Ion Negrei: Putsch of October 1917 didn’t enjoy support among population of Bessarabia

The vice president of “Alexandru Moșanu” Association of Historians of the Republic of Moldova Ion Negrei said the putsches do not happen out of the blue, but are a consequence of particular realities. The realities when the Bolshevik putsch occurred in Russia in October 1917 were that the whole world was engaged in World War I for the fourth year already and there was general dissatisfaction among soldiers, workers, peasants as the war continued with considerable destruction, casualties and other consequences.

Before the putsch of October 1917, a Bourgeois-democratic revolution occurred in Russia. The autocratic, monarchic regime in Russia was removed and a democratic regime tending to be liberal was established even if the majority were social revolutionaries. The Bolsheviks used the crisis created by the provisional government and triggered an overthrow in October. The Kerensky government was welcomed by the Bessarabians, but the putsch of October 1917 didn’t enjoy support among the population in Bessarabia, the historian stated in a public debate hosted by IPN.

He noted that the putsch of 1991 also occurred in a period of crisis as the Soviet society at the end of the 1970-1980s was in a general crisis already. “Against the background of the democratic evolution of the civilized world, things in the Soviet Union worsened. The putsch of October 1917 wasn’t supported by the population of Bessarabia. The Kerensky government was welcomed by the Bessarabians and these had high hopes of a democratic federation of states. They became involved in this democratic movement, formed the National Moldavian Party and designed an autonomy program for Bessarabia as part of the democratic federation of nations of Russia. They made democratic, liberal building plans etc.” explained the historian.

According to him, together with the coup staged by the Bolsheviks in October 1917, the program of the National Movement in Bessarabia was changed. The autonomy program was replaced with a program to separately build the Moldovan state.

“The convocation of the People’s Council in a month of the taking over by the Bolsheviks, in November, materialized through the proclaiming of the Moldavian Democratic Republic with the perspective of creating a federal democracy of Russia. But the Moldavian Democratic Republic proclaimed by the People’s Council on December 2, 1918 had all the elements of a state and didn’t envision any tie with the Lenin Government. On the contrary, it kept the perspective of deciding the fate of this republic. When the democratic perspective changed and the Lenin Government came, all the ties were broken,” stated Ion Negrei.

He noted that when the Bolsheviks wanted to stage a putsch in Chisinau, to remove the People’s Council, the Bessarabians chose the path of union with Romania. “This way, on January 24, 1918, the independence of the Moldavian Democratic Republic was proclaimed and his was meant to signify the rupture of any relations with the former Russian Empire that became Soviet. On March 27, 1918, the People’s Council proclaimed the union with Romania. This way, we were saved from the effects of the putsch of 1917. On the contrary, the Bessarabians developed under national democracy conditions of the Romanian state since the union up to another moment – the signing of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact and the annexation of Bessarabia to the Soviet Union in June 1940. The effects of the putsch of October 1917 were then felt through dictatorship, repression, persecution, deportations, starvation, etc. What Russian society experienced in the 1920s-1930s, we experienced in the 1940s and in the postwar period, probably much more seriously,” said the historian.

The public debate entitled “USSR: Born and Destroyed by Putsches” was the 16th installment of IPN’s project “Impact of the Past on Confidence and Peace Building Processes” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.

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