Parkhomenko, Artem Yakovlevich (1892-1964) aka Saenko

Artem Parkhomenko
Artem Parkhomenko

A short biography of anarchist communist and Makhnovist Artem Parhomenko

Submitted by Battlescarred on January 31, 2022

In my article The Brothers Parkomemko (here at libcom), written in 2009, I referred to the lesser known brother of Bolshevik commander Alexander Parkhomenko, Artem, who unlike Alexander and his other siblings, was an anarchist communist. In that article I asserted that he died in battle against the Reds in 1921. Newly emerging evidence shows that in fact Artem survived the Civil War and lived on until 1964.

Artem was born on October 18th, 1892, as the youngest son of Yakov Parkhomenko. From sixteen he worked as a cab driver in Lugansk. In 1914-1915 he was drafted into the Tsarist army, took part in the fighting on the front, and was seriously wounded. As a result he was allowed to leave the army.

In 1917 he took part in the revolutionary events in Lugansk, joining the detachment of the cartridge factory, but unlike his brothers, became an anarchist communist. From autumn 1917 he took a part in the events of the Civil War, fighting on the Don. In autumn 1918 he joined the detachment led by the Bolshevik Kliment Voroshilov. Retreating before the German attack, he joined the detachment led by the anarchist Maxim Cherednyak in the Kharkov region. Together with the detachment of the Left Socialist Revolutionary Yuri Sablin, Cherednyak’s forces were the first to enter Kharkov, but a few days later they wre disarmed by the Bolsheviks.

Artem Parkhomenko then joined the Nabat Confederation of Anarchists(KAU). In May 1919 he joined the Makhnovist Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine (RPAU) , and became a company and then battalion commander. In October, as part of the detachment led by Kamenyuk (real name Avram Avramenko) he went to the Slavyansk region, operating under the pseudonym of Saenko. Disapproving of the alliance with the Bolsheviks, he left the RPAU in October 1920, taking his detachment with him.

He now operated with the insurgent movement of Antonov in the Tambov and Voronezh provinces. He found himself in disagreement with Antonov, who advanced the slogan of the restoration of the Constituent Assembly. He then joined the forces of Ivan Kolesnikov, who at the end of the year appointed him commander of the 2nd Novokalitvyansky regiment, put together by the peasants of the village of Novaya Kalitva and operated in the Markovka area.

He rejoined the RPAU in February 1921, then with the forces of Grigori Maslakov operated with the Caucasian Insurgent Army (Makhnovists). In March-April 1921, he fought against the Reds in the Bogucharsky district. In early May 1921 he was instructed by the RPAU HQ to enter into alliance with the Antonov insurgents and recommence operations in Voronezh province. However the detachment was soon defeated by the Reds and it was assumed that he had died in the fighting near Krinichnaya.

Recent research by the Lugansk local historian Viktor Streltsov discovered that Artem attended the funeral of his brother Alexander, who had been captured and shot by the Makhnovists, in Lugansk in February 1921. It appears from then on that he decided to remove himself from the insurgent struggle.

He lived in Lugansk with his family, working at the Kosior mechanical plant, then at Plant No. 60 cartridge factory as a milling machine operator. He was evacuated during World War Two, returning at the end of the war. He died there in Lugansk in 1964.

When Alexander Parkhomenko was pleading for his life, he produced a letter from his younger brother, hoping this would win him clemency, which it did not. Artem had written to his brother: “What keeps you with the Bolsheviks? Ranks? Positions? Come on, all this has grown up on the blood of ordinary hard workers just like us. I know that you have a blood feud with Batko Makhno, but look around and you will see that thousands of peasants are following him, who have never held weapons in their hands. Think, Alexander!”

Nick Heath