Ukrainian Radical party

Ukrainian Radical party (Ukrainska radykalna partiia, or URP; originally the Ruthenian-Ukrainian Radical party, and from 1926 the Ukrainian Socialist Radical party, or USRP). A Western Ukrainian political party, formally established at a congress in Lviv on 4 October 1890. The URP could trace its descent from a movement of radical Galician young people influenced by Mykhailo Drahomanov in the late 1870s (see Radicalism). The founding members of the URP included Viacheslav Budzynovsky, S. Danylovych, Ivan Franko, Mykhailo Pavlyk, Yevhen Levytsky, and Kyrylo Trylovsky. Drahomanov considered the formation of a party premature but reconciled himself to the accomplished fact. He contributed regularly to the Radical press and helped to shape the party's ideology. His personal involvement was important in holding the young party together, and his death in 1895 accelerated a division into factions which culminated in party splits at the end of the 1890s.

The URP was the first modern Ukrainian political party with a defined program, a mass following, and a registered membership. The party program advocated socialism and a series of political reforms aimed at the extension of democracy and the improvement of the position of Ukrainians in Galicia. The URP called for the secularization of Ukrainian social and cultural life and opposed the influence of the Greek Catholic church and its clergy in national affairs. The party aimed its activities at peasants and, to a lesser extent, workers; it convened public assemblies (vicha) in small towns and villages, founded reading houses (khaty-chytalni) and co-operatives, campaigned in elections, organized women's groups, and trained activists from among the peasantry. The Radicals were in opposition to the government as well as to the mainstream Ukrainian populists (narodovtsi); they were particularly successful in their opposition to the New Era, the short-lived rapprochement between the populists and the Polish establishment in Galicia. In 1895 three Radical deputies were elected to the Galician Diet, and in 1897 two were elected to the all-Austrian parliament. At their 1895 congress in Lviv the Radicals passed a resolution in favor of Ukrainian independence; the resolution was proposed by Yuliian Bachynsky, but the idea of independence had been championed in the party even earlier by Viacheslav Budzynovsky. At its 1897 congress the URP endorsed strikes for agricultural workers, and such strikes became an important feature of Galician life over the next decade (see Peasant strikes in Galicia and Bukovyna). The Radicals also organized mass assemblies and demonstrations to demand universal suffrage.

From the mid-1890s there were three competing groups in the URP: the orthodox Radicals, who remained faithful to the ideas of Mykhailo Drahomanov; younger Radicals, who were influenced by Marxism and hoped that the URP would unite with Europe's social democratic parties in the Second International; and other Radicals who were becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the party's socialist program and more and more interested in purely national concerns. In 1899 the latter two groups left the URP. Yuliian Bachynsky, Mykola Hankevych, Semen Vityk, Roman Yarosevych, and others founded the Ukrainian Social Democratic party (USDP); Viacheslav Budzynovsky, Ivan Franko, Yevhen Levytsky, Volodymyr Okhrymovych, Teofil Okunevsky, and others, together with the majority of the populists, founded the National Democratic party (NDP). Thereafter the URP, which was now definitively a peasant party, was the second-largest Ukrainian political party in Galicia, after the NDP. In 1911 five Radicals were elected to the parliament in Vienna, and in 1913 six were elected to the Galician Diet. In the early 20th century, largely through the efforts of Kyrylo Trylovsky, the Radicals established the sporting Sich societies and, later (1913), the paramilitary Ukrainian Sich Riflemen.

With the proclamation of the Western Ukrainian National Republic (ZUNR) the URP joined the Ukrainian National Rada. The Radical Lev Bachynsky was vice-president of the Rada, and the Radicals Dmytro Vitovsky and Ivan Makukh served in the State Secretariat of the Western Ukrainian National Republic as military secretary and interior secretary respectively. After the collapse of the Ukrainian state the URP joined the Interparty Council.

At its first congress after the war (1 April 1923) and at subsequent congresses the URP reworked its program. It defined itself as the party of the working masses of Ukraine; it aimed to implement a socialist program, including the socialization of the means of production, in an independent Ukrainian republic in which the working masses themselves would hold power. The URP distanced itself from the USDP, which in 1923 began to follow a pro-communist line. At its 1925 congress the URP passed a resolution against collaborating with Ukrainian ‘bourgeois parties’ and simultaneously condemned the colonialist policies of the Bolsheviks in Ukraine and endorsed the slogan All Land to the Peasants without Redemption. In 1926, after the Ukrainian Socialist Revolutionaries of Volhynia joined it, the party changed its name to the Ukrainian Socialist Radical party. In April 1931 the USRP joined the Second Socialist International. Together with other Ukrainian parties the URP boycotted the 1922 elections to the Polish Sejm. In 1928, 11 USRP candidates were elected to the Sejm, and 3 to the Senate. In the 1931 elections the USRP ran jointly with the Ukrainian National Democratic Alliance and won one-fourth of the coalition's seats; the USRP's deputies formed separate clubs in the Sejm and Senate. The USRP boycotted subsequent elections because they regarded them as undemocratic. In 1934 the USRP had 20,000 members.

The leaders of the party were Ivan Franko, Mykhailo Pavlyk, Mykola Lahodynsky, Lev Bachynsky, and Ivan Makukh. Other prominent Radical activists included I. Blazhkevych, Karlo Kobersky, Dmytro Ladyka, Volodymyr Lysy, Mykhailo Matchak, Osyp Nazaruk (until 1922–3), Ostap Pavliv-Bilozersky, Ilko Popovych, Matvii Stakhiv, Kyrylo Trylovsky, and Semen Zhuk. Some prominent writers were also associated with the URP: Denys Lukiianovych, Osyp Makovei, Les Martovych, and Vasyl Stefanyk.

The URP had its own youth and women's organizations, the Union of Ukrainian Progressive Youth (Kameniari) and the Union of Ukrainian Working Women (the Women's Hromada in Lviv). The publishing house and people's university Samoosvita (1930–9) was under the party's influence. The URP's official publishing house was Hromada (1922–39); its official organs included Narod (1890–5) Khliborob (Lviv, Kolomyia) (1891–5), and Hromads’kyi holos (1895–1939).

The USRP renewed its activities in the postwar emigration (1946) and took part in the formation of the Ukrainian National Council (1947). In 1950 the USRP joined with the USDP and other socialist parties to form the Ukrainian Socialist party. The radical leaders in the emigration included Volodymyr Lysy and Matvii Stakhiv.

Badeni, J. Radykali ruscy (Cracow 1896)
Levyns’kyi, V. Narys rozvytku ukraïns’koho robitnychoho rukhu v Halychyni (Kyiv 1914)
Vozniak, M. ‘Ivan Franko v dobi radykalizmu,’ Ukraïna, 1926, no. 6
Makukh, I. Na narodnii sluzhbi (Detroit 1958)
Himka, J.-P. Socialism in Galicia: The Emergence of Polish Social Democracy and Ukrainian Radicalism (1860–1890) (Cambridge, Mass 1983)

John-Paul Himka, Ivan Lysiak Rudnytsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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