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Novocherkassk massacre

Novocherkassk massacre
Камень-на-Крови в Новочеркасске.jpg
Tombstone to the victims of the massacre. It also called "Stone on Blood". The writing reads: "2 June 1962".
LocationNovocherkassk, Rostov Oblast, Soviet Union
DateJune 2, 1962
Attack type
WeaponsSniper rifles, machine guns, APCs, cars, tanks.
PerpetratorsSoviet Army
MotiveQuelling protests

The Novocherkassk massacre (Russian: Новочеркасский Расстрел) was massacre committed against unarmed protesters on June 2, 1962 in the city of Novocherkassk, Soviet Union (RSFSR) by Soviet Army and KGB officials.[1] A few weeks earlier workers organized labor strike at the Novocherkassk Electromotive (Electric Locomotive) Building Factory (NEBF) over increase of normative production quotas, and discontent of the nation-wide increase of dairy and meat prices at fixed labor payments.[2] The events spurred into a mass protest at the administration building in the center of the city where armed forces dispersed protesters by gunfire. According to official investigation 26 were reportedly killed by troops, and 87 were wounded.[3] Arrests, show trials and cover-ups ensued aftermath: more than 200 were arrested; 7 people were convicted and sentenced to death over various "crimes" such as "mass disorder" and approximately hundreds of others were imprisoned up to 15 years (terms of some of which were later reduced);[4] news about events never appeared in state controlled press and held secret up until 1992.[5][6] The 26 dead were secretly buried by KGB operatives in false graves which were never disclosed to relatives until June 2, 1994 when all bodies were discovered and reburied at the official memorial.

In 1992 the events were investigated by General Prosecutor. Major suspects among highest soviet officials such as Nikita Khrushchev, Anastas Mikoyan, Frol Kozlov and several others who were deemed responsible for the massacre were never held accountable due to their death.[7][8] The fate of others as of 2019 remains unknown. The massacre is commemorated each year on the anniversary of the murders by group of survived participants of the protests.



  • May 1, 7 – According to Kozlov V. A. the first signs of discontent among workers were expressed long before massacre happened; at this point first isolated cases of individual strikes at the NEBF were recorded; it was said that among strikers were many experienced political prisoners who were previously repressed by Soviet regime, but it wasn't supported by any evidence;[9][10]
  • May 17 – Council of Ministers issued a decree № 456 which declared nation-wide increase of prices of various products which was planned to happen on June 1.[11][note 1]
  • May 31 – First news about № 456 decree appeared in the soviet press.[12][note 1]
  • June 1 – The protests grows. At this time strikers were harassed by soviet army personnel and soviet militsiya with various clashes happening between them; protesters attempted to spark strikes in other factories around NEBF.
  • June 2 – The strike on the NEBF continued overnight; on the early morning thousands marched from NEBF toward Novocherkassk's center carrying portraits of Lenin and red flags; they were heading toward buildings of city's council and executive committee;[13] though disorganized at this point the crowd was calm and peaceful;
    • the crowd crossed bridge spanning Tuzlov river and was met by a division of tanks commanded by colonel Matvey Shaposhnikov who refused to open fire at the people; at the time many members of CC of the CPSU, KGB, MIA and other high officials already arrived at and were present in the City;
    • by the time the crowd reached the center of the city authorities learned that they passed the bridge literally unopposed consequently deciding to quickly retreat into safety;
    • as march of protesters continued to advance toward the center more people started to join crowd even more frightening authorities;
    • the mob assaulted and looted several administrative buildings and police station sparking brief violence; demands to Mikoyan to come out and speak to people followed;
    • at the mid of the day the army took attempt to disperse crowd by using soldiers and APC but failed and a shortly after fired at the people claiming lives of 22 and wounding many others, including soldiers;[14] on the evening of the same day 2 protesters also were killed (according to officials);
  • June 2, 3 – The curfew was imposed and lasted more than a week;[note 2] protests continued though at smaller scale; arrests ensued.
  • July 19 – Some of protesters were sentenced to 10 years in prison.[15]
  • October 19 – Report about rumors of happened massacre appeared in the Time magazine. Presumably the news were relayed by British and French newspapers.[16]


The riots were a direct result of shortages of food and provisions, as well as the poor working conditions in the factory. The protest began on June 1 in the Budyonny Electric Locomotive Factory, when workers from the foundry and forge shops stopped work after factory management refused to hear their complaints. The strike and attendant discussions had spread throughout the whole factory by noon.

