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Alexandra Kollontai - first female adbassador

Great Russian Women-politicians

Alexandra Kollontai

Alexandra Kollontai was a major figure in the Russian socialist movement from the turn of the century through the revolution and civil war. She was the only woman member of Lenin's Central Committee, a career diplomat, who advocated in her writings the emancipation of women.

Years spent in her grandfather's estate in Kuusa, at the Isthmus of Karelia in Finland as a young girl made her later expert on the "Finnish question" when she became agitator and political economist. Kollontai's Zhizn' finliandskikh rabochikh (published in 1903), was an investigation of the living and working conditions of the Finnish proletariat in relation to industry.

In 1893 she married her cousin Vladimir Ludvigovich Kollontai, who was an army officer.

In 1898 Kollontai abandoned her conventional marriage to study political economy in Zurich. She had already read Marx and Lenin, but in Zurich she familiarized herself with the views of Karl Kautsky and Rosa Luxemburg.

On January 3, 1905, she joined the workers' procession to Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, which ended in Bloody Sunday massacre - Czar's imperial guards killed some130 demonstrators

Accused of calling for an armed revolt against the government for her articles on socialism, Kollontai was forced to flee to Germany to avoid arrest.

Fluent in several languages, she became internationally known agitator of the German Social Democratic Party.

In 1914 Kollontai joined the Bolsheviks, the radical faction of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party, which had been established by Lenin.

Kollontai became the first woman elected to the Party Central Committee. After the October Revolution, when Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized power, she was appointed People's Commissar for Public Welfare.

Kollontai was very popular but controversial figure. In her high office she advocated the simplification of marriage and divorce procedures, sexual liberation women, social equality between the sexes, improved the position of illegitimate children, and campaigned for various reforms in domesctic life. With Inessa Armand and Nadezhda Krupskaia she was one of the founding members of Women's Section of the Communist Party.

In 1923, she was appointed Soviet Ambassador to Norway, becoming the world's first female ambassador. trade delegate to Mexico, as a delegate to the League of Nations, and as negotiator of the Finno-Soviet peace treaty of 1940. From 1946 until her death in 1952, she was an advisor to the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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