12 March 2022

Ukrainian Marxists, Russian Bolsheviks, and National Liberation: 1900-1921

Eric Blanc

In the face of Russia’s deplorable invasion of Ukraine, we are publishing excerpts on the history of early Ukrainian Marxism, Bolshevism, and the national question from Eric Blanc’s recently published monograph Revolutionary Social Democracy: Working-Class Politics Across Imperial Russia, 1882-1917. Of course, one cannot find solutions to today’s crisis among the stances taken by Marxists a century ago — vast differences in historical context and national development preclude any such copy-and-paste political approach. Nevertheless, the history outlined by Blanc is crucially important for helping make sense of the current conjuncture and its historical roots —

The Editors

National Relations in Imperial Russia

Covering one sixth of the world’s landmass by 1897, Tsarist Russia’s population was the third largest in the world, after the British Empire and China. The empire’s ethnic Russian geographic core was surrounded by a largely non-Russian periphery, making the latter geo-politically important as a gateway to both the West and East.

Russians were a minority: non-Russian peoples made up roughly 58 per cent of the population. Yet because the Russian state viewed Ukrainians and Belarusians as subsets of a single ethnic-national ‘Russian people’, most Russians felt that they constituted a numeric majority in the empire.

The Russian Empire’s Ethnic-Linguistic Groups, 1897


Percentage of population





















Azerbaijani Turks








The extent of national consciousness among non-Russian groups varied widely.In the big cities, many native workers and intellectuals assimilated themselves into Russian society, especially Ukrainians and Jews. In the countryside, local or regional particularism reigned supreme; national consciousness was low to non-existent. To quote scholar Liliana Riga: ‘Most of the empire’s inhabitants did not consider themselves in national terms, particularly the nationalities’ peasantries. Regional, religious, and local linguistic identities were far more significant social forces than“nationality”’.1

Opposition to Tsarist Russification and state centralism was present among non-Russians, especially in urban areas. But national separatism was virtually absent, with the partial exception of Poland. Though the 1905 revolution witnessed a growth in national consciousness of borderland peoples, most demands remained limited to political equality plus national and cultural autonomy within Russia. Pushes for state independence only became a widespread political phenomenon following the October Revolution.

National relations in Ukraine – where the large cities were predominantly comprised of Russians, as well as assimilated Ukrainians – posed a major challenge for class-struggle politics. As one Ukrainian Marxist explained, the Russification of the urban ethnic Ukrainian working class ‘isolated it culturally from the rural proletariat, which surely broke the unity of the labour movement in Ukraine and slowed its development’.2 Building class unity in practice proved to be more difficult than proclaiming its necessity.

Early Russian Marxists on the National Question

In the years up through 1905, the Russian empire’s organised Marxists generally shared a common strategic outlook on the basic questions of working-class independence, internationalism, and anti-Tsarist revolution. None of the empire’s social democratic (i.e. Marxist) parties advocated the prioritisation of national over class demands, promoted national development as an end in itself, or supported cross-class national unity. Each – including those least inclined to promote national demands – supported the struggle for political equality and fought, often arms in hand, against the pogromists and other reactionary forces.

All of imperial Russia’s Marxists believed workers of different nationalities could and should unite for their common interests. Their differences concerned how these goals could be reached effectively and how to incorporate national liberation into the general revolutionary struggle. Of all the debates between Russian and borderland Marxists, the conflict over party organisation was the most concrete and the most immediate. Before 1905, the predominantly Russian and Russified Iskra current led by Lenin and Julius Martov fought hard to build a single, centralised empire-wide Marxist party. Given the growing revolutionary upsurge, according toIskra it was urgently necessary to connect the atomised circles into a powerful centralised All-Russian party capable of leading the rapidly rising tide of revolutionary struggle to overthrow the autocracy. Yet all of the borderland parties at this time – whether or not they organised one or more nationalities – rejected Iskra’s push for a single centralised All-Russian party. Instead, they advocated a looser federal party to unite social democrats (SDs) across imperial Russia.

Beyond advocating a centralised party, the national question was not a major focus of Iskra, the Marxist current from which Bolshevism emerged. Based in relatively ethnically-homogeneous Central Russia and the Russified cities of Ukraine, and organizing primarily Russian and Russified workers and students, Iskraists generally operated in milieus where national liberation was seen as a marginal issue. Lenin did not write his first theoretical examination of the national question until 1913—two decades after the start of his political career. His initial draft programmes for the party in the 1890s did not discuss the national question and did not go beyond calling for legal equality. Illustrative of this neglect is Lenin’s famous 1902 pamphletWhat Is to Be Done?, which basically ignores the domination of non-Russians. Ironically, the following quote is often cited today as evidence of Lenin’s longstanding fight against all forms of oppression: “The Social-Democrat’s ideal should not be the trade union secretary, but the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects.”3

This important formulation was largely a reiteration of the 1891 German Marxist Erfurt Programme’s declaration that Social Democrats fought against “not only the exploitation and oppression of wage earners, but any form of exploitation and oppression, whether directed against a class, party, sex, or race.”  But the discussion on this question inWhat Is To De Done? did not address oppressed nationalities (or women). By my rough count, the number of article references to non-proletarian domination and struggle in tsarist Russia breaks down as follows: liberals andzemstvo (local government) activists: 16; students: 16; peasants: 8; religious sects: 5; soldiers: 3; non-Russian nationalities: 0. This omission of the autocracy’s domination of borderland peoples is particularly problematic given that a core argument ofWhat Is to Be Done? is the need for an “All-Russian” (i.e., empire-wide) newspaper and party. One could easily get the impression from Lenin’s pamphlet that tsarist Russia was a homogenous nation-state rather than a multinational empire. At no point doesWhat Is to Be Done? address howIskra, a Russian-language newspaper, could feasibly act as the empire-wide “collective organiser” for a polity in which the native language of most people was not Russian.

In 1903, Lenin wrote his first string of pieces on the national question. Polemics mostly against the Jewish Bund and the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), these short articles focused on the salient point that Marxists opposed national oppression and that only the united struggle of workers of all nationalities could end it. Nevertheless, key aspects of Lenin’s later national liberation strategy were absent, including a focus on fighting “great nation” chauvinism; a stress on the distinction between oppressor and oppressed peoples; critical support for the nationalism of dominated peoples; advocacy of national autonomy or federalism; a conception of the anti-imperialist united front; and a view of national movements as central to the fight for socialism. Despite the political limitations of these articles, it is significant that Iskra’s main writer on this topic was Lenin—in both this formative period and later years, he proved to be more aware of the national question than most of the rest of the Russian party.

