Southern Rebels

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Southern Rebels


a group of revolutionary Narodniki (Populists) and Bakuninists active in the Ukraine in the mid–1870’s. The group was formed in Odessa in the winter of 1874–75; by the summer of 1875 it consisted of approximately 25 former participants of the “going to the people” movement, including V. K. Debogorii-Mokrievich, Ia. V. Stefanovich, L. G. Deutsch, and V. I. Zasulich.

Having submitted the experience of the “going to the people” movement to critical evaluation, the Southern Rebels intended to concentrate their efforts in a small area; they planned to exploit the peasants’ illusions about tsarism and, by means of forged tsarist manifestos, to stir up a peasant uprising under the slogan of equalization through redistribution of the land. Originally the Southern Rebels operated in the region of Korsun’, where in their judgment the traditions of the Kiev Kazatchina of 1855 were still alive. Disguised as small tradespeople, the Southern Rebels settled in the villages, studied the attitudes of the peasants, and spread revolutionary propaganda. The group’s headquarters was originally in Kiev (from which they took the name “Kiev Rebels”) and later in Elizavetgrad (now Kirovograd).

After the arrest of participants in the peasant disturbances in 1875 in Chigirin District of Kiev Province, the Southern Rebels, because of their acquaintance with the arrested persons, were forced to change their plans. They chose Chigirin District as the center of the planned uprising; in late 1876, however, at the congress held by the Southern Rebels in Kharkov, the circle, threatened with collapse, decided to disband. The only ones to carry on the Chigirin conspiracy were Stefanovich and a few of his comrades. The remaining members of the circle shifted their activities to other cities in the Ukraine.

In 1878–79 many of the Southern Rebels joined V. A. Osinskii’s Southern Executive Committee and participated in the terrorist struggle against individual representatives of tsarist power. A new circle of the Southern Rebels (the Odessa Rebels), founded in Odessa by S. F. Chubarov in 1878, was smashed by the police in the same year.


Deutsch, L. G. Za polveka, 3rd ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1926.
Debogorii-Mokrievich, V. K. Vospominaniia. St. Petersburg, 1906.
Bukh, N. K. Vospominaniia. Moscow, 1928.
Frolenko, M. F. Sobr. soch., 2nd ed., vol. 1. Moscow, 1932.
Rud’ko, M. P. Revoliutsiini narodnykyna Ukraini (70-ti roky XIX st.). Kiev, 1973.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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