Graduated from 3 forms of parochial school.
In 1917, he was a member of the Voronezh garrison, provincial Soviets, the provincial executive committee, the provincial committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party (the Bolsheviks), the chairman of the Red Guards headquarters, a member of the Military Revolutionary Committee, and the chairman of the First Provincial Congress of Peasants' Deputies.
Since January 1918 was a member of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee. In 1918, the secretary of the Voronezh Provincial Executive Committee, the commissar of the 3rd Voronezh Infantry Division, the provincial military commissar, the military commissar of the 40th Boguchar Division. Also Ivan Yakovlevich held the post of the Delegate of All-Russian Congresses of Soviets and Congresses of the Russian Communist Party (the Bolsheviks). In 1919-1924 served in the Red Army. In 1921 was the head of the political administration of the Turkestan Front. In 1922, as a delegate of the Transcaucasian SFSR at the 1st Congress of Soviets of the USSR, he signed the Treaty on the Formation of the USSR.
In the 1920s he joined the Trotskyite opposition, in 1927 he was expelled from the All-Union Communist Party (the Bolsheviks),in 1937 was exiled to the Komi ASSR.
Member of the Great Patriotic War. In 1949 he was sentenced to 25 years of forced labor camps. Rehabilitated in 1956.