Debates on National Liberation

Nationally conscious socialists in the periphery of the empire generally founded and joined the non-Russian Marxist organisations. Thus, the Revolutionary Ukrainian Party (RUP) was founded in 1900 and adopted an orthodox Marxist programme shortly thereafter. Ethnic Russians in Ukraine, like in other borderland regions, mostly joined the “All-Russian” parties, as did most Russified militants. This factional pattern, coupled with the fact that Russian chauvinism and nationalism tended to be strongest among Russians in the borderlands, helps explain why the most anti-national wing of Russian Marxism was generally based in the empire’s periphery. Particularly after 1914, a gap between Lenin’s approach and those of his comrades on the ground in the borderlands became a major source of internal conflict within Bolshevism. Historian Jeremy Smith notes that the history of Bolshevik national policy between 1917 and 1923 is “largely the story of a struggle between the center and the periphery in which it was, perhaps surprisingly, the center which supported local autonomy.”4

A major point of contention between borderland SDs and Iskra concerned the issue of assimilation and national culture. Ethnic absorption into society at large was widely seen as a progressive act eliminating outdated divisions. This merging process would have to be voluntary, as forced state assimilation would be both oppressive and ultimately counterproductive. It was within this theoretical framework that Russian Marxists favoured the voluntary assimilation of non-Russians.

This was not merely a theoretical question about the distant future, but an immediate issue of political practice. For example, in a context marked by the tsarist prohibition of the Ukrainian language, Russian SDs played a central role in assimilating ethnic-Ukrainian workers in Ukraine’s cities, a practice that Ukrainian SDs noted was dangerously isolating the urban labour movement from the native Ukrainian countryside. In 1900, the Ukrainian Socialist Party wrote that “as to the Russian socialists, we hope that certain Great Russian aims which make their appearance here and there will disappear with the blossoming of socialist consciousness.”5 Yet, as late as 1913, Lenin argued that “the historically progressive nature of the ‘assimilation’ of the Great-Russian and Ukrainian workers will be as undoubted as the progressive nature of the grinding down of nations in America.”6

In the light of the rise of the Ukrainian national struggle from 1917 onwards, and the chaos created for the Ukrainian revolution by the chasm between the Russified cities and the Ukrainian countryside, the problematic aspects of Iskra’s approach are evident. But it should be noted that Ukrainian national consciousness at the turn of the century was a marginal phenomenon, largely limited to student circles. The mistake of the Iskraists was not so much Russian chauvinism, but rather a failure to foresee the possibility of an upsurge in Ukrainian national sentiment.

While Iskra tended to assume that national consciousness and national movements would get weaker as capitalist development and proletarian struggle advanced, other Marxist currents believed that that the opposite would prove to be the case. Marxist theoretician Kazimierz Kelles-Krauz of the Polish Socialist Party argued in 1899 for the relevance of the fight for Ukrainian independence on the following grounds: “Economic evolution and the class struggle will give rise to—or revive—national sentiment, above all to the Ruthenians [Ukrainians], who will without a doubt create their own remarkable socialist movement.”7 Seeing the emergence of proletarian-separatist movements in the borderlands as key to the overthrow of tsarism, the PPS supported the Ukrainian socialist movement and advocated an independent Ukraine. When the Iskraist theoretical journal Zaria declared that it would be “strange” to demand political autonomy for “Little Russians” (Ukrainians) because they “do not need it,” the PPS replied that this was a “matter whose decision must be unconditionally left to the concerned nationalities themselves.”8

State centralisation was another major debate. Iskra called for a single centralized republic for the whole territory and generally opposed governmental federalism and national autonomy. In hindsight, Iskraists underestimated the implications of organizing in an empire, rather than a nation-state. Partly this reflected unconscious assumptions about the cohesive nature of “Russia,” which were shared widely in Russian society across the political spectrum. Nowhere was the Russian SD’s unintentional absorption of these views more clear than in Ukraine. Bolshevik leaders later noted that “we in fact gave no answer to the Ukrainian question because we did not know of it, as we considered it only a ‘petty bourgeois whim’ … for us there was no Ukraine, only ‘South Russia.’”9

The “orthodox” Marxist precedent for federalism was established when the Austrian Social Democracy’s 1899 Brünn congress adopted a watershed national program on the basis of the “Pope of Marxism” Karl Kautsky’s stance. Austria-Hungary, the Brünn resolution stated, should be transformed into a “democratic federal state of nationalities.” The Brünn resolution denounced “bureaucratic state-centralism” as it was an obstacle for “the cultivation and development of the national specificity of all peoples.”10

Along these lines, most non-Russian Marxist parties advocated different forms of broad national autonomy or federalism. The RUP’s successor organisation —the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Workers’ Party (USDRP) — thus demanded broad autonomy for Ukraine in a federal Russia. Opposing proposals to limit autonomy to administrative or cultural questions, it proposed a vision of national autonomy concretized in a legislative Sejm (parliament) with the power to control financial, agrarian, economic, educational, and cultural affairs.11

The 1905 Revolution and After

Differences with their Russian comrades over the national question did not make Ukrainian Marxists of this early period at all sympathetic to nationalism or collaboration with the upper class. Purely cultural national efforts were ridiculed for accepting the autocratic status quote. Ukrainian socialists thus lambasted local liberals for myopically concentrating on language issues and ignoring political questions.

Like Kautsky, Ukraine’s orthodox SDs opposed tying the proletariat to the bourgeoisie in the name of a common struggle against absolutism. Were liberals or nationalists to fight against the Tsar, so much the better. But were they to refrain from this battle, or stop half way, the working class must be prepared to continue fighting until victory. Temporary agreements on concrete actions and demands with other parties (representing other classes) were acceptable, but the proletariat should never self-limit itself for the sake of such an agreement. ‘Any permanent alliance or bloc with the bourgeois democrats is impossible’, declared the Ukrainian USDRP.12  The Ukrainian Social-Democratic Workers’ Party not surprisingly adopted as its programme the entire theoretical section of the Erfurt Programme, declaring that it was ‘the best and most complete expression of the theoretical views of the international revolutionary Social-Democracy’.13

During the 1905 revolution, theoretical differences between Marxist parties over national issues were largely overshadowed by their strategic agreement around their strategy of working-class hegemony and their practical collaboration in the fight against the autocracy. Though national oppression shaped the form and intensity of working-class movements, supra-class nationalism largely remained the purview of the intelligentsia and political elite in all regions of the empire. In fact, the largest and most influential Ukrainian-ethnic socialist organisation in 1905 was the orthodox Marxist Spilka, which emphasised national autonomy far less than its smaller USDRP rival.

