Military Review

How did the uprising of ataman Grigoriev

Smoot. 1919 year. 100 years ago, at the end of May 1919, a major uprising of ataman Grigoriev was crushed in Little Russia. Adventurer Nikifor Grigoriev dreamed of the glory of the leader of Ukraine and was ready to go to any crime for glory. He managed for two weeks in May to become the main figure of the Little Russian policy, with the potential to become the bloody chieftain of all Ukraine.

How did the uprising of ataman Grigoriev

However, Grigoriev was not a great politician or commander, but only an ambitious adventurer. His ceiling was kompolka. During the “Russian distemper”, dozens and hundreds of such Grigorievs walked around Russia. Sometimes they thought of themselves as new Napoleons and for a short period achieved great popularity. But they lacked neither intelligence, nor education, nor an instinct to achieve more.

Background of the uprising in the Ukraine and New Russia

After the Reds occupied Kiev and Little Russia for the second time, and quite easily, as the people were tired of the hetman, interventionists and ataman, the situation in Ukraine soon heated again. The peasant war and the criminal revolution, which began in Little Russia with the beginning of the “troubles”, were only muffled for a while and soon burst into flames with a new force.

The growth of socio-political tensions in the south-western Russian region was triggered by the policy of "war communism." By the spring of 1919, the pro-Soviet sentiments of the Little Russian village were changing rapidly. The Council of People's Commissars of the Ukrainian SSR and the command of the Red Army tried to provide large-scale food supplies from the Ukraine (based on the surplus and grain monopoly) to the cities of central Russia. The problem was that a significant part of the past harvest and livestock had already been taken out by the Austro-German interventionists. As a result, the village was subjected to a new robbery.

An unpleasant for the peasants in addition to such a food policy was a new attempt at collectivization, which, in the conditions of the continuing civil and peasant war, was a clear “bend”. Such radical reforms require other conditions, peacetime. In March, 1919, the 3 All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets was held in Kharkov, which adopted a resolution on the nationalization of the whole land. All the landowners' and kulak lands (and their share on the fertile lands of southern Russia was large), which were the main producers of agricultural products, passed into the hands of the state, and state farms and communes were created on their basis. However, in the conditions of revolution and unrest, the peasants have already made a “black repartition” of the landlord’s land, they also stole inventory, tools, and divided livestock. Hetman regime and the Germans tried to return the land to the owners, but met resistance. And after the overthrow of the Hetman the peasants again seized the land. And now they were going to take it away again. It is clear that this caused resistance, including armed. Began a new stage of the peasant war. The peasants did not want to return the land, give bread, serve in the army and pay taxes. A popular idea was the life of communities of free plowers.

The Bolsheviks did not stand on ceremony with the rebels. The county and frontal Cheka, Revolutionary Tribunals were active. A big problem was competent, honest cadres. Under the conditions of personnel shortage, many representatives of the Soviet government, the party, the Cheka and the Red Army themselves looked like murderers, robbers and rapists (some of them were). The Soviet authorities in the village often dispersed, were themselves punished, and, losing the support of the population, quickly decomposed. In the Soviet apparatus there was a big element of indifferent to all appointees, opportunists, careerists, "recoloured" enemies, declassed elements (lumpen) and frankly criminals. It is not surprising that drunkenness, theft and corruption flourished in the Soviet authorities (the whites in the rear had the same situation).

National-corporate groups began to form in the young Soviet state apparatus (which eventually will become one of the prerequisites for the collapse of the USSR). At the same time, there were many international cadres among Chekists, commissars, members of the Communist Party - Balts, Jews, Hungarians, Austrians, Germans (former prisoners of war of the Central Powers, who for various reasons remained in Russia), Chinese, etc. The international part of the uprising. Therefore, the surplus, punitive expeditions, the “Red Terror”, etc. were associated with foreigners. This caused a new surge of xenophobia and anti-Semitism, which had strong roots from the times of Polish rule.

