Nikifor Grigoriev, "ataman of the rebel forces of Kherson region, Zaporizhia and Tavria"

Smoot. 1919 year. For a short period of time, Grigoriev felt himself the sole owner of a huge district with the cities of Nikolaev, Kherson, Ochakov, Apostolovo, and Alyoshka. Formally, the Kherson-Nikolaev region was part of the UNR, but the real ruler-dictator there was Grigoriev. Ban Ataman felt like a "major political figure" and spoke to Kiev in the language of ultimatums.

Nikifor Grigoriev, "ataman of the rebel forces of Kherson region, Zaporizhia and Tavria"




Soldier Grigoriev


Nikifor Aleksandrovich Grigoriev was born in the Podolsk province, in the town of Dunaevets, in 1885. The real name of the future "head ataman" was Servetnik, he changed it to Grigoriev when the family moved from Podillia to the neighboring Kherson province in the beginning of the century, to the village of Grigorievka.

I finished only two classes of elementary school (I will remind myself of a lack of education in the future), I studied as a medical assistant in Nikolaev. Volunteer as a volunteer participated in the Japanese campaign. He proved himself in battle, becoming a brave and experienced fighter. Produced in non-commissioned officers. After the war, he studied at the Chuguev Infantry Cadet School, which he graduated from in 1909 year. Sent to the 60 th Infantry Zamosk regiment in Odessa with the rank of ensign.


Ataman Nikifor Grigoriev


However, in the peaceful life of his boiling energy could not find a way out. Grigoriev retired, served as a simple excise official, and according to other information - in the police in the county town of Alexandria. With the beginning of the war with the Central Powers was mobilized into the army, he fought as an ensign on the South-Western Front. Once again, he proved himself to be an experienced and brave soldier, was awarded for his bravery by the Cross of St. George and rose to the rank of captain.

After February, Grigoriev headed the training team of the 35 regiment, located in Feodosiya, from the autumn of 1917, he served in the Berdichev garrison. He became a member of the soldiers' committee of the South-Western Front. The soldiers liked him because of their recklessness and the simplicity of their relationship with the lower ranks (including drinks). The people who knew the personal qualities of Nikifor identified: personal courage (persuading private soldiers to go into battle, setting an example for them themselves), military talent and cruelty (able to keep subordinates obedient), talkativeness and boastfulness, and at the same time ambition and secrecy. It was noted his dense ignorance and zoological anti-Semitism (hatred of the Jews), characteristic of the Little Russian peasants, and a penchant for drunkenness.

How Grigoriev became "involved in politics"


Smoot allowed Grigoriev to turn around, "to engage in politics." Having been at the congress of the front-line soldiers and having fallen under the influence of S. Petliura, Grigoriev decided that the “finest hour” was Ukrainization. He became actively involved in the Ukrainianization of the army, supported the Central Council. Of the volunteers, Grigoriev forms the Ukrainian shock regiment and receives the rank of lieutenant colonel. Petliura instructed Grigoriev to create Ukrainian units in the Elizavetgrad district.

Grigoriev supported Hetman Skoropadsky, and for his loyalty to the new regime, he was promoted to colonel and became commander of one of the units of the Zaporizhia division. Smoot allowed such adventurers as Grigoriev to make the most dizzying career, to become part of the military-political elite. Within a few months, Grigoriev revised his priorities and changed his political color. He goes over to the side of the rebellious peasants, who began to oppose the systematic robberies of the Austro-German invaders and the hetman's troops, who returned the land to the landowners.

The young colonel establishes a relationship with the opposition Ukrainian National Union and Petlyura, and participates in the preparation of a new coup d'état in Little Russia. Grigoriev organizes detachments of peasant rebels in the Elizavetgrad region to fight the Austro-German troops and the Hetman police (Warta). The first rebel detachment, numbering about 200 people, Grigoriev assembled Camels and Tsibulevo in the villages. He proved himself a successful leader. The rebels captured the Austrian military train at Kutsivka station, seizing rich trophies, which made it possible to arm 1,5 thousand people. This and other successful operations created an image of a successful leader-chieftain in the eyes of the Kherson rebel rebels. He became the chief ataman of the north of the Kherson region. By the autumn of 1918, under the command of Grigoriev, there were up to 120 units and groups of a total of about 6 thousand people.