The USDRP maintained its radical line during the 1905 revolution and up through the following year. Thus, in 1906, Symon Petliura – a top Ukrainian Marxist leader who in 1920 became the nationalist head of the anti-Communist Ukrainian People’s Republic – published a glowing review of Lenin’s pamphlet denouncing the Mensheviks’ accommodation to bourgeois democrats. Agreeing that recent experience had shown that the liberals ‘cannot carry the revolution forward’, Petliura affirmed that Lenin’s ‘view of the Russian Revolution is the same that is held by all revolutionary Social-Democrats’.14

Unlike the Spilka, the USDRP survived the intense Tsarist repression of 1906. After the decisive repression of the revolution, however, the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Workers’ Party began moderating its political radicalism. For example, in a major reversal of its stance on blocs with bourgeois parties, many USDRP committees in 1907 established electoral agreements and/or common lists with Ukrainian and Russian liberals. From late 1906 onwards, the USDRP abandoned the strategy of proletarian hegemony. This political reorientation – and the ensuing personal-political ties established with liberals – had a significant impact upon the course of the revolution in 1917, underscoring the causal importance of political parties and the relatively contingent strategic decisions of socialist leaders. That said, the organisation remained relatively politically heterogeneous.

Gauging the relative strength of its radical and moderate wings is difficult due to the organisational implosion of the USDRP between 1907 and 1917. While the literary and top organisational bodies that officially spoke in the name of the USDRP remained primarily controlled by leftists, the more diffuse bulk of intellectuals and activists who considered themselves party members abandoned their former militancy.

The political trajectories of Symon Petliura and Volodymyr Vynnychenko, the two most influential leaders of the USDRP in 1917, are emblematic of the Ukrainian Social Democracy’s turn away from orthodox Marxism. As late as 1906, Petliura openly supported the orientation of Lenin and the Bolsheviks, but, by 1908, he became disenchanted with the prospects for independent class struggle in Ukraine and Russia. Moving to St. Petersburg, he joined an intellectual literary milieu dominated by Ukrainian and Russian liberals. As editor of the legal journal Ukrayinskaya Zhizn (Ukrainian Life), Petliura now advocated a decidedly non-revolutionary line centred around promoting Ukrainian cultural autonomy with liberals and ‘progressives’ of all nationalities. Like the Russian Kadets to which they were allied, Petliura andUkrayinskaya Zhizn openly supported the Russian government’s entry into World War One, arguing that this alliance with the French and British regimes would facilitate Russia’s gradual democratisation and the promotion of Ukrainian rights.

Vynnychenko moved in a similar direction, though he upheld the core tenets of orthodox Marxism for longer and remained more sympathetic to radicalism than Petliura. For most of the period before 1914, Vynnychenko focused on literary activities (in both the Ukrainian and Russian languages) and was associated with the left of the USDRP. When the war broke out, he was initially sympathetic to the anti-war internationalism of the Ukrainian SDs associated with leftist Lev Yurkevich. Yet Vynnychenko soon moved away from the party’s left and instead came to associate most closely with Petliura’s Ukrayinskaya Zhizn. As the main political and organisational leader of the USDRP in 1917, Vynnychenko would continue to pursue a relatively class-collaborationist Ukrainian national project throughout the year.

Given that Ukrainian independence later became such a major political issue, it is worth noting that the moderate turn of these Ukrainian SD leaders did not make them any more disposed to support separation from Russia. If anything, their turn to the political centre led them to become more accomodationist to Russian liberals and the Russian state. Both Petliura and Vynnychenko rejected the call for independence and denounced the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine, a marginal circle of socialists and ex-socialists who during the war years sought to win Ukrainian independence under the aegis of the Austrian and German regimes.

After 1905, the fight to preserve the USDRP’s commitment to revolutionary social democracy (i.e. orthodox Marxism) was led by Lev Yurkevich. Though he is remembered today mostly for his polemics with Lenin over the national question, his major political contribution was to insist that the Ukrainian working class uphold a strict strategy of proletarian hegemony and reject any blocs with Ukrainian, Russian, or German-Austrian rulers. In Yurkevich’s view, only through independent class struggle in alliance with workers of other nations would the Ukrainian working class be able to win its national and social liberation. He opposed blocs with liberals of any nationality and denounced the war, as well as those Russian and Ukrainian socialists who supported it.

As a supporter of broad national autonomy for Ukraine within Russia, Yurkevich emphatically rejected any collaboration with the Central Powers and declared that separatism ‘cannot but become transformed, in the current intense atmosphere of antagonism between the “great powers”, into an imperialist war combination’.15 Though Yurkevich’s wing of the USDRP spoke in the name of the party as a whole, its actual organisational and political weight was relatively small. From 1912 onward, most Ukrainian revolutionaries joined the rural-oriented Ukrainian Socialist Revolutionary Party (UPSR), which, in 1917, became the single largest, as well as the most radical, Ukrainian party. Yet, despite being few in number, it was the formerly radical USDRP leaders like Vynnychenko and Petliura who ended up leading Ukrainian political life in 1917.

In short, the post-1905 political re-orientation towards liberal elites by Ukrainian SDs constituted a significant break from hegemonic anti-capitalist traditions in their regions – and it set the stage for their class collaborationism in and after 1917. As we will see, blocs with bourgeois forces tended to determine the other major political questions of the revolution. The ability of socialists to oppose the war, meet the pressing economic demands of workers, or implement agrarian reform was largely conditioned by their willingness to politically break from the bourgeoisie. Currents that had begun to orient towards liberals after 1905 generally continued this stance in 1917.

Ukraine, Russia, and the 1917-18 Revolution

After 1905, Russian Marxists began rethinking their approach to national liberation and eventually adopted many of the positions first articulated by borderland Marxists. The Bolshevik leadership’s first evolution came during 1913–14. Partly a reaction to an upturn in national movements during and following the 1905 revolution, this shift was in its most immediate sense a response to factional struggles culminating in the Bolsheviks’ definitive organisational break from the “Menshevik-liquidators” in 1912.

