Bolsheviks were good at later changing their names.

They felt comfortable with this because of the necessity in the past to adopt various aliases under konspiratsia in avoiding the police.

As 1917 and revolution neared, Stalin began evolving his byline in Pravda. In Young Stalin, Simon Sebag Montefiore tells us that his pen name underwent several permutations (p. 278).

Prior to Pravda, which he founded, many of his articles and editorials appeared in other Social-Democrat and Bolshevik newspapers. From 1910, his bylines included K. St. (probably ‘Koba Stalin’), K. Safin and K. Solin. He rejected the last because he didn’t feel ‘man of salt’ had enough dynamism and strength.

Stalin had an ex-girlfriend by the name of Ludmilla Stal. ‘Stal’ also evokes ‘steel’ or ‘iron’ but isn’t an exact translation of either. By calling himself ‘Stalin’, he wanted others to consider him as a hard, indestructible man. He began using this new name in 1913 (p. 279).

By changing his name, Stalin was aping Lenin, who had changed his from Ulyanov years before. It is thought that the Bolshevik leader took it from the Lena River in Siberia (p. 278). As Ulyanov had written as ‘Lenin’ on his most important essay, ‘What Is to Be Done?’ he continued using it.

Other Bolsheviks who changed their names included Trotsky (Leon — or Lev — Bronstein) who took a Russian warder’s name; Lev Rosenfeld changed his to Kamenev (‘man of stone’) and Vyacheslav Scriabin became Molotov (‘hammer man’).

Kamenev, by the way, was married to Trotsky’s sister Olga (p. 318).