Igor Boțan: When we speak about collapse of Constituent Assembly, we should consider consequences of this for Bessarabia

When we speak about the collapse of the Russian Constituent Assembly, we should consider the consequences of this for Bessarabia, said Igor Boțan, the permanent expert of IPN’s project. “After the Constituent Assembly was dissolved by force, the Ukrainians People’s Republic didn’t see another way out, especially after the uprising of the workers from St. Petersburg who protested against the dissolution, than to declare the independence of Ukraine from Russia and this thing matters a lot. In two days of the declaring of the independence of Ukraine, the independence of the Moldavian Democratic Republic was declared. Those things were triggered by the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly as, before the dissolution, both the Ukrainians People’s Republic and the Moldavian Democratic Republic stated that they would remain component parts of a federation with Russia,” the expert stated in a public debate hosted by IPN.

The Ukrainians People’s Republic signed the Treaty of Brest by which the Central Powers recognized the independence of Ukraine. Instead, Ukraine agreed not to join coalitions antagonistic to the Central Powers and to supply food products and raw material for continuing the fight against the Triple Entente. “Bolshevik Russia, in about a month after Ukraine signed that agreement with the Central Powers, signed the Peace Treaty of Brest by which Bolshevik Russia consented to concede nearly 25% of the European territory of the former Empire, with a population of almost one fourth of Russia’s population, and to recognize the independence of Ukraine. These were the circumstances in which the People’s Council of Bessarabia adopted the declaration on the union with Romania. This was the most natural solution in that context,” noted the expert.

In another development, he spoke about the way in which the electors from Bessarabia voted in the Constituent Assembly election. These voted mainly for the members of the Socialist Revolutionary Party (SRs), who gained 32% of the vote in Bessarabia. The Bolsheviks polled 8% of the ballot in Bessarabia. The SRs were descendants of the “popular forces”, who went and talked to the people and ultimately became the most popular party.

In the Constituent Assembly election, the SRs won 49% of the poll, but owing to the proportional representation system, they obtained 49% of the ballot and together with other Socialist parties had over 60 seats on the Constituent Assembly. 20 days before election day, Lenin staged the putsch of November 7 in which the main role was played by Leon Trotsky who in August was named chairman of the Petrograd Soviet.

After the Kornilov affair, the Bolsheviks decided to allow holding the Constituent Assembly election, hoping they would be able to legitimize the power they seized by force as a result of the putsch. But the results of the election showed a different situation. Realizing that they didn’t enjoy support, Lenin and the Bolsheviks resorted to the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and the Civil War in Russia started as a result. Immediately after the dissolution, tens of thousands of workers took to the streets in Petrograd and thousands of them were killed by the Bolsheviks, said Igor Boțan.

The public debate entitled “Collapse of the Constituent Assembly and of chance to democratize Soviet Russia. Effects on the country and the world” was the 23rd installment of the project “Impact of the Past on Confidence and Peace Building Processes” which is implemented by IPN News Agency with the support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.

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