As the Bolsheviks found themselves with little support among non-Russian workers, and as they were accused by their factional opponents, of indifference to national liberation, Lenin and Stalin responded by publishing extensive polemical treatises on the national question. Similarly, the 1913 Bolshevik conference for the first time resolved to support regional autonomy, explicitly recognise the right to secede, and reject Russian as the official state language.

A more fundamental change in Lenin’s strategy came after 1914. Following the capitulation of Second International leaders across Europe to their ruling classes’ nationalist war drives, and as part of his new analysis of imperialism, Lenin now argued that capitalism increased rather than diminished national divisions, and he now stressed the centrality of national liberation movements in the fight for world socialism.

But Lenin’s innovations on the national question were, for years, met with hostility or indifference by Bolshevik militants, particularly those in the borderlands; much of the latter’s writings during World War I are polemics against the stances of his own comrades in Ukraine and Poland. Yurii Lapchynsky, a Bolshevik leader in Ukraine, later recalled that “it seemed to us then that the question of nationalities only made the task more complicated, only distracted the workers’ attention from the main issue: from the revolutionary work … the attitude of most of us to the national cause was as to one that did not concern us, the revolutionary workers.”16

In and after the 1917 revolution, which witnessed an explosive rise of national movements in the borderlands, Bolshevik national policies reflected this bifurcation. Lenin and most top Bolshevik leaders, seeing the urgency of winning the support of non-Russian peoples, deepened their support for national demands, for example by adopting state federalism in 1917-18. Just as important, the Communist International raised the banner of anti-colonialism and the anti-imperialist united front across the globe.

Yet in the non-Russian regions of the empire, Bolshevism continued to resemble earlier Iskraism more than the new orientation proposed by Lenin and, after 1917, the Communist International. “In the Russian-dominated Soviets in the [borderland] regions it was Great Russian attitudes which prevailed, and they frequently clashed with the representatives of the local population,” observes Smith.17 This relative indifference to national liberation, though not necessarily the primary factor determining the course of political life in the borderlands, had major consequences for the spread of anti-capitalist revolution to the empire’s periphery.

Soviet historians have argued that the Communists’ post-1917 difficulties establishing Soviet rule in the borderlands could have been avoided had they not delayed in adopting Lenin’s approach to national liberation. This is a plausible counterfactual, but it would be a mistake to overstate the national question’s causal impact in 1917 itself. As Ronald Suny has shown, it was class concerns that primarily animated lower-class struggles in 1917 – even in the imperial borderlands, ‘ethnic conflicts were far less frequent than social clashes throughout the first year of revolution’.18

Furthermore, the Bolsheviks were the empire-wide political current most supportive of the demands of dominated national groups during 1917. The Bolsheviks’ alliance with non-Russian currents broke down over anti-capitalist transformation, not the national question as such. After October 1917, national struggles became inextricable from fundamental differences over whether the unfolding revolution(s) should remain within bounds acceptable to the liberal bourgeoisie at home and abroad. In the empire’s periphery, as E.H. Carr long ago pointed out, conflicts over social revolution took on a national form: ‘in whatever guise the battle was fought, the real issue was the life or death of the revolution’. As such, one cannot analyse the development of the revolutionary process – including national conflicts – separate from the broader strategic questions confronting the empire’s Marxists and separate from the strategic decisions of non-Russian socialists.

In the borderlands, like in the imperial centre, socialists’ orientation to class collaboration or proletarian hegemony was politically decisive. Though issues of state and revolution in the borderlands became inextricable in 1917 from national questions, the fight for liberation could be concretised into a wide range of distinct orientations, ranging from cross-class national unity to intransigent proletarian independence.

By the eve of 1917, only a few small circles of Ukrainian USDRP committees were still operating inside of Ukraine. These groupings generally identified with Lev Yurkevich’s leftist journalBorotba and they upheld an orthodox internationalist opposition to class collaboration and the imperialist war. At the same time, however, the dispersed majority of Ukrainian SD intelligentsia leaders after 1906 made a marked shift to the right, immersing themselves in various cross-class political projects with Ukrainian and Russian liberals. During the war, most of these Ukrainian socialist figures supported the Russian government’s military efforts.

After the February Revolution, Ukraine was immediately swept by an unprecedented upsurge in the national movement, manifest in mass rallies across urban Ukraine calling for cultural rights and political autonomy. In this novel context of national ‘awakening’, right-leaning USDRP party leaders, in conjunction with centrist elements around Volodymyr Vynnychenko, took control of the party and drastically re-oriented its political course. At the USDRP’s national congress in April, Symon Petliura, Isaak Mazepa, and other open class collaborationists were elected to the party’s Central Committee. Historian N.N. Popov notes that, in April 1917, the USDRP made a ‘quite sharp turn towards nationalism’.19

The party now declared that ‘for working people, the right to self-government is the most urgent demand’.20 Party leaders argued that a strong Ukrainian labour movement was impossible without national autonomy. An appeal from the Moscow USDRP branch therefore declared that ‘in the interests of the class struggle and proletarian movement in Ukraine we fight to ensure the national rights of the Ukrainian people to autonomy. Without this the proletarian movement in Ukraine will be sentenced to a frail, rickety existence’.21

This emphasis on the fight for autonomy went hand-in-hand with the party’s newly established bloc with the influential Ukrainian liberal-nationalist current, the Society of Ukrainian Progressives (TUP), which in June 1917 incongruously changed its name to the Ukrainian Party of Socialist-Federalists (UPSF). This political rebranding, however, did not change the party’s underlying political liberalism: as numerous writers have noted, all Ukrainian parties vying for popular support at this time had to frame their policies through a socialistic discourse.

In March, Ukrainian liberals and the USDRP initiated the Rada, a front of Ukrainian organisations to pressure the Provisional Government to grant national autonomy. In Poltava, the party signed a joint appeal with the TUP in April that declared: ‘let there prevail among everyone one will, one thought: “the good of their native land and their people!”’22 And, at June’s Ukrainian Military Congress, Vynnychenko similarly argued that ‘all our classes must unite in the process of national revolution’ – the absence of a native Ukrainian capitalist class, he claimed, meant that a strategy of national unity in the context of Ukraine could be implemented at the service of working people.

