Ivan Kalyayev

Ivan Kalyayev

Ivan Platonovich Kalyayev ( _ru. Иван Платонович Каляев; July 6, 1877 - May 23, 1905) was a Russian poet, terrorist and member of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, who assassinated Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and was subsequently hanged.

Kalyaev was born in Warsaw into the family of a police inspector. He attended Saint Petersburg University from (1897), but soon became involved in student protests, was briefly imprisoned, after which he was expelled from the University and sent into exile in Ekaterinoslav. Thereafter he tried to return to the University, but was denied entrance due to his political activities. When Kalyaev was 24 he joined the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party but soon broke with them, dissatisfied with what he considered "just talk", i.e. propaganda that did not lead to direct action. After serving his term he went to Lemberg (then in Austria-Hungary) to continue his education at Lemberg University, and became involved with the Russian emigrant revolutionaries there. He was soon arrested in Berlin with revolutionary literature intended for Russia. The German government transferred Kalyayev to Russia. After a short imprisonment in Warsaw Kalyayev was exiled to Yaroslavl.

In Yaroslavl Kalyayev befriended the Socialist-Revolutionaries and writers Boris Savinkov and Aleksey Remizov, and decided to completely devote his life to revolutionary actions. At that time Kalyaev became convinced that political terror was the only way to realize his political ideas. He met Evno Azef (head of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party Fighting Organization) and persuaded him that he was ready to perform political assassinations, even at the cost of his own life.

Kalyayev participated in the assassination of Interior Minister Vyacheslav Pleve, though Pleve was actually killed by another Socialist-Revolutionary, Egor Sazonov, and Kalyaev did not have to throw his bomb. The next to be killed was General-Governor of Moscow and uncle of Tsar Nicholas II Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich.

The assassination was planned for February 15 1905. On that day, the Duke was to visit a Bolshoi Theatre show that was a fundraiser for the Red Cross. Kalyayev was supposed to attack the carriage as it approached the theater. Everything went as expected. Kalyaev was about to throw his bomb at the carriage of the Grand Duke, but he noticed that Sergei Alexandrovich's wife (Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna) and young nephews (children of the Grand Duke Pavel Alexandrovich) were also in the carriage, and he aborted the assassination.

He carried out the assassination two days later, killing the Grand Duke and his coachman as the Grand Duke was approaching his official residence in the Moscow Kremlin. Kalyayev was arrested immediately. Several days after the assassination, the Grand Duke's widow, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna visited Kalyayev. She was an Orthodox Christian and she wanted to persuade him to repent in order to save his soul, but Kalyayev refused to do it. He was sentenced to death and hanged on May 23, 1905.

This plot formed the basis for Albert Camus' 1949 play "Les Justes".


Ivan Kalyayev was known to his friends by the nickname "Poet" and wrote several verses and prose. During his exile to Yaroslavl in 1902, Kalyayev, together with Aleksey Remizov, translated poems in prose by the Polish author Stanisław Przybyszewski. [ [http://www.booksite.ru/fulltext/dis/ser/tac/dissertacii/rozanov/3.htm Ðîçàíîâ Þðèé Âëàäèìèðîâè÷. Ãëàâà III ] at www.booksite.ru] After his execution, the Socialist-Revolutionary Party published Kalyayev's book of poetry, [ [http://socialist.memo.ru/lists/shtrihi/l42.htm Ðîññèéñêèå ñîöèàëèñòû è àíàðõèñòû ïîñëå Îêòÿáðÿ 1917 ãîäà - øòðèõè ê ïîðòðåòó ] at socialist.memo.ru] . [ [http://www.ruthenia.ru/sovlit/p_aut012.html ÑîâËèò - SovLit - Ñîâåòñêàÿ ëèòåðàòóðà: Ïîýòè÷åñêàÿ êíèãà 1900-1955 ãã. ] at www.ruthenia.ru] His poetry was even included (without naming the author) in a popular reader. [ [http://www.alib.ru/bs.php4?bs=gornitsa&bstema=tanlit Alib.ru - Çàêàç êíèãè ó BS-gornitsa > Àíòèêâàðíûå: Õóä. ëèò-ðà, Ëèòåðàòóðîâåäåíèå ] at www.alib.ru] Today his works have been almost completely forgotten. A sample of Kalyayev's poetry is his "Prayer":

:Христос, Христос! Слепит нас жизни мгла.:Ты нам открыл все небо, ночь рассеяв,:Но храм опять во власти фарисеев.:Мессии нет — Иудам нет числа…:Мы жить хотим! Над нами ночь висит.:О, неужель вновь нужно искупленье,:И только крест нам возвестит спасенье?..:Христос, Христос!..:Но все кругом молчит.

:O Christ! O Christ! We're blinded by the gloom of life.:You opened the sky for us and scattered darkness:But the Temple again belongs to the Pharisees:There is no Messiah, but many Judases:We want to live! The night hangs above us:O do we again need redemption:And only the cross will announce salvation:O Christ, O Christ!...:But all around is mute.

ee also

*Boris Savinkov — another famous Russian terrorist and notable writer
*The Just Assassins (also translated "The Just", _fr. Les Justes) — Albert Camus' play whose protagonist is named Ivan Kaliayev.


* [http://2005.novayagazeta.ru/nomer/2005/47n/n47n-s44.shtml Alexander Mellenberg "Ethical Terrorist] , "Novaya Gazeta", July 04 2005 ru icon
* [http://www.tribuna.ru/online/text.aspx?divid=35&tid=5539 "The Merry Murderer"] , "Tribuna", September 3 2006 ru icon

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