Sirobaba, Iakov Matviyovich aka Syrovatsky (189? -1923)


A short biography of the diehard Makhnovist commander Iakov Sirobaba aka Syrovatsky

Submitted by Battlescarred on May 11, 2019

Iakov Sirobaba was born near Slavyansk, in the Donetsk province,but according to other sources in Cherkassy, almost 560 kilometres away in central Ukraine. Before 1917 he was a hired labourer. In March 1919 he joined the Makhnovists.

On October 20th 1919 he led a Makhnovist detachment, with 1,000 infantry and 100 cavalry, which along with that led by Cherednyak, was tasked with the Makhnovists in attacking the rear of the White troops of Denikin in the Bakhmut, Slavyansk and Izyum districts.

At the beginning of 1920 he was sent to the Slavyansk area by the Makhovists with a mandate to organise local armed units, propagandise for anarchist communism and the setting up of local bodies of self-organisation, and the destruction of the Soviet authorities. This was part of a preemptive move by the Makhnovists, who after the defeat of the Whites, feared that the Reds, with whom they were still in alliance, would now turn on them. Other emissaries sent to different areas with the same mandate included Khristovoi, Ivanyuk, Brova, Kolesnichenko, and Vdovichenko,

When the second alliance between the Reds and the Makhnovists was agreed at Starobelsk in October 1920, Sirobaba ignored this and continued to fight the Reds in the Slayyansk and Izyum areas. When the Bolsheviks announced that parts of the Makhnovist movement were again outlawed, he took part in the Makhnovist raid from December 20th, 1920 until February 15th, 1921. In the Izyum area, Sirobaba and Kolesnichenko separated from the main Makhnovist forces and with 300 fighters hid in the Teplinsky forest. Here they were joined by the Makhnovist detachment under Savonov who was elected overall commander.

Sirobaba suffered defeats from the Red Army in November 1920.With the defeat of the Makhnovists Sirobaba was one of the insurgent commanders who accepted an amnesty in autumn 1922. However, he was not impressed with the actions of the Bolsheviks and again formed an armed unit. This conflicts with another report that states that Siribaba carried out a raid on May 30th, 1922 with 14 fighters and that he was killed by the Bakhmut Red militia in June. This also conflicts with another report made by the OGPU that talks about a Sirobaba raid in the Bakhmut district in spring 1923.

Nick Heath