This open class collaborationism marked a break from the USDRP’s official stance up until this point. Vynnychenko later lamented that, in 1917–18, he had sacrificed his commitment to socialist principles for the sake of a nationalist Ukrainian statehood project. As he wrote later,we in ouractions were only republicans and democrats, not socialists’.23 Unsurprisingly, this moderate turn was opposed by the left wing of the USDRP. Radicals, however, were in a definite minority within Ukrainian Social Democracy by the spring of 1917.28

The Ukrainian Rada had begun simply as a front to demand cultural and political autonomy within the Russian state. As such, the Ukrainian SDs sought an alliance with the Russian Provisional Government and refused to unilaterally proclaim national autonomy. Though the party’s moderation in 1917 in large part reflected a prioritisation of the push for national autonomy, it was simultaneously linked to the party’s view that winning Ukrainian rights needed to pass through a negotiated settlement with the Russian government. As Ukrainian scholar O. Yu. Vysotskyy has recently pointed out, ‘one of the major factors that led to the defeat’ of the Ukrainian SDs was that they envisioned winning their reformist project ‘not so much through the support of the masses, but rather though an agreement with the Russian Provisional Government’.24

But the allegiance of Ukrainian soldiers to the Rada, combined with the continued crisis of the Provisional Government, steadily transformed the Rada into a proto-governmental power. In late June, Vynnychenko became the Rada’s General Secretary and Ukrainian SR head Pavlo Khrystiuk became General Chancellor; the liberal UPSF was given the important position of Secretary of Nationalities.

Though the USDRP did not have a broad mass base, it was rich in intellectual cadres. As such, it played the leading role in the Rada throughout 1917. Assuming partial governmental power posed new challenges to the USDRP: Ukrainian SD leaders were in favour of agrarian reform and major social transformation, but they feared that pushing through the demands raised from below could result in a break with the nationalists. Such a division in the national front, in their view, would gravely impair the fight for Ukraine’s autonomy. Faced with this dilemma, party leaders prioritised their bloc with liberal-nationalists and refused to push through any potentially polarising social legislation.

As the year dragged on, USDRP leaders were increasingly criticised by the Ukrainian SRs. Though it was politically heterogeneous, and included a class-collaborationist right wing, the UPSR stood significantly to the left of the SDs throughout 1917 and subsequent years. Nevertheless, the governmental representatives of the Ukrainian SRs acquiesced to their moderate socialist allies – at least up through the October Revolution. Pavlo Khrystiuk, an influential SR in the Rada, later recalled the political impasse:

In glorifying the national-political struggle, the [Rada] Secretariat in fact, in its actual work, did not introduce even those socio-economic reforms expected by the Central Rada’s worker-peasant majority. The old socio-economic relations were preserved virtually without change as the base for the revival of Ukrainian statehood … This was a completely non-revolutionary position that could be easily shared by Vynnichenko with the Ukrainian [liberal] ‘evolutionists’.25

The unwillingness of USDRP leaders to break from liberal nationalists and satisfy popular demands for socio-economic transformation is particularly striking given the weakness of the Ukrainian liberals and the virtual absence of a native Ukrainian bourgeoisie. As Vynnychenko later lamented, in the name of preserving a national front, the USDRP refused to move beyond the bounds acceptable to Ukrainian nationalist-liberals.26 Ultimately, this approach to Ukrainian liberation proved to be counterproductive even from a purely national perspective since the Rada’s refusal to grant land reform and the other urgent economic demands of working people increasingly exasperated its base. Spring’s honeymoon period of national collaboration quickly began to fracture.

It would be wrong to assume that the USDRP’s rightwards course was an inevitable result of a desire to promote national liberation. Promoting class and national demands was not a zero-sum game; indeed, Ukrainian SRs were more radical on both accounts than their SD allies. Up through October 1917, the USDRP called for establishing broad autonomy through negotiations with Petrograd and remained wary of unilaterally implementing national autonomy. In contrast, the Ukrainian SRs pushed for a more intransigent course of action: in their view, it was necessary to impose federalism against the opposition of the Russian state as well as its conciliatory Menshevik-SR leaders.27

Despite the Rada’s relatively modest national demands and its desire to reach an amicable accord with the Provisional Government, the strident opposition of Russian liberals to Ukrainian autonomy resulted in a deepening series of conflicts. In these battles, the top Bolshevik leadership proved to be the sole consistent empire-wide supporter of the Rada’s national demands. On this terrain of struggle, Ukrainian SDs often found themselves allied with the Bolsheviks, at least up through October. As the St. Petersburg USDRP committee declared in July, only the Bolsheviks ‘revealed a genuine proletarian understanding of the national needs of the [Ukrainian] masses’.28 Yet, unlike Finnish Social Democracy, Ukrainian SDs continued to collaborate with the Russian regime and Russian moderate socialist leaders. Vynnychenko, who was especially close with Menshevik head Irakli Tsereteli, remained unwilling to declare autonomy without the Russian government’s agreement.

The USDRP’s evolution in the fall of 1917 largely paralleled that of the Mensheviks in the imperial centre. At the party’s Fourth Congress in early October, Ukrainian Social Democracy adopted a resolution calling for an end to coalition government in the all-Russian regime, a break with the bourgeoisie, and the formation of a homogenous socialist government. Yet key leaders of the party remained firmly committed to class collaboration and the USDRP’s practice basically remained the same as in previous months. Noting the gap between the party’s resolutions in the fall and its actual practice, Vynnychenko later noted that Ukrainian SD leaders ‘failed to be radicals in lived actions’.29

The USDRP’s response to the October Revolution further revealed this disconnection between words and deeds. On 26 October, Ukraine’s socialist-led Rada denounced the Petrograd uprising and the newly formed Soviet government. Still strictly committed to an empire-wide political framework, the Rada believed that the Bolsheviks would be easily cast aside; it thus immediately began working with conciliatory socialists in central Russia to replace the new Soviet government.

These actions by the Ukrainian SD leadership must be underlined, since so much anti-Communist historiography has blamed the Rada-Soviet conflict purely on ‘Bolshevik imperialism’. One of the few historians to challenge the dominant nationalist account is V.F. Soldatenko, whose recent study notes the ‘extremely negative effects’ of the Rada leadership’s response to the October Revolution, which ‘caused an aggravation of relations’ with the new Soviet government.30 For his part, Vynnychenko observed in his 1920 self-critique that the Bolsheviks had initially sought to reach an accord with the Rada after the October Revolution and he laid the blame for the spiralling conflict on the Ukrainian leadership.31

In the wake of October, Ukrainian SD leaders denounced the Bolsheviks for leading the country into ‘anarchy’. They again affirmed the need for a homogenous socialist government including representatives from all the different leftist parties. But, as Vynnychenko eventually acknowledged, this proposal became unworkable since there was no realistic of way of maintaining unity between revolutionary SDs and right-wing socialists who supported a coalition with capitalists.

