95 years ago, the Red troops delivered a decisive blow to the Trans-Baikal ataman G.M. Semenov. AT stories civil war its role looks quite ambiguous. He was a protege of the Japanese, he was pushed to tear the Far East away from Russia. Supreme Governor of Russia A.V. Kolchak, he refused to obey. Capturing loads following the Trans-Siberian Railway. So much so that Kolchak sent troops to him. The Japanese did not allow a collision, put barriers at Baikal. With the mediation of foreigners, they worked out a compromise, but Semyonov nevertheless recognized the Supreme Ruler. But he didn’t provide any real help; a separatist regime was established in Transbaikalia, which was called “atamanism”. However, in January 1920, renouncing power, Kolchak handed over to Semyonov “the full military and civilian power on the Russian Eastern Fringe”. It turned out that no one else.
Well, the Red Army in the winter of 1919 / 20 made a huge dash to the east. Thinned, stretched. She did not have enough strength even to control the territory, which she had already occupied. Siberia was in a disastrous state. Transportation and supplies were destroyed. Entire villages died out of typhoid. In the barracks of “prosperous” Chelyabinsk, there were 5 thousand of patients, and the “disadvantaged” Novonikolayevsk - 70 thousand. And the Japanese were behind Baikal. The war with them did not promise anything good. Relations with the Siberian partisans were also not easy - they had a strong influence of the Social Revolutionaries, anarchists.
To solve these problems, the idea of a “buffer” state, the Far Eastern Republic, arose. Democratic, parliamentary, multiparty. In January, 1920 expressed this idea during negotiations between the Revolutionary Military Council of the 5 Red Army, Sibrevkom and the Irkutsk Political Center. The Social Revolutionaries picked up with joy. The Central Committee of their party pointed out that the creation of the FER allowed to keep the east of Russia "both from the predatory occupation of the Japanese and from the destructive rulership of the Bolsheviks."
The idea really liked the Western powers. In 1920, they set a course for ending the civil war in Russia, for economic and commercial introduction into our country. Now they were given a "beautiful" way out, the opportunity to decently withdraw troops from Siberia. And the United States received an excellent reason to remove its competitors, the Japanese, from here.
But they had not yet managed to create a republic, and she had many opponents. On January 31 there was a coup in Vladivostok, Zemsky goverment came to power - a coalition government of Social Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, Zemtsy and Communists. This government was not at all opposed to the creation of a democratic “buffer” power, but considered itself such a power, and did not want to know any other governments. Moreover, the local Bolsheviks, who entered the bodies of maritime authorities, adhered to the same point of view.
Another force became the partisans. They occupied Khabarovsk, Blagoveshchensk and other cities of the Amur region, where their “governments”, revolutionary committees and military revolutionary headquarters were formed. They considered Vladivostok people as “compromisers” and did not recognize them. Not recognized and incomprehensible to them FER. They simply beat those whom they themselves considered to be enemies, and declared “Soviet power” on the occupied territory. They built it on their own, "rob the loot."
Ataman Semenov at the beginning of 1920 had to be tight. He piled on both sides. The guerrillas of the East-Transbaikal Front, under the command of Zhuravlev, controlled the triangle between Shilka, Argun and the Manchurian railway line. And when the Bolsheviks defeated in Irkutsk, they sent the East-Siberian Soviet Army, which they had formed, to Transbaikalia. In the hands of Semenov remained the south-east of the present Chita region and part of Buryatia.
Obviously, he would have been crushed. But in February, the Kappelevans broke through to him. Kappel himself died in the tragic Siberian ice expedition — he collapsed under the ice of the river, and in the cold he was killed by pneumonia. But his subordinates, headed by General Wojciechowski, continued to call themselves Kappelevs. These were the best parts of Kolchak, the Izhevsk and Votkinsk divisions (from the rebel workers). And from the north around Baikal came another fragment of the Kolchak army, the Orenburg Cossacks and the Siberian arrows of General Sukin. They also took the name of the Kappelevs. The troops reformed. The former parts of Semenov were brought into the 1 body, and the Kappelevs were brought into the 2 and 3 body of the Russian Eastern Fringe. The commander of the whole army became Wojciechowski under the main command of Semenov.
