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After the Bolsheviks suffered a complete defeat at the All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets in Kyiv in December 1917, the establishment of the Soviet government of Ukraine was proclaimed in Kharkiv on December 25 (12). Immediately afterwards, he outlawed the Central Rada and turned to Soviet Russia for military assistance. The Russian government recognized the Soviet government of Ukraine as the only legitimate government and decided to immediately provide it with military assistance in the fight against the “counter-revolutionary” Central Rada. Troops under the command of V. Antonov-Ovsienko were sent to Ukraine. However, this did not prevent the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of Soviet Russia G. Chicherin to cynically declare that Russia does not seem to be interfering in the events that unfolded in Ukraine, because an independent Ukrainian Soviet government is at war with the Central Rada…
On the Crimean peninsula, the first place where the Bolsheviks went on the offensive was Sevastopol. As early as mid-December 1917, another group of Baltic sailors arrived in the city and were sent by the Central Committee of the RSDLP (B). Under their influence, a resolution on full support for the actions of the RNA was adopted at a citywide rally of workers, soldiers and sailors.
On December 24, the Bolshevik faction made a statement on the need to disarm “counterrevolutionary officers and the local bourgeoisie.” According to I. Firdevs, the Bolsheviks issued an ultimatum to the Kurultai, demanding that the Kurultai release all Russian officers from the dragoon regiment, allow free agitation and propaganda among the dragoons, extradite all other officers to the Bolsheviks, and help disarm all “counterrevolutionary.”
However, this statement provoked great resistance from the Crimean Tatars. Speaking about this episode, A. Bochagov noted that when the representative of the Bolshevik Party in Simferopol (most likely, I. Firdevs was meant here) turned to Chelebiev with a request to help the Tatar troops (mostly squadrons) disarm all available officers. (both personnel, Russian, and leaders of the Crimean Tatar squadrons) and to disarm military units, he received a complete and abrupt refusal. Instead, Chelebiyev replied: ” Disarming officers is like taking away our souls, it means disorganizing the army. We know what this means: you want to arrest the staff officer and in two days the squadron will have horns and legs left . “
It should be added that the work of the Bolsheviks to “decompose” through the agitation of the Crimean Tatar squadrons was a complete failure. Bolshevik V. Yelagin, later talking about the events that took place in December 1917 in Evpatoria, sadly noted: ” Attempts to agitate to disband the main force of the White Guard – the notorious Tatar squadrons – also failed. Not only that: passionate speeches vol. Karaeva and A. Yelagin, who entered the barracks, almost ended in their deaths… “.
It is not for nothing that at the end of 1917 the Bolshevik J. Tarvatsky at one of the meetings of the Simferopol executive committee said that the existence of such a large Muslim contingent on the peninsula was unacceptable. After all, the squadrons, in contrast to the Bolshevik-controlled anarcho-bandit detachments, were a fighting and disciplined force, a clash with which would be fatal for this “freemason.” Russian officers later recalled the fighting and other qualities of the Crimean squadrons with nostalgia: “ All our Tatars were excellent soldiers: diligent, good-natured, wonderful comrades. Tatar honesty and decency were simply to serve as an example, and their directness and attachment to their officer and regiment were simply impressive and worthy of imitation . ”
On December 29, the Revolutionary Committee of Sevastopol (which consisted of 18 Bolsheviks and two Left Socialist Revolutionaries) announced that the councils of workers’, soldiers’, and peasants’ deputies were considered re-elected, and that power would be transferred to new councils.
Thus, in December 1917 in the Crimea there was a difficult situation. Simultaneously, there were three forms of government: the Council of People’s Representatives, the Tatar Directory, and the Sevastopol Council of Workers ‘and Soldiers’ Deputies with a military-revolutionary committee.
On the night of December 29 in Sevastopol, sailors of the Black Sea Fleet and soldiers of the anarchist detachment O. Mokrousov, along with the remnants of the detachment, which returned after an unsuccessful attempt to “punish officers, Cossacks and the bourgeoisie” near Rostov, arrested many officers and Crimean Tatars and their Tatars. prisons. When the prison chief refused to receive them, officers were shot without trial or trial at Malakhov Mound. All those shot were accused of “grave crimes against the revolution and the Soviet government.” The shooting was a signal for the first wave of killings to sweep the peninsula. On December 30, “revolutionary” sailors and workers continued their “resolute struggle against the counterrevolution,” in which 30 more officers were shot. In memoirs written later, a direct witness to these events, Officer M. Kryshevsky wrote,that “128 excellent officers” were killed during this first wave of killings. In fact, this figure may be much higher.