The government of the Ukrainian SSR, the command of the Red Army also made a number of serious mistakes, failed to adequately respond to the development of negative trends. It was due to the need to ensure large deliveries of bread from the Ukraine to Central Russia; the struggle with the Donetsk group of whites in the east and the Petliurists in the west. In addition, Moscow was preparing for the “export of the revolution” to Europe. Yes, and with personnel in the government of the Ukrainian SSR was also bad.


It is not surprising that as soon as the winter ended, the roads dried up and warmer, it became possible to spend the night in beams and forests, the peasants and gangsters again took up weapon. Again, in the Ukraine, detachments of various atamans and batteks (field commanders) began to walk, some were ideological - with a national color, leftists (but enemies of the Bolsheviks), anarchists, and others - outspoken gangsters. In broad daylight, gangsters robbed stores in cities. The very same elements that robbed Little Russia under the banner of Petliura, then went over to the side of the Red Army, and now again became “green”.

The fact was that the Directory regime was unable to create a regular army. The army of the Directory consisted mainly of partisan, semi-gangster formations, rebel peasants who fought with the interventionists and the Hetmanate troops. In the course of the offensive of the Red Army, these formations for the most part went over to the Reds. This was due to their low combat capability, they simply could not fight with the Red forces, as well as the growth of pro-Soviet sentiments in the village. As a result, the earlier rebel, Petlura units became part of the army of the Ukrainian SSR. At the same time, they retained their composition, commanders (atamans, troupes). In particular, among such detachments was the Kherson division "Ataman of the rebel forces of Kherson region, Zaporizhia and Tavria" N. A. Grigorieva. It became the 1-th Zadnipr Ukrainian Soviet Brigade, and then the 6-th Ukrainian Soviet Division. Grigorievtsy conducted active hostilities in the south of Little Russia.

At the same time, the new Soviet units retained the territorial principle, which tied them to a certain area, fed at the expense of the local population and retained their internal independence. The state supply of these units in the conditions of the collapse of the country's economy, and the commanders did not have the money allowance, or it was minimal. That is, financially motivate the fighters of such units and their commanders could not. These units still lived at the expense of trophies, requisition and outright looting, and used to live like that. In addition, many "Soviet" atamans continued to play an active political role, occupied administrative positions in county and volost authorities, participated in regional congresses of councils. Many Makhnovists, Grigorievtsy and former Petliurists continued to adhere to political movements hostile to the Bolsheviks - Ukrainian Left Social Revolutionaries, anarchists or nationalists.

The situation was complicated by the fact that there were a lot of weapons in Little Russia. It remained from the fronts of the world war — Russian and Austro-German, from the Austro-German invaders, from the western interventionists (mostly French), who quickly fled, leaving many weapons depots, from the fronts of the Civil War, which several times rolled over the south Western Russian regions.


The most famous ataman was Makhno, under whose command was a whole army. His rebel army entered the Red Army as the 3-I Zadniprovsky brigade of the 1-y Zadneprovsky Ukrainian Soviet division. Then 7-I Ukrainian Soviet division. The Makhno brigade maintained internal autonomy and submitted to the red command only in operational terms. Makhno's troops controlled 72 volosts with a population of 2 million. Neither the Cheka detachments nor food detachments could enter this area; there was no collectivization there. It was a kind of “state within a state.” Makhno expressed disapproval of the decisions of the 3 All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets on the nationalization of the land. The Makhnov’s program was based on the requirements of the “socialization” of the land (the transfer of land into the national property, which was the main part of the agrarian program of the Social Revolutionaries), as well as factories and mills; the abolition of the food policy of the Bolsheviks; rejection of the dictatorship of the Bolshevik Party; freedom of speech, press and assembly to all left-wing parties and groups; holding free elections to the Soviets of working peasants and workers, etc.

