Kiev Bolshevik Uprising
|Ukrainian theatre, part of the October Revolution|
Kievan Committee of the Bolshevik Party|
|Kiev Military District|
|Commanders and leaders|
Georgiy Pyatakov |
6,000 (Bolshevik supporters)|
8,000 (Central Rada supporters)
|Casualties and losses|
Part of a series on the
|History of Ukraine|
The Kiev Bolshevik Uprising (November 8–13 (October 26–31 by old style), 1917) was a military struggle for power in Kiev after the fall of the Russian Provisional Government due to the October Revolution. It ended in victory for the Kievan Committee of the Bolshevik Party and the Central Rada.
Chronology of events
When in the fall of 1917 in Petrograd Bolsheviks staged the "Great October Revolution", their Ukrainian colleagues attempted to do the same. However, unlike in the Russian capital, the rebellion in Kiev has failed. The Bolshevik coup-d'état in Petrograd in November of 1917 became a total surprise to leaders of the Ukrainian Central Council (Tsentralna Rada). As the predominant part of the Russian public, the Ukrainian officials were sure that undertakers of the Russian Provisional Government would not stand in power even few weeks.
Already the very next day after the events in Petrograd, the Ukrainian Central Council declared that considers unacceptable transferring of power to the Council of Workers' and Soldiers' deputies who composed only a part of the organized revolutionary democracy. Officially condemning the coup as non-democratic, the Central Council promised to fight with motivation against all type of support of the rebellion in Ukraine.
The notice about the Petrograd coup has caused a surf of armed struggle in the capital of Ukraine. For the next three days there were street fighting in Kiev between supporters of the Soviet power and government forces before the latter were forced to surrender. Despite its declarations, in this fight the Ukrainian Central Council took the position of friendly neutrality towards Bolsheviks. To many Ukrainian politicians Bolsheviks seemed to be much less dangerous than the toppled Provisional Government that in the last weeks of its existence was expressing increasing hostility towards Ukrainian National movement.
Taking advantage over the defeat of government forces, the Ukrainian units took under their control main government institutions of the city. The power in Kiev and Ukrainian lands was transferred to the Central Council and its executive body, the General Secretariat. The Kiev Military District commander was appointed a participant of Ukrainian National movement Lieutenant Colonel Viktor Pavlenko. Kiev Bolsheviks did not object to the actions of the Central Council. Both sides considered their main opponent the toppled Russian government that seemed as it could still return to power. However, soon thereafter it became understood that the Provisional government has finally descended from political forestage. On the daily agenda before the fighter for "proletarian revolution" arose a question about establishing of Soviet power in Ukraine.
The Kievan Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Worker's Party (Bolsheviks) 10 members of which joined the Central Rada previously.
On November 8 with the initiative of the Central Council of Ukraine the Regional Committee in Protection of Revolution in Ukraine was created which was intended to be a temporary government in Kiev. It consisted of representatives from different political parties, councils, and the city Duma. The Committee was meeting in the building of the Pedagogical museum. The headquarters of the KMD was supporting the Russian Provisional Government and did not trust the State Committee as it included the Bolsheviks. On November 9 the Central Rada finally defined its negative position in relation to the Petrograd coup, condemned the Bolshevik's actions, and declared that "it will decisively fight against all attempts to support such uprising in Ukraine. Rada expressed its agreement for the creation in Russia homogeneous socialist government with the representatives of all socialist parties.
The Kievan Bolsheviks headed by Georgiy Pyatakov (active member of the Central Rada) firmly stood on the Lenin's principles and they did not agree with the position of the Central Rada. The same day they left the State Committee for the protection of the revolution and held a joint meeting (congress) with representatives of worker's and soldier's deputies councils, trade unions, factory presiding committees (fabzavkom), and military units (in the building of the Bergonie theater). The meeting accepted the resolution for the support of the Bolshevik Revolution in Petrograd and declared the power of Soviet government. With their next decision the congress elected revkom consisting of such Bolsheviks as Jan Hamarnyk, Oleksandr Horwits, Andriy Ivanov, Isaac Kreysberg, Volodymyr Zatonsky, Ivan Kulyk, and others to whom was planned to transfer the power. All of them also initiated the January Uprising couple of months later to support the sack of Kiev by the advancing Bolshevik forces from Russian SFSR and installation of the Soviet government in Ukraine.
In response to the Bolshevik activities the military forces of the KMD were ordered to liquidate the Bolshevik center on November 10, 1917. They surrounded Mariyinsky Palace where was located the local revkom and thrashed the building of the Kievan Duma Executive Committee and the Bolshevik Committee. Almost all the members of the Kievan Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Worker's Party (Bolsheviks) and the revkom (14 people) were arrested. The same day ceased to exist the State Committee for the protection of the revolution as the commander of the KMD, Mikhail Kvetsinsky, refused to take orders from it. On November 10 all the functions of the liquidated State Committee for the protection of the revolution were transferred to the General Secretariat.
Bolsheviks answered by reinstating the revkom the next day (Volodymyr Zatonsky, Andriy Ivanov, Ivan Kudrin, and others). They initiated military operations against the forces of the KMD. At the same time the VII session of the Central Rada was taken place, the deputies of which formed a committee that would find ways to stop mayhem in Kiev. The session also sanctioned all the power in Ukraine to be transferred to the Central Rada. The committee decided that all the power in the city will transfer to the Ukrainian Central Rada that will cooperate with the City Duma and the soviets of the workers' soldiers' deputies. For the next couple days street firefights filled some parts of the city (Pechersk, Demiivka). On November 13 the headquarters of the Kiev Military District (KMD) that was located on the Bankova Street signed a cease-fire agreement with the Kiev revkom and soon withdrew out of the city. Since that time the Kiev Military District was virtually liquidated.
On November 16, 1917 at the joined meeting of the Central Rada and the Executive Committee of the soviets of the workers' soldiers' deputies in Kiev have acknowledge the Rada as the regional council in Ukraine. Soon, on November 20, the III Universal of the Ukrainian People's Republic which declared Ukraine an autonomous part of the Russian state with the capital in Kiev was officially enacted.
- Kovalchuk, M. Unfortunate October: Bolshevik Uprising attempt in Kiev in 1917 (Невдалий Жовтень: спроба більшовицького повстання в Києві у 1917-му). Ukrayinska Pravda (Istorychna Pravda). 5 September 2012
- Orest Subtelny, History of Ukraine
- In 1921 the new Soviet KMD was installed in its place, the last commander of which refused to pledge allegiance to Ukraine and the District was dissolved in 1991.
- Kiev. Historical encyclopedia. 1917–2000.
- Doroshenko, D. Історія України 1917—1923" (History of Ukraine 1917–23). Vol I. "Доба Центральної Ради" (The times of the Central Rada). Uzhhorod 1932.