July, 20

The Donetsk-Kryvyi Rih republic: a fall without a rise

02/20/2017 11:23:00 am
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Donetsk has become a city of continuous "national holidays" in the three years of the Russian occupation: state employees and students are brought to the political meetings in honor of the "referendum's" anniversary, taking the "office" of the leader of the "republic" Zakharchenko, to the glory of St. George Ribbon or flag of the "DPR" and so on on an annoyingly regular basis. But there is a date in the militants' calendar, which allows them to extend their history by almost a hundred years. It is referred to the formation of the so-called Donetsk-Kryvyi Rih republic (DKR) in 1918. The creators of the terrorist "state" somehow consider themselves its successors.

The so-called "People's Council" adopted a "memorandum" which proclaimed the "DPR" the successor of the Donetsk- Kryvyi Rih republic in February 2015. These strong statements militants substantiated by the "principles of international law embodied in the United Nations Charter" and results of the unrecognized "referendum" on May 11, 2014.

According to the logic of separatists, the territory that allegedly was a part of the DKR in 1918, namely, the whole south-eastern Ukraine from Kharkiv to Kherson, should now "legally" be under the control of Donetsk.  From this perspective, the authors of the "memorandum" called the people residing in these territories to "become equal subjects" of the newly-made "Donetsk People's Republic". Allegedly, the legal existence of the Donetsk- Kryvyi Rih republic has never been stopped….

In point of fact, 98 years are fulfilled since that memorable day when the regulation of the RSFSR Defence Council about its final liquidation was adopted on February 17. And in this case, Gogol formula "I gave you life, I will also kill you!" is not appropriate.

Firstly, because the decision about the "funeral" of the pseudogovernmental formation was only a statement of the death which had happened long ago. And, secondly, Moscow opposed its existence from the beginning and endured this parochial separatism only because of the difficulties of the first years of the establishment of Soviet power in Ukraine.

Historical studies shyly avoided the fact of appearance of the illegitimate "republic" in Soviet times, so after Ukraine gained its independence, this vacuum started to fill quickly with "researches" of the separatist sense on the grounds of  which a whole ideology of the Donbass exclusivity, which "no one brought to its knees" had appeared.

If you follow how everything started, you can easily see many historical parallels with the current day. So the Empire had fallen. New independent states started to appear on its ruins. Ukraine has also declared its right to the independence.

Generally speaking, few Ukrainian politicians imagined the future independent state. For example, after the Bolshevik Revolution in Petrograd in October 1917, once called the "Great October Revolution", the Soviet power could be established in Ukraine. By the way, by absolutely legitimate democratic means.

The question about the form of state structure was brought to the All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets which was held in Kyiv on December 4, 1917. Ukrainian Bolsheviks hoped that the Congress would declare the power of Soviets, but nearly 2,000 of its deputies supported the power of the Ukrainian Central Rada headed by Mykhailo Hrushevsky. After that, about a hundred (out of two thousand!) of the Bolshevik deputies along with the left SRs have stated that the Kyiv Congress was not real. Well, as one would say today, the junta seized the power. They moved to Kharkiv where they allegedly continued the work of the "real", according to their words, Congress.

Naturally that the number of "fighters against the junta" was not enough to make crucial decisions, so the deputies of the Congress of Soviets of the Donbass and Kryvyi Rih basin arrived to help them. Kharkiv was elected as an alternate, and certainly not all-Ukrainian, place of the Congress not coincidentally: Russia was close and the Russian troops were even closer – already in the city.

The pseudo-Congress proclaimed Ukraine the Soviet Republic in the middle of December 1917. The Central Council of Ukraine which retained its power in the uncontrolled by Bolsheviks Ukraine declared itself to be ousting from power. Soviet Russia hurried to recognize the Kharkiv authorities as the only legitimate. The Kharkiv authorities, in their turn, addressed "big brother" for the military aid which was immediately received.

The Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Kharkiv Council Fyodor Sergeyev, known as Comrade Artyom, was considerably stood out among the delegates of the momentous Kharkiv Congress. The deputies elected him as a member of the Central Executive Committee of the Soviets of Ukraine, and later he became the People's Secretary (Minister) of Trade and Industry.

So the young party functionary became one of the leaders of the young Soviet Ukraine. As we can see, a native of Kursk oblast, whose name would later call a lot of settlements and streets in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, had no relation to the Donbass at that time.