"Ataman of the rebel forces of Kherson region, Zaporozhye and Tavria"


In the middle of November, 1918, in connection with the defeat of the German bloc in the war (Skoropadsky regime was sitting on German bayonets), a powerful uprising broke out in the center of Little Russia, led by members of the Directory Vinnichenko and Petlyura. A few weeks later, the Petliurists already controlled most of the Little Russia and besieged Kiev. 14 December 1918, Skoropadsky signed a renunciation manifesto and fled with the Germans.

In the meantime, the Grigorievs knocked out the Germans and Hetmans from the village of Verblyuzhka and Alexandria. Grigoriev proclaimed himself "Ataman of the rebel forces of Kherson region, Zaporozhye and Tavria". True, it was boasting. At that time, he controlled only one district of the Kherson region, and never appeared in Zaporizhia and in Tavria. In Zaporozhye Makhno was the owner. In December, the 1919 of the year, the Grigorievsk invaded the Northern Black Sea region, smashed the combined units of hetmans, Germans and white volunteers. December 13 after an agreement with the German command Ataman took Nikolaev. In Nikolaev at this time there were several authorities - the city council, chieftain and commissioner of the UPR. Grigoriev made the city his "capital" and soon occupied with his gangs a large territory of New Russia. Grigorievtsy captured huge booty. Formally, the chieftain acted on behalf of the Directory of the UPR. Under his command was the Kherson division - about 6 thousand fighters (4 infantry and 1 equestrian regiments).

For a short period of time, Grigoriev felt himself the sole owner of a huge district with the cities of Nikolaev, Kherson, Ochakov, Apostolovo, and Alyoshka. Formally, the Kherson-Nikolaev region was part of the UNR, but the real ruler-dictator there was Grigoriev. Ban Ataman felt like a "major political figure" and began to talk to Kiev in the language of ultimatums. He demanded that the Directory of the post of Minister of War. The directory could not fight with the ataman, therefore, in order to “calm it down,” they were given the post of commissioner of Alexandria district. Grigoriev, however, continued to quarrel with the Kiev government, showed independence, and was in conflict with the neighboring Petlura division of Colonel Samokish and the army of Makhno. Formally, remaining in the "right" positions, the ataman conspires with the "left" - a party of Ukrainian Socialist-Revolutionaries Borotbists, who feuded Petlyura and sympathized with the Bolsheviks. At the same time, Grigoriev openly declared that “Communists must be cut!”



Grigoriev could not become the absolute master of the Northern Black Sea region. At the end of November 1919, the Entente troops (Serbs, Greeks, Poles) began to arrive in Odessa, where there was still a strong garrison of the Austro-German troops. In December, the French division arrived in Odessa. At this time, the troops of the Directory and the rebels occupied almost all the Black Sea coast and December 12 entered Odessa. The Allies initially controlled only a small seaside "Union Zone" of Odessa (port, several seaside quarters, Nikolaevsky Boulevard). December 16 French, Poles and White Guards Grishin-Almazov ousted Petliurists from Odessa. On December 18, the Allied Command demanded that the Directory withdraw its troops from the area of ​​Odessa. Petlyura, fearing war with the Entente and desiring an alliance with the Western powers, ordered the troops of the Southern Front of the UNR army to withdraw under the command of General Grekov. Later, at the request of the Allied Command, the Petliurists liberated a large bridgehead for the French forces, sufficient to supply the population of Odessa and the Entente grouping.

Grigoriev, not wanting to endure rivals by his side, demanded that Petlyura stop negotiations with the allies and resume the struggle for the Black Sea region. In order to negotiate with the rebel chieftain, in January 1919, Petliura arrived to meet him, at the station Razdelnaya. The cunning chieftain showed complete loyalty to Petliura. Although he had already decided to go over to the side of the Bolsheviks and in two weeks he would change the Directory.

Odessa Mama


At that time, Odessa, the main Russian trade port in southern Russia, was of key importance in the Northern Black Sea region. It was the main center for grain exports and at the same time a smuggling center going from the Balkans and Turkey. This city was a major center of crime before World War II, and in 1918, it became a real all-Russian “raspberry”. Russian customs disappeared, and the Austrian and then French occupation authorities turned a blind eye and were easily bought. As a result, life in Odessa at that time resembled a tragicomic carnival.

