Victor Chernov in 1914

Victor Chernov was born in Novouzensk, Russia, in 1873. He studied law at Moscow University where he quickly became leader of the illegal students union.

A follower of Paul Lavrov, Chernov was arrested and imprisoned in the Peter-Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg. Exiled to Tambov, Chernov began establishing independent socialist peasant brotherhoods in the area.

In 1899 Chernov went to live in Switzerland where he studied philosophy at Berne University. He returned in 1901 and joined with Catherine Breshkovskaya, Nikolai Avksentiev, Gregory Gershuni, Alexander Kerensky and Evno Azef to establish the Socialist Revolutionary Party.

Chernov edited the SR journal, Revolutionary Russia, where he argued against Marxists who claimed that the peasants were a totally reactionary social class.

After living in exile Chernov returned to Russia during the 1905 Revolution. Although seen as the leader of the party, Chernov was not directly involved in the rising in support of the Potemkin Mutiny and the St Petersburg Soviet.

Victor Chernov

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.

5. Was strongly opposed to Russia going to war with Austria-Hungary and Germany.

6. Believed that if Russia did go to war with Austria-Hungary and Germany the Mensheviks, Bolsheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries should try to persuade the Russian soldiers to use their weapons to overthrow Nicholas II.