South Russian Workers' Union

South Russian Workers' Union (Pivdennorosiiskyi robitnychyi soiuz). A revolutionary workers' organization in Kyiv in 1880–1. Its membership consisted of several hundred workers, including Russians, Poles, Jews, and a majority of Ukrainians. The union was organized in the spring of 1880 by Ye. Kovalska and N. Shchedrin, two members of the Black Repartition (Chernyi Peredel) organization that had formed in the split of Zemlia i Volia. The union demanded sweeping economic changes, including collective ownership of land and factories, the recognition of all basic liberties, and the satisfaction of more immediate labor demands (including shorter working days and safer conditions). Tactically, the union advocated the use of terror in order to achieve its aims. Sabotage and the murder of factory managers and owners were common threats made by the union leadership. Those tactics met with some success in the Kyiv Arsenal, where Shchedrin concentrated his efforts.

With the arrest of Shchedrin and Kovalska in October 1880, the union came under new leadership. The change signaled a substantial moderation in tactics, with individual acts of terror being rejected in favor of long-term propaganda and strike activity. The union was liquidated in April 1881 upon the arrest of its remaining leaders and the seizure of its printing press. Its leaders were sentenced by military tribunal to various terms of hard labor or exile to Siberia.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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