Describing his goals, Wojciechowski issued an appeal “To the people of Transbaikalia”. He wrote that they are fighting for democracy, for the Constituent Assembly, defending the faith of Christ from atheists, opposing the committees of the poor and surplus. “I, as commander of troops in Transbaikalia, declare to you: The anti-Bolshevik People’s Army, which came to Transbaikalia from the west, has the task of not allowing the Bolsheviks in Transbaikalia, to protect law and order here: the life and property of citizens must be inviolable and sacred ...” It is unlikely that this appeal could cause the support of the population. But Kappelevtsy were selected troops, past fire and water. The first attempts of the red units and partisans to attack Chita they fought off.
And the controversy continued around the FER. Initially, the capital was supposed to be Irkutsk, but there the Soviet power had already won, the Bolsheviks felt sorry to give it to "democracy." They bargained from abroad - they say, it’s better to install them on Baikal. Before Baikal, the RSFSR, and beyond Baikal, the FER. Well, the Social Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks were preoccupied, as if they were not deceived. They began to work out the conditions on which their parties are ready to enter the coalition leadership of the republic. Lenin's reaction was tough. On March 9, he telegraphed Smirnov, Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the 5 Army: “There are no conditions with the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, either they will obey us unconditionally, or they will be arrested.” In general, if you don’t go to the government, we’ll plant.
The republic still had neither a government nor a territory, but there was an East-Siberian army created from partisans, from workers' squads and Kolchak units that had gone over to the side of the rebels. This army was propped up from the rear of the 5-I Red Army, allocated commanders, transferred many trophy weapons. At the beginning of March, the Semenovites pressed off, beat off from them a part of Buryatia from the city of Verkhneudinsk (Ulan-Ude). This small town was decided to be the capital of the FER at that time. Here the Provisional Zemstvo Power of the Baikal Region was formed, consisting mainly of the Social Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks. But the armed forces held the Bolsheviks under their command. March 11 East Siberian Army was renamed the People's Revolutionary (NRA). Her first commander was G. X. Eihe.
The Communists immediately suppressed the desire of other parties to be represented in the military council of "their" army. As for the Socialist-Revolutionary Menshevik Zemstvo power, the Bolsheviks indicated that it was too “narrow”, it was necessary to expand it. On April 6, Verkhne-Udinsk adopted the Declaration of Independence of the FER whose borders were declared from Baikal to the Pacific Ocean. Immediately began to form a provisional government. Taking advantage of the fact that they had power, the Communists gained only members of their party. But they were pulled back from above, from Moscow, because in this way the very idea of a “democratic” buffer was ruined. Local Bolsheviks backed out. We gave the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks a few minor portfolios. Those offended, refused. Finally, they were killed. The Communist A.M. Krasnoshchekov.
But the solution of the most important issues, even “civilian”, was often determined by the command of the NRA. Representatives of the army were present at any governmental meetings - in turn, they depended on the command of the 5 Army, which received instructions from Moscow. A branch of the Cheka, the State Political Bureau, appeared in the FER. Employees for this organization were sent from Dzerzhinsky. From the Central Committee of the Communist Party, a branch was also created, Dalbyuro. It began to smooth out the contradictions between the party organizations of Transbaikalia, the Amur Region, and Primorye, pushing them towards a single “denominator”.
Contacts were made with separatist guerrilla formations. They tried to use them gradually, pushed to blows against the Japanese and Semenov. But for Japan, this was a good excuse to send additional contingents of the occupation forces. Partizan defeated, expelled from Primorye and Khabarovsk.
Relations between the state formations of the Far East were very complicated. The commander of the white army, General Wojciechowski was very democratic, and considered the Semenov regime "reactionary." He saw the Vladivostok government much more acceptable, secretly entered into negotiations with him. But this became known, and the Vladivostok Communists participated in the negotiations. A scandal broke out, and Wojciechowski resigned. Army took General Verzhbitsky.
