DONETSK-KRIVOROZH REPUBLIC: THE FIRST FIGHT FOR THE RUSSIAN DONBASS

UNR, DKR Map

The following is the translation of an article that appeared on tsargrad.tv on February 12, 2017, so basically five years ago, which digs into the history of the region formerly known as “Ukrainian SSR” and “Ukraine”. The actual history is quite different from the one that is usually purported in the West – a version based in the Ukrainian perception/interpretation of history.

The Translation:

DONETSK-KRIVOROZH REPUBLIC: THE FIRST FIGHT FOR THE RUSSIAN DONBASS

On February 12 (January 30), 1918, the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic (DKR) was proclaimed in Kharkov

The revolutionary upheavals of 1917, which we are celebrating our centenary this year, caused a surge of separatism on the outskirts of the Russian Empire and led to the collapse of the state that our great ancestors had been building and assembling for centuries.

One of the most tragic episodes of the “great and bloodless” was the beginning of the separation of Little Russia from Russia. The Ukrainian project, nurtured and nurtured in Austria-Hungary, with which Russia was at that time engaged in a fierce war, was successfully implemented in a period of violent revelry of revolutionary democracy. In March 1917, in Kiev, a handful of “Ukrainian” revolutionaries proclaimed the creation of the Central Rada, which eventually announced the creation of an autonomous and then independent Ukrainian People’s Republic (UNR), which laid claim to all the territories of the southwest and south of Russia.

The Bolsheviks, who took power in Petrograd on October 25 (November 7), 1917, failed to find a compromise with the “bourgeois” Central Rada, but being also fighters against “great-power chauvinism”, they proclaimed their own Ukrainian People’s Republic of Soviets (UNRS) on December 12, 1917 in Kharkov. The short-term war between the “bourgeois” UNR and the “proletarian” UNRS ended with the fact that on January 26 (February 8), 1918, Soviet power was established in Kyiv. The central council, headed by Professor Mikhail Hrushevsky, and the UNR government fled to Zhytomyr. And already on January 30 (February 12), the government of the UNRS moved from Kharkov to Kiev – the so-called CEC of Ukraine (Tsikuka) and the People’s Secretariat, headed by the fiery Bolsheviks Yevgeny Bosh and Nikolai Skripnik.

Artyom: “We are not separatists, you are!”

On the same day, January 30 (February 12), 1918, in Kharkov, during the IV Regional Congress of Soviets of Workers’ Deputies of the Donetsk and Krivoy Rog Basins, the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic (DKR) was proclaimed, headed by the leader of the local Bolsheviks Artyom (Fedor Sergeev). The regional committee of the DKR included representatives of the Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. The established government of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic declared its firm intention to be on the rights of autonomy within Soviet Russia. Attempts by the representative of Tsikuka Skrypnyk to protest the decision of the Kharkov Bolsheviks and draw Donkrivbass into Soviet Ukraine provoked a sharp rebuff from Artyom. “We are not separatists, you are!” – the chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the DKR told the activist Tsikuki.

Despite the fact that in Petrograd they categorically did not approve the separation of Donkrivbass, continuing to consider Tsikuku the only legitimate government, the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic for a short period of its existence became the largest state formation in the industrial south of Russia, which included the Kharkov and Yekaterinoslav provinces, as well as part Kherson, Tauride provinces and the Don Cossack Region. If we take the modern administrative-territorial division, then these are completely Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye, Kharkov regions, partly Rostov, Kherson, Nikolaev, Sumy, Poltava regions. The capital of the DKR was Kharkov.