The farther away, the stronger were the frictions of Makhno with the Bolsheviks. 10 April in the Walk-field of the 3-th Congress of Makhnov district councils in its resolution qualified the policy of the Communists as "criminal against the social revolution and the working masses". The Kharkiv Council of Soviets was recognized as "not a true and free expression of the will of the working people." The Makhnovists protested against the policies of the Bolshevik government, commissars and emergency workers who shoot workers, peasants and insurgents. Makhno said that the Soviet government has changed the "October principles." As a result, the Congress ruled that it did not recognize the dictatorship of the Bolsheviks and against the "Commissar".

In response, Dybenko, in a telegram, called this congress "counter-revolutionary", threatened to declare the Makhnovists illegal. The Makhnovists responded with a protest and a statement that they were not afraid of such orders and they were ready to defend their people's rights. Only a little later, when Makhno met Antonov-Ovseenko, the situation was resolved. Makhno refused the most harsh statements.

In the middle of April 1919, the formation of the 2 of the Ukrainian Soviet Army from units of the Kharkov group of troops was completed. The Makhno brigade became part of the 7 of the Ukrainian Soviet division. However, the red command sharply reduced the supply of Makhno troops. Began to consider the issue of withdrawal of batko from the command of the brigade. There were demands: “Down with the Makhnovshchina!” However, it has not yet reached a complete break. In late April, Antonov-Ovsiyenko arrived in Gulyai-Polye with an inspection. Then, in early May, Kamenev arrived from Moscow. In the end, agreed.

Leaders of the Makhnovist rebels in 1919 (from left to right): S. Karetnik, N. Makhno, F. Shus

The beginning of the uprising

Thus, the Red Army in Little Russia, heavily diluted by the rebel detachments, quickly decayed. In April - May, numerous violations are recorded in the army: pogroms, arbitrary requisition, looting, various atrocities, and even direct anti-Soviet revolts. In March - April, the most tense situation was in the central part of the Ukraine - Kiev, Poltava and Chernihiv provinces. In late April - early May, the situation deteriorates dramatically in Novorossia - Kherson, Elisavetgrad, and Nikolaev.

The situation was at its limit, all that was needed was a reason for a large-scale explosion. At the end of April 1919, the Council of People's Commissars adopted a decree that canceled the election of commanders. The 6 units of the Ukrainian Soviet division of Grigoriev, set aside for redevelopment into their native places of Kherson and Elizavetgrad, completely disintegrated and began to resist the actions of food detachments, the Soviet authorities. Communists began to kill.

The Red Command planned to send the 3 Ukrainian Army, which included the Grigoriev Division, to march on the assistance of Soviet Hungary. However, Grigoriev did not want to lead his troops to the front, in every way he avoided. 7 in May 1919, the commander of the 3 of the Ukrainian Soviet Army, Khudyakov ordered Grigoriev to stop the riots or lay down the powers of the divisional commander. The Chekists of the Special Department of the Army tried to arrest Grigoriev, but were killed. Seeing that further conflict can not be avoided, 8 May Grigoriev issued Universal "To the people of Ukraine and the Red Army soldiers", in which he called for a general uprising against the Bolshevik dictatorship in Ukraine.

Soviet caricature of ataman Grigoriev. May 1919 Source:

To be continued ...
Articles from this series:
Smoot. 1919 year

How the British created the Armed Forces of the South of Russia
How to restore Soviet power in Ukraine
How Petliurists led Little Russia to a complete catastrophe
How defeated Petliurism
Give the boundaries of 1772 of the year!
Battle for the North Caucasus. How to suppress the Terek Uprising
Battle for the North Caucasus. CH 2. December battle
Battle for the North Caucasus. CH 3. The January accident of the 11 Army
Battle for the North Caucasus. CH 4. How the 11 army died
Battle for the North Caucasus. CH 5. Capture of Kizlyar and the Terrible
Battle for the North Caucasus. CH 6. Furious assault of Vladikavkaz
How Georgia tried to seize Sochi
How the Whites crushed the Georgian invaders
The war of February and October as a confrontation between two civilization projects
How did the "Flight to the Volga"
How Kolchak's army broke through to the Volga
Catastrophe of the Don Cossacks
Verkhniyon uprising
How "Great Finland" planned to seize Petrograd
"All to fight with Kolchak!"
Frunze. Red Napoleon
The missed opportunities of the army of Kolchak
May offensive of the Northern Corps
How white broke through to Petrograd
Battle for the South of Russia
Strategic change on the southern front. Manych operation
Crimea on fire Russian distemper
Crimea in 1918-1919. Intervents, local authorities and whites

