The status of Crimea in the vision of Russian politics: a component of the Tavriya province, temporary independence or autonomy (1917-1920)

The status of Crimea in the vision of Russian politics: a component of the Tavriya province, temporary independence or autonomy (1917-1920)


Continuation. The previous part is here .

The status of Crimea in the vision of Russian politics: a component of the Tavriya province, temporary independence or autonomy (1917-1920)At the beginning of the period of wars and revolutions, the Russian political camp in Crimea was dominated by representatives of the revolutionary-democratic camp, primarily the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, and the Liberals, the Cadets, also played a prominent role. During the period of white military dictatorships in the Crimea (summer 1919 – autumn 1920), representatives of the Russian conservative-liberal camp headed by senior military, whose ideological support was largely provided by the Cadets, dominated. These forces formed the backbone of pro-Russian forces, which can be somewhat tentatively called “Russian politicians.” The Bolshevik Party was also predominantly Russian in origin, politics, and ethnic composition during the wars and revolutions, but its approaches were opposed to others and in many respects were radically different in content. Therefore, we will consider them separately.

The pro-Russian forces of Crimea or the Russian regimes that established their dominance over the Crimean peninsula tended to retain it as part of the Tavriya province. In 1917, the administration under the control of the Provisional Government in Tavria was headed by Cadets (the provincial commissioner in April-November was a cadet) and Russian socialists, and the Soviets of workers, soldiers, and peasants were dominated by Russian SRs and Mensheviks. These political forces sought to preserve the status quo – Crimea as part of the Tavriya province of Russia, and therefore distanced themselves as much as possible from the autonomist-federalist aspirations of the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar national movements. There are researchers who directly qualify the position of the Crimean councils in 1917 on the national question as a great power. After the fall of the Provisional Government,the seizure of power in Petrograd by the Bolsheviks and the proclamation of the UPR on November 20, 1917, which, according to Universal III, was to include three counties of Northern Tavria, could no longer ignore the position of national organizations.

The vast majority of the political forces of the Tavriya province viewed the Bolshevik coup negatively. The political forces of the region were divided in their attitude to the proclamation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic – pro-Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar supported it, and the Russians mostly sharply criticized it. In early November 1917, under pressure from the Crimean Tatars, Cadet Nikolai Bogdanov resigned as provincial commissioner, and the first members of the provincial commissariat included A. Ozenbashli (TimKMVK), P. Bliznyuk (USSR), and P. Bianchi (Social Democrat). ). In December 1917, the Council of People’s Representatives of the Tavriya Province, the majority of which were representatives of the Russian revolutionary democracy (there were no cadets),agreed with the proposals of the TimKMVK and UCR to hold a constituent assembly in Crimea and elections to the Ukrainian constituent in Northern Tavria.

Zemstvos and city self-government bodies, dominated by Russian socialists and disbanded during the Bolshevik-Left Socialist regime, resumed their activities in the Tavriya province in May-June 1918 under German occupation of Crimea and the functioning of the Ukrainian state led by the hetman . The Tavriya Provincial Zemstvo, which operated simultaneously in the Crimea and on the territory of the Ukrainian Hetmanate, found itself in paradoxical conditions.

In May 1918, the Cadets agreed to form a regional government together with the Kurultai and the Germans on the condition that Crimea would not be an independent state and that the government would not conduct international relations and have armed forces. However, D. Seidamet failed to reach an agreement with the representatives of 5 Crimean county zemstvos. There were neither cadets nor Russian socialists in Sulkevich’s office. The Russian part was represented by non-partisan ministers and the Octobrists, who supported the declaration of temporary preservation of Crimea’s independence. The situation changed after an attempt to implement the Crimean Khanate project. On August 29, 1918, in Berlin, the Crimean Minister of Finance V. Tatishchev declared to the Prime Minister of Ukraine F.Lyzohub that he was ready to negotiate on the condition of recognizing the autonomy of Crimea and immediately ending the economic blockade. The same proposals were submitted to the German authorities. Probably B. Tatishchev hoped that the Ukrainian state with an autonomous Crimea would take part in the reconstruction of Russia.