Far Eastern communists headed by PM. Nikiforov continued to bend his own line. They held elections to the National Assembly of the Far East, separate from the FER. The government coalition expanded. They included not only representatives of the socialist parties, but also the bourgeoisie. Moreover, Nikiforov with the Vladivostok Bolsheviks considered this a major success, a step towards the creation of a “national anti-Japanese front.” Recognition of DDA, they considered impossible for themselves. Instead, they negotiated with ... Semyonov. They said that he was a more suitable ally.
Well, on DVR failures fell. Primorsky partisans Japanese smashed to smithereens. And the two attacks of the People’s Revolutionary Army on Chita ended in defeat. Then the FER changed its policy to “peacekeeping”. Entered into negotiations with the Japanese about their withdrawal from Transbaikalia. At the same time guaranteed the cessation of hostilities, free elections to the Constituent Assembly, which will elect the people's power, acceptable to all parties. The Americans and the British also pressured Tokyo. But it was also difficult for the Japanese themselves to keep the occupying contingents in the Trans-Baikal steppes (it’s quite a different matter to catch hold of Primorye in the rich and close to Japan). On July 15, an agreement was concluded - the withdrawal of Japanese troops from Transbaikalia began on July 25.
Peace reigned. However, very relative. With the help of other socialist parties, the Bolsheviks did their best to decompose Semyonov’s army. She was constantly pecked by partisans. That is "narodarmeytsy". It must be said that the People’s Revolutionary Army has become a concept that is rather extensible. Then all of a sudden the units of the 5 Red Army, wearing a cockade on their caps instead of the stars, and turning diamonds on the sleeves, turned into NRA units. That the divisions of the NRA turned into "elemental" partisans. The leadership of the FER made innocent eyes and shrugged their shoulders - this is, they say, not our troops, but rebels, they do not obey us. And the partisans, in fact, were subordinate to the command of the NRA insofar as. Received weapons, ammunition, supplies, but the orders were carried out only by those who themselves considered necessary. The “alien” commissars were escaped, and could have been finished off.
But the leadership of the NRA and Dalbyuro of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) were patiently avoided any conflicts with the partisans. They got away with any antics, flirted with them. The partisans were still needed - and they are needed in an irregular quality. Without breaking the official peace, act against the Japanese - if necessary. Or against the Semenovites, with whom the FER promised the Japanese to stop fighting. And yet, for the first time since 1918, the Russian eastern outskirts more or less reconciled. In spite of various “governments”, regular communications were established between different regions. And to the Vladivostok Communists, through the Dalbureau, the Central Committee gradually “reset brains”, separating them from the coalition with “their own”, maritime socialists and the bourgeoisie, and directing them to the “general line” to build the FER.
In the FER, the chairman of the government, Krasnoshchekov, had to oh so difficult. The Orthodox party comrades denounced him for “compromise,” for “apostasy,” expressed in formal freedom of speech and the press, in public speeches about the “independence” of the FER from the RSFSR. He could not explain to everyone and loudly: “Brothers, yes, we are simply deceiving the Japanese!” He held on only thanks to the personal intercession of Lenin and Trotsky.
But even in Chita, the regime of government changed, softened, losing the last features of the "ataman". General elections were held here, and in September the legislative body, the Provisional East Transbaikalian People’s Assembly, began its work. Semyonov refused separatist slogans, recognized the supreme command of Wrangel over himself. Although at distances separating them this act could only be propaganda.
By the fall of 1920, the Semenov troops were squeezed into a relatively small area: about 300 km from north to south and 300-400 km from west to east. This territory was wedged into the territory of the FER, along the branch of the railway, extending from Chita to Harbin, in the area of the CER. The Japanese did not violate the signed agreement, their troops gradually left. But the Bolsheviks tried not to give rise to accusations. Demonstrated peaceful aspirations. It seemed that things were going towards a political settlement of the situation. Transbaikalia and the Far East began to prepare for elections to the Constituent Assembly.
