Kerensky, Aleksandr

Kerensky, Aleksandr [Керенский, Александр; Kerenskij], b 4 May 1881 in Simbirsk (now Ulianovsk), Russia, d 11 June 1970 in New York. (Photo: Aleksandr Kerensky.) Russian statesman during the Revolution of 1917. He became the minister of justice in the Russian Provisional Government in March 1917 and the minister of war in May 1917. On 12 July he became prime minister. He fled from Russia during the Bolshevik takeover in November and lived in London and Paris. In 1940 he moved to the United States.

Kerensky had criticized the tsarist regime's nationalities policy and its persecution of the Ukrainian language. However, as prime minister his primary concern was to keep the Russian Empire intact. As the Ukrainian government, the Central Rada, grew stronger and more inclined toward independence for Ukraine, Kerensky became more opposed to it. As war minister he had banned the Second All-Ukrainian Military Congress that met in June 1917; as prime minister he was forced to recognize the legitimacy of its decisions and to withdraw his ban. After the declaration of the First Universal of the Central Rada, he had no choice but to negotiate with the General Secretariat of the Central Rada in July 1917 and to recognize the Rada and the autonomy of Ukraine. The last months of his government were marked by a steady deterioration in Ukrainian-Russian relations and the political situation in Russia in general.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

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