Grigory Petrovsky
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Grigory Petrovsky
Grigory Petrovsky
Petrovskiy GI Soc Kiev 1937 01 p10bis.jpg
Chairman of VUTsVK

10 March 1919 - 25 July 1938
Christian Rakovsky
Vlas Chubar
Panas Lyubchenko
Mykhailo Bondarenko
Mykola Marchak
Demyan Korotchenko
(post revived, previously Volodymyr Zatonsky)
Leonid Korniyets
(as the chairman of Presidium)
Mikhail Burmistenko
(as the chairman of Verkhovna Rada)
People's Commissar of NKVD of RSFSR

17 November 1917 - 30 March 1919
Vladimir Lenin
Alexey Rykov
Felix Dzerzhinsky
Candidate member of the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th Politburo

1 January 1926 - 22 March 1939
Personal details
Born(1878-02-03)3 February 1878
Pechenihy,[1]Kharkov Governorate, Russian Empire
Died9 January 1958(1958-01-09) (aged 79)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Political partyKPSS
Other political
Alma materelementary
AwardsOrder of Lenin (2)
Order of the Red Banner
Order of the Red Banner of Labour (3)

Grigory Ivanovich Petrovsky (Russian: , Ukrainian: Hryhoriy Ivanovych Petrovsky) (3 February 1878 - 9 January 1958) was a Ukrainian Soviet politician.[2] He participated in signing the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Petrovsky was one of the officials responsible for implementing Stalin's policies such as collectivization.[3][4]


Early years

Petrovsky was born in a village of Pechenihy in Kharkov Governorate on 3 February (Old Style - 22 January) 1878, in the family of a craftsman (some sources claim - son of tailor and laundrywoman). Grigory's father died when he was three. Petrovsky had two siblings.

After finishing two classes of school at the Kharkiv Theological Seminary in 1889, Petrovsky was dismissed for not being able to pay for his tuition. Being 11 years old he left education for a job in the city working for a locomotive depot. In 1893 at age of 15 he arrived to Yekaterinoslav (current Dnipro) where he found a job at the Bryansk Metallurgical Factory (today - Petrovsky Factory).

In 1895 Petrovsky joined the revolutionary movement and in 1897 enrolled in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDRP) and joined the "Union in the fight for the liberation of the worker's class" as well as the Yekaterinslav committee of RSDRP. At this period of time he actively participated in the political agitation for the Bolsheviks from Mykolaiv to Mariupol, from Donets basin to Kharkiv, for which he was arrested in 1900 and 1903.

During the Russian Revolution of 1905 Petrovsky became one of the organizers and leaders of the Yekaterinoslav City Council of Worker's Deputies and the local Battle Strike Committee. However, he soon was forced to flee and for a brief period of time emigrated to Germany. In 1907 he returned to Mariupol where he worked as a turning specialist and continued his revolutionary activity at the factory "Russian Providence" (today - part of Ilyich Steel & Iron Works).

Parliament and revolution

Grigory Petrovsky, 1917

In 1912 Petrovsky was elected a deputy to the Russian 4th State Duma as a representative of workers of the Yekaterinoslav Governorate for Bolshevik faction. During this time he also was a chief editor of Pravda. In January 1913 Petrovsky was included into the Central Committee of RSDRP. It is known that in the Duma he spoke on 32 occasions, while the text of his 21st speech was prepared personally by Vladimir Lenin. In his speeches Petrovsky was addressing the issues related to improving working conditions and life of miners and workers of Donets basin.

With the start of World War I in November 1914 he was arrested along with the other six Bolshevik members of the parliament and in February 1915 was sentenced to a lifetime exile in Turukhansky Krai (today - the northern part of Krasnoyarsk Krai).

After the Bolshevik seizure of power Petrovsky was appointed People's Commissar for the Interior Affairs between 30 November 1917 and 1 March 1919.[5] In this post he oversaw the activities of the Cheka and was one of the advocates of the Red Terror, he wrote in his order "A huge number of hostages has to be taken to the bourgeoisie, in cases of resistance these hostages have to be shot in masses(....) No hesitation in the application of the terror"[6] He was a member of the Russian delegation during signing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1917.

On 30 December 1922 he became the representative of Ukraine SSR in the USSR Central Executive Committee after signing the decree for the creation of the Soviet Union. According to the BBC, "Petrovsky saw himself as an internationalist, and rejected Ukrainian nationalism".[2] He was co-chairman of the USSR Central Executive Committee until 12 January 1938, when he was elected deputy chairman of the presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.

