Brova, Mikhail or Brava aka Batko Brova, ?-1921

Makhnovists 1919
Makhnovists 1919

A short biography of Mikhail Brova, Makhnovist commander, anarchist communist and associate of Maslakov

Submitted by Battlescarred on October 11, 2009

Mikhail Brova was born into a peasant family in the village of Novogrigorevka, in the Ekaterinoslav province of the Ukraine. From early childhood, he worked as a mechanic–lfitter at the station at Avdeevka Yuzovsky.

He became an anarchist-communist in 1904, and took part in the Revolution of 1905-07. By 1917-18 he served as a sailor in the Russian fleet. In June 1918, he organised with other anarchists in Aleksandrovsk. He set up one of the first anarchist guerilla detachments in the Dibrivsky forest and fought against the Austrian-German invaders and the puppet Hetman Skoropadsky.

In August 1918 he was seriously wounded in combat, commanding a detachment sent to join the noted Makhnovist Fedor Shchus. From autumn 1918 he participated in the Makhnovist movement, and was one of its commanders in the autumn-winter campaign of 1919 against the White forces of Denikin. In early January 1920, he headed a group of anarchists numbering 300-400 people which began a guerrilla struggle against the Reds in Novomoskovsk in Ekaterinoslav province.

In mid-February he was arrested by the Cheka during clandestine meetings of Makhnovist commanders operating in the county. He was imprisoned at Ekaterinoslav from where in April 1920 he escaped and resumed guerrilla warfare. By the summer of 1920 he had re-established links with the Makhnovist staff and was appointed representative of the revolutionary insurgents in Novomoskovsk, where he led a guerrilla movement in the summer and autumn of 1920.

After the conclusion of the last political- military agreement with the Soviet (October 1920) the Brova detachment fought on the front against the White general Wrangel but on 16th November 1920 he returned to the Novomoskovsk area to form new Makhnovist units. By December, he had organized a detachment of 400 cavalry and 300 infantry, and conducted a guerilla war against the Reds in Krivoy Rog, Pavlogradski and Novomoskovsk counties after the treacherous breaking of the treaty by the Bolsheviks. On several occasions he managed to escape from encirclement by Red forces although suffering heavy casualties.

At the end of January 1921 the group joined up with Maslakov who took command of the combined units, Brova becoming chief of staff (see the libcom article on Maslakov). They proceeded to the Kuban region and Northern Caucasus. There they enjoyed the support of the population and their fighting force grew rapidly; according to Belash in February 1921 it had around 1000 people but by summer this had increased to up to 10 thousand people. In August 1921 the Reds, concentrating considerable forces, and making extensive use of hostage taking and mass shootings, had inflicted a series of heavy defeats. The Maslakov-Brova detachment broke up into several small isolated units, one of them led by Brova. In September 1921 he was killed by Cheka agents infiltrated into his unit in Chechnya.

Nick Heath