In September, a meeting of regional governments was held in Verkhneudinsk. The Vladivostok delegation, headed by the leader of the maritime communists Nikiforov, first visited Chita - participated in the work of the Trans-Baikal People’s Assembly. General Wojciechowski, who was retired but retained influence in the white army, tried to enter into negotiations with Nikiforov. He proved to him that for two years Kappelevans fought for the Constituent Assembly and a democratic republic. Now in the FER their aspirations are fulfilled! Therefore, Wojciechowski asked ... to include Kappelevtsev in the NRA. He pointed out: “We are ready to accept the conditions under which the Kolchak army passed to the Zemsky government in Vladivostok”.
By September Nikiforov had already begun to get rid of Vladivostok separatism. He was included in the Dalbyuro Central Committee, and he knew more about the plans for building a new republic than the general. Therefore, the revelations and proposals of Wojciechowski looked naive enough for him. For the Bolsheviks, the most dangerous enemies were not the Semenov members with their Cossack mood swings, but Kappelians. Two strong corps, on which the democratic forces of the FER really could rely. But Nikiforov could not refuse General either - the Japanese had not yet completed the withdrawal of troops, they had to play in mutual understanding. He got off with a promise to bring Wojciechowski’s proposals to the attention of the FER government.
The red leadership at the same time was preparing completely different actions. The 27 of September was already being developed and a plan for the Chita operation was adopted.
A large number of troops — both the regular parts of the NRA and the partisan formations — were strung together. By September, Semenov had 18-20 thousand bayonets and sabers, 9 armored trains, 175 guns. The 3 and 2 Kappel corps covered a white territory from the north and east, ranging from Chita to Art. Byrka. From the west, along the Chita-Manchuria railway, it held the positions of 1, the Semenov Corps.
October 15, barely the last Japanese echelon left the Transbaikalia, the troops of the FER received an order for an offensive. And especially for the Japanese, they played a “revolt”. Parts of the NRA were renamed the “Rebel Army”, which sent a bitter message to the government of the FER: “We, as an insurgent people, as partisans, cannot obey your decision on an armistice and will fight until we defeat the Whites.”
For Semenov and his subordinates, the attack was unexpected. At first, the Kappelevists perceived the resumption of hostilities as a “misunderstanding.” They took seriously the preparations for the Constituent Assembly, discussed the revival of parliamentarism. Only a few days later we figured out and recovered from surprise. October 20 struck red with tangible counterstrikes north of Chita and in the central defense sector.
However, the forces were unequal. Numerous partisan brigades and divisions, assembled from all over the Far East, flowed around from all sides, infiltrating through the battle formations, creating a multi-layered “porridge”. They were reinforced by the Red Army and the Narodarmen regiments. The main attacks were aimed at the base of the “Semenovsky protrusion” - the white troops were supposed to be cut off from the border, surrounded and destroyed. Realizing this, the 3 Corps of General Molchanov left Chita without a fight, with great difficulty, moved to the south from the outlined ring.
But for the narodarmeytsev easy victory did not work. Kappelevtsy upset their counter-strikes. October 23 - under Harashibiri, November 3 - under Hadabulak, November 13 - under Borzey. 1-th Semenov corps was less strong. In heavy battles he was dismembered. Some of his detachments independently made their way to the border. Others were entrenched at the Tinovnaya and Borzya stations, repelling the onslaught of the 1 Trans-Baikal Corps of the NRA. Fighting off counter-attacks, white troops from the west and from the east retreated to the Manchurian railway. Then they began to retreat along it. One of the main tasks of the Chita operation was to destroy the White Guards, to prevent them from leaving for China, and they failed to carry out the red ones.
On November 21, both the Kappel corps and a part of Semenovskiy joined with them crossed the border of Manchuria, where they were disarmed by the Chinese and settled in the CER line, mainly in “Russian” Harbin. A part of the crushed 1 corps scattered around Buryatia, Mongolia and Tuva in the form of White Guerrilla groups: Ungern, Bakich, Kaygorodov, Kazantsev, etc. The other part turned to red.
Ataman Semenov himself went to Primorye, where the Japanese were still and held the coalition power. He tried to get support there, to revive the White Movement. But in December he was expelled by the Vladivostok government and left for Port Arthur. Well, the Bolsheviks, removing the main opponents, moved the capital of the FER to Chita and began elections to the Constituent Assembly. Without whites, it was more convenient. And the results were different ...