The first Soviet Ambassador in Persia: Theodore Rothstein and his life & times in Russia, Britain & Persia

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Institutional Affiliation : 
University of London
Academic Bio: 
Majid Tafreshi was born in Iran, and studied history at the University of Tehran and at London University. Formerly a Researcher at the Iranian National Archive, the Encyclopaedia of the Islamic World (Tehran), and the Institute of Iranian Contemporary Historical Studies, he has also done independent research work for different projects at the British National Archives. His current research interests are: Persian and Shi'i history and politics since the nineteenth century, religion and society in the Pahlavi era, religious leadership in Shi'i Islam, religious seminaries, and oral history of British diplomats in Iran. His publications include ‘Struggle in the Persian Gulf, regaining of three Iranian islands by Iran in 1971’ (2008), ‘A brief history of the Alavi School in Tehran’ (2007), 'Imam Musa Sadr: His Early Years in Iran', with Houshang E Chehabi, in Distant Relations (2006); Bibliography of Afghanistan: Books in English (2002); Shenasnameh: Zendegi, Khaterat, Asnad va Ashar-e Sheikh Ahmad Bahar, with Jalil Bahar (1998); Do Sal Ravabet-e Mahramanah-e Ahmad Shah va Sefarat-e Showravi dar Tehran (1992); Khaterat-e Dowran-e Separi shodeh, Khaterat va Asnad-e Yusuf Eftekhari, with Kaveh Bayat (1991); Gozaresh-haye Mahramaneh-e Shahrbani, 1945- 1949 (2 volumes), with Mahmoud Taher-Ahmadi (1990); Chehel Sal Dar Sahneh-ye Qazayi, Siyasi va Diplomaci-yi Iran va Jahan, Khaterat-e Dr Jalal Abdoh (2 volumes) (1989); Moqaddamat-e Mashrutiyat, Yaddashtha-ye Hashem Mohit-Mafi, with Javad Janfada (1984). At present he is working on British official documents from the time of Iranian Revolution (1978-9) for the publication of two versions of books in English and Persian. He is also researching a selection of documents on the history of the Persian Gulf, as well as a monograph on the history of British public diplomacy in Iran.

Theodore Aronovich Rothstein (1871-1953) was a leading Russian revolutionary, journalist, diplomat, politician and academician.
After leaving Russia in 1890 for political reasons, Rothstein settled in Britain. He worked as a journalist for several British, Russian, and German publications. In 1895, he joined the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) and became one of the main figures of the left wing of the party. Rothstein later became a leading figure in the formation of the Communist Party of Great Britain. He also joined the Russian Social Democratic and Labour Party as a British member in 1901 and became a close comrade of Lenin.
After the 1917 Revolution in Russia, Rothstein was invited to Moscow in 1920. A year later he was appointed as the first Soviet official diplomatic representative in Persia. He returned to Moscow eighteen month later. The British government stopped Rothstein from returning to his family in the UK and warned members of his family not to join him abroad. Rothstein remained in Russia for the rest of his life, and held several governmental and academic positions.
Rothstein played an important role in early years of Reza Khan’s power after the 1921 coup. He was involved in negotiating with the Janagli Movement.   In a book based on the memoirs of ‘Reza Basir-al-Dawlah Heravi’, (Do sal ravabet-e mahramaneh Ahmad Shah va sefarat-e Showravi dar Tehran), I revealed for the first time the secret alliance between Ahmad Shah and Rothstein against Reza Khan & the British Embassy coalition in Tehran. Over the last two years I also uncovered more documents, pertaining to several decades of secret investigations and monitoring of Rothstein and his family by the British Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6, both in Britain and in Persia. In addition to that, different unpublished public and private papers on Rothstein in Iran and the UK have provided additional information about this important personality, whose activities in Persia I intend to examine.

Academic Discipline : 
Independent historian on modern persian & Shi'i studies
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