A former member of the Sevastopol council, O. Kappa, recalled: “ When, on the second day after the December horrors, at a meeting of the council of military and workers’ deputies, I asked the chairman (Bolshevik M. Pozharov): Is this the end? He said, “So far, but there will be more outbreaks.” The actions of the Sevastopol Bolsheviks and anarchists prompted the Crimean Tatars to declare the Directory the only “autonomous national government of Crimea .”
On January 19, 1918, a telegram signed by K. Voroshilov was sent from Petrograd to the newly elected Sevastopol Council of Military and Workers’ Deputies, in which the central Bolshevik leadership set a new task for local cadres. It demanded “to begin the organization of the military forces of the region” before the beginning of the “regional Constituent Assembly.” That is, the Crimean leadership was officially ordered to immediately begin forming its own armed forces. On January 22, the Sevastopol Revolutionary Committee called on workers to arm themselves and join the Red Guard.
Recalling the events of that time, J. Gaven noted: “With the exception of Sevastopol, all the cities of the Crimea met the October coup hostilely. Antonova. At the end of December 1917, after the seizure of power, it became clear that Crimea could be Sovietized only by armed struggle, and if the Bolsheviks took power in Sevastopol, it was only because the navy had large stockpiles of weapons and we had a good leadership. We had to adhere to diplomacy… We went under the slogan of defending the revolution. When we organized detachments in Sevastopol and sent them against Simferopol quite unexpectedly, the masses were convinced that the Kurultai wanted to seize power. At that time, the messengers of the revolutionary committee were running through the streets and shouting loudly: “Counter-revolutionaries are attacking Sevastopol. The Revolutionary Committee is in danger.All to the front. ” The sailors went to defend their fleet, their revolutionary Sevastopol, and we always did such work that everything looked like we were attacked by counter-revolutionary forces, officer detachments, squadrons, and we just defended ourselves, and thus threw our forces to Yalta, Evpatoria , Kerchand”.
Contemporary of those events, M. Bunegin, talking about what was happening on the peninsula in late 1917 – early 1918, openly stated: ” These events seemed to many the struggle of the Russians with the Tatars ” (emphasized by me. – Author). Subsequent events have shown the full validity of this remark.
Thanks to the sailors of the Black Sea Fleet, as well as the military sent by Russia, Soviet power was established on January 17 in Feodosia, on January 19 in Kerch, on January 22 in Yalta, on January 27 in Simferopol, and on January 29 in Evpatoria. This was assisted by detachments of sailors from Sevastopol in support of local Bolshevik organizations.
A witness to these events, a writer from I. Bunin’s circle, later, already in exile, wrote: “On a sunny January morning, shootings and chaos began in the city. Yurko, who knew everything, ran down Italian Street, but without newspapers, and shouted that the Bolsheviks had revolted, were cutting down the Tatars, and that the battle was now taking place near the barracks where the Cavalry Battalion was barricaded. An hour later, everything was over: the city was ruled by Soviet authorities. Some Tatars broke through and went to the mountains with a fight, others remained lying on the barracks square, where they were found dead . ” In a letter to Peshkovsky dated January 22, M. Voloshin wrote even more decisively: “Everywhere there is a war between the Tatars and the Russians.”
These words are not an exaggeration. In fact, not only Tatars were killed, but also those who, not being Tatars by nationality, dared to treat Tatars humanely. For example, two sisters of mercy were shot dead in Yalta, whose whole fault was that they were bandaging wounded Tatars.
Mr. Wrangel wrote in his memoirs that the sailors who searched his house in Yalta reassured the baron with the following words: “ We do not touch anyone except those who are fighting against us. We are at war only with the Tatars. Another mother, Kateryna Krym, joined Russia, and they are now separating… “.
