Today in labor history: Workers take power in Kiev

On December 11, 1905, in support of the worker uprising and general strike in Moscow, the Council of Workers’ Deputies of Kiev, in the Ukraine, decided to stage a mass uprising against oppressive czarist rule. The next day, all major organizations of the city stopped operation. The majority of the protesting workers were concentrated in the Shuliavka district of Kiev.

They declared Shuliavka a workers’ republic in Kiev. Students and faculty of the Kiev Polytechnic Institute, where the uprising’s headquarters was based, supported the workers’ struggle.

On the first day of the uprising, the Council of Workers’ Deputies published a manifesto whose wording resonates for us today. It proclaimed:

“Citizens of the Shuliavka republic protest for the abolition of absolute monarchy, for the freedom of speech and assembly, for social services, for amnesty of political prisoners, for a national emancipation of Ukrainians, Poles, and Jews, and other nationalities of the Russian Empire, for the immediate end to the Jewish pogroms, which embarrasses our people.”

In addition, the workers demanded a pension, normal working conditions, removal of unnecessary fines, a better medical service, and a system of government protection.

On December 15, the territory of Shuliavka was surrounded by the Russian Army and local czarist authorities. The police began mass arrests and confiscated any weapons they found. More than 78 people were arrested. The next day, the uprising was put down by a 2,000-strong armed force consisting mainly of gendarmes and Cossack cavalry.

Just 12 years later, in the virtually bloodless Russian Revolution of 1917, workers and peasants led by V. I. Lenin and the Bolsheviks, overthrew the czarist empire under the slogan “Peace, bread, and land.”

Photo: A monument to the Shuliavka Republic in Kiev, Ukraine. Wikipedia



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