J. V. Stalin

The Ukrainian Rada

Speech Delivered in the All-Russian Central Executive Committee
December 14, 1917

Source : Works, Vol. 4, November, 1917 - 1920
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2009
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2009). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.

It may seem strange that the Council of People's Commissars, which has always resolutely upheld the principle of self-determination, should have entered into a conflict with the Rada, which also takes its stand on the principle of self-determination. To understand the origin of the conflict, it is necessary to examine the political complexion of the Rada.

The Rada starts out from the principle of a division of power between the bourgeoisie, on the one hand, and the proletariat and peasantry, on the other. The Soviets reject such a division, and want the whole power to belong to the people, without the bourgeoisie. This is why the Rada sets up in opposition to the slogan, "All power to the Soviets" (i.e., the people) its own slogan, "All power to the urban and rural local government bodies" (i.e., the people and the bourgeoisie).

It is said that the conflict arose over the question of self-determination. But that is not true. The Rada proposes the establishment of a federal system in Russia. The Council of People's Commissars, however, goes farther than the Rada and recognizes the right to secession. Consequently, the divergence between the Council of People's Commissars and the Rada is not over that question. Absolutely incorrect likewise is the Rada's assertion that centralism is the point of difference. Regional centres formed on the model of the Council of People's Commissars (Siberia, Byelorussia, Turkestan) applied to the Council of People's Commissars for directives. The Council of People's Commissars replied: you yourselves are the authority in your localities, and you yourselves therefore must draw up the directives. That, then, is not the point at issue. Actually, the divergence between the Council of People's Commissars and the Rada arose over the following three points.

First question: concentration of the Ukrainian units on the Southern Front. Unquestionably, national armies are the best fitted to protect their own territories. But at present our front is not built on national lines. In view of the dislocation of transport, reconstruction of the front on national lines would result in its complete disruption. This would wreck the chances of peace. The Ukrainian soldiers proved to have more sense and honesty than the General Secretariat, for the majority of the Ukrainian units refused to obey the Rada's orders.

Second question: disarmament of the Soviet troops in the Ukraine. By upholding the interests of the Ukrainian landlords and bourgeoisie and disarming the Soviet troops, the Ukrainian Rada is striking a blow at the revolution. Substantially, the actions of the Rada in this respect in no way differ from the actions of Kornilov and Kaledin. Needless to say, the Council of People's Commissars will oppose this counter-revolutionary policy of the Rada might and main.

Lastly, the third question: refusal to permit the passage of Soviet troops proceeding against Kaledin, around whom all the counter-revolutionary forces of Russia have rallied. The Rada justified its refusal to permit the passage of the Soviet troops on the grounds of its "neutrality" vis-a-vis the "self-determining" Kaledin. But the Rada substitutes the autocratic rule of Kaledin for the self-determination of the labouring Cossacks. By obstructing the passage of the Soviet troops, the Rada is assisting Kaledin's advance northward. At the same time the Rada freely permits the transit of Kaledin Cossack units to the Don. At a time when our comrades are being shot down in Rostov and the Donets Basin, the Rada is preventing us from sending them aid. Needless to say, this treacherous conduct of the Rada cannot be tolerated.

The Council of People's Commissars cannot give up the fight against Kaledin. Kaledin's counter-revolutionary nest must be destroyed. That is inevitable. If the Rada obstructs our advance against Kaledin and tries to act as a shield for him, the blows aimed at Kaledin will fall upon the Rada. The Council of People's Commissars will not hesitate to wage a determined fight against the Rada, because it is well aware that the Rada is in secret alliance with Kaledin. The Council of People's Commissars has intercepted a ciphered telegram which makes it clear that the Rada is in direct contact with the French Mission, with the aim of delaying peace until the spring, and, through the French Mission, with Kaledin. This alliance is directed against peace and the revolution. This alliance must and will be smashed.

We are reproached for conducting a resolute policy against the Rada. But it is precisely this resolute policy that has opened the eyes of the Ukrainian workers and peasants by revealing the bourgeois nature of the Rada. This is evident, for example, from the telegram reporting the formation in the Ukraine of a new Ukrainian revolutionary power1 which recognizes the Soviet Government and is acting against the bourgeois Rada. (Applause.)


1. The telegram stated that a Central Executive Committee of Soviets, elected on December 13, 1917, by an All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies and part of the Soviets of Peasants' Deputies, had assumed plenary power in the Ukraine (see Izvestia, No. 252, December 15, 1917).