Template:Otheruses4 Template:Anarchism sidebar Template:History of Ukraine The Free Territory (Template:Lang-uk, vil’na terytoriya) or Makhnowia (Template:Lang, Makhnovshchyna), or Anarchist Ukraine (January 1919 - 1921) was the stateless territory and anarchist society in part of the territory of modern Ukraine during the Ukrainian Revolution, eventually headed by Nestor Makhno.


Hetman Skoropadsky, head of a Ukrainian State, had difficulty trying to occupy Ukraine as he was confronted by Makhno's Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine. Thus, he was finally called back to Germany after the collapse of the German western front. In March 1918, the RIAU succeeded in defeating the Germans, Austrians, Ukrainian Nationalists, and multiple regiments of the White Army.


At this point, the military role Makhno had adopted in his early years shifted to an organizing one. The first congress of the Confederation of Anarchists Groups, under the name of Nabat ("The Bell Toll"), issued five main points: suspicion of all political parties, rejection of all dictatorships (mainly those organizing over people), negation of any State concept, rejection of any "transitory period" or "proletarian dictature", self-management of all workers through free workers councils (soviets). These were in clear contrast to Bolshevik views.

Development and characteristicsEdit

From November 1918 to June 1919, the Makhnovists claimed to have established an anarchist society run by the peasants and workers in what they controlled of Ukraine. It was located approximately between Berdyansk, Donetsk, Zaporozhye (then known as Alexandrovsk), and Dnepropetrovsk (formerly Ekaterinoslav). According to Makhno, "The agricultural most part of these villages was composed of peasants, someone understood at the same time peasants and workers. They were founded first of all on equality and solidarity of his members. All, men and women, worked together with a perfect conscience that they should work on fields or that they should be used in housework... Working program was established in meetings where all participated. They knew then exactly what they had to make." (Makhno, Russian Revolution in Ukraine).

According to the leaders of the RIAU, society was reorganized according to anarchist values, which lead Makhnovists to formalize the policy of free communities as the highest form of social justice. Education was organised on Francesc Ferrer's principles, and the economy was based upon free exchange between rural and urban communities, from crop and cattle to manufactured products, according to the theories of Peter Kropotkin.

The Makhnoists said they supported "free worker-peasant soviets"[1] and opposed the central government, which was elected by the soviets. Makhno called the Bolsheviks dictators and opposed the "Cheka [secret police]... and similar compulsory authoritative and disciplinary institutions" and called for "[f]reedom of speech, press, assembly, unions and the like".[1] In practice, the Makhnoists formed a system of government similar to a republic over the area they controlled, Makhno used forced conscription and summary executions though unlike the Bolsheviks the Makhnoists rarely used forced conscription and summary executions and most Makhnoist "militiamen" enlisted voluntarily. ([2], 121), all Makhnoist revolutionaries became forbidden to participate in the soviet secret police known as the checka and additionally all formal militias and Police forces including Checka like secret police organizations were to become outlawed in Makhnoist “territory”.[3][4]

The Bolshevik government in Petrograd initially allied with Makhno and considered allowing an independent area for Makhno's libertarian experiment[2], but after Makhno kept switching sides they viewed the Makhnoists as unreliable allies increasingly considered the "Free Territory" to be a warlord regime, and eventually broke with it. The Bolshevik press alleged that leaders in the "Free Territory," rather than being elected democratically, were appointed by Makhno's military clique. They claimed that Makhno himself had refused to provide food for Soviet railwaymen and telegraph operators, that the "special section" of the Makhnovist constitution provided for secret executions and torture, that Makhno's forces had raided Red Army convoys for supplies, stolen an armored car from Briansk when asked to repair it, and that the Nabat group was responsible for deadly acts of terrorism in Russian cities.

The color that this particular anarchist group used to distinguish itself was Black, as that was what its military was considered - as opposed to Tsarist "Whites" and Bolshevik "Reds."

See also Edit


  1. 1.0 1.1 [ Declaration Of The Revolutionary Insurgent Army Of The Ukraine (Makhnovist)]. Peter Arshinov, History of the Makhnovist Movement (1918-1921), 1923. Black & Red, 1974
  2. 2.0 2.1 Avrich, Paul. Anarchist Portraits, 1988 Princeton University Press
  3. Nestor Makhno--anarchy's Cossack
  4. Declaration Of The Revolutionary Insurgent Army Of The Ukraine (Makhnovist). Peter Arshinov, History of the Makhnovist Movement (1918-1921), 1923. Black & Red, 1974

fr:Ukraine libertaire

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.