A revolutionary committee or revkom (Russian: Революционный комитет, ревком) were Bolshevik-led organizations in Soviet Russia and other Soviet republics established to serve as provisional governments and temporary Soviet administrations in territories under the control of the Red Army in 1918-1920, during the Russian Civil War and foreign military intervention. The forms of their work were inherited from Military Revolutionary Committees of the Russian Revolution of 1917. The name was borrowed from the history of the French Revolution, where comités révolutionnaires were created, the superior ones being the Committee of Public Safety and Committee of General Security.
Revolutionary committees were often created in anticipation of the advances of the Red Army. In some cases they were created in places remote from the intended place of action, as was the case with the Provisional Polish Revolutionary Committee. In other cases they were created underground from local populations under the guidance of Bolsheviks, subsequently organizing an insurgency and then inviting the Red Army for help, as in the case of the Azerbaijani Revkom, which seized power in Baku when the British troops were evacuated and then asked Moscow for help.
While some revkoms were successful, while others were not.
There were different levels of revkoms, according to the administrative divisions: republican, inherited from the Russian Empire (guberniya, uyezd, volost), and at the grassroots level rural revkoms.
According to the decree of VTsIK (central Soviet legislative body), On Revolutionary Committees (October 24, 1919), there were three major types of revkoms:
- in areas taken over by the Red Army
- in front areas
- in rear areas
In most territories all lower level revkoms were abolished by January 1920, with some exceptions:
- in 1920: in Arkhangelsk guberniya (February–April), in Volga Germans area (February), in Central Asia, Ukraine, Kuban, Belarus, Dagestan, Azerbaijan.
- in 1921: Armenia, Georgia
- in Siberia, Siberian Revkom (Sibrevkom) existed until 1925.
The Socialist Soviet Republic of Abkhazia (SSR Abkhazia)[a] was a short-lived republic within the Soviet Union that covered the territory of Abkhazia, and existed from 31 March 1921 to 19 February 1931. Formed in the aftermath of the Red Army invasion of Georgia in 1921, it was independent until 16 December 1921, when it agreed to a treaty uniting it with the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic (Georgian SSR). The SSR Abkhazia was unique among autonomous Soviet republics in having de facto independence from Georgia. Through its status as a "treaty republic" with Georgia, Abkhazia joined the Transcaucasian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic when it was formed in 1922. The SSR Abkhazia was abolished in 1931 and replaced with the Abkhaz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the Georgian SSR.
The Kamchatka Revkom sent the first Bolsheviks—Mikhail Mandrikov and Avgust Berzin—to Anadyr to set up an underground organization to undermine and eventually overthrow the resident White Army forces stationed in the town. These two, along with a small group of other Russian immigrants and a handful of Chuvans, established the First Revolutionary Committee of Chukotka. Their presence initially went undetected, although it did arouse suspicion. However, just before they were about to be discovered by the resident White army troops, they launched an attack against them on the night of December 16, 1919. Their intentions were to free the local indigenous people from their debts to the Russian incomers and begin the dismantling of the capitalist infrastructure that had been established in the town. The attempts at seizing the property of the merchant class in Anadyr was successful, but they were unable to seize control of the armory and ammunition supplies within the town. The merchants used this opportunity to reassert themselves, and by January 30, 1920, they surrounded the Revkom offices and attacked. One of the leaders, Vasily Titov, was killed and a number of others were wounded. Mikhail Mandrikov himself surrendered. Although the survivors were initially imprisoned, the merchants decided to eliminate them permanently. Under the pretense of transferring them to another site, they led them out of the town and executed them out on the tundra. The merchants' and White Army's success had been aided by the fact that a number of the Revkom members had been out the town visiting the village of Markovo. When these people returned, they were ambushed and all survivors eventually killed.
The merchants set about reestablishing the status quo, all the while pretending to the Kamchatka Revkom that they themselves were socialists when inquiries came as to the whereabouts of their colleagues, going as far as to set up a fake Anadyr branch of the Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks. Unfortunately for the merchants in Anadyr, members of the first Revkom had already managed to establish branches in Markovo and Ust-Belaya, who were not convinced by the claims coming from Anadyr and, whilst establishing the Second Revolutionary Committee of Chukotka in Markovo pressed the Kamchatka Revkom for assistance. The Kamchatka Revkom responded by sending a party to investigate. A number of those involved in the overthrow of the First Revolutionary Committee either ceased their political activity in the hope of blending into the background, or fled Chukotka for Alaska. However, the merchants fared worse eighteen months later when the Bolsheviks returned and began to reorganize urban life. Struggles continued for some time in the Russian Far East, and it took until early 1923 before communications were sent from Kamchatka by Red Army commanders indicating that all White Army forces in Chukotka had been eliminated.
Monuments to those members of the First Revolutionary Committee were erected in Anadyr on 5 July 1921. It was only in 1969 that an elderly man said he remembered where the bodies had been buried, having seen them being interred in a cemetery in Tavayvaam. Following this tip, the remains were recovered and they were paraded solemnly through Anadyr to the monuments, where they were buried with full honors.