Monday, April 4, 2011

History of Valiesk in the last 100 years (part 1)

1917-1919 - the Soviet Republic of Valiesk
Up until the February Revolution (1917), Valiesk was nothing more than a backward province of the Russian Empire, albeit with a naval station at the district capital of Igorgrad. The island's population was mostly composed of fishermen, hill-country peasants and a minority of workers in the shipping and shipbuilding industry. The February Revolution and the fall of the Czar replaced the provincial administration with a Soviet of Workers', Peasants' and Sailors' Deputies, initially with a Social-Revolutionary majority and Bolshevik and Menshevik minorities. The bulwark of the revolution in Valiesk came not from the natives, but from Navy sailors stationed at Igorgrad, who brought modern political ideas from the mainland.

The upheavals of 1917 gradually moved the local electorate to the left, and in November 1917, a new Soviet was elected with a left S-R majority; the left S-Rs formed a coalition government with the Bolsheviks and declared Valiesk an independent socialist republic.

Then came the Russian Civil War. Several times, the White armies, assisted by the British and German navies, tried to take Valiesk from the Red government; twice they succeeded, only to be overthrown by a Red counter-offensive, creating massive destruction. Finally, in 1919, a British-led White invasion conquered Valiesk and held it.

1919-1940 - the Republic of Valiesk
Following the British-White conquest of Valiesk, a provisional government was formed with a Nationalist majority, and Valiesk was declared an independent republic. While nominally a parliamentary democracy, the young Republic soon started to show ever-increasing authoritarian tendencies, with its President Michail Darilov becoming little more than a dictator. While some British and German investments brought with them some development of Igorgrad and its environs, corruption was rife, and the vast majority of the Valieskan population remained in backward villages on the coast or in the hilly country in the middle of the island.

Relations with the nearby Soviet Union were strained at best, with Darilov building up paranoia about an impending Soviet invasion in order to consolidate his rule. In 1935, Darilov crowned himself President for Life and the Eternal Protector of Valiesk. However, in mere five years, his life, and presidency, would come to an end with the Nazi invasion of Valiesk at the dawn of the Second World War.

No comments:

Post a Comment