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The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic or the Ukrainian SSR was a self-proclaimed partially recognized republic formed by the members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party and eventually became one of the founding constituents of the Soviet Unionmarker from its formation in 1922 to its abolition in 1991.


The first Bolshevik republic declared in December 24 or December 25, 1917 and was called either the Republic of Soviets of workers', soldiers', and peasants' deputies or Ukrainian People's Republic.

On March 10, 1919 according to the III Congress of Soviets in Ukraine (March 6-10, 1919) the name of the state was changed to Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic.

On December 30, 1922 according to the I Congress of Soviets in Soviet Union the state was incorporated into the Soviet Union.

On December 5, 1936 according to the VIII Extraordinary Congress Soviets in Soviet Union (November 25 - December 5, 1936) the state name changed to Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. On January 31, 1937 this decision was ratified on the XIV Extraordinary Congress of Soviets in Ukrainian SSR. It changed along with the names of all other Soviet republics, transposing the second ("socialist") and third ("soviet" or "radyans'ka") words. From 1937 to 1991, Ukraine was officially known as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, abbreviated Ukrainian SSR, UkrSSR, or UkSSR.

The official names in Ukrainian and Russian were:


After the Russian Revolution of 1917, several factions sought to create an independent Ukrainian state, alternately cooperating and struggling against each other. Bolsheviks and Mensheviks in Ukraine first participated in the formation of the Ukrainian National Republicmarker (UNR), which initially declared autonomy in 1917, and then independence in 1918.

Right after the October Revolution in Petrogradmarker they instigated the Kyiv Bilshovyk Uprising to take Kyiv into their hands, but surprisingly it did not go as planned. Due to lack of adequate support from the local population and anti-revolutionary Central Rada, the Bolshevik split and moved to Kharkivmarker where they were supported in big cities and industrial centers of the eastern Ukraine. They issued an ultimatum to the Central Rada on December 17, to recognize the Soviet regime of which the Rada was very critical. The Bolsheviks convened a separate congress and declared the first Soviet Republic of Ukraine on 24 December 1917. Warfare ensued against the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR) for the installation of the Soviet regime in the country. After the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Russian SFSR yielded all the captured Ukrainian territory as the Bolsheviks were pushed out of Ukraine. The government of the Soviet Ukraine was dissolved, but eventually reforming first on 20 November 1918, and then 21 December 1919. Eventually, the Red Army ended up controlling much of the Ukrainian territory after the Polish-Soviet Peace of Riga.

On 30 December 1922, along with the Russian, Byelorussian, and Transcaucasian republics, the Ukrainian SSR was one of the founding members of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republicsmarker (USSR).

In 1932 the Soviet government inflicted one of the largest national catastrophes in modern history of the Ukrainian nation. A man-made famine known as the Holodomor caused a direct loss of human life estimated between 2.6 million to 10 million.

In September 1939 the Soviet Union invaded Poland, and added Galicia lands inhabited by Ukrainians to the territory of the Ukrainian SSR. In 1945, these lands were permanently annexed, and the Transcarpathia region was added as well, by treaty with the post-war administration of Czechoslovakia.

After World War II some amendments to the Constitution of the Ukrainian SSR were accepted, which allowed it to act as a separate subject of international law in some cases and to a certain extent, remaining a part of the Soviet Union at the same time. In particular, these amendments allowed the Ukrainian SSR to become one of founding members of the United Nations (UN) together with the Soviet Union and the Byelorussian SSR. This was part of a deal with the United Statesmarker to ensure a degree of balance in the General Assembly, which, the USSR opined, was unbalanced in favor of the Western Bloc. In its capacity as a member of the UN, the Ukrainian SSR was an elected member of the United Nations Security Council in 1948-1949 and 1984-1985.

The Ukrainian SSR was also the site of the Chornobyl disaster in 1986, when a reactor at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plantmarker melted down and exploded, subjecting countless multitudes to radiological effects.

