Central Rada

Central Rada

 

a joint counterrevolutionary body of bourgeois and petit bourgeois nationalist parties and organizations in the Ukraine in 1917 and 1918.

The Central Rada was formed in Kiev on Mar. 4 (17), 1917, at a session of the council of the Ukrainian Socialist Federalist Party, with the participation of the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers’ Party, the Ukrainian Socialist Revolutionary Party, and various societies and organizations. In its appeal of March 9 (22) To the Ukrainian People, the Central Rada called on the people to support the bourgeois Provisional Government. The membership of the Central Rada was increased to 150 at the All-Ukrainian National Congress, which represented Ukrainian bourgeois and petit bourgeois parties and public organizations and met in Kiev from April 6 to 8 (19 to 21). To carry on work between plenums, the Central Rada formed an executive body in June. The Small Rada, as this body was called, had 30 members, with M. S. Grushevskii as chairman, V. K. Vinnichenko and S. A. Efremov as deputy chairmen, and A. V. Nikovskii and N. V. Porsh among the members. The press organ of the Central Rada was Visti Ukrains’koi Tsentral’noi rady.

The leaders of the Central Rada attempted to channel the Ukrainian national movement toward bourgeois nationalism through the creation of a united Ukrainian national front. To this end, province, district, and city radas were established. Between April and July 1917 the membership of the Central Rada was expanded by the addition of representatives of peasants, soldiers, workers, students, teachers, capitalists, and pomeshchiki (large-scale landowners), who were elected at various congresses and conferences; new members also included representatives of bourgeois and petit bourgeois parties and organizations of national minorities living in the Ukraine. A total of 643 people were elected to the Central Rada between May and July; although the body nominally had 815 members, less than one-half of them took part in its work. The formation of Ukrainian military units began at the same time. Because of its heterogeneous class composition, the Central Rada had an unstable social base, torn by inner contradictions that were intensified by the growing socialist revolution. Under these conditions the Central Rada pursued a policy of maneuvers, deceiving the popular masses with demagogic promises.

The Central Rada issued its first universal (manifesto) on June 10 (23), 1917. Contrary to the wishes of the Provisional Government, the universal proclaimed the autonomy of the Ukraine and the formation of a government, the General Secretariat. By the end of June, however, the Central Rada had already come to an agreement with the Provisional Government. In its second universal, issued on July 3 (16), it virtually renounced autonomy, the implementation of which it agreed to postpone until the convocation of the All-Russian Constituent Assembly. The Central Rada retreated from the positions of the first universal because an increase of Bolshevik influence among the proletarian masses and the poorest elements of the peasantry was leading these classes to support proletarian revolution.

When it lost the allegiance of a considerable part of the peasantry and witnessed the increase of revolutionary sentiments in the army, the Central Rada adopted a hostile attitude toward the October Revolution of 1917. Taking advantage of the victory of the revolutionary forces in the October Armed Uprising in Kiev against the Provisional Government, the Central Rada moved nationalist units into Kiev and occupied the government institutions; on October 31 (November 13) it seized the city. In its third universal, issued on November 7 (20), the Central Rada proclaimed itself the supreme body of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, which was to be part of Russia. In its fourth universal, however, issued on Jan. 11 (24), 1918, the Central Rada proclaimed the independence of the Ukraine, while secretly agreeing to the occupation of the Ukraine by Austro-German troops.

From November 1917 to January 1918 the Central Rada conducted negotiations with the Council of People’s Commissars of Soviet Russia; at the same time it sought financial support from the Entente, supported General A. M. Kaledin and other White Guardists, and conducted secret negotiations with the Austro-German bloc. Despite its promises, the Central Rada did not solve the agrarian, labor, or nationality problems. In December 1917 the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR issued a manifesto to the Ukrainian people and an ultimatum to the Central Rada, which it exposed as a bulwark of counterrevolution; the ultimatum was written by V. I. Lenin on December 3 (16) and sent to Kiev on December 4 (17). In an attempt to forestall the convocation of the First All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets, the Central Rada gathered in Kiev numerous representatives of kulak leagues (spilky) and cossack host radas; these groups had nothing in common with the soviets. The First All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets, which was held in Kharkov on Dec. 11–12 (24–25), 1917, outlawed the Central Rada.

Gradually the working masses of the Ukraine became convinced that the policy of the Central Rada was directed against the people. Under pressure from the rebellious masses, the Red Guard, and Red Army units, the Central Rada fled from Kiev to Volyn’ on Jan. 26 (Feb. 8), 1918. On January 27 (February 9) it signed the perfidious Brest-Litovsk Treaty with the Austro-German bloc. On March 1 it returned to Kiev with the Austro-German troops, which seized almost all of the Ukraine between February and April. The Central Rada became a puppet government in the hands of the interventionists, but it was unable to suppress the struggle for liberation from the aggressors or to deliver promised shipments of food (mainly grain) to Germany. As a result, the German command dissolved the Central Rada on April 29 and replaced it with a puppet government headed by Hetmán P. P. Skoropadskii, a Ukrainian pomeshchik and monarchist (seeHETMANATE).

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. (See Index Volume, part 1, p. 691.)
Velikaia Oktiabr’skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia na Ukraine: Sb. dokumentov i materialov, vols. 1–3. Kiev, 1957.
Grazhdanskaia voina na Ukraine 1918–1920: Sb. dokumentov i materialov, vol. 1, book 1. Kiev, 1967.
Irgizov, A., V. Manilov, and F. Iastrebov, comps. 1917 na Kievshchine: Khronika sobytii. Kiev, 1928.
Korolivskii, S. M., M. A. Rubach, and N. I. Suprunenko. Pobeda Sovetskoi vlasti na Ukraine. Moscow, 1967.
Zolotar’ov, A. Z istorii Ukrains’koi Tsentral’noi rady. Kharkov, 1928.
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