Southern Society

Southern Society (Russian: Южное общество; Yuzhnoe obshchestvo). A conspiratorial organization of Russian military officers stationed in Ukraine that was part of what became known as the Decembrist movement. The society was founded by Col Pavel Pestel in March 1821 in place of the Tulchyn council of the Union of Welfare. It was headed by a Fundamental Council and a Directory and, from the fall of 1825, Lt Col Sergei Muravev-Apostol. Its leaders (called boyars) met secretly each year in January during the Kyiv Contract Fair to debate the program and tactics for the military overthrow of tsarist absolutism, the abolition of serfdom, and the creation of a unitary Russian democratic state and constitutional monarchy. In 1823 the society was divided into three branches, Tulchyn, Kamianka, and Vasylkiv. In September 1825 the Society of United Slavs, which had Ukrainians among its members, merged with the Vasylkiv branch. After the suppression of the uprising of the Chernihiv Regiment led by Muravev-Apostol and the Vasylkiv branch in January 1826, the members of the Southern Society were arrested. Pestel, Muravev-Apostol, and M. Bestuzhev-Riumin were hanged in Saint Petersburg in July, the other members were sentenced to long terms of hard labor and exile in Siberia, and the soldiers of the Chernihiv Regiment were punished and transferred to penal regiments in Caucasia.

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

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