Joseph Stalin removed many of the Old Bolsheviks from power during the Great Purges of the 1930s. The most prominent survivor in the Communist Party was Vyacheslav Molotov. Most were executed for treason after show trials; some were sent to labor camps (the Gulag); and a few, such as Alexandra Kollontai were sent abroad as ambassadors, preventing them from participating in the central government. Many communist opponents of Stalin, most notably the Trotskyists, cite this fact in support of their argument that Stalin betrayed the aims of the revolution for his own gain.
In a narrower sense, the term "Old Bolshevik", as well as the expression Bolshevik Old Guard (ста́рая большеви́стская гва́рдия), was also a self-description of Bolshevik leaders who opposed Leon Trotsky immediately after the October Revolution of 1917. This use alluded to Trotsky's siding with the Mensheviks against Vladimir Lenin until he joined the Bolsheviks in 1917.