The Ural-Siberian method was an extraordinary approach launched in the Soviet Union for the collection of grain from the countryside. It was introduced in Urals and Siberia, hence the name. The Ural-Siberian method was a return to the drastic policies that had characterized War Communism in the period prior to Lenin’s New Economic Policy.
During 1928/1929 various suggestions were put forth to increase the efficiency of grain procurement.
The initial version of the Ural-Siberian method was first suggested by Ural obkom of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), basing on the actual practice used there in 1928. The Bolshevik Politburo approved the suggestion on March 20, 1929 and recommended to use in eastern regions of the Soviet Union. Siberian raikom significantly contributed to this approach (particularly, it suggested pyatikratka, see below), and therefore at the April 1928 Plenum of Central Committee and Central Control Committee of the CPSU, Joseph Stalin dubbed this method as "Ural-Siberian".
The approach resembled that of Kombeds (Poor Peasants Committees) of 1918-1919s. The village assemblies endorsed the grain procurement plans for their villages and set up the commissions which assigned individual quotas according to the "class approach": it was supposed that kulaks (rich peasants) would be forced to deliver their surplus grain. Kulaks who failed to meet their quotas were fined the amount up to five times the quota, the fine colloquially known as pyatikratka ("five-timer"). Further refusal resulted in up to one year of forced labor camps, and in the case of group resistance, up to two years of confinement with confiscation of property and subsequent internal exile. This practice anticipated the policy of "dekulakization".
The Ural-Siberian Method featured the increased unrest of peasants, with the corresponding intensification of repressive measures, both countryside, against peasants, and in cities, against private grain traders declared profiteers. 1929 witnessed a significant increase of "mass disturbances" and "kulak terror". In November 1929 OGPU reported 12,808 arrests on counter-revolutionary charges and 15,536 arrests on economic charges, with the bulk of arrests in major grain production regions: Siberia, Northern Caucasus, Ukraine, Central Black Earth Region, and the Urals.
These drastic measures allowed Stalin to speak of "satisfactory procurement", after the backdrop of the famine of 1927 which resulted from the Scissors Crisis of the mid 1920s. Some researchers believe that this relative success convinced Stalin in efficiency of forced administrative approach to peasantry, further developed in the policy of total collectivization in the USSR. The latter policy was declared an immediate priority at the November 1929 Plenum of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party.
In Soviet historiography, it was claimed that the method was introduced upon the initiative of a Zavyalovo village in Novosibirsk okrug, and the term Zavyalovo Method was in use for some time. On March 22, 1929 the newspaper Soviet Siberia informed about the "Zavialovo initiative" and called for spreading it to other places. It is suggested that this publication was propaganda cover-up of the March 20 decision of Politburo.
In western historiography, while the overall idea was presented correctly, different versions of the chronology of events have been published, due to lack of documentary sources. In particular, some works say that the method was first introduced in Siberia, and only later in Urals. Additional information became available after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which allowed to clarify the course of the events.
- Russian: Урало-сибирский метод хлебозаготовок.
- "The Ural-Siberian Method of Grain Procurement:In Search of an Optimal Variant", Humanitarian Sciences in Siberia (Гуманитарные науки в Сибири), 2006, no 2, pp. 20–26 (Russian)
- "The War Against the Peasantry, 1927–1930: The Tragedy of the Soviet Countryside", Volume one (Annals of Communism Series), 2005,ISBN 0-300-10612-2, section "The Ural-Siberian Method and the Intensification of Repression", [pp. 119–123]
- Suny, Ronald Grigor. The Soviet Experiment: Russia, the USSR and the Successor States. New York: Oxford, 1998.
- There were several of them in the okrug; the exact location was not indicated.
- E.H. Carr, A History of Soviet Russia: Foundations of a Planned Economy, 1926-1929: Volume 2. London: Macmillan, 1971.
- R.W. Davies, The Industrialisation of Soviet Russia: Volume 1: The Socialist Offensive: The Collecitivisation of Soviet Agriculture, 1929-1930. London: Macmillan, 1980.
- J.R. Hughes, "The Irkutsk Affair: Stalin, Siberian Politics and the End," Soviet Studies, vol. 41, no. 2 (April 1989), pp. 228-253. In JSTOR
- James Hughes, "Capturing the Russian Peasantry: Stalinist Grain Procurement Policy and the "Ural-Siberian Method," Slavic Review, vol. 53, no. 1 (Spring 1994), pp. 76–103. In JSTOR
- James Hughes, Stalin, Siberia and the Crisis of the NEP. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
- Olga Narkiewicz, "Soviet Administration and the Grain Crisis of 1927-1928," Soviet Studies, vol. 20, no. 4 (October 1968), pp. 235–245.