Participant in the 1905 Revolution. Party worker in Moscow, Petersburg, Novgorod and Kiev. Journalist with the newspaper Zvezda and the magazine Prosveshchenie.
From 1912, worked for Pravda. Emigrated the same year. Lived in London, New York and Paris.
Returned to Russia after October 1917. Deputy editor of Izvestia, 1918. Headed ROST A, 1919-1921.
Ambassador to Sweden, 1921-1923. Member of staff at Pravda, 1923-1924. Ambassador to Italy, 1925-1926.
Deputy head of the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 1928-1930. Deputy chairman of the Presidium of the Communist Academy, Moscow, 1930. Director of its Institute of Literature, Art and Language.
Chairman of the Soviet of People’s Commissars, 1931-1933. Chairman of the Committee of Arts, 1936-1938. The boss of Soviet cinema, and one of the people responsible for the persecution of major Soviet filmmakers such as Eisenstein and Pudovkin.