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Shulgin was born in Kiev. His father was a Professor of history, monarchist and editor of a monarchist newspaper. Shulgin studied at the Law faculty of Kiev University and was disgusted with the constant students' protests. At that time he became an ardent opponent of a revolution and supported the monarchy. He began to write articles in his father's newspaper. He also held antisemitic views but opposed open violence such as the notorious pogroms which were common in Kiev at the time. Later, in 1913, he heavily criticised the government for the Beilis trial. Shulgin understood that participation in or turning a blind eye on the most odious manifestation of antisemitism was detrimental to the government.
In 1907 Shulgin became a member of the Duma. He advocated right-wing views, supported the government of Pyotr Stolypin, including introduction of courts-martial, and other controversial changes. When the First World War broke out, Shulgin joined the army. In 1915 he was wounded and returned home. Shulgin was shocked by the inefficient organization and supply of the Russian army. Together with members of the Octobrists, the Cadets, and other right-wing or centrist politicians he established the Progressive Bloc. The aim of the Bloc was to provide the army with everything necessary since the government failed to do it.
Obviously, Shulgin opposed the revolution, though it was evident that absolute monarchy in Russia would no longer exist. Together with Alexander Guchkov he persuaded Nicholas II to abdicate from the throne since he believed that a constitutional monarchy with Michael Alexandrovich being the monarch was possible, and that this or even a republic, if a strong government was established, would be a remedy for Russia. For the same reason he supported the Provisional Government and Kornilov's coup. When all hope was lost he moved to Kiev where he participated in the White movement. In 1920 Shulgin emigrated to Yugoslavia. In 1925-26 he secretly visited the Soviet Union. He described this visit and his impression of the New Economic Policy in the book called The Three Capitals ( ?). While in emigration Shulgin continued keeping in touch with other leaders of the White movement until 1937 when he ceased his political activity.
In 1944 the Soviet army entered Yugoslavia. Shulgin was arrested and sentenced to 25 years for his "hostile to communism antisoviet activity". After twelve years in prison he was released in 1956 under the amnesty. Since then he lived in Vladimir. In his later books he argued that communism was no more a disaster for Russia since former Bolsheviks turned into patriots of Russia. In 1965 Shulgin was the main character in a documentary film, "The Verdict of History" in which he told his story to a Soviet historian.