A short biography of Alexei Olonetsky, Maximalist then anarchist
“A highly educated scientist, a wonderful representative of the advanced Russian intelligentsia of the late 19th – early 20th centuries.” From A. Kuprava. People: Time and Life. - Sukhum, 2010.
Alexei Olonetsky was born in the Russian city of Penza in 1893. He graduated from a Gymnasium in Saratov in 1911 and then studied at the law faculty of St Petersburg University. Here he became radicalised.
In 1915 through to 1917 he worked as a statistician in the Central Administration for Development of the Census in Agriculture. He was a delegate to the 2nd All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers and Soldiers’ Deputies on November 7-9th, 1917.
In 1919 he was a Maximalist Socialist Revolutionary, and the following year went over to the anarchists.
He became active in the anarchist underground in Odessa against the White forces of Denikin and was a member of the Nabat Confederation, attending its Third Congress in Kharkov in September 1920, where he was elected to its secretariat.
He was one of the Nabat anarchists arrested by the Cheka in Kharkov on November 25th, 1920 and imprisoned in a Chekist jail. He was then sent to Moscow, where he passed through the Internal Prison of the Cheka, and then the Butyrki, Orlovsk prison at Orel, and the political-isolator prison at Vladimir. He was one of the anarchists, together with Olga Taratuta, Fanya Baron, Aron Baron, David Kogan, Mark Mrachny, and Alexander Guyevsky released from prison for the day to attend Kropotkin’s funeral on February 13th, 1921, and he can most likely be seen in film footage of the funeral. The anarchist Anatoli Gorelik was shocked by his appearance, describing it as especially terrible”, due to his haggard appearance and long unkempt hair, a product of his ill treatment by the Cheka.
He was transferred to the Kharkov House of Compulsory Labour and there took part in a series of hunger strikes. He was released in November 1922, but re-arrested on November 14th, 1923, in Petrograd. He spent four months in prison there, and was then transferred to the hard labour prison at Yaroslav.
On February 21st,1924 he was sentenced to three years in the camps on the Solovetsky islands, concentration camps authorised by Lenin, Trotsky, Dzerzhinsky, Stalin, Chicherin et al. in 1923. He arrived there after a long journey in several stages on August 4th, 1924. He again went on hunger strike, and was transferred to the Verkhne-Uralsk political isolator.
In 1926 he was exiled to Tashkent. In 1931, the IWA Fund to aid anarcho-syndicalists and anarchists in Russian prisons announced that Olonetsky had renounced anarchism. His ill-treatment and persecution had been too much for him.
That year he moved to Abkhazia in the Caucasus region and got a job as an economist for the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture and the Gosplan (State Planning Committee) of the Abkhazian Soviet Republic in 1932-1936. He also started working in the D. Gulia Institute of Language, Literature and History in Sukhum as a senior research fellow. He worked at the Institute until 1957. In 1938—1950 he was a scientific secretary; in 1943 he defended his dissertation and was awarded the degree of candidate of historical sciences. Olonetsky was the author of a number of works on the history of Abkhazia including his Essays on the development of capitalist relations in Abkhazia (late XIX-early XX century) in 1934. He was also the author of the story Eternity, the plays Golden Lights and Maria Alexandrovna and the comedy Invisible Flowers.
Sources: Thanks to Malcolm Archibald and to Sergei Ovsiannikov’s biography of Olonetsky.
The following gives another biography of Olonetsky and a list of his published works:
One of Olonetsky’s historical articles (in Russian) here: