Kiev Arsenal January Uprising

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January Uprising
Part of Ukrainian-Soviet War
January uprising.jpg
Participants of the January Uprising in Kiev
Date29 January 1918 – 4 February 1918 Storm of Arsenal factory
City of Kiev
Result The Uprising was extinguished.

Ukrainian People's Republic

Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Bolsheviks
Red Guards
Commanders and leaders

Government forces:

Bolshevik Revkom:

Casualties and losses
Military dead:
Military wounded:
Military missing:
Military dead:
Military wounded:
Military missing:
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A monument to the Arsenal uprising in front of Arsenal metro station

Kiev Arsenal January Uprising (Ukrainian: Січневе повстання Sichneve povstannya), sometimes called simply the January Uprising or the January Rebellion, was the Bolshevik organized workers' armed revolt that started on January 29, 1918 at the Kiev Arsenal factory during the Ukrainian-Soviet War. The goal of the uprising was to sabotage the ongoing elections to the Ukrainian Constituent Assembly and to support the advancing Red Army.

The beginning[edit]

January events in Russia and Ukraine[edit]

The long-anticipated Ukrainian Constituent Assembly was to be elected on January 9, 1918 where the Bolsheviks won only 10% of the total votes, but the elections were suspended due to the ongoing Ukrainian-Soviet War as practically all of left-bank Ukraine was occupied by the Russian forces in charge of which was Vladimir Antonov-Ovseyenko. According to the Third Declaration (Universal) the Constituent Assembly was planned to meet on January 22, but this was postponed until the end of military conflict. On January 19 the Soviet government dissolved the Russian Constituent Assembly, while just a day prior to that the government state security forces (Cheka) opened fire on a peace demonstration in support of the constituent assembly.[citation needed] On January 22 another peace demonstration in Moscow was dispersed by gunfire as well.[citation needed]

Preceding revolutionary events[edit]

The Kievan Bolsheviks decided not to waste any more time and were planning for a revolt to support the invading Soviet forces in the Ukrainian-Soviet military campaign. They decided to initiate it once the Soviet forces started to approach the city. That was a certain maneuver to draw away some of the Ukrainian military forces from the front lines and help the Red Army to advance. Other cities at that time were occupied in the same way, such as Katerynoslav (Dnipropetrovsk), Odessa, Mykolaiv, and Yelizavetgrad (Kropyvnytskyi). The center of the riot was chosen to be the Kiev Arsenal factory. To prevent any riots on January 18 a few platoons of the Free Cossacks confiscated a great amount of weaponry from the factory and arrested several Communist activists. The Kievan Bolshevik's propaganda newspaper, Golos Sotsial-Demokrata, was shut down. Later it was decided to confiscate the coal ore to completely shut the factory.

Organisation of the revolt[edit]

On January 28, the Bolsheviks instigated a protest and decided to resist further developments against the factory. With the help of some of the soldiers from the Shevchenko Regiment that were guarding the warehouse of the earlier confiscated weapons they managed to retrieve it back to the factory. After a brief gathering it was decided to start the revolt immediately. The leaders of the revolutionaries became Syla Mishchenko (commandant), Oleksandr Horwits, Mykola Kostyuk, Ipolit Fialek. The city's Bolsheviks Jan Hamarnyk, Andriy Ivanov, Isaac Kreisberg, and others planning for the uprising until the Red Army would come closer to Kiev, had no other choice, but to follow it. The headquarters of the revolt was established at 47 Velyka Vasylkivska Street. The same night on January 28 several factories together with some of soldiers from the Bohdaniv Regiment, Shevchenko Regiment, Sahaydachny Regiment joined the Arsenal workers in the January Uprising. The goal of the uprising was to encircle the building of the Central Rada (today the Pedagogical museum) and then force the members of the Rada to resign. Along the way they were joined by other Red Guards of Podil and Shulyavka led by Arkadiy Dzedzievski (Left SR) with Makola Patlakh (Bolshevik) and Vasyl Bozhenko at Demiivka.

Opposing forces[edit]


  • 1st battalion (kurin) of Sahaidachny Regiment (Syla Mishchenko)
  • several units of Bohdaniv battalion (kurin) (Kysel)
  • units of Shevchenko Regiment (warrant officer A. Port)
  • Red Guards units of Arsenal factory
  • Red Guards units of Demiivka artillery factory (Vasyl Bozhenko)

Central Rada[edit]


On the morning of January 29 the representative of the Kievan Council of worker and soldier deputies handed over an ultimatum to the Tsentralna Rada to surrender. In return the Rada requested immediate capitulation of the revolutionaries and by evening the city was engulfed in a series of skirmishes. The main forces of the mutineers were concentrated around the factory, although a few separate centers existed in Shuliavka neighborhood (based on the recently liquidated Shuliavka Uprising), Demiivka, and Podil. The revolutionaries managed to overtake the railroad freight station Kiev-Tovarniy and were moving towards the center of the city through Khreschatyk. The most dangerous were activities in Podil when the mutineers managed to take the Starokiev police precinct and the hotel Prague (today 36 Volodymyr Street), which were close to the building of the Tsentralna Rada. The next day, on January 30, the whole city was paralyzed and went on strike, stopping utility services and city's transportation. The Rada had no influence over most of the military units, many of which decided not to intrude. The Ukrainian government was only supported by the separate platoons of the Bohdaniv Regiment, Polubotko Regiment, Bohun Regiment, a kurin of Sich Riflemen, and the Free Cossacks.

Storming the Arsenal[edit]

On February 1, the Rada announced that it had full control of the city and asked the workers to end the strike, as it harmed the civil population. It promised to come up with several social-economical reforms in the immediate future. The next day the Sloboda Ukraine Kish (Haidamaky) of Symon Petliura entered the city withdrawing from the attacks of the Colonel Muravyov. Also the Hordiyenko Regiment of Vsevolod Petrov was brought to the city from the north front. On February 2 most of the revolt was extinguished except for its main center – the Arsenal factory. On the morning of February 4 the forces of Symon Petliura occupied the factory after a bloody assault that cost the lives of several kish soldiers and workers of Arsenal. Later Soviets would claim that the Petliura forces killed 300 of the Arsenal's defenders in the yard of the factory.

Afterwards Petliura's resistance was weakened greatly against the besieging Bolsheviks who entered the city on February 4 (occupying the Darnytsia neighborhood) and captured the town on 7 February (although sporadic fighting continued for several days afterwards).[2]


This event is generally regarded as "class-motivated" by historians, similarly to other workers' movements of Russia at the time.

To commemorate the event, the historic defensive wall of the Arsenal factory bearing the traces of shelling was preserved by Soviet authorities on the city's Moscow Street (near the Arsenalna metro station). The nearby street named for the event during Soviet times carried this name (January Uprising Street) until 2007.

The uprising is the subject of a classic film entitled Arsenal (1928) by Ukrainian director Oleksandr Dovzhenko, better known as Alexander Dovzhenko.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]