Victor Chernov was born in Novouzensk, Russia, in 1873. He studied law at Moscow University where he quickly became leader of the illegal students union.
A follower of Paul Lavrov, Chernov was arrested and imprisoned in the Peter-Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg. Exiled to Tambov, Chernov began establishing independent socialist peasant brotherhoods in the area.
In 1899 Chernov went to live in Switzerland where he studied philosophy at Berne University. He returned in 1901 and joined with Catherine Breshkovskaya, Nikolai Avksentiev, Gregory Gershuni, Alexander Kerensky and Evno Azef to establish the Socialist Revolutionary Party.
Chernov edited the SR journal, Revolutionary Russia, where he argued against Marxists who claimed that the peasants were a totally reactionary social class.
After living in exile Chernov returned to Russia during the 1905 Revolution. Although seen as the leader of the party, Chernov was not directly involved in the rising in support of the Potemkin Mutiny and the St Petersburg Soviet.
In the Provisional Government of 1917 Chernov was appointed as Minister of Agriculture. However, he resigned in September and was replaced by another member of the SR, S. L. Maslov.
Chernov strongly opposed the Bolsheviks during the October Revolution. In the elections held for the Constituent Assembly in November, 1917, the Socialist Revolutionary Party won 20,900,000 votes (58 per cent), whereas the Bolsheviks won only 9,023,963 votes (25 per cent). As leader of the largest party, Chernov was elected Chairman.
In 1918 the Soviet government closed down the Constituent Assembly and banned the Socialist Revolutionary Party and other anti-Bolshevik parties. Chernov left Russia and lived in Czechoslovakia before moving to the USA. Victor Chernov died in New York in 1952.