Representatives of the Tavriya Provincial Zemstvo nurtured similar hopes. On September 6, 1918, the Provincial Zemstvo under the chairmanship of Cadet V. Obolensky and with the participation of V. Tatishchev worked out the following postulates regarding the status and affiliation of the region:

  • 1) Crimea cannot be an independent state.
  • 2) Representatives of zemstvos and cities of Crimea want the reproduction of Russia.
  • 3) As the first stage before the restoration of Russia, Crimea should be united with Ukraine.
  • 4) In the case of Crimea’s accession to Ukraine, it should receive autonomous administration.

In mid-September 1918, representatives of a number of city and county self-governments of Crimea and the head of the Tavriya Zemstvo, Cadet V. Obolensky, addressed the leadership of the Ukrainian State with a proposal to annex Crimea to Ukraine with autonomous status and end the economic blockade of Crimea.

The government of S. Sulkevych soon joined such negotiations. The economic blockade was lifted, but no agreement was reached. At that time, the Crimean zemstvos, among whom the Cadets and Russian revolutionary democracies set the tone, refocused on new centers of power in the post-imperial space, which spoke under the slogans of “united Russia” and began active efforts to overthrow Sulkevich’s cabinet. On November 8-10, 1918, at a congress of representatives of the Zemstvo and the city self-government of the Crimea, a demand was once again made to remove Sulkevich’s cabinet, and a debate was held on the future of the region. A contemporary described them as follows: “After the factional meetings, the Zemstvo-City Congress began to make general judgments about the forms of government in the region. We are talking about autonomy. However, the Socialist-Revolutionaries strongly demanded that the Crimean government become part of those autonomous units that are grouped around the Ufa Directory. – Crimea should be considered as a federal part of all Russia, headed by the Ufa directory. The Crimean government must come into close contact with the Ufa All-Russian government. It is also necessary to conclude an agreement with him on the issue of Crimea’s participation in the joint movement until the restoration of a united Russia . ”

Finally, on November 15, 1918, the Crimean regional government of Cadet S. Krym came to power, which included 4 cadets, one Socialist-Revolutionary and one Social Democrat (Plekhanivtsi), and several non-partisans. The cabinet declared its first task, “which is above all others,” “to promote the revival of Russia.”

A little later, detachments of Denikin’s Volunteer Army and Entente troops landed in the Crimea and formed two more centers of power. The liberal-democratic Crimean regional government of S. Crimea, due to the lack of its own armed forces, proved to be the weakest among them. The Volunteer Army undertook to protect and maintain order in Crimea, but not to interfere in its internal affairs.

Despite the common declared ultimate goal – the restoration of a united Russia – and the parallel membership of individual Crimean ministers in the governing structures of the Denikinites between the volunteers and the regional government of Crimea, growing controversy. They were caused by various political platforms – liberal-democratic in the coalition cadet-socialist cabinet of Crimea, although in practice he gradually moved to anti-democratic practices, and conservative-liberal in the Denikin regime of military dictatorship. In addition, there were differences between the parties over the place and role of Crimea in the process of Russia’s reconstruction.

On December 10, 1918, in Simferopol, at the regional congress of zemstvos and cities, to which the regional controller and the minister of foreign relations of the regional government reported, a regulation was passed on elections to the regional sejm and on the organization of power in the post-imperial space. Russia “. The participants of the meeting considered it necessary to form the South-Russian Central Government at a state meeting, with the inclusion of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces” in the South of Russia “A. Denikin, to form a Russian mission abroad by agreement between the Southern and Ufa governments. to form a “single All-Russian government.”

It is significant that the representatives of the Crimean self-government put forward these proposals almost a month after Admiral Alexander Kolchak disbanded the cadet-socialist Ufa directory. The Denikin regime apparently also had other ideas about the organization of power, and the Crimean regional government was treated with suspicion as almost separatist. Contradictions between them grew. Thus, in particular, the white military considered ineffective the struggle of the regional government with the pro-Bolshevik elements, ambiguous about his contacts with representatives of the Entente in Sevastopol, prevented at the beginning. In 1919, the cabinet of S. Crimea established control over Northern Tavria. And before the capture of most of Crimea by the Reds in April 1919,martial law was even imposed on its territory and power passed to the white military.