With its All-Russian governmental project remaining more elusive than ever, and with Ukrainian working people rapidly pushing towards social revolution, the Rada found itself hanging in mid-air. Despite its claims to neutrality in the developing Russian Civil War, the Rada nevertheless allowed counter-revolutionary Cossack troops access through Ukraine to fight in the Don region – a centre of the anti-Soviet offensive led by Alexei Kaledin. This same right of passage, however, was denied to the Bolsheviks.

Between the October Revolution and the Bolsheviks’ seizure of Kiev in early February 1918, the Rada and the Soviet government engaged in an extremely convoluted political contest. Within the local soviets and the socialist parties, including the Bolsheviks, there was a growing push to establish a Ukrainian Soviet government. Marko Bojcun’s important study of the working class in Ukraine’s revolution convincingly demonstrates that ‘for many urban councils, the real bone of contention in November was not whether there should be a Ukrainian People’s Republic, but what should be the class composition of its government’.32 Left wingers in the USDRP and a large percentage of the UPSR as a whole pushed for a break with the bourgeoisie and demanded a rapprochement with Petrograd’s Soviet regime. But, from November onwards, the dominant currents within Ukrainian Social Democracy chose instead to engage in efforts to win political-military backing from Western powers. These efforts to garner Entente support failed, but the Rada leadership’s initiative to win German patronage in January 1918 ultimately proved successful.

The Bolsheviks pivoted back and forth between negotiating with the Rada, calling on it to be democratically transformed into a Soviet government, urging it to recognise and ally with the Petrograd regime, and, in the end, unsuccessfully attempting to overthrow it. By December 1917, the Bolsheviks had become the strongest current in the urban workers’ movement in Ukraine and they were likewise making strong inroads among Ukrainian soldiers.

The Rada leadership’s popular base rapidly melted away from November onwards. Yet it maintained just enough armed support to cling to power in most of Ukraine up through late January 1918. One of the last acts of the Vynnychenko government was to declare martial law in Kiev and appoint as City Commandant a young soldier Mykhailo Kovenko, who promptly arrested the top radical Ukrainian SR leaders who favoured a rapprochement with the Bolsheviks.

The relative disconnection of Ukraine’s Bolsheviks from Ukrainian-speaking workers and peasants was also an important contributing factor in the impasse of the Ukrainian revolution. Whereas an alliance between Left SRs and Bolsheviks was critical for the success of the revolution in central Russia, an equivalent bloc with the left of UPSR (and its peasant-soldier base) was hindered by the Bolsheviks’ ethnic composition, its isolation from the national movement, and its unevenness regarding Ukrainian aspirations for federal autonomy and national-cultural affirmation.

Of all the empire-wide parties in Russia, the Bolsheviks as a whole were the most sympathetic to the Ukrainian movement in 1917. In particular, the top Bolshevik party leadership in Petrograd supported Ukrainian national demands and actively sided with the Rada against the Provisional Government. But the stance of many Bolshevik leaders in Ukraine ranged from indifference to outright hostility towards the national movement. More important than the party’s formal stance, the Bolsheviks in Ukraine, as in previous years, remained a primarily Russian and Russified current with few organic ties to the national movement or the Ukrainian countryside. In a critical balance sheet of the party’s national approach in 1917, two Ukrainian Bolshevik leaders observed that ‘the issue was not even that we were not fond of the slogans of autonomy, federation, and independence, and that we advocated “unity”. The issue is that we completely avoided the national liberation movement’.33

In this context, many left Ukrainian SRs pushing for a break with capital remained wary of closely allying with Ukraine’s local Bolsheviks. In contrast with central Russia, where the Bolshevik-Left SR alliance was essential for establishing soviet power in late 1917, the radical left in Ukraine remained politically and socially divided by nationality well into 1918. Left SR and Bolshevik leaders later acknowledged that the latter’s weaknesses on Ukrainian national liberation gave an unnecessarily strong national dimension to the socio-political conflict. As Bojcun’s notes, ‘a major opportunity to establish [a Ukrainian worker and peasant] republic presented itself in November and December 1917’. Yet the ‘opportunity was lost’, he concludes, because of two main factors: the USDRP leadership’s rejection of soviet power combined with the Bolsheviks’ weaknesses on the national question.34

Soviet rule was briefly established in Kiev and across Ukraine in early February 1918 through the combined efforts of urban worker insurrections and military support from the Petrograd-based Bolshevik-Left SR government. The participation of non-Ukrainian troops in helping overthrow the Rada allowed the Right Ukrainian SDs, and most subsequent academic historians, to frame the establishment of soviet power in Ukraine as an imperialist Bolshevik conquest. But such an interpretation has been effectively challenged by a minority of Ukrainian scholars – most notably Soldatenko – who have documented how the downfall of the Rada was driven by Ukraine’s radicalised workers, peasants, and soldiers.35 Claims about ‘Red Imperialism’ are difficult to sustain given the longstanding opposition of Ukrainian nationalists and socialists to state independence, the political isolation of the Rada by this time, as well as the growing Ukrainian popular support for soviet power. Most Ukrainians by early 1918 simply refused to defend the Rada politically or militarily.

The months-long delay in establishing soviet power in Ukraine proved to have decisive consequences for the Ukrainian revolution. The Rada’s ability to hold onto power through January 1918 gave conciliatory socialist and liberal leaders sufficient time to win over an initially hesitant German government to occupy Ukraine. These very same Ukrainian political currents had, for decades, been opposed to separation from Russia – and they initially upheld this position even after the October Revolution. Rather than an ineluctable expression of Ukrainian national awakening, the Rada’s declaration of independence on 25 January 1918 was, in large part, a contingent political manoeuvre aimed at winning German backing.

