Zemlia i Volia

Zemlia i Volia (Земля и воля; Land and Freedom). The name of two Russian revolutionary organizations. The first was founded in Saint Petersburg in late 1861. It loosely united several conspiratorial groups of the socialist, democratic, and liberal intelligentsia in various cities of the Russian Empire. In Ukraine Zemlia i Volia had several small groups, notably in Poltava. The clandestine Warsaw-based Committee of Russian Officers in Poland, headed by the Ukrainian Andrii Potebnia, joined Zemlia i Volia in 1862. Zemlia i Volia propagated the overthrow of tsarism by a peasant revolution, the abolition of redemption payments, military conscription, and government bureaucracy, and the introduction of peasant, county, and gubernia self-rule and government by a democratically elected, federal popular assembly. It issued several proclamations and two leaflets before it fell apart in the spring of 1864, after most of its members were arrested in the wake of the suppression of the Polish Insurrection of 1863–4.

The second Zemlia i Volia was formed in 1876 by Russian populists (see Populism, Russian and Ukrainian) in Saint Petersburg. Called originally the Northern Revolutionary Populist Group, the conspiratorial party became known as Zemlia i Volia after its organ Zemlia i volia (1878–9). The goals of the Southern Rebels group (1875–7) in Ukraine, led by Yakiv Stefanovych and Volodymyr Debohorii-Mokriievych, were similar to those of the Zemlia i Volia, and after the group's suppression several of its members (eg, Stefanovych, L. Deich, M. Frolenko, V. Zasulich) joined Zemlia i Volia. Tsarist repression and arrests defeated the Zemlia i Volia strategy of agitation and settlement in the villages, and in late 1877 those of its members who were still at large in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, and Odesa began using terrorism as a political weapon against tsarist officials. In August 1879 Zemlia i Volia split into the terrorist Narodnaia Volia, headed by Andrei Zheliabov, and the less violent Chernyi Peredel (Black Repartition) group, headed by G. Plekhanov, which lasted until the mid-1880s.

Popov, M. Zemlevol’tsi na Ukraïni (Kharkiv 1930)
Zhuchenko, Volodymyr. Sotsial’no-ekonomichna prohrama revoliutsiinoho narodnytstva na Ukraïni (Kyiv 1969)
Rud’ko, Mykola. Revoliutsiini narodnyky na Ukraïni (70-ti roky XIX st.) (Kyiv 1973)

Roman Senkus

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

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