Ukrainian People's Republic of Soviets

See also: Ukrainian SSR
Ukrainian People's Republic of Soviets
Украинская Народная Республика Советов
Republic of the Russian SFSR



  Ukrainian People's Republic of Soviets
(pre-January 1918)
Capital Kharkiv
49°59′N 36°13′E / 49.983°N 36.217°E / 49.983; 36.217Coordinates: 49°59′N 36°13′E / 49.983°N 36.217°E / 49.983; 36.217
Government Soviet republic (system of government)
Legislature Soviets
Historical era World War I
  Established 25 December 1917
  Merged with Ukrainian Soviet Republic March 1918
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The Ukrainian People's Republic of Soviets (1917–1918) was a short-lived Soviet republic of the Russian SFSR that was announced in the declaration of the Kharkiv All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets "About the self-determination of Ukraine" on 25 December [O.S. 12 December] 1917 in the building of the Noble Assembly (Kharkiv). The republic was later united into the Ukrainian Soviet Republic and, eventually, liquidated, because of an extinguished support from the government of Russian SFSR when the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed.


Preparation to the All-Ukrainian congress of Soviets in Kiev

The idea to call for the All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets was posed by the Bolshevik faction within the executive committee of the Kiev Council of workers' deputies during the united session of executive committees of councils (soviets) of workers' and soldiers' deputies of Kiev city on 16 November [O.S. 3 November] 1917, soon after the failed Bolshevik's attempt to establish the Soviet power in the city. The united session of councils adopted the Bolshevik resolution about the congress on 17 November [O.S. 4 November] 1917 (next day). On 24 November [O.S. 11 November] 1917 the same resolution was adopted by the Kharkiv council of workers' and soldiers' deputies, also on the proposition of Bolsheviks. The proposition of the Kiev Bolsheviks supported the Central Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (bolsheviks) and the government of Soviet Russia.

On 30 November [O.S. 17 November] 1917 there took talks between representatives of the Kiev Bolsheviks Sergei Bakinsky (real name – Ludwig Bernheim),[1] Central Council of Ukraine Mykola Porsh, and the newly appointed (26 November [O.S. 13 November] 1917) Russian People's Commissar on National Affairs Joseph Stalin (real name – Joseph Dzhugashvili) who, on the behave of government of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, advised immediately to take actions on the assembly of such congress. He also strongly insisted that power may not remain within the Central Council of Ukraine and should be transferred to the regional congress of Councils (Soviets), and locally – councils (soviets). On a proposition of Bolsheviks the preparation for the assembly of the All-Ukrainian congress of Soviets was taken by the regional executive committee of councils of workers', peasants, and soldiers' deputies of the Southwestern Krai that was created in the spring of 1917 in Kiev.

On 7 December [O.S. 24 November] 1917 the regional executive committee adopted a declaration about the assembly of the All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets on 16 December [O.S. 3 December] 1917 in Kiev. The created organizational bureau has developed standards of representation assuming that to the congress will arrive around 500 people. In congress should have participated representatives of all councils of workers', peasants', and soldiers' deputies from guberniyas, counties, and cities including ones that were under influence of Ukrainian parties. However, after the representation standards a great advantage was given to delegates from councils of industrial regions and big cities where Bolsheviks had the biggest influence. On the other hand, a peasant's representation was so limited that it was going to be even smaller than in the Fourth State Duma under the Tsar regime.

Ukrainian Constituent Assembly

Previously on 30 October [O.S. 17 October] 1917 the Russian Provisional Government accused the General Secretariat of Ukraine in separatism and threatened to take the matter to court over two weeks after the adaptation by the Central Council of Ukraine a bill about elections to the Ukrainian Constituent Assembly. The government of Ukraine planned to send its delegation to settle the disagreement, however the Petrograd events of 7–8 November 1917 have changed the plans. On 20 November 1917 the Central Council of Ukraine issued its Third Decree (Universal) where it announced the date for the Ukrainian Constituent Assembly on 9 January 1918. On 29 November 1917 the Central Council finally adopted the Law "about elections to the Constituent assembly of Ukrainian People's Republic".

December events, the congress and Soviet aggression

In order to activate the Bolshevik organizations and increase their control over the councils in Ukraine, the Bolshevik leadership considered necessary to create some All-Ukrainian Bolshevik center. For the purpose to Kiev has arrived a member of the Communist Central Committee Grigoriy Zinoviev and a commissar of the Russian government of Romanian Front Semyon Roshal. On 11 December [O.S. 29 November] 1917 the Kiev Military-Revolutionary Committee handed an ultimatum to the Central Council of Ukraine threatening to destroy Kiev or transfer the authority over Ukraine to Bolsheviks. Simultaneously Yevgenia Bosch managed to direct the 2nd Guard Corps of the 7th Army from the Romanian Front to Kiev in support of another Bolshevik uprising. By the efforts of the Kiev commandant Yuriy Kapkan and the General of the 1st Ukrainian Corps Pavlo Skoropadsky the mutiny was preemptively extinguished with almost no bloodshed.[2]