The more surprising to his party comrades sounded Artyom's idea to create a "regional" republic inside of an already proclaimed Soviet Ukraine. He appeared to be a staunch opponent of the national-territorial division, making an emphasis on community of the economic potential of individual regions.

But Moscow was strongly opposed to this idea. On behalf of the Soviet Russian government and the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of the Bolsheviks, Yakov Sverdlov sent to Kharkiv a short telegram: "The separation (from Ukraine - OstroV) is harmful". However, despite the de facto ban, on February 14, the 4th Regional Congress of Soviets Workers and Soldier Deputies of Donetsk and Kryvyi Rih basins announced the formation of a separate Soviet Ukraine Donetsk-Kryvyi Rih republic, headed by Artyom.

However, in just a month the Kremlin has managed to make the Bolshevik separatists include their "republic" to Ukrainian Soviet Republic with a view to an early disengagement of the "Donetsk" experiment. On March 15, 1918 the Central Committee of the Party decided: "Donetsk Basin is considered as a part of Ukraine". All Party workers were told to work for the creation of "a single government for the whole of Ukraine".

This could be considered an end of the Donetsk-Kryvyi Rih republic "honeymoon", but the Brest peace extended the agony of Artyom's regime. Under the humiliating to Soviet Russia terms of treaty with Germany, the Bolsheviks promised to get out of Ukraine. Ukraine, on the contrary, got the recognition of the UNR and received military assistance from the countries of the Quadruple Alliance. Thus, Ukrainian authorities returned to Ukraine due to the German and Austrian bayonets. Soviet Russia had pledged not to interfere with this.

Donetsk-Kryvyi Rih republic tried to resist Ukrainian Central Rada and the Germans. "The Kyiv government invaded the borders of our Republic. We, the Government of the Republic, declare: There can be no peace without recognition of our Republic by both parties... We declare that Kyiv government cannot invoke, conquering our country with the help of the German-Austrian bayonets, to any historical or other rights, except the right of conquest", - said sternly the leaders of the puppet republic.

The DKR republic was even more severe with Germany. As Alexei Tolstoy wrote in one of his novels, "Artyom sent an ultimatum to the Emperor Wilhelm and warned him that in case of violation of the borders of the Republic which has no relation to Ukraine, the Republic will consider itself at war with Germany".

But Lenin, who saw the only salvation in his capitulation to Germany, harshly put the "Donetsk-Kryvyi Rih republic" in its place. "With regard to the Donetsk Republic, tell your comrades... that no matter how they tried to allocate from Ukraine, the region... will still be included in Ukraine and the Germans will conquer it", - he wrote in one of his instruction letters.

The leaders of the republic were forced to obey under the onslaught of the Germans. On April 8, they moved from Kharkiv to Luhansk, and after 20 days they were evacuated to Russia. By the beginning of May 1918, all the former territory of the republic was under the control of the Austro-German troops. In these circumstances, to say that "the patient is more alive than dead" was not necessary.

But Germany and its allies lost the First World War. After their stampede, the Bolsheviks once again moved their troops to Ukraine. In early December 1918 in Soviet Kharkov politicians who called themselves leaders of the DKR republic reappeared. They began to express the idea of ​​separate "Donetsk" armed forces. To resolve this issue once and for all, on February 17, 1919 (exactly 98 years ago) the Defence Council of the Russian SFSR agreed: "To ask Comrade Stalin through the Bureau of the Central Committee to destroy Donetsk-Kryvyj Rih basin".

Artyom was one of the first to put up with such a decision, but there were those about which Lenin said that "the persistence of several comrades from the Donetsk basin is like a no explainable and mischievous whim, which is completely unacceptable in our party circles". Moscow promptly transferred these "few comrades" to work in the regions remote from the DKR and later persecuted most of them.

As the saying goes, every revolution devours its children: in 1921, Fyodor Sergeyev (Artyom) died in Moscow in a mysterious train crash, and the other nine People's Commissars of the first composition of the Government of DKR republic were executed during the Stalinist terror.

So, this is how an unnecessary idea of ​​regional separatism was buried 98 years ago. It is difficult to assume that people will remember about this sad anniversary in the occupied Donetsk. And in vain - the fate of the present "DPR" is very similar to the DKR republic's. Most likely, it will end in the same way - with a stroke of the Kremlin ruler’s pen: "To carry out the destruction..."

Yuriy Bovh, OstroV