Ruthenian-Ukrainian Radical Party (RURP)
The first modern Ukrainian political party, which had mass registered membership, a structure, and a program. It was founded on 4 October 1890 on the initiative of Ivan Franko, Mykhaylo Pavlyk, Vyacheslav Budzynovskyi, Yevhen Levytskyi, Kyrylo Tryliovskyi and others on the basis of the Drahomanov followers' circles, which existed in Lviv in the late 19th c. The party split into three parts in 1899. The main political forces of Ukrainians in Galicia thus emerged: national democrats, radicals, social democrats.
At the heart of the party's political agenda were socialism, democracy, ideas of cooperation and modernization. The party was in permanent conflict with the Greek Catholic Church, the leading Ukrainian institution in Galicia at that time. It proclaimed the idea of unity of the Ukrainian people, divided by the borders of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires.
Due to the agrarian nature of the region's economy, the presence of three large national groups (Ukrainians, Poles, Jews), as well as a strong position of the churches, the so-called "agrarian socialism" was formed. This meant that the labor issue was sidelined, while the issue of national liberation became prominent; instead of atheism and materialism, the focus was made on anti-clericalism.
Because of the interethnic confrontation, the land issue, an important one for peasants, acquired a moral, ethical and patriotic meaning. The land was treated not only as a means of production, but also as a "sacred property of the people." The leftists did not recognize themselves as internationalists. A specific political trend called Austromarxism developed instead; national and cultural differentiation was relevant. The Austrian social democrats adopted a statute in 1897, which envisaged a division into autonomous national factions. The idea of "class struggle" was complemented with nationalism; therefore, belonging to a social group became associated with belonging to a particular nationality. Although the struggle of classes within a nation was contrary to the principles of nationalism, capitalism could always be criticized from national positions: exploiters could be branded as infidels, invaders, or occupiers.
All these were relevant for the Ukrainian socialist movement in Galicia, while in Polish-speaking cities "normal socialism" was possible. Ideologically, Polish socialism could be based on Marxism (as socialism of a "state nation"); for the Ukrainian project, however, the "Drahomanov-type" socialism was more appropriate. Mykhaylo Drahomanov suggested a formula which, in the Ukrainian case, harmonized socialist and national ideas. Since Ukrainians were represented mostly by peasantry, their social demands were automatically considered national. In addition, Drahomanov also suggested a federal system of socialist movement (and future socialist state) as opposed to Marx's thesis about the assimilation of "non-state" nationalities by "state" ones.
In practice, this meant making a choice of an organizational structure for the socialist movement, either in the same party with socialists of other nationalities or as a separate organization. The status of Ukrainians after the future socialist revolution was to be determined: either, on the basis of federalism, in one state with representatives of other nationalities, or in an absolutely independent state, or in a unitary state formed by any of "state" nationalities.
In the early 20th century the conflict between national and social in the Ukrainian socialist movement was resolved in favor of the former. The thesis about the future independence of the Ukrainian people became accepted generally, it was considered a guarantee of "raising the masses on the national soil." Since Marxism implied the disappearance of "non-state" nationalities and reliance on the proletariat, which was virtually absent in Galicia, a critical attitude was developed towards it. The reality forced the Ukrainian socialists to put their major hopes in the peasantry, while the thesis of its future proletarianization was rejected. The "labor" issue gave way to the "peasant" one, and the "social" issue to the "popular" one.
The radical party emerged as an alternative to the old Ukrainian political groups in Galicia, namely, Russophiles and populists (narodovtsi). The support for Russophiles declined after the 1882 trial and accusations of sympathy for Russia. To evoke a response from the peasantry, the populists had to compromise with the Greek Catholic clergy. Accordingly, their rhetoric began to lean toward conservatism.
As early as the 1870s young intellectuals assessed the activities of both Russophiles and populists rather critically. Young politicians Ivan Franko, Mykhaylo Pavlyk, Ostap Terletskyi, under the influence of Mykhaylo Drahomanov, developed interest in socialism. Thus a radical trend was formed, which became known through the 1877-1878 trial.
Despite their small numbers, radicals became prominent in political life, propagandizing socialism among peasants and workers and sharply criticizing the clergy.
The radical trend later transformed into the formal RURP (Ruthenian-Ukrainian Radical Party). The constituent congress was held on 4-5 October 1890 in Lviv, the capital of the province and the city where most of politically active Ukrainian figures lived at that time; besides, there was a university there. In addition, Lviv was considered the center of political life for Ukrainians due to the location of the Metropolitanate of the Greek Catholic Church; moreover, it was here that the Supreme Ruthenian Council was established in 1848. Lviv became the center where the party congresses were held and editorial offices of periodicals functioned. Finally, the work of the Galician Diet (Sejm) made the city a center of decision-making and discussion.
