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Sergo Ordzhonikidze

Grigory Konstantinovich Ordzhonikidze (Georgian: გრიგოლ (სერგო) ორჯონიკიძე - Grigol (Sergo) Orjonikidze, Russian: Григо́рий Константи́нович Орджоники́дзе, generally known as Sergo Ordzhonikidze (Серго́); October 24 [O.S. October 12] 1886 – February 18, 1937) was a Georgian Bolshevik, later member of the CPSU Politburo and close friend to Stalin. Ordzhonikidze, Stalin and Anastas Mikoyan comprised what was jokingly referred to as the "Caucasian Clique."



Early life

Born in Kharagauli, western Georgia to a Georgian noble family,[1] Ordzhonikidze became involved in radical politics in 1903, and after graduating as a doctor from the Mikhailov Hospital Medical School in Tiflis, was arrested for arms smuggling. He was released and went to Germany, but in 1907 returned to Russia and settled in Baku where he worked closely with Stalin and others. Sergo is now believed by historians to have been involved in the 1907 assassination of Prince Ilia Chavchavadze, a prominent Georgian poet and intellectual.[2] Sergo also participated in the Persian Constitutional Revolution on a mission by the Bolshevik party and stayed in Tehran for a while around 1909.

He was arrested for being a member of the Social Democratic Party and deported to Siberia, but managed to escape three years later. He returned with Stalin to St. Petersburg in April 1912, but again was apprehended and sentenced to three years hard labour. During the course of the Russian Civil War, he became a commissar for the Ukraine and took part in fighting against the White Army of Anton Denikin in the Caucasus. Appointed chairman of the Caucasian Bureau of the Russian Communist Party in 1920, he was instrumental in the incorporation of the Caucasus in the nascent Soviet Union. After Azerbaijan and Armenia had been taken over by the Bolsheviks, in 1921 Ordzhonikidze led a Bolshevik invasion of the Democratic Republic of Georgia and established the Socialist Republic of Georgia.[3] Later, he fought to reduce Georgian autonomy from the Russian SFSR and hence became a key figure involved in the Georgian Affair of 1922.[4] During the same period, he also aided Mirza Koochak Khan in establishing the short-lived Socialist Republic of Gilan in northern Iran.

Sergo Ordzhonikidze if he was younger and served in the tsarist guard, cartoon by Nikolai Bukharin, 1927

Poliburo member

Ordzhonikidze was appointed to the Politburo in 1926, and became Commissar of the Soviet Heavy Industry in 1932.[5] According to historian Roy Medvedev, Ordjonikidze opposed the purges of Stalin, Kaganovich and Yezhov and the arrest of his deputy in the Commissariat of Heavy Industry, Georgy Pyatakov.[6] Other sources claim the contrary and that there is no evidence that Ordzhonikidze disagreed with the Moscow Trials, including the arrest, conviction, and execution of Pyatakov. According to them, Ordzhonikidze questioned Pyatakov personally, and was convinced of his guilt. He drafted a speech for the February-March 1937 Central Committee Plenum that left no doubt of his determination to uproot saboteurs like Pyatakov from his commissariat. There allegedly exists a copy of the speech, which was delivered to the Plenum by Molotov after Ordzhonikidze's death.


Ordzhonikidze died during the night of February 17-18 1937. His death was ruled the result of a heart attack. On February 19, Pravda published a report signed by three doctors and by the People's Commissar for Health Kaminski, affirming that Ordzhonikidze "died of paralysis of the heart."[7]

The story that Ordzhonikidze committed suicide was first mentioned by Nikita Khrushchev during his Secret Speech of February 25, 1956. Khrushchev made this claim again in his speech to the 22nd Party Congress in 1961. In his memoirs Khrushchev gives two contradictory sources for this story: Anastas Mikoyan, who supposedly told him after the war, and Georgy Malenkov , who supposedly told Khrushchev about this during the war itself. Meanwhile, Mikoyan's memoir claims he did not hear of it until after the war. All these rumors contradict one another.

