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Larin, Iurii Aleksandrovich

(1882–1932), Soviet economist, political figure, and publicist. Iurii Larin was born in Simferopol’ as Mikhail Aleksandrovich Luria. His father, Shneur (Shelomoh) Zalman Luria, was an engineer, Hebrew author, Zionist, and, according to some sources, a kazennyi ravvin, or “crown rabbi.”

Larin joined the Russian Social Democratic Party in 1900, becoming a member of the Menshevik wing from 1904. From 1901 until the February 1917 Revolution, he was an active rebel who spent time in various parts of the Russian Empire, tsarist prisons, Siberian exile, and abroad. His writings on German economics drew Lenin’s attention, and after Larin returned to Russia and joined the Bolshevik Party in 1917, he quickly entered the Soviet economic administration and served in delegations to the Brest-Litovsk negotiations (1917–1918) and to Genoa (1922). Considered a gifted economist, Larin was a member of, and adviser to, key Soviet economic and political bodies but held no major leadership post. He addressed a range of issues, from labor affairs to the role of capital in the national economy. His ideas and frequent contributions to national newspapers were widely reprinted and, evidently, were embraced by many Soviet leaders in the mid-1920s. His daughter married the famed Bolshevik Nikolai Bukharin.

Inactive in Jewish issues until 1923, Larin thereafter campaigned for Jewish agricultural colonization in southern Ukraine and Crimea. In 1925, he was appointed adviser to the Soviet government on Jewish affairs and became the first chairman of Obshchestvo po Zemel’nomu Ustroistvu Trudiashchikhsia Evreev (OZET; Society for the Settlement of Jewish Toilers on the Land). He was also a founding member of KOMZET (Komitet po Zemel’nomu Ustroistvu Trudiashchikhsia Evreev pri Prezidiume Soveta Natsional’nostei Tsental’nyi Ispolitel’nyi Komitet SSSR; Committee for the Settlement of Jewish Laborers on the Land under the Council of Soviet Nationalities for the Central Executive Committee of the USSR). Although he encouraged Jewish national autonomy in the Black Sea region, Larin opposed the later Soviet call to create a territorial entity in Birobidzhan. Claiming that Birobidzhan’s geographic isolation, inhospitable climate, and poor soil made it a poor choice, he argued that Crimea and its environs were the only realistic places for Jews to establish their territory. This stance earned him criticism from Evsektsiia, the Jewish Section of the Communist Party.

Larin’s most important work on Jewish affairs was Evrei i antisemitizm v SSSR (Jews and Antisemitism in the USSR; 1929). Here he argued that tsarist injustices (among them, confinement to the Pale) inevitably brought Jews into conflict with non-Jewish peasants. Calling for the repression of antisemitism, he envisioned transforming 500,000 Russian Jews into productive Soviet peasants, whereas the majority of Jews would be absorbed into the nation’s new industry. Larin died in 1932 and was buried next to the Lenin Mausoleum. In 1935, a new raion, or Jewish autonomous district, in Crimea was named Larindorf in his honor.

Suggested Reading

Yosef Barzilai, “Iu. L’arin: Mi-Ri’shone ha-tikhnun ha-sovieti,” He-‘Avar 18 (1971): 151–161; Iurii Larin, Evrei i antisemitizm v SSSR (Moscow, 1929); Anna Larina, This I Cannot Forget: The Memoirs of Nikolai Bukharin’s Widow, trans. Gary Kern (New York, 1993).