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  1. 210ox
    210ox 30 May 2019 05: 53
    What rogues then came upstairs ..
    1. Tiksi-3
      Tiksi-3 30 May 2019 07: 53
      Quote: 210ox

      What crooks? ... or for you Sverdlov was the size ?? ...
    2. Lieutenant Teterin
      Lieutenant Teterin 30 May 2019 10: 29
      Such is the nature of any revolution. Cromwell is a small shopkeeper who went bankrupt by the time of the revolution. Marat is an essayist who wandered around the cities in search of work. The revolution, by virtue of its destructive essence, inevitably opens the way for crooks.
      1. vladcub
        vladcub 30 May 2019 15: 51
        Lieutenant, the revolution is like a storm at sea: a wave roam and DESTROY EVERYTHING. And on the very ridge there may be: Robespierre and Baras, Makhno and some ataman Kozolup, Menzhinsky and some sadist from the district Cheka, Dybenko and Shchors. The most diverse in culture, ideology and character, but all of them are "revolutionary wave"
      2. Kronos
        Kronos 30 May 2019 16: 03
        Marat and Cromwell were people of outstanding talent, unlike this chieftain
  2. bistrov.
    bistrov. 30 May 2019 06: 20
    The mistake or the deliberate actions of the Bolsheviks, headed by Lenin: all kinds of protrusion of nationalities, which was expressed in the creation of the USSR, later this led to its collapse and the loss of the original Russian lands.
    1. naidas
      naidas 30 May 2019 06: 27
      Quote: bistrov.
      Mistake or deliberate action of the Bolsheviks led by Lenin

      And what do you suggest. The greatness of the Russian nation and the solution of national issues after the Constituent Assembly?
      1. bistrov.
        bistrov. 30 May 2019 07: 11
        Quote: naidas
        Greatness of the Russian nation

        What has it to do with "... the greatness of the Russian nation ..."? Did I say anything about this? You obviously have an inferiority complex that all nationalists suffer, as a rule, from the neighboring "Square".

        It would be more correct to abolish all nationalities, thereby smoothing out national contradictions, rather than deliberately establishing borders within the state and placing there leaders of national bureaucrats, who eventually grew into "appanage princelings."
        1. Foul skeptic
          Foul skeptic 30 May 2019 12: 53
          It would be more correct to cancel all nationalities

          That is, the nationality "Russian"? And what in return?
          1. bistrov.
            bistrov. 30 May 2019 18: 14
            Quote: Nefarious skeptic
            And what in return?

            Russian and remove all sorts of republics with presidents and ministries. A single administrative division is the region
            1. Foul skeptic
              Foul skeptic 31 May 2019 09: 28
              Why Russian? If the public entity is the Soviet republic, the country of the Soviets and other similar names?
              Single administrative division-area

              The USSR had an administrative-command system of state administration. Given the vast territory of the USSR, very heterogeneous geographically and ethnically, a multi-level system of power was required. Therefore, division not only into areas is not a whim or malicious intent, but a necessity. Otherwise it is more difficult to manage. For the same reason, large companies introduce branches of the company, where each branch has its own branches, although it would seem that they could remove such a unit as a "branch" using some branches.
        2. vladcub
          vladcub 30 May 2019 16: 23
          Bistrov, I agree about: "appanage princes", they traditionally introduced the state: during the times of Rurikovich, under the Union and now "udelshchina" is a complete trindec
          With the administrative-territorial division, as history shows, a little "missed": the SFRY, the USSR, Czechoslovakia is an example of this
        3. naidas
          naidas 30 May 2019 19: 02
          Quote: bistrov.
          It would be more correct to cancel all nationalities

          and who would be your allies in civilian life?
      2. Alexey RA
        Alexey RA 30 May 2019 13: 48
        Quote: naidas
        And what do you suggest. The greatness of the Russian nation and the solution of national issues after the Constituent Assembly?

