Written: Between 1921 - 1923
Source: "Mirrors of Moscow", New York by Thomas Seltzer, 1923
First Published: 1923
Online Version: marxists.org 1999
Transcription/Markup: Alf Pangas
THE world, which now very generally concedes to Lenin great political adroitness, is not fully aware of the extent of his talent. What other man could have managed, under the stress of the hour, to have kept control of the politics of great Russia, the Ukraine, the Far Eastern Republic and even of China? And not only does he guide the destinies of these Republics, he subordinates the men at the head of them. Thus he is consolidating Russia. In Moscow, people believe that Lenin will some day bring the Baltic States back into the Soviet federation.
Christian Rakovsky, President of the Ukraine, never reaches any important decision without consulting Lenin. Rakovsky is an interesting personality and a man whose star is ascending. He is undoubtedly one of the strongest men in Russia. and since Lenin backs him, he ought to go far.
Rakovsky was born in the little Bulgarian town of Kotel. His family is one of the best known in all the Balkans. The name Rakovsky is woven through Balkan history and revolutionary struggles.
Expelled from college for revolutionary activities, young Rakovsky went to Geneva in 1890 and joined the Russian Social Democratic Party. In 1892 he was arrested in Geneva for an encounter with an agent-provocateur; he was expelled from Berlin the same year for participation in the German labor movement.
After some difficulty he was permitted to remain in France, where he carried on his studies. He was graduated from a French medical college in 1897 and returned to Bulgaria.
Two years later he published a large historical volume called "Russian Policy in the East." He also wrote what was considered a brilliant dissertation on criminology and degeneracy.
Rakovsky went to Russia in 1900, but was immediately arrested and expelled by the Tsar's police. He returned to Germany and there he wrote his best known book, "Present Day France," which was published under the pen-name of Insarov.
A short time after completing this book he entered the judicial faculty of the University of Paris, but was so interested in the Russian revolution that he gave up his post after a year and went again to Russia, only to be expelled promptly.
He organized the Socialist Party in Roumania in 1904 and in 1907 was arrested following some peasant uprising. He was deprived of all political rights, exiled and forbidden ever to return to Roumania. But he had such a large and staunch following and so many serious riots took place that the Government was too embarrassed to carry out its decision. In a riot in Bucharest more than fifty persons were killed. In 1912 he was re-enfranchised, which was considered a great victory for the Roumanian labor leader.
Rakovsky is an habitual publicist; in the course of his career he has founded ten newspapers.
During the war he was so active in his anti-war propaganda that he was imprisoned in Roumania, but the first days of the 1917 revolution gave him back his freedom when the Russian garrison in Jassy decided of its own initiative to release all political prisoners.
He was not popular with the Provisional Government and, fearing his influence, Burstev requested his arrest in a note to Tereschendo and in a telegram to Kerensky. Learning of this order, he went to Sweden and was in Stockholm at the time of the Bolshevik coup d'e'tat.
In 1919 he was elected head of the Ukraine by the action of the Third Congress of Ukrainian Soviets. I say "head" because he is at present Premier, President and Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as a member of the Executive Committee of the Third International in Moscow.
While I was in Moscow Rakovsky and his wife spent several weeks in the house in which I lived. Madame Rakovsky is the sort of woman who adds interesting and insuppressible variety to the leveling influence of the revolution. She is a princess, speaks French in preference to Russian after the manner of the old Russian aristocracy, and still uses a lorgnette. She is an enthusiastic Communist. Everything about her is charming, distinguished and eminently exclusive! She always accompanies her husband wherever he goes, is present at all interviews, and one can tell by the way he listens to her opinions that he places particular value on her advice.
Rakovsky himself is in manner and appearance more like an Old World diplomat than a revolutionist. But in spite of his suavity he has Lenin's ability to face situations squarely. He once gave me such a frank statement about conditions in the Ukraine that instead of going over the cables to my paper it was officially chucked into the waste basket by Tchicherin.