A short biography of the independent minded Makhnovist commander Kamenyuk
"Kamenyuk was familiar with military affairs, was determined, courageous, knew the locality well, had his own people in all villages, sensed danger that allowed him to escape difficult situations at times." Dmitri Medvedev, Chekist.
"for a long time this ataman was considered elusive. Indeed, at times he completely fell out of the field of view of the Chekists, and his traces were not revealed for weeks. Kamenyuk sat outside of the district, and even in the neighbouring province, licked his wounds, recruited new people…” T. Gladkov.
Andrei Andreevich Avramenko, was born on 1st January, 1880 in the village of Petropavlovka in the Starobelsky district of Russia., 25 kilometres north of Lugansk. A poor peasant labourer, he served in the Black Sea Fleet during World War One. He became an anarchist in 1917 and operated under the false name of Ivan Kameniuk.
By autumn 1918 Kameniuk was leading a partisan band in the Starobelsky forests, fighting the Hetman Skoropadsky, puppet of the Austrians and Germans. According to Viktor Belash (see his biography here at libcom) Kameniuk was sent to the Starobelsky district by the Makhnovist headquarters in order to develop a resistance movement, and these units were considered part of the Makhnovist movement by March 1919.
The Starobelsk area was a wild zone, on the borders of Russia and Ukraine, with forests, swamps and steppes, no railway lines and no large towns or important industries.
By summer 1919 Kameniuk had gathered a thousand partisans in the area. The Makhnovist Avram Budanov (see his biography here at libcom) was sent to liaise with him and Kameniuk also established links with Kolesnikov (see The Kolesnikov Uprising here at libcom). On Kolesnikov’s behalf he organised units in the southern part of the Kalacheyevsky and Bogucharsky districts of the Voronezh province of Russia and Starobelsky district in Ukraine.
In the summer of 1920, Kamenyuk headed an independent rebel detachment of 300 horsemen and 400 infantry. On September 3, 1920, Makhno's army occupied Starobelsk and remained in this city and district for about a month. At this time, the Kamenyuk detachment becomes the Starobelsky Makhnovist army regiment. But when Makhno went into alliance with the Red Army, Kamenyuk and other partisan leaders objected, stating in a letter that they did not trust the Bolsheviks, did not recognise them as revolutionaries and refused to be used by them.
Shortly after, Kamenyuk left the Starobelsky district and moved to Voronezh province, where he linked up with the unit led by Artem Parkhomenko (see The Brothers Parkhomenko here at libcom). This, along with 700 partisans led by the Don Cossack Fomin (see The Fomin Mutiny here at libcom) joined Kolesnikov’s forces and Kameniuk went with him on a raid to Starobelsk at the end of 1920.Kameniuk wintered in 1920-1 with Kolesnikov, and “Black Marusya” (1)n the Slavyansk forests of the Donetsk province.
In January 1921, Soviet security forces undertook an unsuccessful operation against Kameniuk who was now based in the Yampol area. The Chekists reported that he had, according to different reports, 300 or 3,000 fighters. Belash claimed that he had 4,500 fighters with four cannons and 70 machine guns but he may well be confusing this with the main Kolesnikov force.
Since March, Kamenyuk again began to operate in Ukraine - between Lugansk and Starobelsk. On March 5th, his unit independently captured Starobelsk, defeating the 56th Regiment of the Red Army. During these events, the district secretary of the party committee, P. Nehhorosh and the head of the local Cheka, Vishnevsky, were killed, along with other Communist activists.
In April, at the Zarinka station of Starobelsky district, Kamenyuk created the Rebel headquarters of the Seversky Donets region to coordinate local Makhnovist commanders: Terezov, Savonov, Gold Tooth (Iakov Maskalevsky), Gavrish, Budanov, Zaitsev, and Saenko. Under the command of Kamenyuk and these Makhnovist commanders up to 2,500 fighters were mobilised. The Cheka reported that in the Kamenyuk detachment alone there were up to one thousand combatants. In spring 1921, the Cheka managed to capture Kamenyuk but he managed to escape whilst being led to his execution.
In May 1921, when Makhno and his army decided to carry out a raid on the Poltava region, Kamenyuk went with him with 200 fighters. On June 9th Kamenyuk’s fighters inflicted a complete defeat on the Red Army unit commanded by Chuev, in the Kupyansk district, with Chuev’s forces suffering 85 dead and the capture of 3 machine guns. On July 10–15, the remnants of Makhno’s army, including Kamenyuk, were transferred to Starobelsky district.
Makhno wanted Kamenyuk and his fighters to march with him westwards towards Polish Galicia. But the Kamenyuk detachment, along with those of Parkhomenko and Terezov declined and moved to Russia near the village of Veshenskaya.
In early July, Kamenyuk’s detachment suffered a crushing defeat with 250 partisans killed with the loss of 7 machine guns.
At the beginning of August, Kamenyuk returned to Starobelsk, and on August 12th, remnants of the Makhnovist Maslakov Caucasian Army (see The Maslakov Mutiny and the Makhnovists on the Don here at libcom) from the distant Kalmyk steppes arrived with 120 horsemen and 5 machine guns. The Communists were affrighted by this combined force and mobilised 3,000 Red Army soldiers. In a battle that raged from August 17th to August 19th the Maslakov-Kamenyuk-Terezov forces were completely defeated. Kamenyuk with 30 horsemen managed to escape to the forests of the Voronezh province.
The Communists now devoted many of their forces to destroy Kamenyuk’s fighters, under the command of the Bryansk Chekist Dmitri Medvedev, sent under specific orders from Russia.
In October 1921, Kameniuk with a detachment of 50 horsemen made a raid on his home village of Petropavlovka, and in early November went to the Don province in Russia. The movement had now been almost completely crushed and Kamenyuk had, in early October, made a fruitless approach to the Communist authorities that if the detachment surrendered, all of its members would be pardoned. At the end of November 1921, he was ambushed and killed, and his detachment of 40 fighters defeated, at the village of Osinov, after he had moved from the Donetsk province to the Voronezh province. His body was taken to Starobelsk and then on to Bakhmut. For his efforts, Medvedev received a gold watch.
(1) A female anarchist partisan not to be confused wiith Marusia Nikiforova. Some say her surname was actually Chernaya (Black). Gorpina Gorbanova in an 1984 testimony describes Marusya riding through the village of Baranikivka at the head of 27 horsemen, on a fleet horse and wearing a Cossack sun dress.and how the village girls, both children and adolescents, saw her as a role model. Gorbanova says Marusia was from the village of Sitrak ( I've not been able to discover this village on maps) not very far from Baraniikivka. Other sources say she came from the village of Basan. Also known as Aunt Maria. Commanded a Makhnovist detachment in 1920. and by the end of the year a Makhnovist cavalry regiment. In October of that year she derailed a Soviet train carrying Red Army troops from Nezhin. She and her unit were sabred to death in a battle with the Red Army on August 20th, 1921 in Kiev province. However,the anarchist V. Strelkovsky in the late 1970s recorded the story of the residents of one of the villages of the Kiev region,according to which Marusia was seriously injured, cured by the peasants, but went mad with the torture that she had been was subjected to by the Reds, and in early 1922 was mysteriously shot .
Savchenko. V. Atamanschina: https://history.wikireading.ru/297935