Proclamation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. November 20, 1917
Original Source: S. A. Piontkovskii (ed). Grazhdanskaia voina v Rossii, 1918-1921 gg. (Moscow 1925), 344-46.
Ukrainian people and all peoples of the Ukraine!
A heavy and difficult hour has fallen upon the land of the Russian Republic. In the capitals to the north a bloody civil struggle is raging; the Central Government has collapsed, and anarchy, lawlessness and ruin are spreading throughout the state.
Our land is also in danger. Without a single, strong national authority, the Ukraine may also fall into the abyss of civil war, slaughter and ruin.
Ukrainian people! You, together with the other fraternal peoples of the Ukraine, have placed us to guard the rights acquired through your struggles, empowered us to create order and to build new life on our land; and, we, the Ukrainian Central Rada, by your will, and in the name of establishing order in our country in the name of saving all of Russia, do now proclaim:
From this day forth, the Ukraine becomes the Ukrainian People’s Republic.
Without separating ourselves from the Russian Republic and maintaining its unity, we shall stand firmly on our own soil, in order that our strength may aid all of Russia, so that the whole Russian Republic may become a federation of equal and free peoples.
Until the Constituent Assembly of the Ukraine, all power to establish order in our country, to promulgate laws, and to govern belongs to us, the Ukrainian Central Rada, and to our government–the General Secretariat of the Ukraine.
With power and authority in our native land, we shall use this power and authority to stand guard over freedom and the revolution, not only in our land, but also throughout all of Russia.
Therefore, we proclaim:
To the territory of the Ukrainian People’s Republic belong regions inhabited for the most part by Ukrainians: the provinces of Kiev, Podol’ia, Volhynia, Chernihiv, Poltava, Kharkiv, Katerynoslav, Kherson, Taurus (excluding Crimea). The final demarcation of the borders of the Ukrainian People’s Republic as well as the annexation of parts of the Kursk, Kholm, Voronezh provinces and the neighboring guberniias and areas where the majority of the population is Ukrainian, will be determined in agreement with the organized will of the peoples.
We declare the following to all citizens of these lands:
Henceforth, on the territory of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, the existing property rights on lands of the nobility and on agricultural lands of other non-toiling ownership, including deeded lands, lands owned by monasteries and ministries, and church lands, are abolished.
In asserting that these lands are the property of the entire working people, and that they be recognized as such without compensation to former owners, the Ukrainian Central Rada entrusts the Secretary General for Land Affairs to prepare legislation immediately to regulate the manner in which land committees, elected by the people, should manage these lands until the Constituent Assembly.
The labor of the workers in the Ukrainian People’s Republic must be placed on an orderly basis immediately. Now, we proclaim: from this day forth, an eight-hour workday is instituted in all enterprises on the territory of the Ukrainian People’s Republic.
The difficult and terrible time which all of Russia and, with her, our Ukraine is experiencing, demands a proper organization of production, steady distribution of consumer products and a better organization of labor. Therefore, we charge the General Secretariat for Labor, together with the representatives of the workers, with the immediate establishment of state control over production in the Ukraine, guarding the interests of both the Ukraine and all of Russia.
For the fourth year blood is being spilt on the battlefields; and the strength of the peoples of the world is destroyed in vain. In the name of the Ukrainian Republic and in expression of its will, we, the Ukrainian Central Rada, shall firmly insist that peace be instituted quickly. To this end, we shall use resolute means to force through the Central Government, both allies and enemies to begin peace negotiations at once.
Likewise, we shall see to it that the rights of the Ukrainian people in Russia and outside Russia are not infringed upon by the peace treaty at the Peace Conference. However, until the beginning of peace, each citizen of the Republic of the Ukraine, together with the citizens of all other nations of the Russian Republic, should stand fast at his post, both at the battlefield and at home.
Recently, the bright achievements of the revolution have been dimmed by the reinstatement of the death penalty. We proclaim:
Henceforth, on the territory of the Ukrainian Republic, the death penalty is abolished.
All prisoners, all those detained for political activity committed prior to this date, including those sentenced and those not yet sentenced or charged, are hereby granted full amnesty. A law will be promulgated to that effect immediately. The court in the Ukraine should be just in conformity with the spirit of the people. With that goal in view, we direct the General Secretariat for Justice to take all measures necessary to bring order to the judicial system and to assure its compliance with the legal conceptions of the people.
We direct the General Secretariat for Internal Affairs:
To use all means to strengthen and broaden the rights of the local bodies of self-government which serve as organs of the higher administrative authorities in the localities, and to establish its closest ties and cooperation with the organs of revolutionary democracy which should constitute the best basis for a free, democratic life.
Furthermore, the Ukrainian People’s Republic shall secure all freedoms won by the All-Russian revolution: freedom of speech, press, worship, assembly, association, strikes, inviolability of person and residence, and the right and opportunity to use the native language in dealings with all administrative agencies.
The Ukrainian people, who have fought long years for their national freedom and have won it today, shall firmly defend the free national development of all nationalities residing in the Ukraine; therefore, we proclaim: The Great-Russian, Jewish, Polish and other peoples in the Ukraine are granted national-personal autonomy to guarantee their own self-government in all matters of their national life; and we charge our general Secretariat for National Affairs to present to us, within the shortest possible time, legislative drafts for national-personal autonomy.
The matter of provisions is the root of the power of government in this difficult and responsible time. The Ukrainian People’s Republic should strain all its powers to save not only itself, but also the front and those parts of the Russian Republic which need our aid.
Citizens! In the name of the Ukrainian People’s Republic within a federated Russia, we, the Ukrainian Central Rada, call upon all, to struggle decisively against all anarchy and destruction and to work towards the great fraternal construction of new governmental forms which will grant the great and weakened Republic of Russia health, strength, and a new future. The determination of these forms shall be made at the Ukrainian and All-Russian Constituent Assemblies.
The date for the election of the Ukrainian Constituent Assembly shall be December 27, 1917; the day of its convocation shall be January 9, 1918.
A law regulating the convocation of this Ukrainian Constituent Assembly shall be promulgated immediately.
Source: James Bunyan and H.H. Fisher, ed., Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1918; Documents and Materials (Stanford: Stanford University Press; H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1934), pp. 414-415.