Sophia Chernosvitov

Sophia Chernosvitov

Sophia Chernosvitov, the daughter of a lawyer, was born in Tulu, Russia in 1872. She joined the Social Democratic Labour Party in 1898 and took part in the 1905 Revolution.

Sophia married P. V. Lunacharskii but after his early death she married Peter Smidovich, a leading Bolshevik in Moscow.

Smidovich was arrested several times and in 1910 was exiled to Siberia until being released as a result of the political amnesty that followed the February Revolution and played an active role in the October Revolution.

A staunch feminist, Smidovich joined with Alexandra Kollontai and Inessa Armand to form the Central Commission for Agitation and Propaganda Among Working Women (Zhenotdel).

Alexandra Kollontai became increasing critical of the Bolsheviks and joined with her friend, Alexander Shlyapnikov (Commissar for Labour) in advocating the control of industry by trade unionists rather than party officials. In 1921 Kollantai published a pamphlet The Workers' Opposition, where she called for the trade unionists to be given more political freedom.

As a result of this attack Kollontai she was abroad as a diplomat Joseph Stalin appointed Smidovich as head of Zhenotdel. However, Stalin disbanded the organization in 1930.