Roy Medvedev reports a rumor that Ordzhonikidze's files and papers were later confiscated by Lavrentiy Beria, and that Ordzhonikidze's bodyguards and personal secretary, along with his brothers Ivan and Konstantin, were also arrested.[6] In fact his brothers were arrested, but at different times and apparently unrelated to Ordzhonikidze's death. Almost 20 years later, Khrushchev claimed that Ordzhonikidze had in fact committed suicide. But Khrushchev's account clashed with that of Mikoyan's, who obviously did not have first-hand information either. Likewise there is no evidence that Ordzhonikidze had quarreled with Stalin, although the possibility remains that his death had been ordered by Stalin.[8]


Several towns in the USSR were renamed Ordzhonikidze after him, such as Vladikavkaz. The Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI) was named in honour of Sergo Ordzhonikidze.


  1. ^ Montefiore, Simon Sebag (2004). Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf. p. 123. ISBN 1-4000-7678-1.  
  2. ^ Montefiore, Simon Sebag (2007). Young Stalin. New York: Knopf. p. 179. ISBN 1-4000-9613-8.  
  3. ^ Montefiore. The Court of the Red Tsar, p. 123.
  4. ^ Figes, Orlando (1998). A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891–1924. New York: Penguin Books. pp. 798–799. ISBN 0-1402-4364-X.  
  5. ^ Service, Robert (2003). A History of Modern Russia: From Nicholas II to Vladimir Putin. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 194. ISBN 067401801X.  
  6. ^ a b Medvedev, Roy A (1971). Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism. New York: Knopf.  
  7. ^ Montefiore. The Court of the Red Tsar, p. 213.
  8. ^ Service. A History of Modern Russia, p. 219.

Additional reading

  • Ebrahim Fakhrayi, Sardar-e Jangal (The Commander of the Jungle), Tehran: Javidan,1983.
  • Gregor Yaghikiyan, Shooravi and jonbesh-e jangal (The Soviet Union and the Jungle Movement), Editor: Borzouyeh Dehgan, Tehran: Novin, 1984.


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Soviet Republic hands over power and land to the poor, guarantees you all your conquests in the revolution, places in your hands all the means for defending these gains.

Grigoriy Konstantinovich Ordzhonikidze, generally known as Sergo Ordzhonikidze, October 24 [O.S. October 12] 1886February 18, 1937) was a Georgian Bolshevik, later member of the CPSU Politburo and close friend to Josef Stalin. Ordzhonikidze, Stalin and Anastas Mikoyan comprised what was referred to as the "Caucasian Clique". His death was ruled a result of a heart attack. Almost 20 years after his demise, Khrushchev revealed that he had in fact committed suicide.


  • For a long time I've been telling Stalin that Beria is a crook but Stalin won't listen.
    • Quoted in "Armed truce: the beginnings of the Cold War 1945-46"‎ - Page 65 - by Hugh Thomas - History - 1986
  • The Soviet Republic hands over power and land to the poor, guarantees you all your conquests in the revolution, places in your hands all the means for defending these gains.
    • Quoted in "Soviet Daghestan in foreign historiography"‎ - Page 60 - by M. A. Daniyalov - Dagestan (Russia) – 1982
  • You can't shut me up with your cynicism. I warn you- you must realise in time that you are not a mighty despot before whom everyone trembles. I do not tremble before you, I will fight you if you force me to it. I have not forgotten how despicably you treated our old friend, Abel [Yenukidze]. Never did you have a finer friend than Abel and you will never have a truer one. Yet, you caused Abel more harm and hardship than anyone else would do to an enemy. I have not forgiven you that two years ago you turned Abel out of the Kremlin although you had told him, and the people, that he was to become President of the Trans-Caucasian Republics.
    • To Stalin. Quoted in "The private life of Josef Stalin"‎ - Page 108 - by Jack Fishman, Joseph Bernard Hutton, J. Bernard Hutton - 1962
  • The Azerbaijan and Georgian republics must assume the task of supplying Armenia.
    • Quoted in "The Azerbaijani Turks: power and identity under Russian rule"‎ - Page 115 - by Audrey L. Altstadt - History - 1992
  • If we pose the question in a soviet, communist fashion, then no republic will be offended. If we pose the question egotistically, it is necessary to answer directly- Azerbaijan will be hurt, Georgia to a lesser degree, and Armenia not at all... Who among you would get up and say that anything we get from the exchange of Baku oil should be refused to our Armenian comrades?
    • Quoted in "The Azerbaijani Turks: power and identity under Russian rule" - Page 115 - by Audrey L. Altstadt - History – 1992

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