The Guardian • Issue #2024

The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic: the Communist Party of the Ukraine

Emblem of the Ukrainian SSR.

The following is the fourth and final instalment of an edited translation concerning the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The material is drawn from a long entry in the third edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia and deals with the Communist Party of the Ukraine.


The first Marxist workers’ circles appeared in the late 1880s and early 1890s in Kiev, Yekaterinoslav (now Dnepropetrovsk), Odessa, Kharkov, and so on. Names of the early organisers include Melnikov, Tuchapsky, Eidelman, Vinokurov, and Tochissky. Influenced by the St Petersburg “Union of Struggle for the Liberation of the Working Class,” which was established in 1895, “Unions of Struggle” were also established in Kiev and Yekaterinoslav. Delegates participated in the preparation and convocation of the First Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) in 1898. With the publication of the newspaper Iskra, a network of Leninist-Iskra groups and organisations was created in the Ukraine. With the outbreak of struggle between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks after the Second Congress of the RSDLP in 1903, a southern bureau of the RSDLP Central Committee was created in Odessa in 1904. This bureau oversaw the work of the Odessa, Yekaterinoslav, and Nikolaev committees, was able to unite the Bolshevik organisations of the south, and agitated for the convocation of the Third Congress of the RSDLP in 1905.


During the revolution of 1905-1907, the Bolsheviks of the Ukraine sought to implement the decisions of the Third Congress of the RSDLP by organising the working class and the peasantry to fight against tsarist autocracy. During this time, Soviets of Workers’ Deputies were formed in more than 50 cities and factory settlements in the Ukraine. Ukrainian Bolsheviks undertook political, organisational, and military-technical preparation for an armed uprising. Combat-ready workers’ squads and detachments of the people’s militia were created in all industrial centres.

In December 1905, armed uprisings took place under the leadership of the Bolsheviks in Gorlovka, Yekaterinoslav, Alexandrovsk (now Zaporozhye), Kharkov, Kiev, Mykolaiv, and many other cities were gripped by political strikes. During the revolution, the organisations of the RSDLP in the Ukraine grew significantly and by 1907 numbered over 20,000. Many were the able leaders: Artem (F. A. Sergeev), Bonch-Bruevich,  Vladimirov, Voroshilov, Gusev, Petrovsky, N A Skrypnik, A G Shlichter, Yaroslavsky, and so on.

During the counter-revolution of 1907-1910, the Bolshevik organisations of the Ukraine suffered significant losses, but continued their revolutionary activities. Guided by the decisions of the Sixth All-Russia Conference of the RSDLP in 1912, the Ukrainian Bolsheviks worked to expand and strengthen ties with the masses, educate them, and prepare the working people for new revolutionary battles. During the First World War (1914-1918), the Bolshevik Party organisations in the Ukraine propagandised among soldiers, workers, and peasants, using the Leninist slogan of turning the imperialist war into a civil war.


During the February Revolution of 1917, the Bolshevik organisations of the Ukraine, under the leadership of the Central Committee of the RSDLP led the workers’ struggle against the tsarist autocracy, and after its overthrow launched a struggle by the masses against the compromisers and bourgeois nationalists. The process of separating the Bolsheviks from the Mensheviks in the RSDLP and the creation of independent Bolshevik organisations intensified. In the summer of 1917, regional organisations of the RSDLP (Bolshevik) of the Southwestern Region and the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog basin took shape. To direct all the work in this area, the Southwestern Regional Bureau of Military Organisations of the RSDLP (B) was created in the autumn of 1917.

After the Sixth Congress of the RSDLP (B) in 1917, the Bolsheviks began preparing workers for overthrowing the power of the bourgeoisie and landlords. The Ukraine was of great help to the Central Committee of the RSDLP (B), which maintained contact with more than 50 local Party organisations. Active work in preparing the masses led to the socialist revolution of October 1917, in which Ukrainian Bolsheviks played a significant role: in meetings and rallies in Kharkov, Yekaterinoslav, Donbass, Kiev, Odessa, and in other industrial cities and districts, workers declared their support for the Russian Soviet Republic and indicated their readiness to fight for the power of the Soviets in the Ukraine.