In Odessa there were a lot of refugees, the city was the second all-Russian center of escape after Kiev. After the uprising of the Petliurists and the offensive of the Red Army in the Little Russia, a huge stream, with the addition of refugees from Kharkov, Kiev and other cities, rushed into the seaside Odessa. They hoped to protect the Entente. A large mass of refugees has become an excellent nutritional “broth” for the local underworld and thieves, gangsters from all over Little Russia.

The allies, despite the apparent power, turned out to be empty. Politicians and military could not decide what they were doing in Russia. Constantly hesitated, promised a lot, immediately forgot about their words. One thing was for sure - they did not want to fight. And they hampered the whites, who were ready to form powerful units under the cover of the Entente and launch an offensive. The French negotiated with the Directory and did not want to exacerbate the situation. Relations with Denikin did not work out, he held on too independently and did not see the owners in the French. Therefore, the French troops were in complete inaction and decomposed. The soldiers, after the fronts of World War II, arrived in Russia for a picnic, lounged, eaten, drunk, engaged in various speculations. As a result, decomposed worse than the Russian part after the February 1917 revolution of the year. And they could not even fight with Grigoriev’s gangs.

In this case, the French did not allow to create a strong army and the White Guards to close their bayonets. General Timanovsky, Markov's aide, a brave and skillful commander, arrived in Odessa from Denikin’s army. Here at the base of numerous refugees, under the cover of the Allies, in the presence of huge warehouses weapons and the military property of the old Russian army in Tiraspol, Nikolaev and the island of Berezan near Ochakov were excellent opportunities for the formation of white units. But the French did not allow this to be done. They banned mobilization in the Odessa region and proposed the idea of ​​“mixed brigades”, where officers are selected from natives of Ukraine, private soldiers are volunteers, units are controlled by French instructors, and they are subordinate only to French commanders. Denikin opposed such a plan. It is clear that such “mixed” parts could not be created. The French also refused to transfer the property of the former tsarist army to the Volunteer Army, citing the fact that the warehouses belong to the Directory. The French, possessing huge reserves, did not help Denikin's army. Moreover, even the Timanovsky volunteer brigade, the only combat-ready part of the Whites, which was formed, and which was under the operational control of the French, was supplied with sea from Novorossiysk.

When expanding the French occupation zone in winter 1919 of the year to Kherson and Nikolaev, the commander of the Entente forces in southern Russia, General d'Anselm, prohibited the introduction of a white administration outside of Odessa. As a result, several authorities acted in the occupation zone at once, which aggravated the general confusion. So, in Nikolaev there were at once five authorities: the pro-Soviet city Duma, the commissar of the Directory, the Council of Workers' Deputies, the Council of Deputies of the German garrison (thousands of German soldiers were not evacuated, remaining in the city) and the French. In Odessa itself, besides the French and the white military governor Grishin-Almazov, there was also an unofficial power - gangster. In Odessa, even before the war, there was a strong crime, with national groups. The distemper made the situation even worse - the complete collapse of the law enforcement system, the mass of the unemployed, the beggars, former soldiers who were used to death, weapons. New criminals fled here from the places where they were crushed - from Soviet Russia, where the new statehood and the law enforcement system were gradually taking shape. Smuggling became legal, and banditry seemed easy and profitable. The local mafia king was Mishka Jap, who had a whole army under him, thousands of fighters.

Meanwhile, while the French were inactive and interfered with the actions of the White Guards, while Odessa lived in bustle, speculation and fraud, the external situation became worse for the interventionists. The Red Army quickly occupied Little Russia, the Petliurism finally degenerated, the troops of the Directory switched over to the Reds or turned into outright bandits. By February 1919, the Red Army focused on the front from Lugansk to Yekaterinoslav, aiming at Rostov-on-Don, Donbass, Tavria and Crimea. In Odessa, the careless life, fun, rampant criminality, enrichment and political intrigue continued. Not surprisingly, the invaders quickly surrendered Odessa, almost without a fight. All the enormous power of the Entente in Odessa - the French 2, the Greek 2, the Romanian 1 divisions (35 thousand soldiers), a large number of artillery, the fleet, turned out to be a soap bubble, which burst at the first threat.


The loading of local grain to ships in the port of Odessa, under the protection of the Entente troops. Start of 1919 of the year



Renault tanks with French tankers, locals and volunteers in Odessa. Source: https://ru.wikipedia.org

To be continued ...
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