The radicals did not accept the Ukrainian-Polish compromise (the so-called "New Era") reached in 1890 under pressure from the Austrian authorities. As Ivan Franko noted, as the RURP advocated autonomy for every nationality of the empire, the fight against the "New Era" became one of their main tasks.
Even at the constituent congress, some party members advocated the proclamation of national claims and, in particular, the division of Galicia into Ukrainian and Polish parts. This proposal was not supported by the majority, which led to a conflict between the "old" (Franko, Pavlyk, Terletskyi, Danylovych) and the "young" radicals (Budzynovskyi, Levytskyi, Okhrymovych).
The controversy was resolved at the 4th Congress of the Party on 29 November 1895. The idea of self-government as a precondition for socialism was advanced then, and the declaration of independence of the Ukrainian people was proclaimed. The thesis of independence was first mentioned in a book entitled "Ukraine irredenta" by Yulian Bachynskyi, a Marxist radical, and was included in the party program.
After moving to Lviv in 1894, historian Mykhaylo Hrushevskyi began the process of bringing together a moderate wing of radicals (Ivan Franko) and left-of-centre politicians from the populist milieu, and in 1899, as a result of a split in the RURP, the Ukrainian National Democratic Party (UNDP) was formed. In that same year, the Marxists split off from the Radical Party, forming the Ukrainian Social Democratic Party (USDP). All three parties remained supporters of the idea of Ukraine's political independence.
As the party, after the split of 1899, relied primarily on the support of the peasantry, the main focus of its work was to "awaken the broad masses", in order to engage them in active political life and to transform them into a real power. In Lviv itself, given the city’s ethnic composition and population structure, support for the Ukrainian "peasant" party was minimal. Therefore, after the split, the party leadership moved to Kolomyya.
The RURP was the first party to systematically develop its grassroot units, foundations, educational structures ("Postup"), cooperatives ("Narodni spilky"), and societies ("Sich"), organized pre-election meetings. The party published its own regular periodicals (Narod, Khliborob, Radykal, Hromadskyi Holos).The party had a small representation in the Reichsrat (Parliament) and the Galician Diet. In 1891 the party won no parliamentary mandates at all, in 1897 two radicals became Parliament members, in 1911 there were five of them. There were six representatives of the RURP in the Galician Diet in 1913.
At the grassroot level, however, party achieved some more tangible results. In particular, the idea of a "peasant strike" as a means of political pressure on Polish landowners is worth mentioning. In 1902, an agricultural strike took place, involving about 200,000 peasants. It was both social and national in nature, the peasant demanded that the Polish landowners raise the payments, and that the Polish administration does not interfere in the emigration process.
On 1 August 1914, the radicals, together with the National Democratic and Social Democratic parties, established the Main Ukrainian Council, which formed the Combat Administration and the Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen. The party participated in the formation of the ZUNR.
In interwar Poland, after its unification with Volhynia's socialist revolutionaries in 1926 and the establishment of the Ukrainian Socialist Radical Party (USRP), the party continued its political activity, participating in elections to the Polish Sejm and Senate (1928, 1930), joining the Labor and Socialist International, establishing the organizations Kameniari (Stonemasons) and the Union of Ukrainian Working Women — Women's Community in Lviv, creating publishing houses and periodicals.
In 1946–1950, the USRP continued its activities in exile.
Ivan Franko — co-founder of the RURP and the first party leader.
Mykhaylo Pavlyk — co-founder of the RURP.
Yulian Bachynskyi — author of a book entitled "Ukraine irredenta", in which,on the basis of Marxist positions, the necessity of Ukraine’s political independence was substantiated.
Kyrylo Tryliovskyi — founder of the Sich Society, who was twice elected to the Austrian Reichsrat (Parliament) as a member of the RURP.
Dmytro Vitovskyi — one of the organizers of the 1918 November Action, the State Secretary of Military Affairs of the ZUNR.
Lev Bachynskyi —chairman of the URP (1918–1930), member of the State Council of Austria-Hungary and of the Sejm of the Second Polish Republic, Vice-President of the ZUNR National Council.
Les Martovych — writer, editor of the Khliborob and the Hromadsky Holos periodicals.
Vasyl Stefanyk — writer, member of the State Council.
Osyp Nazaruk — publicist, delegate of the Ukrainian National Council, deputy head of the UNR delegation at the Riga Peace Conference in 1920.
Ivan Makukh — chairman of the URP (1930-1939), member of the Galician Diet, State Secretary of Labor and Reconstruction of the ZUNR, State Secretary of Internal Affairs of the ZUNR, member of the Senate of the Second Polish Republic.