Sovietophilism. A political disposition among people outside the Soviet Union to support or sympathize with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The policy was justified by various theories and was adopted out of different motives, from the idealistic to the mercenary.

The left factions of the Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries and the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party, who, even before the Bolsheviks seized power in Ukraine, propagated an alliance with the Russian Communist Party (Bolhsevik) and the creation of a Soviet Ukraine, can be considered the first Sovietophiles. In 1919–21 these groups coalesced into the Borotbists and Ukrainian Communist party.

In the early 1920s Sovietophile tendencies arose among Ukrainian émigrés in Prague and Vienna, especially the left Socialist Revolutionaries, led by Mykhailo Hrushevsky and grouped around the journal Boritesia – Poborete; the Galician Ukrainian Social Democratic party, under Semen Vityk and grouped around his journal, Nova hromada (Vienna); and followers of Volodymyr Vynnychenko, with his journal, Nova doba (Vienna). In France in the 1920s, the Union of Ukrainian Citizens in France, led by Elie Borschak, and its newspaper, Ukraïns’ki visty, were Sovietophile. Some circles of the Government-in-exile and Secretariat of the Western Ukrainian National Republic (those of Yevhen Petrushevych and Vasyl Paneiko) also favored rapprochement with the regime in Soviet Ukraine, especially after eastern Galicia had been awarded to Poland in 1923 by the Conference of Ambassadors in Paris. This stance was a tactical measure to gain political support from the USSR against Poland.

In the 1920s Sovietophilism became increasingly popular also in Galicia, primarily as a reaction to the colonial policies of Poland. Cultural Sovietophilism, or the belief that Ukrainian culture could develop only with the support of the Soviet Ukrainian state, was widespread. The Ukrainization policy of the early 1920s in Soviet Ukraine fed expectations of a national revival. Many soldiers and officers of the Ukrainian Galician Army who had served in Central or Eastern Ukraine stayed there or returned there later. Galician organizations, such as the Shevchenko Scientific Society and some Ukrainian co-operatives, worked with their Soviet counterparts but without supporting the Soviet regime. Several Western Ukrainian political parties adopted a pro-Soviet platform—the Ukrainian Party of Labor, headed by Mykhailo Zakhidny, the Communist Party of Western Ukraine, and the Sel-Rob party. A section of the student movement represented by the Working Alliance of Progressive Students in Prague was Sovietophile. Many pro-Soviet groups and organizations in Galicia were supported and sometimes even funded by the Soviet consulate in Lviv. The collectivization, the Famine-Genocide of 1932–3, and the widespread terror and repressions of the 1930s greatly undermined the strength of Sovietophilism in Western Ukraine and abroad.

Among Ukrainian immigrant communities in North and South America, Sovietophilism spread through the so-called progressive movement. It rested on many of the same hopes and expectations as those of the political émigrés in Europe. Moreover, many Ukrainian workers and farmers were influenced by leftist parties in their new homelands. The Soviet government encouraged Sovietophilism, especially during and immediately after the Second World War, when it enjoyed much sympathy in the West as an ally. The main pro-Soviet Ukrainian organizations in North America were the League of American Ukrainians, the Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Temple Association, and the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians. Soviet agents and provocateurs encouraged Sovietophilism among the post-Second World War émigrés. Some effort was made to convince emigrants (especially in France and Argentina) to return to the Soviet Union. No Sovietophile organizations were established by the postwar refugees, however, and only a few people, such as Yurii Kosach, supported the USSR openly. In the post-Stalinist period Sovietophilism declined rapidly among Ukrainians in the West. Official Soviet attempts to encourage more contacts with the West often backfired: instead of attracting support for the Soviet regime they exposed its repressive and Russian-chauvinist nature. John Kolasky’s denunciation of Russification in education, for example, made a strong impression in Canada. The arguments of advocates of accommodation and compromise with the Soviet regime, such as Mykola Koliankivsky and Toma Lapychak, found no response in the Ukrainian community. Sovietophilism among Western political and trade-union circles was criticized frequently by Ukrainian human rights activists.

Boris Balan

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

List of related links from Encyclopedia of Ukraine pointing to Sovietophilism entry:

A referral to this page is found in 4 entries.