Some Ukrainian historians believe he and the Ukrainian Soviet Communist leader, Lazar Kaganovich, were the main executors of Stalin's 1930s policies in Ukraine, part of which was the 1932-33 man-made genocidal famine, better known as the Holodomor.[2] Other historians, like Vasyl Marochko, a member of an official commission that investigated the Holodomor, say that when Petrovsky fully understood what was being perpetrated and realized the extent of the famine, he pleaded with Stalin to provide Ukrainians with food but this request went unheeded.[2]

Survivor of the Great Terror

He was not purged during the Great Terror, but he was shocked and saddened by the executions of close friends such as Stanislav Kosior, Vlas Chubar and Sukhomlin.[7] Soon after the USSR celebrated its sixteenth birthday, he was interrogated by Joseph Stalin, who told him, "We shoot people like you but you will be spared"[7] and then was excluded from the Communist Party and deprived of his dachas and apartments.[7] After a year without a job, in 1940 he was made the director of the Revolution Museum of the USSR in Moscow and never returned to politics. During the Second World War, after the death of his son Leonid,[8] he asked Stalin in a letter to release his imprisoned son Peter, but he was subsequently shot.[7] Petrovsky died in 1958.

Petrovsky's body is interred near the Kremlin wall in Moscow.[2]


The city Dnipro (originally named Yekaterinoslav) was named Dnipropetrovsk after Petrovsky from 1926 until 2016.[2][9] On 20 May 2016 the city was renamed "Dnipro".[10] Some Ukrainians believed that the city should have been renamed after Ukraine gained independence in 1991.[2] The city was eventually renamed to comply with 2015 decommunization laws.[11] Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk oblast was not renamed because as such it is mentioned in the Constitution of Ukraine, and the Oblast can only be renamed by a constitutional amendment.[12]

The demolished monument to Petrovsky in Dnipropetrovsk as photographed on 30 January 2016.

A statue of Petrovsky in Kiev (the capital of Ukraine) was demolished in late November 2009, just days before the annual Ukrainian commemorating of the victims of the Holodomor. President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko had issued a decree ordering the removal of monuments to Soviet leaders, "in memory of the victims of the Holodomor".[2] Petrovsky's statue in then still named Dnipropetrovsk was demolished on 29 January 2016.[13] In April 2014 the local statue of Vladimir Lenin had already been demolished.[14]


  1. ^ (1878-1958) [Petrovskyi Hryhoriy Ivanovych (1878-1958)] (in Ukrainian). Ukrainian Publishing Portal. 2005. Archived from the original on 22 October 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Rostyslav Khotin (27 November 2009). "Ukraine tears down controversial statue". BBC News. Retrieved 2016.
  3. ^ Rostyslav Khotin (27 November 2009). "Ukraine tears down controversial statue". UNIAN News. BBC. Retrieved 2016.
  4. ^ Ignacio Villarreal (31 January 2016). "Statue of controversial Bolshevik leader Grigory Petrovsky toppled in Ukraine". AFP. Retrieved 2016.
  5. ^ "Government of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic 1917-1923: Lenin". Archived from the original on 16 July 2011.
  6. ^ Jacques Baynac, La terreur sous Lénine, 1975
  7. ^ a b c d Roy Aleksandrovich Medvedev (1971). Let history judge: the origins and consequences of Stalinism. Knopf. ISBN 978-0-394-44645-5.
  8. ^ Steen Ammentorp. "Biography of Lieutenant-General Leonid Grigorevich Petrovskii - Soviet Union". Retrieved 2016.
  9. ^ Gary Kern (2007). The Kravchenko Case: One Man's War on Stalin. Enigma Books. p. 191. ISBN 978-1-929631-73-5. Retrieved 2016.
  10. ^ "UNIAN News. Latest news of Ukraine and world".
  11. ^ Poroshenko signed the laws about decomunization. Ukrayinska Pravda. 15 May 2015
    Poroshenko signs laws on denouncing Communist, Nazi regimes, Interfax-Ukraine. 15 May 20
    Goodbye, Lenin: Ukraine moves to ban communist symbols, BBC News (14 April 2015)
  12. ^ Ukraine, The World Factbook
  13. ^ (in Ukrainian) "Year of de-communization": figures and results, Radio Free Europe (30 December 2016)
  14. ^ Gedmin, Jeffrey (10 March 2014). "Ukraine: the Day After". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2015.
    Rudenko, Olga (14 March 2014). "In East Ukraine, fear of Putin, anger at Kiev". USA Today. Retrieved 2015.
    ' ? ? ? ? ? [Monument to Lenin in Dnipro finally turned into a pile of stones]. (in Ukrainian). 19 August 2014. Retrieved 2015.

External links

Media related to Grigoriy Petrovskiy at Wikimedia Commons

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