Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party

Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party (Українська соціал-демократична робітнича партія; Ukrainska sotsiial-demokratychna robitnycha partiia, or УСДРП; USDRP). A clandestine party of the nationally conscious, revolutionary Marxist intelligentsia in Russian-ruled Ukraine that superseded the Revolutionary Ukrainian party at the end of that party's third congress in December 1905. Prominent among the founding members were Dmytro Antonovych, Luka Bych, Pavlo Diatliv, Volodymyr Doroshenko, Dmytro Dontsov, Mykola M. Kovalsky, Andrii Livytsky, Borys Martos, Lev Matsiievych, Isaak Mazepa, Prokip Poniatenko, Mykola Porsh (the first leader and ideologist), Symon Petliura, Valentyn Sadovsky, Volodymyr Stepankivsky, Mykhailo Tkachenko, Mykola Trotsky, Serhii Tymoshenko, Volodymyr Vynnychenko, Lev Yurkevych, and Andrii Zhuk. The USDRP basically adopted the German Social Democratic Erfurt program. The approx 3,000 members of the USDRP did political work among the proletarianized peasantry of Chernihiv gubernia, Kharkiv gubernia, Kyiv gubernia, Podilia gubernia, Poltava gubernia, Volhynia gubernia and the Kuban. In 1906–7 the USDRP boycotted and condemned the ‘bourgeois’ Ukrainian caucus in the Russian State Duma. From late 1906 on, the USDRP suffered mass arrests, repressions, and desertions, as well as internal conflicts. After its March 1907 congress the party was dormant, and its members co-operated with the Mensheviks and the Jewish Workers' Bund. Many leading members fled to Galicia and Central Europe, where they formally united with the Ukrainian Social Democratic Spilka in late 1911. During the First World War several of them were active in the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine. In the first decade of its existence the USDRP published the organs Vil’na Ukraïna (Saint Petersburg) (1906) and Nasha Duma (1907) in Saint Petersburg, Borot’ba (1906) and Slovo (Kyiv) (1907–9) in Kyiv, and Sotsiial-Demokrat (1907) in Poltava. The USDRP Foreign Group, headed by Zhuk, published Pratsia (1909–10), Robitnyk (1910), and Nash holos (Lviv) (1910–11) in Austrian-ruled Lviv and Borot’ba (1915–16, ed Yurkevych) in Geneva.

The USDRP was reactivated as a public organization after the February Revolution of 1917. Until 1919 it published a daily paper, Robitnycha hazeta (1917–19). At its conference in Kyiv on 17–18 April 1917 it voted in favor of Ukrainian autonomy and federation with a democratic Russia. In July 1917 it dominated the First All-Ukrainian Workers' Congress (see All-Ukrainian workers' congresses). Although the USDRP had the most politically developed members (5,000 in October 1917) of all the Ukrainian left-wing political parties, unlike the Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries it did not have mass support because of its cautious position on the socialization of land. It was on the executive level of the 1917–18 Central Rada and 1918–20 Ukrainian National Republic coalition governments that the USDRP had the greatest influence. Volodymyr Vynnychenko was the Central Rada's vice-president and also headed the 1917 General Secretariat of the Central Rada, and Symon Petliura, Mykola Porsh, Valentyn Sadovsky, and Mykhailo Tkachenko held portfolios in the latter body. In the first Council of National Ministers of the Ukrainian National Republic (CNM) Vynnychenko served as prime minister until 30 January 1918, and Dmytro Antonovych, Porsh, Vasyl Mazurenko, Leonid Mykhailiv, and Borys Martos held portfolios. Under the right-wing 1918 Hetman government the USDRP suffered repression; Petliura, Vynnychenko, and other leaders were imprisoned. Forced to go underground, the party adopted a position in favor of Ukrainian independence and participated in the coalition Ukrainian National Union that led the successful uprising against the Hetman government and the German army.