On 16–18 December [O.S. 3–5 December] 1917 a regional congress of Bolsheviks of Ukraine took place in Kiev. The congress decided to create a single party of Ukraine and call it "RSDLP(b) – Social-democracy of Ukraine" (Russian: РСДРП(б) – Социал-демократия Украины). The party elected its Chief Committee that consisted of Aussem, Shakhrai, Lapchinsky, Bosch, Zatonsky, Aleksandrov, Kulik, Grinevich, Gorvits and candidates Lyuksemburg, Gamarnik, Galperin, Pyatakov. On 17 December [O.S. 4 December] 1917 the All-Ukrainian congress of Soviets was opened in the building of Merchant's Assembly in Kiev. After realizing that Bolsheviks will not gain a majority in the congress, Bolsheviks demanded to recognize the gathering not a congress, but rather a meeting. When their proposal was rejected, the 127 Bolsheviks left the congress. The same day on 17 December [O.S. 4 December] 1917 the government of the Soviet Russia sent an ultimatum to the Central Council signed by Vladimir Lenin and Lev Trotsky and giving the Ukrainian side 48 hours to respond. The next day the government of Russia without awaiting an answer declared to consider the Central Council of Ukraine its enemy, appointing Vladimir Antonov-Ovseyenko the commander of the Soviet Red Guards. On 18 December [O.S. 5 December] 1917 the 124 delegates that left the All-Ukrainian congress of Soviets have gathered in a special meeting in the Kiev Central Bureau of Trade Unions and adopted a resolution about the relentless struggle with the Central Council, about immediate election of the All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee of Soviets and about moving to Kharkiv for carrying out the Congress there. On 20 December [O.S. 7 December] 1917 the Central Council of Ukraine sent an answer to the Soviet ultimatum signed by Volodymyr Vynnychenko and Symon Petlyura rejecting it. The very next day the Red Guards led by Antonov-Ovsiyenko invaded Kharkiv completely taking over the city on 22 December [O.S. 9 December] 1917 and starting the Ukrainian–Soviet War. The Ovsiyenko's Army was supported by the Cheka military formations led by Mikhail Rozen. The same day on 22 December [O.S. 9 December] 1917 there started the first stage of the treaty of Brest-Litovsk, signing of which stretched for over two months.

For more details on this topic, see Ukrainian–Soviet War.

Establishment of the Soviet regime

After two days since Kharkiv was occupied by the Russian Red Guards, finally the other All-Ukrainian congress of Soviets took place. The session has opened in the building of Noble Assembly. On 25 December [O.S. 12 December] 1917, the congress declared creation of the Ukrainian People's Republic of Soviets and established its governing body the Central Executive Committee of Ukraine (CVK of Soviet Ukraine). On 26 December [O.S. 13 December] 1917 there took place the first session of the CVK of Soviet Ukraine that elected its presidium and commissions. The chairman of the CVK was elected Yukhym Medvedev (Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers Party). The same day there was established the Soviet government People's Secretariat (similar to its main opponent General Secretariat of Ukraine) and also a telegram was telegraphed to the Russian Sovnarkom about establishing the Soviet power in Ukraine.



For more details on this topic, see People's Secretariat.

Functions of a government were handed to the People's Secretariat (a combination of People's Commissariat and General Secretariat). The government consisted out of 13 secretariats that corresponded to ministries and were headed by People's Secretaries. The first composition of the government was adopted by the CVK on 27 December [O.S. 14 December] 1917 (30 December [O.S. 17 December] 1917 according to "Handbook of History of Ukraine").[3]

Secretariat Secretary Affiliation Nationality
Trade and Industry Fyodor Sergeyev (Artyom) Bolshevik Russian
Finances Vladimir Aussem Bolshevik German
Internal Affairs Yevgenia Bosch Bolshevik German
Labor Nikolai Skripnik Bolshevik
Education Vladimir Zatonsky Bolshevik Ukrainian
International Affairs Sergei Bakinsky Bolshevik Jewish
Food Supply Emmanuil Luganovsky Bolshevik Jewish
Court Affairs Vladimir Lyuksemburg Bolshevik Jewish
Military Affairs Vasiliy Shakhrai Bolshevik Ukrainian
Secretariat Affairs Georgiy Lapchinsky Bolshevik Ukrainian
Land Cultivation Yevgeniy Terletsky[4] Left SR Ukrainian
Post and Telegraph vacant
Roads vacant

12 January [O.S. 30 December] 1918 Vasiliy Shakhrai who participated at the Brest-Litovsk peace talks was replaced by Bolshevik-Ukrainian Yuriy Kotsyubynsky. On 1 February [O.S. 19 January] 1918 he was appointed the Chief Commander of Armies of the Soviet Ukraine.


  1. Yandex Dictionary on Bakinsky
  2. Kalinichenko, V.V., Rybalka, I.K. "The October Revolution in Petrograd". History of Ukraine, a textbook for historic departments. Kharkiv National University of Karazin. Kharkiv 2004.
  3. People's Secretariat in the Handbook of History of Ukraine
  4. Terletsky profile at
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