In December of 1917, two important meetings were held: in Kiev, the regional congress of the RSDLP (B) of the Southwestern Region was held on 3-5 (16-18) December, 1917; in Kharkov, the regional conference of the RSDLP (B) of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog basin was held on 5-6 (18-19) December, 1917. They called on the working masses to fight against the Ukrainian Central Rada. A few days later, the First All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets met in Kharkov and declared the Ukraine a Soviet Republic. In January-February of 1918, the military formations of the Central Rada were defeated, and the Soviet government won the struggle in most of the Ukraine. However, in February 1918 Austro-German troops occupied the Ukraine. Having gone underground, the Bolsheviks of the Ukraine organised the struggle against foreign interventionists and internal counterrevolution.


By July of 1918, the First Congress of the newly-named Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU) was held in Moscow, and it was attended by 212 delegates from 45 then illegal Party organisations of the Ukraine, which had 4,364 Party members. The Congress: 1) defined the tasks of the Ukrainian Party organisations in the fight against the occupiers and internal counter-revolution; 2) decided on the organisational structure of the CPU as an integral part of the Communist Party of Russia; stressed the loyalty of communists to the Leninist principles of proletarian internationalism; urged them to fight even more resolutely for the revolutionary unification of the Ukraine and Soviet Russia; and exposed the nationalist nature of the slogan “independence of Ukraine.” Based on the decisions of the Congress, the All-Ukrainian Central Military Revolutionary Committee (chaired by A S Bubnov) and three underground regional committees of the CPU were formed, and they led the workers’ liberation struggle.

During the Civil War of 1918-1920, the Ukraine was a major theatre of military operations. The main attention of the CPU was devoted to combating the interventionists and internal counter-revolution. A partisan movement, directed by the Frontline Bureau of the Central Committee of the CPU, was organised. This bureau played a vital role in mobilising the working masses to defeat the interventionists and internal counter-revolution, in restoring and strengthening Soviet power in the Ukraine, in constructing the new state and its economy, and in strengthening the unity of the Ukrainian Party organisations. During the struggle, the CPU held a series of important congresses: the Second (October 1918), Third (March 1919), Fourth (March 1920) and Fifth (November 1920).


After the Civil War, the CPU focused the efforts of the Ukrainian people on the restoration of the national economy. During the period of constructing socialism, the CPU organised workers to carry out industrialisation, collectivisation of agriculture, and cultural revolution. During the course of socialist construction, the CPU undertook further work in strengthening the Party in ideological and organisational terms in light of the principles of Leninism. Constant struggle was required against “leftist” deviations, the so-called “workers’ opposition,” Trotskyites, right-wing deviations, local nationalists, and anti-party movements and groups.

During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, the CPU organised and inspired the struggle of the Ukrainian people against the Fascist invaders. More than 240,000 Communists fought at the front. More than 68,000 Communists fought in partisan detachments and in underground units in the temporarily occupied territory of the Ukraine. In the enemy’s rear, there were 23 underground regional committees, 685 city and district Party committees, and 4316 primary Party organisations, which rallied the working people to fight the Fascist occupiers.

After the liberation of the Ukraine (October 1944), the CPU, relying on the comprehensive assistance of the Central Committee of the CPSU (B) and the Soviet government, focused its efforts on eliminating the consequences of the occupation, and on the restoration and further development of the national economy. Fulfilling the decisions of the 19th to the 25th congresses of the CPSU, the Communists of the Ukraine strengthened the leading role of Party organisations in developing the material and cultural life of society, increasing the political and labour activity of the republic’s workers, and in tirelessly improving the management and construction of state, economy, and culture. By 1976, there were 25 regional committees, 123 city committees, 115 city and 451 rural district Party committees, 63,892 primary Party organisations, 57,703 trade Party organisations, and 10,838 Party groups, which united over 2,600,000 thousand Communists.

Editor’s note: In light of the clear benefits of socialism, the people of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic voted overwhelmingly (more than 70 per cent) in the referendum of March 1991 to remain part of a reformed USSR. However, events moved quickly, with the Yeltsin clique in Moscow staging a coup and asserting effective independence of what became the Russian Federation. By December 0f 1991, the Ukrainian SSR had no choice and opted for independence. The wording of the March referendum was as follows:

“Do you consider necessary the preservation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics in which the rights and freedom of an individual of any ethnicity will be fully guaranteed?” 71.6 per cent of people in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic voted “yes” in March 1991.

The Guardian can also be viewed/downloaded in PDF format. View More