In the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic that took power in December 1918, Volodymyr Vynnychenko was the head, and Symon Petliura was commander in chief of the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic. In the revived Council of National Ministers of the Ukrainian National Republic Volodymyr Chekhivsky served as prime minister, and Dmytro Antonovych, Borys Martos, Borys Matiushenko, Vasyl Mazurenko, and Leonid Mykhailiv held portfolios until February 1919. At the fourth USDRP congress (10–12 January 1919) a split in the USDRP occurred. The left wing, which advocated rule by peasants' and workers' councils (see Rada) in an independent Ukrainian socialist republic and immediate peace with Soviet Russia, broke away and formed the separate Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party (Independentists). The majority faction advocated a toilers' democracy, the gradual socialization of key economic sectors, and support for the Directory and the defense of the independent Ukrainian National Republic against Soviet and Allied aggression. At the January 1919 Labor Congress its delegates voted in favor of a democratic parliament, the implementation of major social reforms, the supreme authority of the Directory, and local rule by commissioners.

When the new prime minister, Serhii Ostapenko (not a USDRP member), began attempts at reaching an accord with the Entente Powers in February 1919, the USDRP instructed its members in the Council of National Ministers of the Ukrainian National Republic to resign. Volodymyr Vynnychenko also resigned and emigrated with his followers. He was succeeded by Symon Petliura, who resigned from the USDRP to become the new head of the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic. A part of the USDRP remaining in Ukraine (including the Central Committee members Andrii Livytsky, Ivan Romanchenko, and Mykola Shadlun) continued supporting the Directory. In the CNM appointed in April 1919, Borys Martos served as prime minister until August, and Livytsky (deputy prime minister), Isaak Mazepa, Shadlun, and Hryhorii Syrotenko held portfolios. Mazepa served as prime minister from August 1919 until May 1920. He added Serhii Tymoshenko to the CNM and appointed Panas Fedenko a member of the Central Ukrainian Insurgent Committee. Livytsky signed the UNR-Polish Treaty of Warsaw in April 1920, and from May 1920 only he, Mazepa, and Tymoshenko remained in the CNM.

The USDRP was banned in Soviet Ukraine. At the 9–13 September 1919 conference of USDRP émigrés in Vienna the Central Committee members P. Chykalenko, P. Didushok, Yu. Hasenko, Ivan Kalynovych, Volodymyr Levynsky, Semen Mazurenko, H. Palamar, Hryhorii Piddubny, S. Vikul, and Volodymyr Vynnychenko demanded that the USDRP withdraw its support for Symon Petliura's Directory and CNM, and that its members resign from the CNM. After losing the vote on their motion they left the USDRP and constituted the so-called Foreign Group of the Ukrainian Communist party until 1921. The émigré majority formed the Prague-centered USDRP Foreign Group under the leadership of Isaak Mazepa. Yosyp Bezpalko, Olgerd Ippolit Bochkovsky, Panas Fedenko, Oleksii Kozlovsky, Borys Matiushenko, and Volodymyr Starosolsky were prominent members. A member organization of the Labor and Socialist International, the group published the organs Vil’na Ukraïna (Lviv 1921), Sotsiialistychna dumka (Lviv and Prague 1921–3), and Sotsiial-Demokrat (Prague 1925–9; Poděbrady 1929–39?). Although it was not part of the Government-in-exile of the Ukrainian National Republic, it remained loyal to it, and the former USDRP member Andrii Livytsky served as its prime minister until 1947. After the Second World War former USDRP members helped to found the émigré Ukrainian National Council in 1947 and the Ukrainian Socialist party in 1950.

Stepaniuk, V.; Dovbyshchenko, Ia. Z istoriï ukraïns’koho sotsiial-demokratychnoho rukhu 1900–1918 rr. (Kharkiv 1918)
Khrystiuk, P. Zamitky i materiialy do istoriï ukraïns’koï revoliutsiï 1917–1920 rr., 4 vols (Vienna 1921–2; repr, New York 1969)
Hermaize, O. Narysy z istoriï revoliutsiinoho rukhu na Ukraïni, 1 (Kyiv 1926)
Fedenko, P. Sotsiializm davnii i novochasnyi (London–Paris–Munich 1968)
Boshyk, G. ‘The Rise of Ukrainian Political Parties in Russia, 1900–1907: With Special Reference to Social Democracy,’ D Phil diss (Oxford University 1981)
Kuras, I. Povchal’nyi urok istoriï (Ideino-politychne bankrotstvo Ukraïns’koï sotsial-demokratychnoï robitnychoï partiï) (Kyiv 1986)

Roman Senkus, Arkadii Zhukovsky

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

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