Revolutionary tribunal (революційний трибунал; revoliutsiinyi trybunal or ревтрибунал; revtrybunal). An extraordinary judicial institution created by the Bolshevik authorities in Soviet Russia and then in other republics. In Ukraine the revolutionary tribunals were established by a decree of the People's Secretariat issued in Kharkiv on 4 January 1918. In early 1919 they served as organs of local Bolshevik revolutionary committees. On 15 April 1919 the Supreme Revolutionary Tribunal of the All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee was set up to deal with particularly important cases. The tribunals tried individuals considered to be enemies of Soviet rule (‘counterrevolutionaries’) or class enemies, and employed illegal and brutal methods of investigation and punishment. The only criterion of judgment was the interest of the revolution. The judges and executors of the sentences were members of the Cheka. The revolutionary tribunals were abolished in 1922, when the court system of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was reformed.
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]