Republic fights

It is important to note that, unlike both Ukrainian projects, both nationalist (UNR) and the Soviet (UPRS), DKR was not an ephemeral state entity and relied on the broadest popular support. This allowed the republic to heroically hold back the onslaught of the German-Austrian interventionists for a month and a half. On March 1, 1918 (n.st.), the Germans occupied Kiev. Tsikuka and the People’s Secretariat of the UNRS were evacuated in a hurry, first to Poltava, and then to Yekaterinoslav and Taganrog. On March 3, the government of Soviet Russia concluded the “obscene” Brest Peace with the Germans, agreeing to the occupation of large territories of modern Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic states. However, the formally independent Soviet republics of southern Russia – Donetsk-Krivoy Rog, Ukrainian, Odessa and Don – continued to resist. On March 18, when the interventionists approached the borders of the DKR, Artyom sent an ultimatum to the German commander Eichhorn, demanding that they abandon the invasion of Donkrivbass. Naturally, the ultimatum was rejected, and the DKR, having mobilized, accepted the battle with the invaders. On April 8, after two weeks of defensive battles, German troops occupied Kharkov. The government of the DKR left the capital of the republic together with the last Red Guard detachments. Under Zmiev, they were surrounded. Artyom had a chance to personally lead the soldiers to a breakthrough. The armored train, commanded by the 22-year-old revolutionary Lyudmila Mokievskaya-Zubok, provided great assistance in making a breakthrough to the DKR detachments leaving Kharkov. The next day, the government of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic arrived in Lugansk, which was defended by the Donetsk proletarian army of Pyotr Baranov and the 5th Red Army of the future Soviet People’s Commissar of Defense Kliment Voroshilov. Despite the fierce resistance of the defenders of the DKR near Rodakovo, which made it possible to delay the enemy’s offensive, on April 28, 1918, Lugansk had to be abandoned. By the beginning of May, the entire territory of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic was captured by the German invaders. The DKR government and parts of Voroshilov’s army were forced to retreat to Tsaritsyn.

Let us add that, together with the Germans, the Ukrainian Haidamak gangs from among the armed formations of the UNR also invaded the territory of the DKR, the government of which returned to Kyiv on the bayonets of the interventionists. However, the Germans did not long tolerate the quarrelsome rabble, which was still called the Central Rada. On April 29, 1918, she was dispersed and replaced by a direct German protege Pavel Skoropadsky, who became known as the hetman of the “Ukrainian State”. However, all this “stupid and vulgar operetta” (in the words of the hero of the “White Guard” Mikhail Bulgakov) lasted a little more than seven months.

Despite the fact that de facto the DKR, as well as Soviet Ukraine, was occupied, legally it continued to exist. Only on February 17, 1919, when Soviet power was restored on the territory of Donkrivbass, by the decision of the Council of Defense of the RSFSR signed by V.I. Lenin and I.V. Stalin, the DKR was finally liquidated, and the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog basin became part of the newly-minted Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic ( Ukrainian SSR).

DKR is a Russian alternative to the Ukrainian project

The historical significance of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic, in our opinion, is as follows: it was not only an alternative to the separatist Ukrainian project, which was implemented both by nationalists in the person of the Kiev Central Rada, and by the Bolsheviks who took power in Petrograd. It was an attempt to resist the rupture of the united Russian state, the exclusion from it of one of the most economically developed industrial regions for the sake of momentary political conjuncture.

“They planted an atomic bomb under a building called Russia, and then it exploded,” President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin gave such an assessment of the Leninist national policy. Indeed, the consequences of the ill-conceived policy of the Bolshevik leadership, which literally nursed and nurtured the national republics, including Ukraine, turned out to be catastrophic. More than one generation will have to disentangle them.

Another thing is that the ungrateful descendants of the mankurts did not appreciate the zeal of Vladimir Ilyich and many of his associates in the implementation of the Ukrainian project on the Russian lands of Little Russia and New Russia, but that’s a completely different story.

On February 4, 2015, the People’s Council of the Donetsk People’s Republic, chaired by Andrey Purgin, one of the founders of the “Donetsk Republic” movement, adopted a historic memorandum on the succession of the DPR with the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic. Today, the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics are literally at the forefront of the Russian world, holding back the onslaught of cancer-stricken Nazism and Russophobia of “independent” Ukraine. And it is impossible to allow the DPR and LPR, in the battles for which rivers of Russian blood have been shed, to become the same “shot dream” as their heroic predecessor.