir Lenin. By becoming a Menshevik, opposed to Lenin's Bolsheviks. Tsereteli became editor of the pro-Menshevik publication 'Kvali ("Trace" in Georgian), but decided to move to Germany to escape increasing harassment from the authorities. He returned to Russia during the 1905 Revolution and was elected to the second Duma, emerging as a leading Menshevik.

Siberian exile

On the dissolution of the Duma, Tsereteli was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and then exiled in 1913 to Irkutsk. After spending some time in Alexandrovsky Central Prison, before being moved to Usolye there he became the leader of a circle of moderate Internationalists (mostly Mensheviks but including also SRs and former Bolsheviks) called the “Siberian Zimmerwaldists.”

February Revolution and aftermath

The February Revolution allowed Tsereteli to leave Siberia; while his family wanted him to return to Georgia, he instead went to Petrograd, arriving on March 19. Once there, he was appointed to the executive committee of the Petrograd Soviet. He proposed a program of “Revolutionary Defensism”; i.e., a program which prescribed an energetic pursuit of international agreement to end World War I and an equally energetic defense against Germany so long as the war continued. He joined the Provisional Government as Minister of Post and Telegraph (May–August 1917), though continued to focus on his work with the Petrograd Soviet.

In July Georgy Lvov decided to resign as Prime Minister and on July 7 Tsereteli was appointed Minister of the Interior, serving until a new cabinet could be formed under Alexander Kerensky. Despite his senior ranking in the Soviet, Tsereteli was passed over for the position of Prime Minister, ostensibly because of his position; the coalition wanted reform and felt that influence from the Soviet would prevent that. When the new cabinet was announced on July 25, Tsereteli was not included at all. While some Soviet representatives were given spots, they were not as staunchly supportive of the Soviet's viewpoints. Tsereteli himself didn't want to be part of this, as he had tired of cabinet politics and had developed tuberculosis; instead he went into semi-retirement. After the October Revolution, the Bolsheviks ordered Tsereteli's arrest. He returned to Georgia, which in May 1918 declared its independence as the Democratic Republic of Georgia. There he was not a major player, but obtained a seat in the Constituent Assembly and represented his country at the Paris Peace Conference. After the Soviet takeover of Georgia early in 1921, Tsereteli remained in opposition, but emigrated in 1923 to Paris.

Later life

Tsereteli remained an avowed internationalist and did not become a nationalist, like many of his fellow Georgian Mensheviks did. Thus, he opposed both the liberal nationalist Zurab Avalishvili and the social democrat Noe Zhordania. All of them extensively wrote abroad on the Georgian politics. Tsereteli accepted the principle of the fight for Georgia’s independence, but rejected the view of Zhordania and other Georgian émigrés that the Bolshevik domination was effectively identical to Russian domination. Furthermore, he insisted on close cooperation between the Russian and Georgian socialists against the Bolsheviks, but did not agree with any cooperation with the Georgian nationalists. This led to Tsereteli’s isolation among the émigré Georgians and he largely withdrew from political activity. In the 1940s, he moved to the United States where continued to write a history of the revolution and died in New York City in 1959. In 1973, he was reburied at the Leuville Cemetery near Paris.


  • Церетели И. Г. Речи - Париж-Тифлис, 1917-18 Т. 1-2.
  • Церетели И. Г. Воспоминания о Февральской революции - Париж, 1963 Т. 1-2.
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