Peasant Association

Peasant Association (Селянська спілка; Selianska spilka or Українська селянська спілка; Ukrainska selianska spilka). An economic-professional organization of the nationally conscious Ukrainian peasantry, established in Ukraine in April 1917 through the efforts of the Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries (UPSR) and politically dominated by it. The association was initially led by Mykola Stasiuk. Organized democratically into village, rural district, county, gubernia, and all-Ukrainian committees, it acted as the mouthpiece of the Ukrainian peasantry and officially supported the Central Rada. The co-operative daily Narodnia volia served as its national organ, and regional papers were published by it in Kyiv gubernia, Poltava gubernia, Podilia gubernia, Chernihiv gubernia, and Katerynoslav gubernia. The association was particularly strong in Kyiv and Poltava gubernias. The April 1917 congress of its members in Poltava gubernia was the first manifestation by peasants demanding that the Russian Provisional Government recognize Ukraine’s national rights. The May 1917 congress of its members in Kyiv gubernia called for Ukrainian autonomy, the creation of a national parliament, and Ukrainianization of the army. The association organized and conducted the First (June 1917) and the secret Second (May 1918) All-Ukrainian peasant congresses, controlled the All-Ukrainian Council of Peasants' Deputies, and through the latter influenced the actions and decisions of the Central Rada and its cabinet, the General Secretariat of the Central Rada (later renamed the Council of National Ministers of the Ukrainian National Republic). Its representatives in the Rada pushed for the nationalization of land privately owned by the state, church, and nobility and its public distribution among individual farmers. The association advanced its own candidates in the November–December 1917 elections to the Constituent Assembly of Ukraine, often jointly with the UPSR. It did not recognize the authority of the Hetman government after April 1918. After the May 1918 split in the UPSR the association sided with the centrist faction led by Nykyfor Hryhoriiv against the left faction of the Borotbists. It had three representatives in the Ukrainian National Union that co-ordinated opposition to the Hetman government and the November 1918 uprising against it. In the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic that subsequently took power it was represented by Fedir Shvets. At that time the association was headed by Oleksander Yanko, who was also in charge of the UPSR Organizational Bureau.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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