        And what, besides the extreme positions of the pendulum, are there no other options? Either the greatness of the Russian nation, or the dismissal of Russians in the territories freshly joined to Ukraine for not knowing the Ukrainian language, and without observing labor laws?
        1. naidas
          naidas 30 May 2019 19: 57
          Quote: Alexey RA
          And what, besides the extreme positions of the pendulum, are there no other options?

          Well, offer your solution for the civil war in Russia.
          Quote: bistrov.
          It would be more correct to cancel all nationalities,
          I’ll assume this is nonsense; you won’t win a civil with such a policy.
    2. rayruav
      rayruav 30 May 2019 19: 13
      at that time they had very strong ideas of internationalism in one place itching from here and all national policy
    3. Altona
      Altona 1 June 2019 15: 23
      Quote: bistrov.
      all kinds of protrusion of nationalities

      This was before Lenin. Finnish youth volunteered to fight against Russian units during the tsar's reign. Self-named "Ukrainians" went to reorganization, and "Russians" immediately went to the front, and this, too, under the Tsar-Father. And the Asians did not fight at all. Lenin has something to do with it? It started long before him. Lenin and Stalin, creating "national" republics, on the contrary, stifled the wave of nationalism that swept over the disintegrating empires. In the late USSR, it was exactly the same when all kinds of "popular fronts" began to arise in the Baltics and Transcaucasia. With the same success, you can hang on any ruler "protrusion of nationalities."
    4. Polymer
      Polymer 2 June 2019 17: 40
      Quote: bistrov.
      Mistake or deliberate action of the Bolsheviks led by Lenin

      This was not a mistake, but the only right decision to prevent the complete collapse of the country. Melting into a "Soviet man" had to be done later, after the Second World War. But Stalin did not have enough time, and Khrushchev and Brezhnev did not have the same inclinations that Lenin had.
      In general, these accusations of all the troubles of the Bolsheviks and Communists are very touching. The Bolsheviks were just able to turn nationalism to the benefit, thanks to which they won the GV and reassembled the country. But the ardent enemies of the Communists, on the contrary, could only break up, and the collapse is still ongoing, and no one can stop it.
  3. naidas
    naidas 30 May 2019 06: 33
    The composition of the atamans' troops is interesting. From the poor peasantry (the base of the army) and kulaks to kulaks and the remnants of whites at the end of 1920-1921, Makhno slammed Grigoryev, too different forces stood behind them at that moment - not to get along.
    1. Avior
      Avior 30 May 2019 08: 15
      Actually, the same can be said of all the troops that were then. Actually Grigoriev (the headquarters captain before the revolution, by the way) with his own - this is the 6th Soviet division, for example.
      And the Makhnovists slammed him when it turned out that the pan-ataman Grizian-Tauride smile decided to go to Denikin, or even Denikin would have the same.
    2. Major48
      Major48 30 May 2019 16: 20
      Makhno was particularly outraged by the Jewish pogroms, which Grigoryev’s gangs were engaged in.
      1. naidas
        naidas 30 May 2019 19: 59
        Quote: Major48
        Makhno was particularly outraged by the Jewish pogroms, which Grigoryev’s gangs were engaged in.

