Revolutionary Ukrainian party

Revolutionary Ukrainian party (Революційна українська партія, or РУП; Revoliutsiina ukrainska partiia, or RUP). The first mass Ukrainian revolutionary party in Russian-ruled Ukraine, established on 11 February 1900 by the then Kharkiv Student Hromada leaders Dmytro Antonovych, Petro Andriievsky, Bonifatii Kaminsky, Yurii Kollard, Oleksander Kovalenko, Lev Matsiievych, D. Poznansky, and Mykhailo Rusov. RUP was the culmination of earlier attempts at creating a Ukrainian political organization in a society whose intelligentsia was by and large apolitical, and whose Ukrainophile activity was limited to the cultural sphere. Its political antecedents were the Brotherhood of Taras (est 1891) and the first Ukrainian Social Democracy group (est 1896 in Kyiv), headed by Ivan M. Steshenko and Lesia Ukrainka.

Initially RUP based its politics on a speech delivered by a sympathizer, Mykola Mikhnovsky, at public commemorations of Taras Shevchenko in Poltava and Kharkiv in March 1900; the speech was solicited by the founding members and published as the first RUP brochure under the title Samostiina Ukraïna (Independent Ukraine, 1900). Mikhnovsky called for ‘a single, unitary, indivisible, free, independent Ukraine from the Carpathians to the Caucasus’ and the immediate goal of the ‘restoration ... of rights defined in the Pereiaslav constitution of 1654 [see Pereiaslav Treaty of 1654] and the dissemination of its authority throughout the entire territory of the Ukrainian people in Russia.’

The first RUP members were nationally conscious students at various schools in Ukraine and elsewhere in the Russian Empire. In June 1901 they met for the first time at the clandestine third Ukrainian student conference in Poltava. At the first RUP congress in December 1902 the six existing RUP ‘free communities’—based in the cities of Kharkiv, Poltava, Kyiv, Nizhyn (the Chernihiv Community), Lubny, and Katerynodar, in the Kuban (the Black Sea Community)—and smaller groups in Romny, Pryluky, Saint Petersburg, Odesa, and Moscow were united in one organization. The congress elected an RUP Central Committee (Dmytro Antonovych, Yevhen Holitsynsky [replaced by Volodymyr Vynnychenko], V. Kozynenko, and Mykhailo Tkachenko) based in Kyiv, and a Foreign Committee (directed by Vynnychenko and Antonovych) and Publications Committee, both of which were to be based in Austrian-ruled Lviv and Chernivtsi.

Initially RUP advocated the use of political terrorism and armed struggle against the tsarist regime and the large landowners. By 1902 it had moved away from revolutionary nationalism toward an agrarian Marxism that emphasized both national and social liberation. Its members concentrated on politicizing the Ukrainian peasantry and rural proletariat, organizing peasant groups, strikes, and boycotts in Kyiv gubernia, Chernihiv gubernia, Poltava gubernia, and Kharkiv gubernia, and disseminating revolutionary literature written in Ukrainian, such as its monthly organs Haslo (1902–3), Selianyn (1903–6), Dobra novyna (1903), and Pratsia (1904–5), 38 brochures and books (including translations of the socialist writings of A. Bebel, P. Lafargue, F. Lassalle, W. Liebknecht, and K. Kautsky), and many proclamations. To that end it co-operated with non-Ukrainian parties in Ukraine, such as the Russian Socialist Revolutionary party, Jewish Workers' Bund, Russian Social Democratic Workers' party (RSDWP), and Polish Socialist party. Most of the RUP publications were printed in Austrian-ruled Chernivtsi and Lviv and smuggled in with the aid of the Ukrainian Social Democratic party there; some leaflets were printed by underground presses in Russian-ruled Ukraine.

In 1903 RUP repudiated the extreme nationalism of Samostiina Ukraïna and adopted a draft program based on the principles, goals, and tactics of international social democracy (ie, the German Social Democratic party's Erfurt Program). For practical reasons the call for an independent Ukraine was replaced by one for Ukraine's full national-territorial autonomy within a federated, democratic Russia. Also that year the small Ukrainian Socialist party (Kyiv) in Right-Bank Ukraine fused (for six months) with RUP, many RUP members were arrested, and others fled to Lviv, where Mariian Melenevsky became the head of the Foreign Committee.

In 1904 Mykola Porsh became the new party leader. Under him RUP shifted its focus away from the peasantry to the ethnic Ukrainian urban proletariat, adopted organizational principles of ‘democratic centralism,’ theoretical training, and strict conspiracy, recruited many new students, workers, and peasants, and expanded its influence to Right-Bank Ukraine and Southern Ukraine and the Kuban. Yevhen Holitsynsky represented RUP at the Socialist International Congress in Amsterdam in August; after Russian Social Democratic Worker’s Party delegates protested against the participation of a separate Ukrainian delegation, he was forced to join their delegation. In December 1904, at the second RUP congress in Lviv, ideological and tactical differences among Porsh, Dmytro Antonovych, Mariian Melenevsky, and Volodymyr Vynnychenko, especially regarding the national question and the need for Ukrainian independence, split the party. In January 1905 an orthodox Marxist minority faction headed by Melenevsky united with the RSDWP as the autonomous Ukrainian Social Democratic Spilka. During the Revolution of 1905 RUP members organized workers' and peasants' strikes and boycotts. At the third RUP congress in December 1905, the remaining national-autonomist members renamed their party the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party.

Although it had many adherents and a mass appeal, RUP had only 116 known members. Another 75 have been identified as possible members, and there were many unidentified members. In addition to those already mentioned, the members who later played important roles in Ukrainian political, cultural, and scholarly life were Kuzma Bezkrovny, Volodymyr Chekhivsky, Dmytro Dontsov, Dmytro Doroshenko, Volodymyr Doroshenko, Mykola Halahan, Maksym Hekhter, Hryhorii Ivanytsky, Hryhorii Kovalenko, Mykola M. Kovalsky, Pavlo Krat, Mariia Livytska, Andrii Livytsky, I. Lychko, Stepan Manzhula, Borys Matiushenko, Isaak Mazepa, Semen Mazurenko, Vasyl Mazurenko, Oleksander Mytsiuk, Oleksa Nazariiv, Symon Petliura, Prokip Poniatenko, Natalia Romanovych-Tkachenko, Ivan Rotar, Ivan Rudychiv, Ivan Severyn, Mykyta Shapoval, Oleksander Skoropys-Yoltukhovsky, Oleksander Sokolovsky, Oleksander Stepanenko, Volodymyr Stepankivsky, Mykola Trotsky, Serhii Tymoshenko, Yurii Tyshchenko, Serhii Veselovsky, Mykola Vorony, Lev Yurkevych, Andrii Zhuk and Anna Zhuk.

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———. Revoliutsiina Ukraïns’ka Partiia (RUP) (1900–1905 rr.): Narys z istoriï ukraïns’koï sotsiial-demokratychnoï partiï (Lviv 1921)
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Kollard, Iu. Spohady iunats’kykh dniv, 1897–1906: Ukraïns’ka students’ka hromada v Kharkovi i Revoliutsiina Ukraïns’ka Partiia (RUP) (Toronto 1972)
Boshyk, G. ‘The Rise of Ukrainian Political Parties in Russia, 1900–1907: With Special Reference to Social Democracy,’ D Phil diss, Oxford University, 1981

Arkadii Zhukovsky

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

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