Grigori Yakovlevich Sokolnikov (Russian: Григорий Яковлевич Сокольников; 1888–1939) was a Russian old Bolshevik revolutionary, economist, and Soviet politician.
Grigori Sokolnikov was born Girsh Yankelevich Brilliant (Гирш Я́нкелевич Бриллиа́нт) to a railway doctor in Romny on 15 August [O.S. 3 August] 1888. Sokolnikov was Jewish by birth. He moved to Moscow as a teenager and joined the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1905. He served time in prison and studied economics whilst at the Sorbonne.
He returned to Russia in April 1917 along with Vladimir Lenin in the 'sealed train', and on arriving in Russia became part of the editorial board of the Bolsheviks' central party organ.
Grigori Sokolnikov was a member of the first Politburo, with seven members: Lenin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky, Stalin, Sokolnikov and Bubnov. After the October Revolution, he held various government positions. He was a member of the Joffe led delegation for peace negotiations with Germany. While Joffe accompanied the signatory team in protest as a consultant, he replaced Leon Trotsky as chairman and signed the Brest-Litovsk treaty in 1918 on behalf of the Bolshevik government of Russia. Later, alongside Rosalia Zemlyachka, he became commissar of the Eighth army, using this position to order mass shootings during the Russian Civil War. He was appointed People's Commissar of Finance following the introduction of the New Economic Policy and became a candidate member of the Politburo of the Communist Party in May 1924. According to Boris Bajanov, as minister of finance Sokolnikov proved himself to be a capable administrator, accomplishing every task he was asked to do, such as creating the first stable Soviet currency. Bajanov also notes that despite Sokolnikov's past in the Red Army, he was not ruthless in his personality. Privately, Sokolnikov lost faith in the Soviet Union under Stalin and later described the Soviet economy as "state capitalist". He was removed from his position in the Sovnarkom (Council of People's Commissars) and demoted from the Politburo after calling for Joseph Stalin's removal as General Secretary of the Communist Party at the Fourteenth Congress of the Bolsheviks in December 1925. Sokolnikov was appointed instead as vice-chairman of Gosplan, the new economic planning agency (an appointment that carried cruel irony since Sokolnikov himself was a bitter opponent of heavy-handed centralized planning) and later as head of an oil company. He was the Soviet ambassador to England from 1929 to 1932.
During the Great Purge, Sokolnikov was arrested in 1937 and tried at the Trial of the Seventeen. He was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment. Reportedly, he was killed in a prison by other convicts on 21 May 1939. A post-Stalin investigation during the Khrushchev Thaw revealed that the murder was orchestrated by the NKVD. In 1988, during perestroika, he was rehabilitated along with many other victims of the Great Purge.