This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988
Fedor Andreyevich Sergeyev (1883?-1921), journalist and political activist, was born into a peasant family at Glebovo village, Fatezh district, Kursk province, Russia. He was expelled for his revolutionary activity from Moscow Higher Technical School in 1901. He joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1902 and assumed the nom de guerre 'Artem' (pronounced Artyom). After serving six months imprisonment for participating in student demonstrations, Artem spent two years in Paris where he met Lenin. He became henceforth totally loyal to the Leninist wing of the party. At Lenin's suggestion he returned to Russia in 1903 and was active in the 1905 revolution in the Ukraine and from 1906 was leader of the Perm regional and Ural Oblast committees of the R.S.D.L.P. He was arrested and imprisoned several times. In 1910 he managed to escape from a Siberian prison camp, first to Korea, thence to China and finally, on 14 June 1911, with five other Russians he arrived in Brisbane, describing himself as a fitter. He intended to stay only long enough to recuperate from his ordeals.
Artem worked on various labouring jobs on the railways, the waterfront and on the land and meanwhile became a prominent leader of Russian workers in Brisbane. By late 1911 there were almost 800 Russians in Brisbane, including socialist revolutionaries, anarchists and Marxists. Artem was active in establishing the Soyuz Russkikh Emigrantov (Union of Russian Emigrants) in December 1911 and the Russian-language newspaper Australiiskoye Ekho) (Australian Echo) in June 1912; its radical character may have provoked its closure as an unregistered publication.
The tramway and general strike of 1912 gave Artem and other Russian radicals the opportunity to become active in the labour movement. They formed a Russian strike committee and collected strike funds. Dorf, a Russian tramdriver, was elected to the official strike committee. Impressed, Artem wrote: 'Australia has just experienced an unprecedented event. In a country where all institutions, all past experience appears to have destroyed the very thought of a revolution [there is] a general strike'.
In 1913 he joined the Australian Socialist Party, as well as the Amalgamated Workers' Union, the Meatworkers' Union and the free speech movement. During the war he adopted an intransigent Leninist position, arguing that the war had nothing to do with the legitimate aspirations of the working class; later, for revolutionary purposes, he called for the defeat of Russia.
Artem left Australia immediately after the February 1917 revolution and, having staged a May Day demonstration in Darwin, reached Russia in July. His rise in the Bolshevik Party was meteoric. He was made party leader of the Donbass (Ukraine) and was a member of Lenin's central committee from 1917. In 1920 he became secretary of the Moscow party committee and was a delegate to the second Comintern congress. In 1921 he was put in charge of the Mineworkers' Union. He wrote articles for Pravda, Prosveshchinie and other periodicals.
On 24 July 1921 Artem and Paul Freeman were killed in the crash of an experimental monorail train. Artem was buried in Red Square, Moscow. A son, later a major general in the Soviet Army, survived him. In Australia Artem had written Schastlivaya Strane (Lucky Country); it was published in Moscow in 1926.
Eric Fried, 'Sergeyev, Fedor Andreyevich (1883–1921)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/sergeyev-fedor-andreyevich-8386/text14723, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 31 March 2015.
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988