Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Petlura, Simon

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PETLURA, SIMON, nationalist leader of the Ukrainians, or Little Russians; born in Poltava, south Russia, 1880, son of a coachman, educated in the lower clerical schools, then expelled from the higher schools because of his revolutionary activities. Inspired a peasant uprising in the Ukraine in 1902, through a pamphlet entitled “Uncle Mitra.” The repression of the rebellion was followed by his flight into Austrian Galicia. At the outbreak of the war, in 1914, he enlisted with the workers behind the lines in the Zemstvo Union, for which he did good service until the revolution which dethroned the Czar. It was not till the overthrow of the Kerensky government that he became an open advocate of a separate national government for the Ukraine. When the Germans obtained control of the Ukraine, through the Skoropadsky government, Petlura was imprisoned, and remained in prison until the German defeat brought about the downfall of Skoropadsky. The National Ukrainian Union, composed of the peasantry who desired an independent national life, then set up a government represented by an executive committee of four, chief of which was Petlura. On Dec. 21, 1918, Petlura, having organized an army in the name of this government, entered Kiev, the capital. Though a Socialist by sympathy, Petlura resisted the advance of the forces of the Bolshevist Soviet Government. He was, on the other hand, also hostile to the reactionary forces under Denikine. He was driven out of Kiev by the Bolshevist forces in the summer of 1919. Early in 1920, he reached an agreement with the Polish Government, whereby he joined forces with the Poles for the purpose of expelling the Soviet armies from the Ukraine. Early in May, 1920, his forces, together with the Polish army, entered and took possession of Kiev.