The Kronstadt sailors’ 15-point manifesto (1921)

By early 1921, Petrograd was in a state of near-chaos. The Civil War had ended but the Bolshevik regime was yet to ease war restrictions, improve food supplies or allow greater personal liberties. As dissatisfaction with the Soviet government grew, so too did industrial action across Petrograd. This reached a peak in late February, when the Bolsheviks brought in troops from the provinces, imposed martial law and brutally suppressed striking workers. This became too much for the sailors at Kronstadt, who held a series of meetings and passed the following resolutions on March 1st:

Resolutions of a general meeting of the crews of the First and Second Squadrons of the Baltic Fleet, held March 1st 1921.

“Having heard the report of representatives sent [from Kronstadt] to Petrograd to investigate the situation there, it is resolved:

1. In view of the fact that the present Soviets do not express the will of the workers and peasants, immediately to hold new elections by secret ballot, the preselection campaign to have full freedom of agitation amongst workers and peasants.

2. To establish freedom of speech and the press for workers and peasants, for Anarchists and Left-Socialist parties.

3. To secure freedom of assembly for labour unions and peasant organisations.

4. To summon a non-partisan conference of the workers, Red Army soldiers and sailors of Petrograd, Kronstadt, no later than March 10th 1921.

5. To liberate all political prisoners of socialist parties, as well as all workers, peasants, soldiers and sailors imprisoned in connection with the labour and peasant movements.

6. To elect a commission to review the cases of those held in prisons and concentration camps.

7. To abolish all political bureaus, since no party should be given special privileges in the propagation of its ideas or receive the financial support of the government for such purposes…

8. To abolish all [Bolshevik armed requisition squads].

9. To equalise the rations of all who work…

10. To abolish the Communist fighting units in all branches of the Army, as well as the Communist guards on duty in mills and factories…

11. To give the peasants full freedom of action in regard to their land, and also the right to keep cattle, on condition that the peasants manage… without employing hired labour.

12. To request all branches of the Army… to agree to our resolutions.

13. To demand that the press give the fullest publicity to our resolutions.

14. To appoint a ‘Travelling Commission of Control’.

15. To permit free individual production, on a small scale, by one’s own efforts.”

Resolutions passed unanimously by the brigade meeting, with two abstentions. Signed, Petrichenko [chairman] and Perepelkin [secretary].

Resolutions passed by an overwhelming majority of the Kronstadt garrison. Signed, Vassiliev [chairman].

kronstadt sailors 1921
Sailors from the Kronstadt garrison, photographed before their anti-Bolshevik uprising in March 1921