This attitude towards the Tatars can be seen in the official documents of the Bolshevik authorities. For example, in a statement issued by the Sevastopol Military Revolutionary Committee on January 22, the Tatars were accused of all sins they could. Tatar squadrons, it was said in the text, behave in all cities of the peninsula no differently than “conquerors”. As if entering into a military alliance with Turkey, they are preparing an armed uprising and want to capture all the cities of Crimea, starting with “revolutionary Sevastopol.” Therefore, the appeal called: “We must be vigilant! Remember that agents of the Rada and the Tatar headquarters are rummaging around you! ”
By the way, the Ukrainian Central Rada, which was accused of deliberately dismantling the Black Sea Fleet (and not the Bolsheviks), “got” in this appeal. Thus, by the way, the appeal read: “ The Rada did everything to give Sevastopol defenseless into the hands of enemies. With the help of the Odessa Military District, she sent an order ordering the release of sailors and soldiers on leave, and the dissolution of the 11th and 12th years of conscription. With such a diabolical policy, she deliberately disorganized and disarmed the Sevastopol garrison. By agitating the navy, inflating national passions, it sowed discord among the sailors and disbanded the navy’s fighting forces. It is with the assistance of the Central Rada that the Crimean Tatars are trying to seize Crimea and introduce a dictatorship here». At the end of the appeal, it was unequivocally stated: “ Comrade sailors, soldiers and workers, get organized and arm yourself all! In danger Sevastopol, all Crimea. We are threatened by the military dictatorship of the Tatars! ».
No less frank was the speech of the Commissioner of Agriculture Korsun, who called for forgetting the class difference in the face of the danger of a nationally alien adversary: ” Now fate is being decided. We should not care who is a Bolshevik or who is a Menshevik. If we sleep, we will find ourselves in a difficult situation. We have nothing ready yet, and the whole Tatar population has been prepared, they have organized forces… You know which classes support the Tatars . “
Articles in Bolshevik newspapers continued to be published in the same direction. Thus, the newspaper “Revolutionary Evpatoria” wrote about the “dictatorship of the Crimean Tatars”, which threatens all the inhabitants of the peninsula. The Sevastopol newspaper Krymsky Vestnik went even further: “ Send 200 sailors to Yalta and accept the challenge posed to us by Muslims. “There was an avant-garde of officers led by Muslims .”
On the southern coast of Crimea, the socio-political conflict was exacerbated by interfaith and interethnic relations. The local Greek population, which overwhelmingly sided with the Bolsheviks, now remembered the “former insults” and began to take revenge. Greeks – both local (Aut and Balaklava) and emigrants from the Ottoman Empire (those who moved to the Crimea to escape the massacre of Christians organized by the imperial government) – were imbued with “anti-Islamic sentiment” and therefore began to plunder and destroy all Tatars. which they met. After the defeat of the squadrons in the cities of the Southern coast of Crimea, the killings of Tatars, looting and looting of their homes began. Escaping from artillery shelling, the Tatar population of the villages of Derekoy and Ai-Vasyl was forced to flee to Biyuk-Ozenbashi and then to the mountains. Their houses and property were looted by the Greeks.
One of the witnesses of those events, a Tatar from the village of Derekoy, said during the investigation that among the sailors and Red Guards who took part in the pogroms were “Yalta, Balaklava” bastards “, Auts, Balaklava Greeks, and there were residents of Derekoy – Russians.” And the Greek from Yalta P. Harlambo, who was involved in the investigation, explained this disorder “by motives arising from the tribal enmity of the Greeks to the Tatars.”
After the defeat near Yalta, many of those squadrons who managed to escape went to the mountains. Soon, escaping from pogroms, arrests and executions by the Bolsheviks, the inhabitants of the Crimean towns and villages followed them to the mountains. It was from this that the movement of the so-called “green” – armed groups, which were supported by Crimean peasants for almost all time, began to develop.
While the squadrons tried to quell the conflict with the Greeks, they lost time and initiative, and the Bolsheviks went on the offensive. After some time in the newspaper “Yalta Voice”, telling about the beginning and end of the first period of Bolshevik rule on the peninsula, it was said: ” From Sevastopol – the heart of Crimean Bolshevism, its malignant blood flowed mainly in four directions: south – in Yalta, to the north – to Simferopol, to the west – to Evpatoria and to the east – to Feodosia “.
In some cities, Tatar troops tried to repel the Bolshevik offensive, but the military support they had from the navy forced the squadrons to retreat. During the fighting, some of their military formations were destroyed (including the death of a number of Crimean headquarters, including Colonel V. Makukhin and about 700 officers). Others managed to hide in the mountainous part of the peninsula. Later, after the final seizure of power, the Bolsheviks executed all those who had the misfortune to be taken prisoner. Among many others who died during the events of February 21-24, the first democratically elected Mufti of Crimea, Ch. Chelebiev, was brutally killed by Red Army soldiers and sailors.