        So indignant that having killed Grigoryev he joined his lads to his own.
  4. Square
    Square 30 May 2019 08: 44
    Grogoriev is the red "Ataman Semyonov"
    what is the civil war, 2 sides and one medal
  5. bober1982
    bober1982 30 May 2019 10: 42
    It’s good that people like Grigoriev, undeservedly forgotten, remember the author, plus.
    A small remark, at that time (Civil War), of course, there could be no New Russia, and there could no longer be any talk of Little Russia, it no longer existed.
  6. Looking for
    Looking for 30 May 2019 11: 49
    that's right !! There is no Ukraine, there is Little Russia and New Russia
  7. Alexey RA
    Alexey RA 30 May 2019 13: 23
    The situation was complicated by the fact that there were a lot of weapons in Little Russia. It remained from the fronts of the world war — Russian and Austro-German, from the Austro-German invaders, from the western interventionists (mostly French), who quickly fled, leaving many weapons depots, from the fronts of the Civil War, which several times rolled over the south Western Russian regions.

    I immediately remembered the classic:
    There were tens of thousands of people who returned from the war and were able to shoot ...
    “But the officers themselves learned by order of their superiors!”
    Hundreds of thousands of rifles buried in the ground, hidden in clams and lockers and not surrendered, despite German military courts coming fast, flogging and shrapnel firing, millions of rounds in the same land and three-inch guns in every fifth village and machine guns in every second, in every town, warehouses of shells, tseikhgauza with overcoats and hats.
    And in these same towns, teachers, paramedics, classmates, Ukrainian seminarians who, by the will of fate, became ensigns, hefty sons of beekeepers, captains with Ukrainian surnames ... everyone speaks Ukrainian, everyone loves a magical, imagined Ukraine, without lords, without lords Muscovite officers - and thousands of former Ukrainian prisoners who returned from Galicia.
    This is in the appendage to tens of thousands of peasants? .. Oh-hoo!
    © Bulgakov
    1. vladcub
      vladcub 30 May 2019 16: 32
      Bulgakov well done: correctly noticed
  8. Alexey RA
    Alexey RA 30 May 2019 13: 24
    And from Bulgakov, about the aspirations of the village:
    Only in November of the eighteenth year, when guns buzzed near the City, clever people guessed, including Vasilisa, that the men of this very hetman’s brother hated like a rabid dog - and peasant thoughts that there was no need for this pansky bastard reform, But we need that eternal, sought-after peasant reform:
    - All the land to the peasants.
    - Each one hundred acres.
    - That there were no landowners and spirit.
    - And so that for every one hundred dessiatins, a true stamped paper with a seal - in the possession of an eternal, hereditary, from grandfather to father, from father to son, to grandson, and so on.
    - So that no punks from the City would come to demand bread. Peasant bread, we won’t give it to anyone, that we won’t eat it, we will bury it in the ground.
    - To bring kerosene from the City.
  9. Major48
    Major48 30 May 2019 16: 16
    There is absolutely no reason to put Nestor Makhno on a par with many all sorts of batiks and chieftains. Makhno was the ideological leader of certain segments of the population of southern Russia and the entire Black Sea region, a principled opponent of the Jewish pogroms, an excellent tactic of the people's war. A high-level military leader and skilled politician, Makhno stood head and shoulders above the commanders of the white and red troops.
  10. vladcub
    vladcub 30 May 2019 16: 28
    Quote: naidas
    The composition of the atamans' troops is interesting. From the poor peasantry (the base of the army) and kulaks to kulaks and the remnants of whites at the end of 1920-1921, Makhno slammed Grigoryev, too different forces stood behind them at that moment - not to get along.

    "Two bears do not live in one den" And they had the same social base - rural composers and partially Socialist-Revolutionaries and anarchists
  11. Astra wild
    Astra wild 30 May 2019 21: 35
    "Was there no pay for the commanders or was it minimal" in other words, mercenaries with a red banner?
    "We could not financially motivate the soldiers and commanders of such units," and one horse or other revolutionary units are also mercenaries? Or were they ideological?
    1. Alexey RA
      Alexey RA 31 May 2019 10: 30
      Quote: Astra wild
      "Was there no pay for the commanders or was it minimal" in other words, mercenaries with a red banner?

      Ahem ... mercenary just provides for the payment of hired troops. And here, rather, free barony with their semi-friends, semi-gangs.