Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party (Independentists)

Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party (Independentists) (Ukrainska sotsiial-demokratychna robitnycha partiia-nezalezhnykh, or Nezalezhnyky). Originally a leftist faction within the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party (USDRP) and then a separate political party. In December 1918 the faction established its own Organizational Bureau in Kyiv. It was opposed to both the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic and the CP(B)U and advocated an independent Soviet Ukrainian republic. It accused the CP(B)U of being an alien organization obsessed with violence, which substituted the dictatorship of the Party for the dictatorship of the proletariat and rejected the national rights of Ukrainians. The Independentists officially left the USDRP in January 1919, when the party's sixth congress rejected their motion to transform the Ukrainian National Republic into a Soviet republic. As a party the Independentists patterned themselves on the Independent German Social Democratic party. Their leading ideologists were Mykhailo Tkachenko and Andrii Richytsky, and their official organ was Chervonyi prapor.

Initially the Independentists adopted a pro-Soviet program and welcomed the establishment of Georgii Piatakov's Bolshevik government in Ukraine. They tried to function as a legal opposition party but were soon disillusioned. Upon breaking with the Bolsheviks the Independentists set up the All-Ukrainian Revolutionary Committee, which headed an anti-Bolshevik revolt from April to July 1919. The leading members of the committee (Yurii Mazurenko, Antin Drahomyretsky, Andrii Richytsky, and Mykhailo Avdiienko), the Supreme Insurgent Council, and the General Insurgent Staff (Richytsky and Mazurenko) were prominent Independentists.

A tiny group within the party, the so-called Left-Independentist faction (Pankiv, Hurkovych, and Dihtiar), condemned the revolt, split off from the Independentists, and formed a separate party with the official organ Chervonyi stiah.

At the beginning of the revolt the Independentists opposed not only the Soviet Ukrainian and Russian governments but also the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic and co-operated with Otaman Danylo Zeleny's partisans. A short-lived modus vivendi with the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR) was reached in June 1919. In July the Independentists decided to call an end to their insurrection, which was making it easier for Anton Denikin's forces to advance into Ukraine. The UNR government arrested some members of the General Insurgent Staff but soon released them. Yurii Mazurenko and Mykhailo Tkachenko fled to Moscow and tried to work with the Bolsheviks.

In August 1919 the Left-Independentists merged with the Borotbists and formed the Ukrainian Communist party (of Borotbists); the Independentists became the Ukrainian Communist party, or Ukapisty, in January 1920. Both Communist parties criticized the CP(B)U and argued for an independent Soviet Ukraine with its own economic, political, and party centers. The Borotbists were dissolved in 1920, and the Ukapisty in 1924, and most of their members joined the CP(B)U. Many of the former Independentists, such as Andrii Richytsky, Yurii Lapchynsky, and Borys Antonenko-Davydovych, became prominent Ukrainian cultural figures during Ukrainization and were later persecuted and even destroyed for their alleged nationalism.

Maistrenko, I. Istoriia Komunistychnoï partiï Ukraïny (Munich 1979)

Ivan Myhul

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

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