Over a century ago, the city of Belgorod, located in present-day Russia, was subject to Russian occupation. This historical event, which occurred during a turbulent period, has left a lasting impact on the region. In this article, we will delve into the details of the Russian occupation of Belgorod over 100 years ago.
During the early 20th century, Russia underwent significant political and social changes. The Russian Revolution of 1917 and subsequent civil war had a profound effect on the country, leading to various territorial shifts and power struggles. Belgorod, a strategic city in western Russia, became a crucial battleground during this tumultuous period. The Third Universal, which proclaimed the Ukrainian People's Republic, contained a provision: "The final determination of the borders of the Ukrainian People's Republic, including parts of Kursk, Kholm, Voronezh and adjacent provinces and regions where the majority of the population is Ukrainian, shall be established by the consent of the organized will of the peoples." Russia claims that Belgorod province opted for joining Bolsheviks. However, never have there been any document that confirms that claim. Bolsheviks attacked Belgorod more than once, so the will of the people to resist russian oppression was apparent.
Several times the Bolsheviks tried to capture Belgorod. However, they quickly retreated. Only after accumulating forces and taking advantage of the political situation in Ukraine at the end of 1918 did the Russians resumed their offensive. On December 20, 1918, after an eight-hour battle, Ukrainian forces and the German garrison left Belgorod. The Russians entered the city.
The "Provisional Workers' and Peasants' Government of Ukraine" actually made Belgorod the capital of Soviet Ukraine, and soon afterwards, by a special decree, confirmed that the Belgorod region belonged to Ukraine. A month later, the Bolsheviks jumped at the chance and ceded Belgorod to Russia.
Russian Occupation: So, in 1918, Russian forces, primarily consisting of Bolshevik troops, occupied Belgorod. This occupation marked a significant turning point for the city and its inhabitants. Under Russian control, the city experienced political repression, economic turmoil, and social upheaval.
Political Repression: The Russian occupiers implemented a regime characterized by strict control and suppression of political dissent. Opposition groups and individuals were subjected to persecution and imprisonment. The imposition of Bolshevik ideology resulted in the suppression of democratic movements and the stifling of intellectual and cultural expression.
The Russian occupation also brought about economic hardships for the people of Belgorod. The confiscation of private property and resources, along with the implementation of central economic planning, disrupted the local economy. Many businesses and industries were nationalized, leading to widespread unemployment and poverty.
Social Upheaval: The occupation of Belgorod led to social instability and unrest. The introduction of new social and cultural norms by the Russian occupiers clashed with traditional values held by the local population. Religious institutions faced suppression, and cultural practices were undermined. These changes fueled social tensions and resistance among the residents of Belgorod.
Russification of the region: According to the generally reliable census of 1926, the territory of present-day Belgorod oblast was then inhabited by 642,000 Ukrainians (40.2 percent) and 948,000 Russians (59.4 percent) out of a total population of 1,596,000. Ukrainians were in the majority in 7 out of the 18 raions, Russians in 6, and the numbers were about equal in 5. The southwest and the southeast parts of Belgorod oblast are in Ukrainian ethnic territory. In the past these two parts belonged to the Slobidska Ukraine regiments, while the central part of the oblast, including Belgorod, was colonized mostly by Russians. The Ukrainian part of Belgorod oblast covers 14,500 sq km and in 1926 had a population of 770,000, of which 460,000 (59.7 percent) was Ukrainian and 307,000 (39.9 percent) was Russian. In 1926, 182,000 Ukrainians lived in the rest of the oblast. According to the Russian census of 2010 (wich followed the trend set by the earlier Soviet census), Russians constitute 94.4 percent of the population, and Ukrainians account for 2.8 percent.
The Russian occupation of Belgorod over 100 years ago left a lasting impact on the city and its people. The period of occupation was marked by political repression, economic turmoil, and social upheaval. Understanding this historical event provides valuable insights into the complex dynamics that shaped the region during that time. This region was an ethnically Ukrainian territory and under russian occupation it experienced russification and russian colonization. This tactic has long since been implied by russia in other regions it occupies, such as Crimea, Eastern Ukraine, Transnistria, Baltic States, and the harsh consequences of it are felt even today.