The Military Writings of
Leon Trotsky

Volume 2, 1919

How the Revolution Armed

The Southern Front

I. The Red Army’s Offensive
Towards the Ukraine and the Don (January-May 15, 1919)


By the Chairman of the Revolutionary War Council of the Republic and People’s Commissar of Military and Naval Affairs to the Red Army and the Red Navy, January 11, 1919, No.76 Balashov

Transcribed and HTML markup for the Trotsky Internet Archive by David Walters

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Left SRs, Anarchists and other counter-revolutionaries!

I have received the following order issued by the Revolutionary War Council of the group operating in the Kursk direction:

‘Order by the Revolutionary War Council of the group operating in the Kursk direction. Left SR adventurers, headed by Sablin, Yevdokim, Muravyov and Tsvetkov, have organised in the area of Urazovo, Kupyansk and Valuiki, a plot against the workers’ and peasants’ government. They have secretly formed a Left SR headquarters consisting of the commander of the 10th Ukrainian Regiment, Ryndin, Kolukhin, Nilov, Ganenko and Tsvetkov. The principal forces at the disposal of this headquar ters were companies taken by Sakharov from the Liski front, under Kiryachenko’s command. A Revolutionary Committee headed by Sablin and Muravyov was set up at Kupyansk. Under their threats, only persons describing themselves as Left SRs were appointed to the volost soviets. Sakharov undertook the organisation of a Left SR centre at Volchansk. On December 26 the Kursk commissars were forced to go underground, and some of them were shot. On December 29, at a closed meeting, the Left SR forces were listed as the 1st Valuiki Rebel Regiment, Sakharov’s 2nd Volchansk Regiment, and Cherbiyan’s 3rd Regiment. A detachment of 16,000 of Sakharov’s men was held in reserve, against the Communists. It was decided to enter into close contact and form liaison with the forces led by Sievers and Kikvidze. At this same meeting the composition of the Left SR Government for the Ukraine was announced: three representatives of the regiments mentioned, one Left SR from the Soviet of Kharkov province, one each from the Ukrainian and Russian Left SR parties, one Maximalist and one Anarchist. Along with this, these adventurers carried on a most vile agitation against the Soviet power, with widespread appeals to the soldiers to mutiny. In one of these appeals they wrote, among other things: “Comrade Red Army men, throw out your appointed commanders, throw out the officers and generals,” and so on. As soon as news of these events reached the Soviet forces of the group operating in the Kursk direction, a battalion was at once despatched to Kupyansk. Some of these adventurers fled: the soldiers remained loyal to the Soviet power. The following were arrested: Muravyov, Byelokabylsky, Tsvetkov, Ryndin and Kiryachenko. They were all tried by a field court-martial. Tsvetkov, who had given the order to destroy Kupyansk and to shoot the Communists and disarm their supporters, was shot.

’The whole of the area referred to has now been cleared of the adventurers, and Soviet power restored there. The ringleaders called themselves representatives of the rebel army of the Eastern Ukraine. One battalion of Red Soviet troops was sufficient for this “rebel army” to burst like a soap-bubble. However, in view of the fact that we are now in a state of war, the Revolutio nary War Council of the group operating in the Kursk direction orders all commanders and commissars of divisions and of independent units to act with all seriousness and severity towards the adventurers, immediately arresting and court martialling everyone who, in one way or another, took part in the Left SR revolt at Kupyansk and Urazovo.

The Revolutionary War Council of the group operating in the Kursk direction: I. Kozhevnikov and I. Perchikhin

The above order mentions a decision by the Left SR counter revolutionary plotters to establish liaison with the troops commanded by Sievers and Kikvidze. This intention of theirs produced, of course, no practical results. The brigade led by our late Comrade Sievers and the division commanded by Comrade Kikvidze are doing their duty on the Southern front and are not going to get involved in any dishonourable adven tures.

I fully approve the vigorous way in which the Revolutionary War Council of the group operating in the Kursk direction have acted. I order the Revolutionary War Councils of all armies, and all commissars to keep a sharp look-out for the counter revolutionary activity of the so-called Left SRs and other enemies of the workers’ and peasants’ power.

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Last updated on: 23.12.2006