Grigory Ivanovich PETROVSKY
born January 23 [February 4] 1878, Kharkov province, Russian Empire (1)
died January 9, 1958, Moscow, USSR
Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of Soviets of the USSR
A revolutionary of Ukrainian origin, Grigory Petrovsky joined the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party in 1897 before its formal proclamation at the 1st congress in Minsk (1898). He was an activist of the Yekaterinoslav Union for the Struggle for the Liberation of the Working Class in south-central Ukraine. Petrovsky participated in the revolution of 1905 in Yekaterinoslav. Elected to the Fourth State Duma in 1912, Petrovsky was a member of the Bolshevik faction until Nov. 1914, when the Bolsheviks were arrested and exiled. He was co-opted a member (1912 - April [May, New Style] 1917) onto the party Central Committee in 1912, but failed to be re-elected at the 6th party congress (July 26 - Aug. 3 [Aug. 8-16, New Style], 1917).
After the Bolshevik Revolution Petrovsky was made people's commissar for internal affairs (Nov. 17 , 1917 - March 25, 1919) in the government of Russian Soviet Republic and also was elected a candidate member of the Central Committee (March 1918 - March 1919). In March 1918, Petrovsky was one of the signatories to the treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which concluded hostilities between Soviet Russia and the Central Powers. When the Soviet Ukraine adopted its first constitution, Petrovsky was elected chairman (March 10 - July 1919) of the Central Executive Committee of Ukraine, but retreat of the Bolsheviks meant the end of the first Ukrainian Soviet government. Petrovsky again returned with the Soviet troops and became chairman of the All-Ukraininan Revolutionary Committee (Dec. 1919 - Feb. 1920), a provisional government of Soviet Ukraine. The congress of Soviets again elected Petrovsky chairman of the All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee (Feb. 19, 1920 - June 1938), a nominal head of state of Ukraine. The 9th congress of the Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks elected Petrovsky candidate member (April 1920 - March 1921) of the party Central Committee and the next congress promoted him to full membership (March 1921 - March 1939).
As a representative of the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic, Petrovsky was elected one of the four chairmen of the USSR Central Executive Committee on Dec. 30, 1922. Petrovsky was elevated to upper stratum of the party elite on Jan. 1, 1926, as he was elected the Politburo candidate member (Jan. 1, 1926 - March 10, 1939). He occupied a stable position in the Politburo and the party Central Committee, but he never took part in real decision-making. When the USSR Central Executive Committee was replaced with the Supreme Soviet, Petrovsky was elected deputy chairman of its Presidium (Jan. 17, 1938 - May 31, 1939). He escaped political prosecution under the Stalin regime, but he fell out of grace in 1939 and lost his seats in the Central Committee and Politburo, when 18th party congress did not elect him to the Central Committee. After the congress Petrovsky also was dismissed (May 31, 1939) as deputy chairman of the Supreme Soviet Presidium as per "request of the Ukrainian delegation" at the Soviet's 3rd session on a bizarre pretext that he will be working "out of the Ukrainian SSR." (2) In 1940 he was made deputy director of the Revolution Museum of the USSR in Moscow and never returned to politics.