Historians have detailed the catastrophic political impact of the subsequent German occupation, which reversed Ukraine’s push for social transformation and radically dislocated the region’s already frayed socio-economic and national relations. But it is often overlooked that the overstretched German state initially had no intentions to occupy Ukraine: even after the October Revolution, the German state felt that Ukrainian lands should remain within the jurisdiction of the Petrograd regime. Indeed, the initiative for Ukraine’s occupation lay entirely with a small group of moderate Ukrainian SD, SR and liberal leaders of the Rada who unilaterally intervened in the Brest-Litovsk negotiations, hoping to convince the German state to transform Ukraine into its military protectorate.36

It remained an open question for most of January 1918 whether the Rada could cling to power in Kiev long enough to sign a deal with the Germans. Negotiations went down to the wire – a few hours after the German-Ukrainian pact was signed, Europe’s diplomats received news that Kiev had fallen to the Bolsheviks.37 The Rada’s manoeuvre ran counter not only to basic principles of orthodox Marxism, but also to Ukrainian national sovereignty itself. A quote from the resolution of the UPSR in June 1918 helps underscore this point:

The alliance of the Ukrainian government with German militarism, inexcusable and criminal from the point of view of international socialism, has discredited the Ukrainian Central Rada in the eyes of the broad masses of toilers, has compromised the very idea of the national liberation movement and the Ukrainian socialist parties, and has demoralized Ukrainian democracy, objectively leading to the liquidation of all the achievements of the revolution; it has opened a wide field in the Ukraine for the activities of international reaction.38

Put simply: the Ukrainian SDs were able to hold on to power just long enough to decisively forestall anti-capitalist revolution in their region.

The Civil War and After

While Petrograd was certainly the centre of political gravity in 1917, the pendulum swung back to the periphery after the October Revolution. The overthrow of the Provisional Government posed the establishment of workers’ and peasants’ regimes as an immediate task throughout the former Tsarist territory. All sides saw that, if soviet power triumphed in imperial Russia’s borderlands, it could quickly proceed to advance across Western Europe and Asia. Given the strategic centrality of Russia’s periphery for the extension of socialism abroad, these setbacks were not inconsequential episodes.

Of all the setbacks of the revolution in the borderlands, those in Ukraine and Poland were the most decisive. Ukraine was not only the largest non-Russian region of the former Tsarist Empire as well as its main breadbasket, but it also stood adjacent to Germany and Austria. The early 1918 defeat of the workers’ and peasants’ revolution in Ukraine, and the subsequent German occupation, was an especially harsh blow. Borderland defeats facilitated a prolonged and devastating civil war that took place primarily in the imperial periphery. ‘Most of the civil war was fought over the territories of the minorities, with the Reds controlling the central Russian regions, and the Whites being based in minority areas’, notes historian Nancy Stetten.39

Speaking for the Bolshevik leadership at the Ukrainian Communist Party’s October 1918 congress, Karl Radek declared that ‘the bridge to the European revolution’ was the revolution in Ukraine and its adjacent nations.40 The existence of a large Ukrainian population inside of Austria’s Galicia region meant that a successful revolution in ‘Russian’ Ukraine could very likely seep across its borders. Indeed, this was one of the main reasons why the initially hesitant Austrian and German governments were eventually convinced by Ukrainian Rada leaders to occupy Ukraine in early 1918.41

As seen earlier, Ukrainian and Russian Marxists’ inability to sufficiently cohere a radical bloc to assume power in late 1917 had given the conciliatory Ukrainian socialist leaders just enough time to convince the German-Austrian regimes to intervene militarily. Given the initiative of moderate socialists in summoning foreign powers to intervene, outside military intervention alone is insufficient to explain the revolutionary defeats in Ukraine and so many of Russia’s borderlands. Reflecting on this turn of events, in May 1918, a left Ukrainian SR lamented that ‘those who summoned the Germans were little interested in the revolution. They stifled our revolution and have delayed its outbreak in Germany’.42

But radicals in Ukraine received a second chance after the German and the Austrian revolutions in November 1918 overthrew their imperial states. In February 1919, Soviet forces took power in Kiev, with the initial support of left Ukrainian SRs (Borotbists). All of Europe was politically ablaze: it seemed as if the overthrow of capitalist rule across Central Europe might now be a matter of weeks away.

Yet, at the precise moment when Soviet republics were being founded in neighbouring Hungary (March 1919) and the German region of Bavaria (April 1919), the Ukrainian Soviet government began to crumble. In a context already marked by economic and social chaos, the new Soviet administration pushed a series of ill-conceived, ultra-left national and agrarian policies that especially alienated non-Russians. This difficult situation was made worse by the reckless decision of left Ukrainian SDs to initiate an armed uprising against the Soviet regime in April, which, in turn, sparked rebellions by political forces well to their political right.

By the summer of 1919, Soviet rule had again been deposed. A bourgeois government headed by former Ukrainian SD Symon Petliura took power and eagerly allied itself with Pilsudski’s Polish army to fight the Bolsheviks. As historian Jurij Borys notes, ‘instead of advancing against Europe, the Communists were compelled to defend their capital, Moscow’.43 A major opening for extending revolution to the West had been missed.

After 1920, largely through Red Army intervention, lasting Soviet was eventually re-established in Ukraine and in various other regions of the former Tsarist empire. But the early political defeats and subsequent military morass over the years prior prevented the borderlands from serving as gateways for anti-capitalist overhaul during the 1918–19 highpoint of Europe’s revolutionary wave.

Only after these decisive defeats did the Bolsheviks (i.e. Communists) as a whole begin to reorient their approach to the national question, in Ukraine and beyond. Various factors contributed to the Bolsheviks’ reorientation after 1920, as new soviet governments were established in Ukraine and the Caucasus, largely through Red Army intervention. First, the Bolsheviks during these years received an influx of borderland Marxists committed to furthering national liberation within the framework of the soviet state. Second, after the initial chaos of the civil war diminished somewhat, the Communist centre began to more effectively push back against the relative indifference of its party ranks on the national question. Third, and most important, the 1917-20 defeats of the revolution in the empire’s periphery led to a significant rethinking of the national question among the party as a whole. The result was an ambitious project of non-Russian national development, centred on the promotion of non-Russian cultures and languages, governmental federalism, and the incorporation of borderland socialists into top leadership posts.44

How much political sovereignty should be delegated to the national republics remained a major debate within the party, as was manifest during Lenin’s famous 1922–23 “last struggle” against bureaucratic-centralistic impositions on Georgia by Georgian Bolsheviks Joseph Stalin and Sergo Ordzhonikidze, in alliance with Polish Bolshevik Felix Dzerzhinsky.45 Whatever their limitations, the Soviet governments’ new “indigenisation” policies on the whole fostered a profound “national renaissance” in the borderlands that lasted until the Stalinist counterrevolution of the 1930s.