All this led to the fact that immediately after the cleansing of Crimea from the Bolsheviks in June 1919, the regime of A. Denikin’s military dictatorship prevented the formation of a new regional government in the Crimea, and restored the Tavriya province. It was headed by people far from the region: the chief of the province – Lieutenant General Nikolai Schilling, the governor – the ex-Moscow governor of the Tver nobility Nikita Tatishchev. In August 1919, the Denikin regime approved an administrative-territorial reform, according to which the territory of Dnieper Ukraine was to be divided into three separate autonomous regions: Kyiv (Kyiv and Chernihiv provinces), Kharkiv (Kharkiv, Poltava and Ekaterinoslav provinces), contrary to the plans of Ukrainian political forces.Kryvyi Rih mining and industrial district of Kherson region and Berdyansk district of Tavria) and Novorossiysk (Tavria and Kherson provinces). In other words, the Denikinites rejected not only the idea of ​​Ukrainian statehood, but also national autonomy, instead trying to impose the division of Ukrainian lands into macro-regions. According to the decision of the governmental body under the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Southern Russia – Special Meeting – on September 19, 1919, the Novorossiysk region was formed from most of the lands of the Tavriya and Kherson provinces.

The closest in 1917–1920 to the status of an independent state in the Crimea approached the state formation led by Baron P. Wrangel (commander in chief of the white armed forces and ruler of “Southern Russia” in April-November 1920). In August 1920, he was even de facto recognized by France. However, paradoxically, the status of Crimea during the rule of whites in the administrative-territorial sense was also low. After all, the regime of P. Wrangel claimed all-Russianness and it was in this status that he was recognized by Paris. Crimea was in both political and practical terms too small for its survival. Therefore, this regime took advantage of the Polish-Ukrainian offensive and captured some territories in southern Ukraine, later unsuccessfully trying to seize Donbass, Don and Kuban.All this time in the Crimea,along with the central institutions – the headquarters of the commander-in-chief and the government of “Southern Russia” – there were management structures of the Tavriya province. Crimea remained part of it. Despite all the promises, the Wrangel regime has not even approved a document on the national and cultural autonomy of Crimean Muslims in the six months of its existence.

Bolshevik experiments with the status of Crimea in order to root the left-wing radical regime and spread the communist doctrine

In 1917, the Bolsheviks did not enjoy the support of the majority of Crimean people, although their number gradually increased. In the autumn of 1917 they separated from the united organization of the RSDLP, and in October, at the first conference of the Bolsheviks of the Tavriya province, they elected their provincial committee, and J. Miller, sent by the Central Committee of the RSDLP (B), was elected provincial party organizer. In November 1917, at the second conference of the Bolsheviks of the Tavriya province, it was decided to hold a referendum to determine the status of Crimea. Later, the Leninists did not return to this idea. Their ranks in the late autumn of 1917 in the Crimea, unlike a number of other socialist parties, gradually grew. However, they did not exceed 2,000 members,and in the elections to the Russian constituency they managed to get in the Tavriya province only 5% of the vote, which was almost 5 times less than in Central Russia, and 2 times less than the average in Ukraine.

With such indicators of popularity, it was impossible to monopolize power in Crimea and Northern Tavria by democratic methods. Therefore, the Bolsheviks relied on the Bolshevik elements of the Black Sea Fleet and other left-wing political forces and in December 1917 – January 1918 to seize power by force. To this end, the VRK was formed in Sevastopol, headed by the envoy of the Central Committee of the RSDLP (B) to the Crimea, Yu. Gaven. In January 1918, this body declared itself the regional VRK for the Crimea, several regions of southern Ukraine and Russia. At the same time, the “military-administrative power with the revolutionary headquarters” of the Tavriya province was transferred to Sevastopol, but Simferopol remained its administrative center. On January 28-30 (February 10-12), 1918,an extraordinary provincial congress of Soviets and Revolutionary Committees was held in Sevastopol, which elected the Tavriya Central Committee (7 Bolsheviks and 2 Left Socialist Revolutionaries) .obliged him to work in contact with the SNC of the RSFSR and the CEC of Soviets of Ukraine. The Congress also confirmed the dissolution of the RNP and the Kurultay, and decided to dissolve the zemstvos and dumas. block, considered some socio-economic issues.

