Alexander Lvovich Kazembek

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Alexander Lvovich Kazembek (Russian: Алекса́ндр Льво́вич Казембе́к, or Казем-Бек; French: Alexandre Kasem-Beg; 15 February [O.S. 2 February] 1902, Kazan – 21 February 1977, Moscow), often spelled Kazem-Bek or Kasem-Beg, was a Russian émigré and political activist, and founder of the Mladorossi political group.


Kazembek was born into a wealthy noble family of Azeri and Iranian origin.[1] His grandfather and namesake Alexander Kazembek was a prominent Russian scholar, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the British Royal Asiatic Society. After the October Revolution and the White Army's loss of Povolzhye and Siberia, the Kazembeks emigrated to Belgrade (where Kazembek finished high school) and later to Munich. In 1925, Kazembek graduated from Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris and started working at a credit union in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.[2] In 1929, he returned to Paris already as a famous political activist within Europe's Russian community. In the 1920s, Kazembek founded the Mladorossi. His charismatic persona, clear ideas and oratorical abilities led to strong support of his leadership by many White émigrés.[3]

Like many other expatriate Russian political organizations of the pre-World War II decades, the Mladorossi sought restoration of the monarchy in Russia. In addition, the main goal was to meet the needs of the poor and somewhat preserve contemporary ruling methods in the Soviet Union, however, without dismissing traditional values and institutions. Kazembek placed great emphasis on the role of the Russian Orthodox Church (persecuted by Joseph Stalin at the time).[4] Some regarded this idea as utopic and an oxymoron, which is why in the West the Mladorossi were often seen as Soviet agents, whereas in the Soviet Union they were presented as nationalists and imperialists.[5] Kazembek's political popularity started to decline after it was revealed that he held meetings with a number of Soviet officials who were trying to recruit him into collaboration. In 1940, he was arrested and detained in a concentration camp. However he was soon released and moved to San Francisco, CA, where he worked as a columnist for the Russian-language newspaper, Novaya Zarya and assisted the YMCA in providing help to the Russian hostages in German camps. Thus by 1942, the Mladorossi party was proclaimed officially dismissed. Between 1944 and 1957 Kazembek taught the Russian language and literature at Yale University and Connecticut College.[2] He was also deeply involved in religious work and cooperated with various Russian Orthodox organizations in North America. In 1954, while visiting New Delhi Kazembek applied for permission to return to the Soviet Union permanently.[5]

In 1957, his reputation suffered a blow when Pravda published a pro-Soviet article and claimed that Kazembek was its author. He demanded immediate rehabilitation from the newspaper and threatened to commit suicide if his demands were not met.[3] In 1957, his request of the Soviet citizenship was sustained. He returned to the Soviet Union and worked at the Moscow Patriarchate's Department of Exterior Affairs until his death in 1977. He was buried in the village of Lukino (a Moscow suburb) near the local Church of the Transfiguration.


  1. (Russian) Alexander Kazembek: Light from the East by Alexei Pylev. 13 April 2003
  2. 2.0 2.1 (Russian) Kazem-Bek, Alexander Lvovich: Historical Background.
  3. 3.0 3.1 (Russian) Social Monarchist from Kazan by Rovel Kashapov. Vremya i Dengi. #31-32 (1992-1993). 25 February 2005
  4. (Russian) The Chalice by Vladimir Soloükhin. Roman-Gazeta. #6 (1324). Moscow: 1998
  5. 5.0 5.1 (Russian) A Mladoross's Sunday of Forgiveness by Valentin Nikitin. 4 March 2002

Further reading

  • Massip, Mireille. Alexandre Kasem-Beg et l'émigration russe en Occident, 1902-1977. Georg Editeur S.A., Paris: 1999