  • 1. Liliana Riga, Identity and Empire: The Making of the Bolshevik Elite, 1880–1917, PhD Dissertation, McGill University, 2000, p. 84.
  • 2. Лев Юркевич, Русскіе Соціалдемократы и Національный Вопросъ, Женева: Изданіе Редакціи Украинской Соціалдемократической Газеты ‘Боротьба’, 1917, p. 31.
  • 3. V.I. Lenin, “What Is To Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement,” [1902] Collected Works, Vol. 5, Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1960-65, p. 423.
  • 4. Jeremy Smith, The Bolsheviks and the National Question, 1917–23, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999, 6.
  • 5. Cited in George Y. Boshyk, The Rise of Ukrainian Political Parties in Russia, 1900–1907: with Special Reference to Social Democracy, PhD dissertation, University of Oxford, 1981, p. 409.
  • 6. Lenin, “Critical Remarks on the National Question,” [1913] Collected Works, Vol. 20, Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1960-65, p. 31.
  • 7. Kazimierz Kelles-Krauz, “Socialistes Polonais et Russes,” L’Humanité Nouvelle: Revue Internationale: Sciences, Lettres et Arts 3, 4, 1899, pp. 449–50.
  • 8. К.К., “О еврейском рабочем движении,” Заря 4, 1902, p. 50; “Z pracy,” Przedświt 22, 8, 1902, p. 310.
  • 9. Сергій Мазлах and Василь Шахрай, До хвилі [1919] (Нью-Йорк: Пролог, 1969), p. 97.
  • 10. “Nationalitäten programm der österreichischen sozialdemokratie,” (1899) in Die Österreichische Sozialdemokratie im Spiegel Ihrer Programme, edited by Albrecht K. Konecny, Wien: Dr.-Karl-Renner-Institut, 1977, p. 10.
  • 11. Микола Порш, Про автономію украiни, Кiевъ: Просвѣшенiе, 1907.
  • 12. Cited in Boshyk 1981, p. 315.
  • 13. Cited in Осип Гермайзе, Нариси з історії революційного руху на Україн, Київ: Книгоспілка, 1926, p. 261.
  • 14. П–ра., С. 1906, ‘Бібліографія’, Вільна Україна, 4, 1906, p. 74.
  • 15. Юркевич 1917, p. 23.
  • 16. Cited in Jurij Borys, The Sovietization of Ukraine, 1917–1923: the Communist Doctrine and Practice of National Self-determination, Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 1980, p. 134.
  • 17. Smith, The Bolsheviks and the National Question, p. 6.
  • 18. Ronald Grigor Suny, The Revenge of the Past: Nationalism, Revolution, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993, p. 75
  • 19. H.H. Попов, Очерк Истории Коммунистической Партии (Большевиков) Украины, 1929, Харьков: Пролетарий, p. 117.
  • 20. ‘Од централізму до федерації’ [1917] in Владислав, Верстюк et al. (ed.) 2003, Український національно-визвольний рух. Березень-листопад 1917 року. Документи і матеріали, Київ: Видавництво Олени Теліги, p. 96.
  • 21. 22 ‘Відозва Московського комітету УСДРП’ [1917] in Владислав 2003, p. 96.
  • 22. ‘Звернення до громадян Полтавщини Спільної’ [1917] in Владислав 2003, p. 205.
  • 23. Володимир Винниченко, Відродженнія нації, Київ: Відень, 1920, Vol. 2, p. 92.
  • 24. О.Ю. Висоцький, Українські Соціал-Демократи та Есери: Досвід Перемог і Поразок, 2004, Київ: Основні Цінності, p. 76.
  • 25. Павло Христюк, Замітки і матеріяли до історії української революції. 1917– 1920 Том ii, Відень: Український Соціольоґичний Інститут, 1921, p. 122.
  • 26. Винниченко 1920, Vol. 1, pp. 21, 132.
  • 27. On the UPSR in 1917, see Т.А. Бевз, Партія національних інтересів і соціальних перспектив. (Політична історія упср), Київ: ІПіЕНД іме ні І. Ф. Кураса нан України, 2008.
  • 28. ‘З життя Петроградської організації УСДРП’ [1917] in Владислав 2003, pp. 509–10.
  • 29. Винниченко 1920, Vol. 1, p. 133.
  • 30. Олена Любовець and Валерій Солдатенко, Революційні альтернативи 1917 року й Україна, Киів̈: Наукова Думка, 2010, p. 285.
  • 31. Винниченко 1920, p. 141.
  • 32. Bojcun 1985, p. 314.
  • 33. Мазлах and Шахрай 1919, p. 165.
  • 34. Bojcun 1985, p. 343.
  • 35. В.Ф. Солдатенко, Винниченко і Петлюра: політичні портрети революційної доби, Київ: Світогляд, 2007, pp. 205–6.
  • 36. Oleh S. Fedyshyn, Germany’s Drive to the East and the Ukrainian Revolution, 1917– 1918, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1971.
  • 37. Thomas M. Prymak 1979, ‘The First All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets and its Antecedents’, Journal of Ukrainian Studies, 6, p. 168.
  • 38. Cited in Iwan Maistrenko, Borot’bism: A Chapter in the History of Ukrainian Communism, translated by George S.N. Luckyj, New York: Research Program on the USSR, 1954, p. 266.
  • 39. Nancy Stetten, The National Question and the Russian Civil War, 1917–1921, PhD Dissertation, University of Chicago, 1977, p. 2.
  • 40. Cited in Andrea Graziosi, Stalinism, Collectivization and the Great Famine, Cambridge: Ukrainian Studies Fund, 2009, pp. 20–1.
  • 41. Ihor Kamenetsky, ‘Hrushevsky and the Central Rada’, in The Ukraine, 1917–1921: A Study in Revolution, edited by Taras Hunczak, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1977, p. 51.
  • 42. Cited in Maistrenko 1954, p. 66.
  • 43. Borys 1980, p. 360.
  • 44. On the general evolution of Bolshevik national policies in these years see Smith, The Bolsheviks and the National Question 1999. On the Soviet Union’s “affirmative action” policies, see Terry Martin, The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923–1939, London: Cornell University Press, 2001.
  • 45. Moshe Lewin, Lenin’s Last Struggle, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005.