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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a bourgeois nationalist movement that developed in the Ukraine during the Civil War of 1918-20. The movement was named after one of its leaders, S. V. Petliura.

The social base of the Petliurovshchina consisted of rich peasants (kulaks), the local bourgeoisie, and nationalistically inclined bourgeois intellectuals of the Ukraine. A number of bourgeois and petit bourgeois nationalist parties gave political expression and ideological inspiration to the movement—the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers’ Party, the Ukrainian Socialist Revolutionary Party, the Independent Socialists, and the Socialist-Federalist Party.

The political regimes of the Central Rada (Council) and the Ukrainian Directory were outgrowths of the Petliurovshchina. Created in March 1917, the Central Rada seized power, proclaimed the so-called Ukrainian People’s Republic (UPR), and became one of the centers of the counterrevolution, refusing to recognize Soviet power in Russia. Moreover, it entered into an agreement with A. M. Kaledin, the leader of a rebellion in the Don region, and it turned Kiev into a haven for capitalists, landlords, White Guards, and other refugees from Russia. On Dec. 12 (25), 1917, the First All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets proclaimed the Ukraine a Soviet Republic. The main forces of the Central Rada were defeated in December 1917-January 1918, and Soviet power was victorious in almost all of the Ukraine. The Central Rada fled from Kiev and signed a treaty with Austro-German forces at Brest-Litovsk on Jan. 27 (Feb. 9), 1918, making it possible for Austro-German forces to occupy almost all of the Ukraine in February 1918. However, when the Central Rada failed to measure up to the expectations of the occupying forces, it was disbanded. On Apr. 29, 1918, a puppet regime was established under General P. P. Skoropadskii, who was proclaimed hetman of the Ukraine (seeHETMANATE).

After the Central Rada was disbanded, Petliura’s supporters continued to cooperate with the occupying forces and with Skoropadskii. In November 1918, when the Austro-German occupation came to an end, the leaders of the Petliurovshchina opposed Hetman Skoropadskii. On Nov. 13, 1918, they established the so-called Ukrainian Directory, which consisted of representatives of the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers’ Party, the Ukrainian Socialist Revolutionary Party, and the Independent Socialists. The Directory was headed by V. K. Vinni-chenko and Petliura. At the end of 1918 the Directory controlled most of the Ukraine, and the Entente forces occupied the southern Ukraine and the Crimea. In early 1919 the Directory concluded an agreement with France, under which the UPR became a French protectorate.

On Jan. 16, 1919, the UPR declared war on Soviet Russia. By April 1919, UPR forces had been defeated by the Red Army, and the Directory remained in control of only a small part of the province of Podol’sk (along the Polish border), where it managed to hold out with the support of the Entente forces and the so-called Galician Corps of the defunct “People’s Republic of the Western Ukraine.”

Throughout this period the leaders of the Petliurovshchina continued their struggle against Soviet power. They increased their efforts in the summer of 1919, in connection with the offensive by Denikin’s forces. In the spring of 1919 they received assistance from boyar Rumania, which transferred to the Directory the interned members of the so-called Zaporozh’e Corps, who had escaped the offensive of the Red Army by crossing the border into Rumania. Going over to the offensive, Petliura’s forces captured Kiev but were later driven out by Denikin’s forces. The Directory failed in its efforts to reach an agreement with Denikin. Petliura’s forces were defeated by Denikin in October 1919 and subsequently by the Red Army. The remnants of Petliura’s forces fled to bourgeois-landlord Poland. On Apr. 21, 1920, Petliura concluded an agreement with Poland, under which the latter recognized the “independence” of the Ukraine in exchange for eastern Galicia, western Volyn’, and part of the Poles’e. When the White Poles began their attack on Ukrainian territory on Apr. 25, 1920, they were accompanied by Petliura’s bands. After the occupation of Kiev by the White Poles on May 6, the nationalist Ukrainian People’s Committee became active in the city. With the approval of the Polish interventionists, Petliura formed a puppet government headed by V. Prokop-ovich. In the summer of 1920 the Red Army drove the forces of Petliura and bourgeois-landlord Poland out of the Ukraine; however, a number of Petliura’s bands continued to operate in Po-dol’sk Province. Petliura failed in his attempts to reach an agreement with Wrangel on joint operations against Soviet Russia. After the defeat of Wrangel’s forces in November 1920, the Red Army routed Petliura’s forces. Bands of Petliura’s supporters continued to operate in the Ukraine in 1921-22, but by the end of 1922 they had been eliminated.


Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. (Index volume, part 2, p. 463.)
Velikaia Oktiabr’skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia na Ukraine, vols. 1-3. Kiev, 1957.
Istoriia Ukrainskoi SSR, vol. 2. Kiev, 1956.
Suprunenko, N. I. Ocherki istorii grazhdanskoi voiny i inostrannoi voennoi interventsii na Ukraine (1918-20). Moscow, 1966.


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