Irakli Tsereteli was born in Georgia, Russia, in 1881. He studied law at Moscow University where he became involved in the reform movement. After taking part in a student demonstration he was sentenced to five years exile in Eastern Siberia.
On his release from prison Tsereteli joined the Social Democratic Labour Party(SDLP). At the party's Second Congress in London in 1903, there was a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, two of SDLP's leaders. Lenin argued for a small party of professional revolutionaries with a large fringe of non-party sympathizers and supporters. Martov disagreed believing it was better to have a large party of activists.
Julius Martov based his ideas on the socialist parties that existed in other European countries such as the British Labour Party. Lenin argued that the situation was different in Russia as it was illegal to form socialist political parties under the Tsar's autocratic government. At the end of the debate Martov won the vote 28-23 . Vladimir Lenin was unwilling to accept the result and formed a faction known as the Bolsheviks. Those who remained loyal to Martov became known as Mensheviks.
Tsereteli, along with George Plekhanov, Pavel Axelrod, Lev Deich, Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko, Leon Trotsky, Vera Zasulich, Irakli Tsereteli, Moisei Uritsky, Noi Zhordania and Fedor Dan joined the M. Whereas Gregory Zinoviev, Anatoli Lunacharsky, Joseph Stalin, Mikhail Lashevich, Nadezhda Krupskaya, Mikhail Frunze, Alexei Rykov, Yakov Sverdlov, Lev Kamenev, Maxim Litvinov, Vladimir Antonov, Felix Dzerzhinsky, Gregory Ordzhonikidze and Alexander Bogdanov supported Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks.
Tsereteli became editor of the pro-Menshevik Kvali (Track) but after harassment from the local police he decided to move to Germany. He returned to Russia during the 1905 Revolution and in 1907 was elected to the second Duma. A great orator, Tsereteli soon emerged as one of the leaders of the Mensheviks.
1. Was highly critical of Nicholas II and the autocracy.
2. Wanted Russia to have universal suffrage.
3. Wanted the Russian government to allow freedom of expression and an end to political censorship of newspapers and books.
4. Believed that democracy could only be achieved in Russia by the violent overthrow of Nicholas II and the autocracy.
6. Believed that if Russia did go to war with Austria-Hungary and Germany the Mensheviks, Bolsheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries should join the war effort as he did not want to lose the war and be ruled by foreigners.