Russian Civil War

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1921 Jan 31 - 1922 Dec

West Siberian rebellion

Sverdlovsk, Luhansk Oblast, Uk

On January 31, 1921, a small revolt broke out in the village of Chelnokovskom, in the Ishim province, which soon spread to the neighboring regions of Tyumen, Akmola , Omsk, Chelyabinsk, Tobolsk, Tomsk and Yekaterinburg, causing the Bolsheviks to lose control of Western Siberia, from Kurgan to Irkutsk. It was the largest green uprising, both by the number of rebels and their geographic extension, and perhaps the least studied. They dominated a population of three million four hundred thousand people. Its causes were the aggressive searches carried out by the 35,000 soldiers of the "prodotriady" installed in Siberia after the defeat of Kolchak and the violation of peasant democracy, since the Bolsheviks falsified the elections in the regional volost. The main leaders of these bands were Semyon Serkov, Václav Puzhevsky, Vasily Zheltovsky, Timoféi Sitnikov, Stepan Danilov, Vladimir Rodin, Piotr Dolin, Grégory Atamanov, Afanasi Afanasiev and Petr Shevchenko. In charge of the Red revolutionary military council of the region was Ivan Smirnov, Vasili Shorin, Checkist Ivan Pavlunovsky and Makar Vasiliev.

Although sources vary the total number of peasants in arms from 30,000 to 150,000. Historian Vladimir Shulpyakov gives the figure of 70,000 or 100,000 men, but the most likely figure is 55,000 to 60,000 rebels. Many Cossacks from the region joined. They controlled a total of twelve districts and occupied the cities of Ishim, Beryozovo, Obdorsk, Barabinsk, Kainsk, Tobolsk and Petropavlovsk, and seized the Trans-Siberian railway between February and March 1921.

The desperate courage of these rebels led to a terrible campaign of repression by the Cheka. The President of the Party in Siberia, Ivan Smirnov, estimated that up to March 12, 1921, 7,000 peasants had been murdered in the Petropavl region alone and another 15,000 in Ishim. In the town of Aromashevo, between April 28 and May 1, the Red troops faced 10,000 peasants; 700 Greens died in combat, many drowned in rivers when they fled, and 5,700 were captured with many weapons and loot. For another two days the greens were endlessly hunted. The victory allowed the Reds to regain control of the north of Ishim. Indeed, with these actions, together with the establishment of permanent garrisons, revolutionary committees and an espionage network, the capture of several leaders - granting amnesties in exchange for handing over former comrades, mass executions, taking hostages of family members, and artillery bombardments of entire villages, the major operations ended and the rebels turned to guerrilla warefare. In December 1922 reports stated that "banditry" had all but disappeared.