All-Russian Constituent Assembly

All-Russian Constituent Assembly (Vserossiiskoe Uchreditelnoe Sobranie). The highest elected body on the territory of the former Russian Empire after the February Revolution of 1917. The assembly was empowered to define the new political structure and to approve the constitution of the federated Russian state that was postulated by the Russian Provisional Government. In March 1917 a special council was created to prepare a law for elections to the assembly. By September the council had worked out its proposals, based on a universal, direct, equal, and secret vote. The Provisional Government designated 25 November 1917 as election day.

At first the Bolsheviks demanded that the assembly be convened, but after they seized power in November they were critical of the elections because the lists of party candidates had been selected in September or October. The Bolsheviks took part in the elections, however.

Ukrainian political circles expected that the assembly would legislate a democratic-republican political system and the national rights of the non-Russian peoples. In its first proclamation (22 March 1917) the Central Rada stated that the Provisional Government would soon convene a constituent assembly. The All-Ukrainian National Congress (17–21 April 1917) recognized the right of the assembly ‘to establish the political structure of the Russian Republic,’ but also called on the Ukrainians to lay the foundations for Ukrainian autonomy before the assembly was convened. The First Universal, issued on 23 June 1917 (see Universals of the Central Rada), reiterated that the assembly should pass a law on Ukraine's autonomy. In its Second Universal (16 July 1917) the Central Rada promised to prepare a statute on Ukraine's autonomy and to present it to the All-Russian Assembly for ratification. The Third Universal (20 November 1917) stated that the assembly would determine the new state structure. Beginning in the second half of 1917, the Ukrainian parties and the Central Rada, seeking recognition for the sovereignty of the Ukrainian people, proposed the convening of the Constituent Assembly of Ukraine in addition to the All-Russian Constituent Assembly.

Only 54 of the 79 electoral districts reported the results of the voting. In Ukraine the elections to the Russian assembly took place on 10–12 December 1917 in eight districts. The results of the voting in Podilia were not reported. The outcome was a reflection of the political attitudes of the population during the revolution. Out of 36,260,000 votes cast throughout the territory of the former Russian Empire the Russian Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) received 45.5 percent; the Bolsheviks, 24.9 percent; the Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries, 9.5 percent; the Constitutional Democratic (kadet) party, 5.1 percent; the Russian Social Democratic Workers' party (Mensheviks), 1.8 percent; the Ukrainian Socialists (the name used at the front by the Ukrainian Socialist Revolutionaries and Social Democrats), 1.4 percent; and the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party, 0.26 percent. In Ukraine the 7,580,000 votes cast were divided in the following way: the national groups (non-Russian parties) won 61.5 percent (among them the Ukrainian SRs won 45.3 percent); the Russian SRs, 24.8 percent; the Bolsheviks, 10 percent; and the Kadets, 3.7 percent. Of the 120 deputies elected in Ukraine, 71 were Ukrainian SRs, 2 were Ukrainian Social Democrats, 4 were from the national minorities (1 Pole, 2 Jews, 1 Moslem), 30 were Russian SRs, 11 were Bolsheviks, 1 was a Kadet, and 1 was from the Union of Landowners. In six districts where the bloc of Ukrainian socialist parties (SRs, the Peasant Association, and Social Democrats) presented a single list of candidates, it won a clear majority of the votes: 77 percent in Kyiv gubernia, 71 percent in Volhynia, 60 percent in Chernihiv gubernia, 60 percent in Poltava gubernia, 52 percent in Katerynoslav gubernia, and 33 percent in Tavriia gubernia. In Kharkiv gubernia and Kherson gubernia the Ukrainian and the Russian SRs ran together; therefore the Ukrainian SRs received only 12 percent of the votes in the former and 25 percent in the latter gubernia.

Besides the eight districts in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Socialists had 11 deputies elected at the front.

Some of the elected Ukrainian delegates (50 in all) met in Kyiv on 24 December 1917 and decided not to participate in the Russian assembly until the Constituent Assembly of Ukraine was convened.

The only session of the All-Russian Constituent Assembly took place in Petrograd on 18–19 January 1918. The Bolshevik-dominated All-Russian Central Executive Committee set forth an ultimatum demanding the ratification of the decrees of the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets on the transfer of all power to the soviets. When the assembly rejected this demand, the Bolsheviks dispersed the deputies and declared the assembly to be dissolved.

Sviatitskii, N. ‘Itogi vyborov vo Vserossiiskoe uchreditel'noe sobranie,’ in God russkoi revoliutsii 1917–1918 (Moscow 1918)
Popov, M. Narys istoriï KP(b)U (Kharkiv 1928)
Mal’chevskii, I. (ed). Vserossiiskoe uchreditel'noe sobranie (1917 god v dokumentakh i materialakh) (Moscow–Leningrad 1930)
Radkey, O.H. The Election to the Russian Constituent Assembly of 1917 (Cambridge, Mass 1950)

A. Zhukovsky

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