“Western Ukraine” and Ukrainian SSR at 1939/1940 winter USSR map.
Bessarabia noted as occupied by Romania.

The Ukrainian SSR was officially renamed Ukrainemarker on 24 August 1991. It declared its intention of leaving the Soviet Union the same day, and on 25 December 1991 became fully independent following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.


Terms of the leaders of the Communist Party of Ukraine, and de facto leaders of the republic:
  1. Georgy Pyatakov, July 12-September 9, 1918
  2. Serafima Hopner, September 9-October 23, 1918
  3. Emanuel Kviring, October 23, 1918–March 6, 1919
  4. Georgy Pyatakov, March 6-May 30, 1919
  5. Stanislav Kosior, May 30-December 10, 1919
    1. Rafail Farbman, January-March 23, 1920 (acting)
  6. Mykola Mykolaiv, March 23-March 25, 1920
  7. Stanislav Kosior, March 25-November 23, 1920 stayed until October 17, 1922 in Secretariat
First Secretary
  1. Viacheslav Molotov, November 23, 1920 – March 22, 1921
    1. Feliks Kon, March 22-December 14, 1921 (acting)
  2. Dmitry Manuilsky, December 15, 1921 – April 10, 1923
  3. Emanuel Kviring, April 10, 1923 – March 20, 1925
General Secretary
  1. Emanuel Kviring, March 20April 7, 1925
  2. Lazar Kaganovich, April 7, 1925 – July 14, 1928
  3. Stanislav Kosior, July 14, 1928 – January 23, 1934
    1. Ivan Akulov, October 12, 1932 - November 22, 1933 (Donbas secretary)
First Secretary
  1. Stanislav Kosior, January 23, 1934 – January 27, 1938
    1. Nikita Khrushchev, January 27-June 18, 1938 (acting)
  2. Nikita Khrushchev, June 18, 1938 - March 3, 1947
  3. Lazar Kaganovich, March 3-December 26, 1947
  4. Nikita Khrushchev, December 26, 1947 – December 28, 1949
  5. Leonid Melnikov, 1949–1953
  6. Alexei Kirichenko, 1953–1957
  7. Nikolai Podgorny, 1957–1963
  8. Petro Shelest, 1963–1972
  9. Volodymyr Shcherbytsky, 1972–1989
  10. Vladimir Ivashko, 1989–1990
  11. Stanislav Hurenko, 1990–1991

Administrative divisions

The administrative divisions of the Ukrainian SSR changed numerous times throughout its 74-year history. The most common administrative division was the oblast (province) of which there were 25 upon the UkSSR's abolishment in 1991. Most of the UkSSR's oblasts still exist as oblasts of independent Ukraine while one changed its status to an autonomous republic. ().

Upon the Ukrainian SSR's formation to 1934, the republic's capital was the city of Kharkivmarker (Rus. Kharkov) located in the east of the republic. In 1934, the capital moved from Kharkiv to Kievmarker, which remains the capital of Ukraine today.

Other administrative divisions of the Ukrainian SSR included the two Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics which existed during different time periods. The Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic existed from 1924-1940 until it was upgraded to that of a constituent Soviet republic in 1940.

The other ASSR was the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic which was formed in 1991 from the former Crimean Oblastmarker, which was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR from the Russian SFSR in 1954. After Ukrainian independence, the Crimean ASSR was renamed the Crimean Autonomous Republicmarker.



  1. Revolution of 1917
  2. Guide to the history of the Communist Party and the Soviet Union in 1898 - 1991
  3. Guide to the history of the Communist Party and the Soviet Union in 1898 - 1991
  4. Guide to the history of the Communist Party and the Soviet Union in 1898 - 1991
  5. France Meslé, Gilles Pison, Jacques Vallin France-Ukraine: Demographic Twins Separated by History, Population and societies, N°413, juin 2005
  6. ce Meslé, Jacques Vallin Mortalité et causes de décès en Ukraine au XXè siècle + CDRom ISBN 2-7332-0152-2 CD online data (partially -

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