File No. 861.00/1769

The Consul at Moscow (Poole) to the Secretary of State


493. Owing Easter holidays no newspapers since May 5 until this morning, when official Soviet gazette prints account of events [Page 683] in Ukraine, according to which Pavlo Skoropadski was proclaimed hetman of the Ukraine by landowners’ meeting April 29. On same date he issued open letter to the Ukrainian people of which following is substance:

Owing to recent events the reborn Ukrainian power stood on the brink of ruin. Its salvation is due to strong support of Central powers which, true to their word, are continuing to fight for the integrity and peace of the Ukraine. The former Ukrainian government has proved to be absolutely incompetent. Disorder, economic disorganization, and unemployment are increasing daily. The population has been profoundly stirred and has demanded immediate establishment of a governmental authority able to guarantee quiet and the possibility of productive labor. I have decided to answer this appeal and have taken full authority temporarily into my hands. By this act I declare myself hetman of the Ukraine. Government will be effected through a cabinet of ministers appointed by me. The central and smaller Radas and all land committees are abolished. All ministers and assistant ministers are dismissed. A law will be issued shortly providing [omission], not stopping at any measures to accomplish this end. Right to private property is reestablished in full, also liberty regarding sale and purchase of land. At same time measures will be taken for expropriation of land from large owners for granting to peasants not now possessing any. In the same way the rights of working class will be guaranteed. Absolute freedom of trade is reestablished and wide scope is given to private initiative and enterprise.

Signed at Kiev, April 29.

This proclamation is accompanied by a fundamental statute of twenty-two paragraphs giving the hetman practically autocratic power. Under its provisions hetman will appoint prime minister, approve cabinet ministers selected by him, confirm laws, act without restriction in international affairs, and be supreme chief of army and navy. Hetman is the historic title of chief executive in Ukraine. Skoropadski is said to have hereditary claims to same.