Historical facts
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 Strengthening of the Soviet System 


The end of the military events was not the sign for changing policy based on the communist doctrine. On the contrary, the program of restoration and development of industry according to the GOELRO plan was to be realized with the help of a surplus-appropriation system (i.e., forced state tasks for sowing and delivering agriculture products).

In the winter of 1920-1921 there was a mass uprising of Ukrainian peasants against the Soviet power which S. Petliura had expected in spring of 1920 when he was in the offensive with the Poles against Kyiv. Possessed peasantry rise against the trade prohibition and surplus-appropriation system. Most efficient units of the Red Army, headed by V. Bliukher, H. Kotovskyi, O. Parkhomenko, were sent to struggle with the peasants' detachments. But the army itself also mainly consisted of peasants and became less and less reliable.

In the spring of 1921, V. Lenin had to refuse from the surplus-appropriation system and to renew free trade. New Economic Policy (NEP) replaced the old communist one. The transition to NEP proceeded painfully and under pressure of evident realities of the economic life.

The introduction of NEP in Ukraine was halted by famine. As a result of the catastrophic drought of 1921, the famine embraced the Volga region, Northern Caucasus, and the Southern provinces of Ukraine. The harvest of 1921 in most regions of the Left Bank and Right Bank was rather sufficient and its redistribution in favor of Southern provinces could prevent the famine. But Moscow required not to stop the supply of industrial centers of Russia. Lenin was not disturbed by the state in the Volga region nor in Ukraine, but by breaks in Moscow, Petrohrad and other cities. That is why the famine in Ukraine was kept a secret. Food cargoes of the American Administration of Aid (APA), which were sent to Russia from August 1921, passed by Ukraine. Numerous commissions rendering aid to starving people worked in the country, but food supplies went to the Volga region and to refugees. In 1921-1922m about 439, 000 people from the Volga region, the Urals, and Kazakhstan found refuge in Ukraine.

The legalization of private trade and currency reform of 1922-1924 drew the enterprises from underground. New bourgeoisie (tenants, wholesalers, industrialists, commission agents, and brokers) appeared in the country. They quickly saved the country from economic chaos, but the authorities disapproved of them. Lenin emphasized that NEP is a forced and temporary retreat from fulfilling the communist program.

The Soviet Union was formed on December 30, 1922. Ukraine changed its status from independent republic to a union republic. The proposition by J. Stalin during the discussion of party leaders on the forms of national-state construction to make independent republics the autonomous ones within the Russian Federation, was denied. Lenin proposed that all the independent soviet republics equal in right create a new state federation. Each union republic within the federation had great rights up to the right of leaving the federation.

Lenin's proposition was realized. Even Josef Stalin did not oppose the proposition. And it was not a coincidence since the dictatorship of the party, which turned the USSR into the unitary state, never was reflected in soviet constitutions. Its existence under the shelter of soviet power allowed performing the boldest experiments in the national-state construction and as in making far-reaching concessions to national-liberation movement.

A separate political bureau was created inside the Central Committee in 1919. In 1922, Lenin became sick and did not take part in active political life. At this time, the struggle for power began in the Politbureau. During this time, Rakovskyi was removed from Ukraine, and in 1925 Stalin put the party organization of Ukraine under control of L. Kahanovych.

In December 1925, three years after the USSR was created, at the 14th Congress, the state party changed its name and became the All-Union party - VCP(b).

In 1927, the 15th Congress of VCP(b) adopted directives of making the first five-year plan of development of the national economy for 1928/1929 to 1932/1933, which included a principal decision for complete use of this method of confiscation of peasants' incomes. But peasants did not want to sell their products for law prices. The crises in state grain procurements took place in 1927-1929.

In the previous years they used the market method for finding a way out of such a situation, by raising prices for bread. In 1928, Josef Stalin separated peasants from the market and deprived them of the means of production and prohibited free trade. In November 1919, the decision to collectivize agriculture was made. In order to prevent resistance to expropriation of peasants' property, the state opposed the owners and proletarized strata of the village population. Rich peasants (or kurkuli), who strongly resisted collectivization, were expropriated or deported. When peasants refused forced labor, Stalin's response was famine. The results were terrible, and 3.5 million people starved to death in Soviet Ukraine. Total losses, including the decrease in the birth rate, reached close to 5 million. Approximately one million people perished in the Northern Caucasus. Stalin had used the famine of 1932-1933 to get rid of the "Ukrainianization" that had occurred in most regions of the Northern Caucasus and to prevent people from discussing the experience of their transfer to Ukraine.

Cultural construction was a constituent of socio-economic transformation in the period between the First and Second World War. The maintenance of the cultural forms of the national movement under the ruthless struggle with its state forms as well as the emphasis on raising the culture, were the main features of policy of the state party in the sphere of culture. The liquidation of illiteracy, introduction of general compulsory education, preference for workers when applying to institutions of higher learning, were among the important trends of cultural construction.

Religion composed an important part of the intellectual culture of people. However, the communist party wanted to annihilate the church - the only element of pre-revolutionary social structure that still existed - and replace it with an atheistic consciousness. Religious music, literature, philosophy and even church architecture were annihilated. One could not find an Orthodox bishop in Ukraine at the end of the 1930s.

In 1935, Stalin decided to announce the victory of socialism and introduced changes to the constitution directed at democratizing the election system - replacing unequal elections with equal ones, and open elections with secret ones. The constitution of the USSR was adopted on December 5, 1936, and at the end of January 1937, the constitution of the Ukrainian SSR was introduced.

The outward democratization of power was accompanied by political repression, which began developing after the murder of S. Kirov, on December 1, 1934. Millions of people died or were sent to the concentration camps during mass repression of 1937-1938. Ukraine suffered from the "witch hunt" more than did other regions of the USSR.