When the Bolsheviks seized power, members of the Kurultay still hoped to cooperate with them. On February 5, they met for an emergency meeting, on the agenda of which was one question: “What is the Board of Directors – the national Tatar government or the highest regional government? During this meeting of the Kurultai, two points of view were clearly defined among its delegates on how to form a state power in Crimea. The majority of deputies proposed to enter into an agreement with the Council of People’s Representatives and share with it the supreme power on the peninsula. D. Seidamet, who stood on this point of view, said: “The Tatar national parliament has no right to supreme power, to hegemony in the region. We have a regional government – the Council of People’s Representatives. Who prevents us from working hand in hand with them? At this terrible moment, we need to think not about seizing power, but about putting out the fire that is burning everywhere in the region . ”
A smaller group of deputies considered it possible to have a government created in the form of a new body of representatives of “three elements that used material and moral force,” that is, representatives of the Council of People’s Representatives, the Tatar parliament, and the Bolshevik Party. This project of organization of power was introduced and defended by Ch. Chelebiev. He noted: ” If this idea cannot be implemented, the power in the region rightfully belongs to the Tatars, especially since, apart from the only real force, which is currently represented by the Tatars, there is no other force in the region . “The following decision was made: to elect a commission to find out the attitude of the Council of People’s Representatives and the Bolshevik provincial committee to the project proposed by Ch. Chelebiyev.
On January 23, 1918, a Kurultay commission consisting of V. Bodaninsky, S. Idrisov, and Yenileyev arrived at the Bolshevik Party and the Council of People’s Representatives and handed them written proposals from the Tatar parliament to “convene regional power on new principles. “
The response that the members of the Kurultay received from the members of the Tavriya Provincial Committee of the RSDLP (B) was in the form of a declaration signed by J. Miller, J. Tarvatsky, and I. Firdevs. It stated that ” before the convening of the provincial congress of Soviets, the Bolshevik Party agrees to organize the supreme power on the peninsula on the basis proposed by the Tatar parliamentary commission, subject to the adoption of the above principles by parliament .” “The above principles” consisted of seven points: “1. Recognition of the only source of power in the Russian Republic of the All-Russian Council of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies; 2. Recognition of the Council of People’s Commissars as the highest executive power in the state; 3. Recognition of all decrees issued by the Bolsheviks; 4. Recognition of the source of regional power of the provincial congress of workers’, soldiers’ and peasants’ deputies with the participation of proportional representation from the Tatars; 5. Election of command staff in all military units; 6. Ruthless struggle against the counter-revolution; 7. Fight against sabotage and anarchy .
It should be emphasized that the declaration of the Tavriya Provincial Committee of the RSDLP (B) was dated January 24. On this day, a large part of the territory of Crimea was captured by the Red Guard, detachments of anarchists and Black Sea sailors.
The Kurultay’s proposals were also considered at a meeting of the Council of People’s Representatives. They provoked a lively but short discussion. The leader of the right-wing SR faction, M. Khait, expressed the brightest mood of the majority of the members of the Council. He said: ” I will go anywhere. I am ready to return to hard labor, but I can not go together with the Bolsheviks! ». As a result, the Menshevik internationalists abstained, and the right-wing SRs were sharply opposed. Therefore, a resolution was adopted at the meeting with a clear answer: ” The Council of People’s Deputies considers a coalition with the Bolsheviks unacceptable .”
After hearing the information of the commission on the answers received from the Bolshevik Party and the Council of People’s Representatives, the Tatar parliament during the regular session discussed the issue of further action in the current situation. Members of the Kurultay have repeatedly stated that “in such a colorful area as Crimea, where many nationalities live and there are many different political forces, it is impossible to create power on the basis of monopoly power.” In addition, the majority of deputies fully agreed with the position expressed by the editor of the newspaper “Millet” A.-S. Aivazov: “The Bolsheviks are a destructive force. We are not on the road with them, we must fight them to the end .”Therefore, during the voting by a majority of votes (43 against 12), a resolution was adopted, which set out the basics on which the regional government was to be organized. It was planned to form a government “by agreement between the Tatar parliament and the Council of People’s Representatives, without the Bolsheviks.”
The Central Rada was unable to provide military assistance to Crimea. In January 1918, an uprising of workers at the Arsenal plant broke out in Kyiv. After his suppression, the Rada again had to fight back, but only from the Red Guard offensive. The only salvation against the Bolshevik offensive was to make peace with the countries of the Four Alliance. In order to conduct equal negotiations, it was necessary to declare the independence of Ukraine. This act of the UPR was carried out by its IV Universal on January 22 (9), 1918.