For a little over two months, the left-wing Bolshevik-Left Socialist regime retained the status of Crimea as part of the Tavriya Province. However, the conclusion of peace in Brest with the Fourth Bloc and the UPR, and later the RSFSR, the approach of the advancing troops of Germany, Austria-Hungary and the UPR to the region forced him to change approaches. On March 19, 1918, the formation of the Tavriya Republic was proclaimed by the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, and Peasants’ Deputies, consisting of all 8 districts of the Tavriya Province. It was formed by the Bolsheviks and the Left Socialist Revolutionaries as a “buffer”, ie with the military-political purpose of counteracting the German and UPR offensive. However,the inclusion of three mainland counties in the newly formed republic was an obvious gross violation of the Brest Peace Treaty of the RSFSR with Germany, and therefore caused dissatisfaction with the leadership of Soviet Russia and Ukraine. March 22, 1918At the suggestion of the RSFSR SNC, the Tavriya CEC had to declare the Soviet Socialist Republic of Tavrida in the territory of the Simferopol, Feodosia, Yalta, Yevpatoria, and Perekop counties only in the Crimea.

It is probable that this republic was proclaimed on the initiative of the Bolshevik Center in order to include Crimea in the united front of the struggle against the German, Austro-Hungarian and Ukrainian armed forces. Although on March 22, 1918, the Taurida authorities telegraphed to Moscow, Berlin, Vienna, Paris, and Washington for recognition of the Brest Peace Treaty with the RSFSR, before and after that Crimean armed formations and individual Black Sea Fleet ships took part in hostilities in southern Ukraine. Due to the weak social base, low efficiency of the new republic, the disbandment of its armed forces (the head of the Tavrida SSR called them a “gang of marauders” in April) they could not effectively resist the enemy’s offensive, so part of its leadership hoped to hide behind the neutrality status Brest peace,under which Crimea was not to be occupied. April 4, 1918The RSFSR SNK telegraphed the SNRC of the Taurida SSR about the official recognition of the “Crimean Republic as an independent Soviet republic.” That is, Moscow sought to demonstrate the legal independence of the Taurida SSR, but in fact viewed it as part of the RSFSR, as it retained control of its power through both government and party bodies – in the government of the “buffer” state formation , the majority were Communists.

Even after March 22, the Bolshevik-Left Socialist-Revolutionary regime in Simferopol, contrary to the Brest Agreement, sought to maintain real control over Northern Tavria and even made special decisions in this regard. For example, on April 6, 1918, the Tavriya CEC passed a resolution stating that the three northern counties were de facto part of the Taurida SSR, and all its resolutions were binding on the population of Northern Tavria, and on April 8, the Tavriya SSR SNC a commission for the three northern counties in connection with “the advance of the Germans to the East.” During February-April 1918, the left-wing radical authorities pumped out and sent 5 million poods north, 3 million of them from Berdyansk County. The Taurida SSR turned out to be an ephemeral state formation,which within a month fell under the blows of German and Ukrainian troops, Crimean Tatars and other insurgents.

The next time the question of the status of Crimea for the Bolsheviks moved to the practical plane was in the spring of 1919, when at the end of March the troops of the Ukrainian Red Front forced Sivash and by the end of April occupied Crimea except for the Kerch Peninsula. At that time, the Crimean Communist Organization was part of the CP (B) U, but this did not become a defining moment in resolving the Crimean issue. Then there was the rise of left-wing radical forces in Europe, which strengthened the illusions of the Communists about the possibility of a world revolution. In this sense, the role of Crimea as a potential beacon of revolution for the Muslim East, especially Turkey, grew. In addition, the proclamation of a buffer republic on its territory, according to a number of researchers, should help Soviet Russia avoid war with the Entente.In the first half of April 1919 in Moscow, the head of the RSFSR SNK V. Lenin received the ex-chairman of the Sevastopol VRK Yu. Gaven, who advocated the solution of the national question in the Crimea and the creation of a republic. Simultaneously with the Crimean Bolsheviks, this idea “in connection with the international situation in Crimea” was put forward by the chairman of the SNK of the USSR H. Rakovsky.

