Society of Ukrainian Progressives

Society of Ukrainian Progressives (Товариство українських поступовців; Tovarystvo ukrainskykh postupovtsiv, or ТУП; TUP). A clandestine, nonpartisan political and civic organization of Ukrainians in the Russian Empire. It was founded in 1908 at the instigation of former members of the Ukrainian Democratic Radical party to co-ordinate the Ukrainian national movement and to protect it from the rising wave of reaction by the Russian government and Russian nationalism after the dissolution of the Second State Duma (June 1907). In addition to Democratic Radicals, some members of the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party and some politically unaffiliated people belonged to TUP. Its highest governing body, the annually elected council, included figures such as Mykhailo Hrushevsky, Yevhen Chykalenko, Illia Shrah, Serhii Yefremov, Petro Stebnytsky, Symon Petliura, Volodymyr Vynnychenko, Nykyfor Hryhoriiv, Fedir Matushevsky, Dmytro Doroshenko, Viacheslav Prokopovych, Andrii Viazlov, Teodor Shteingel, and Liudmyla Starytska-Cherniakhivska.

The central office of TUP in Kyiv, where there were also several branches (hromadas), co-ordinated the activities of about 60 TUP hromadas in Ukraine as well as 2 in Saint Petersburg and 1 in Moscow. The group's main aim was to defend the gains of the Ukrainian movement and to demand further rights. Its minimal program was the Ukrainization of elementary education, the introduction of the Ukrainian language and of Ukrainian literature and history instruction in secondary schools and higher schools, and permission for the use of Ukrainian in public institutions, the courts, and the church. Its political platform demanded constitutional parliamentarism and autonomy for Ukraine. Until 1917 TUP, in effect, directed the Ukrainian movement in central Ukraine, in that it co-ordinated the work of the Prosvita societies and various cultural and educational clubs and collaborated closely with the Ukrainian Scientific Society in Kyiv. It owned the Ukrainian bookstore in Kyiv (the former publisher of Kievskaia starina). The daily Rada (Kyiv) and the Moscow journal Ukrainskaia zhizn’ were its unofficial publications.

Through its hromada in Saint Petersburg TUP maintained friendly contacts with the opposition in the Third and Fourth state dumas, particularly with the Constitutional Democratic (kadet) party (Pavel Miliukov and N. Nekrasov) and a group of autonomists-federalists (Viktor Obninsky), who recognized Ukraine's right to national and cultural development, and with Russian scholars, such as Aleksei Shakhmatov, Fedor Korsh, and S. Melgunov.

In September 1914 TUP adopted a neutral position on the war and the belligerents: it disapproved of the pro-Russian declaration of Ukrainskaia zhizn’ and was critical (November 1914) of the activities of the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine in Austria. At the end of 1914, members of TUP (beginning with Mykhailo Hrushevsky) were taken into custody. In December 1914 the society issued the declaration ‘Our Position,’ in which it supported ‘the democratic autonomy of Ukraine, guaranteed also by the federation of equal nations.’ In January 1917 it responded favorably to American president Thomas Woodrow Wilson's peace efforts and expressed ‘the will of the Ukrainian people for independent development.’

On 17 March 1917, after the February Revolution of 1917, TUP convened a conference of Ukrainian organizations and parties in Kyiv and set up the Central Rada. At its final conference on 7 April in Kyiv, TUP decided to fight for Ukraine's autonomy by legal means and changed its name to the Union of Ukrainian Autonomists-Federalists, which in June of that year turned into the Ukrainian Party of Socialists-Federalists.

Doroshenko, V. Ukraïnstvo v Rosiï: Noviishi chasy (Vienna 1916)
Doroshenko, D. Istoriia Ukraïny 1917–23. rr., vol 1, Doba Tsentral’noï Rady (Uzhhorod 1932; repr, New York 1954)

Arkadii Zhukovsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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