Petliura, Simon Vasilevich

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Petliura, Simon Vasil’evich


Born May 5 (17), 1879, in Poltava; died May 26, 1926, in Paris. One of the leaders of the Ukrainian counterrevolutionary, bourgeois nationalist movement in 1918-20 (see ).

Petliura was the son of a coachman. Expelled from a theological seminary for his participation in the Ukrainian nationalist movement, he emigrated to L’vov. In 1900 he became a member of the Revolutionary Ukrainian Party. Later, he joined the petit bourgeois Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers’ Party.

Returning to Russia, Petliura worked as a teacher and as a bookkeeper in the Kuban’ and wrote for the nationalist Kiev newspapers Hromad’ska dumka (Civic Thought) and Rada (Council). In 1906 he became the editor of the newspaper Slow (Word). In 1907 he left for St. Petersburg, where he hid from the police. Later, he moved to Moscow, where he worked as a bookkeeper and joined the nationalist groups Kobzar’ and Hromada. In 1912 he became the editor of the newspaper Ukrainskaia zhizn’ (Ukrainian Life). Drafted into the army two years later, in 1915 he became the chairman of the Main Control Commission of the All-Russian Zemstvo Union for the Western Front. After the February Revolution, Petliura organized and headed the Ukrainian Front Committee. He became chairman of the All-Ukrainian Military Committee of the Central Rada in Kiev, to which he had been elected in May 1917. Later, he served as secretary (minister) for military affairs in the General Secretariat of the Central Rada.

Under the Hetmanate (Getmanshchina), Petliura was the chairman of the Zemstvo (assembly) of Kiev Province and of the All-Ukrainian Zemstvo Union. On Nov. 14, 1918, he became a member of the Ukrainian Directory and chief ataman (commander in chief) of the army of the so-called Ukrainian People’s Republic. He became chairman of the Directory on Feb. 10, 1919. After the defeat of the Directory’s forces by the Red Army, Petliura fled to Warsaw, where he entered into an alliance with the government of bourgeois-landowning Poland. He fled abroad in the summer of 1920. From 1924 he lived in Paris. Petliura was assassinated by S. Schwarzbard in revenge for the Ukrainian pogroms against the Jews.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.