On April 23, 1919, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the RCP (B) declared it desirable to form the Crimean Soviet Republic, and on April 28, 1919, it considered the composition of its government. A special “expedition” led by a member of the Central Committee of the RCP (B) L. Kamenev, which included representatives of the party and state structures of the RSFSR and USSR, arrived in the Crimea. In their presence, the conference of the Crimean organization KP (b) On April 28-29, 1919, decided to form the Crimean Socialist Soviet Republic (hereinafter – KSRR) and form its government. Of the more than ten members of the Provisional Workers ‘and Peasants’ Government formed in May, five were Crimean Tatars. It consisted only of communists.

On May 6, 1919, this government published a declaration declaring Crimea, without explaining the reasons, the Crimean SSR, itself the “highest authority in the region,” and broadly outlining a program of transformation in the spirit of military communism. The document referred to the “complete inseparable connection” of the KSRR with the RSFSR and the USSR, and the intention to convene a congress of councils as soon as possible for “the final construction of Soviet power in Crimea and the establishment of relations with the Russian Republics of Russia and Ukraine. ” The state formation formed by the RCP (B) as a result of backroom agreements was of a territorial nature, as the declaration emphasized “the government declares full and unconditional equality of all nationalities inhabiting Crimea.” Interestingly,there are no signatures of Crimean Tatar cabinet members under this document.

People’s Commissar for Health and Acting Prime Minister D. Ulyanov in May 1919 even wrote in a document about the “Crimean Soviet Federal Republic.” The declaration of the Provisional Workers ‘and Peasants’ Government gave the impression that the Crimean SSR was an independent republic and could be an equal subject of the formation of a union / federation of Soviet states with Russia and Ukraine. It was strengthened by the presence in the interim Crimean government of the People’s Commissars for Foreign Affairs, Military and Naval Affairs, as well as the mention, albeit not in the title, but in the text of the decree of the Central Executive Committee of June 1 , 1919 “On the unification of Soviet republics”. , Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus.

However, there is a secret document that allows a slightly different look at the status of the Soviet Crimea. On May 28, 1919, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the RCP (B) consisting of V. Lenin, L. Kamenev, and Nikolai Krestinsky secretly equated the rights of the Crimean government to the provincial executive committee with the subordination of the Central Executive Committee and the relevant People’s Commissariats of the RSFSR. itself. Thus, the Soviet and party structures of Crimea were removed from the subordination of the Ukrainians. The army of the USSR was included in the Red Army as a division and was to operate as part of the Southern Front. At that time, there were already autonomous republics within the RSFSR, but the Crimean Republic was not officially called that, moreover,they tried to give it a higher status in propaganda. The point was that military action with Entente troops was to be conducted by a republic independent of the RSFSR.However, on June 5, 1919, the Whites went on the offensive from the Kerch Peninsula and at the end of the month the KSRR fell, and soon its evacuated power structures were disbanded.

At the end of 1919, as a result of the collapse of the Denikin ZSPR, the Red Army approached the Crimea. On December 20, 1919, in connection with the approaching “restoration of the Crimean Republic,” the Central Committee of the RCP (B) instructed the commission (D. Ulyanov, Y. Gaven, and Maksimovsky) to begin recruiting workers for the Crimea, in Crimea. As a result of a heated discussion on January 13, 1920, the Central Committee of the RCP (B) adopted these theses together with the paragraph “On the Independence of the CSR.”

However, thanks to the mistakes of the Red Army and the skillful actions of a few military formations under the command of Ya. In the autumn of 1920, after the formation of the Southern Front by the Reds and their conclusion of a truce with Poland, the question of the form of organization of power in the Crimea arose again. On November 15, when the operation to seize the Crimean Peninsula was coming to an end, the Central Committee of the RCP (B) informed the Crimean leadership of a resolution: “ In principle, speak out against Crimea’s independence and accession to the RSFSR, revoking the previous decision». Thus, Crimea was no longer considered a potential subject of a treaty federation or union of Soviet republics, but its administrative and legal status was not determined. Discussions in the party and economic structures and national circles of Crimea on this issue will soon unfold. In the conditions of mass terror, repressions and the beginning of famine, the status of the region, commune, autonomous and union republic will be discussed for several more months.

The ending is here.

The project was implemented with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation

Andrey Ivanets

Candidate of Historical Sciences, Senior Researcher at Ukrainian National Research Institute

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