The unrest began when Nikita Khrushchev raised the prices of meat and butter throughout the Soviet Union on June 1. On the same day, as required by a separate economic plan, the minimum production quotas for each worker at the factory were increased,[17] thereby effectively reducing pay rates.[18] This culminated in a march on the town hall and police headquarters, and the strike spread to other enterprises after police arrested thirty workers.

According to documents declassified in 90's, motorized infantry units were called to suppress the protesters, but they fired in the air, and the lethal fire came from a unit of Internal troops, from Rostov-on-Don composed of 10 snipers and 2 machine guns, who were set up at the "Don" hotel. Orders to kill were approved through the whole chain of command, from Khrushchev, through the ministry of defense.[19]

The Commander of the North-Caucasian Troops, general Matvey Kuzmich Shapochnikov, refused to execute an order to attack peaceful demonstrators with tanks (he reportedly said, "I don't see any enemy that we could turn our weapons against"), for which he was later degraded and arrested.[20]

Commemorating plate. The writing reads: ″In the memory of Novocherkassk tragedy 1962″.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin lays flowers, on 1 February 2008, at the memorial to the victims of the massacre.


According to now available official sources, 26 protesters were killed by the machine-gun-equipped[21][22] Soviet Army troops, and 87 were wounded with 3 of those dying later of their wounds. The mob was overly delusional by soviet propaganda about soviet army and wasn't expecting them to fire live rounds at unarmed citizens until the very shooting.[23] After the initial demonstrations, a curfew in the city was imposed. The dead bodies were secretly buried in various cemeteries in towns across the Rostov Oblast. However, the following morning, a large group of several hundred demonstrators again gathered in the square. One hundred and sixteen were arrested, of which fourteen were convicted by show trials. Seven of those fourteen received a death sentence and were executed. The others were sentenced to prison terms of ten to fifteen years.[4]

Following the incident, the Soviet government directed extra food supplies to the region and began an investigation. Additional arrests of workers followed, as did courts martial of military officials involved. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn claimed that individuals wounded in the unrest and their families were exiled to Siberia.

The whole story was censored by Soviet media and never allowed to any other mass media and remained an official secret until 1992, year after fall of the Soviet Union, when the remains of 20 bodies were recovered and identified in 1992 and buried in the cemetery of Novoshakhtinsk.

In fiction

During a Politburo scene in The Devil's Alternative (1979) by author Frederick Forsyth, the KGB chief, asked if he could suppress riots during famine, responds that the KGB could suppress ten, even twenty Novocherkassks, but not fifty – intentionally using the example to highlight how serious the difficulties would be that the Soviet Union finds itself in the novel.

The massacre is dramatized in Francis Spufford's 2010 novel Red Plenty.

See also


  1. ^ a b Here it is listed for reference as it was mentioned in the source book.[9]
  2. ^ Various sources differ on when and how long exactly.


  1. ^ 1961: Novocherkassk Massacre Archived 2011-03-03 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Novocherkassk Massacre". Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. 2015-06-19. Retrieved 2019-06-02.
  3. ^ ""Не хватает денег на мясо и колбасу, ешьте пирожки с ливером"". Бессмертный барак. Retrieved 2016-06-02.
  4. ^ a b Taubman, William. Khrushchev: The Man and His Era, First Edition, W. W. Norton & Co., New York, NY. 2003.
  5. ^ "MASSACRE IN WORKERS PARADISE". Washington Post. 1990-12-18. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2019-06-02.
  6. ^ Kozlov, V. A. (Vladimir Aleksandrovich); Козлов, В. А. (Владимир Александрович) (2005). "13". Neizvestnyĭ SSSR : protivostoi︠a︡nie naroda i vlasti, 1953-1985. Moskva: Olma Press. p. 390. ISBN 5224053579. OCLC 65428522.
  7. ^ Би-би-си, Артем Кречетников; Москва. "Бойня в Новочеркасске: "Но был один, который не стрелял"". BBC News Русская служба (in Russian). Retrieved 2019-06-02. В 1992 году Главная военная прокуратура возбудила по факту новочеркасского расстрела уголовное дело против Хрущева, Козлова, Микояна и еще восьми человек, которое было прекращено в связи с их смертью.
  8. ^ Ростов, АиФ- (2017-06-02). "Новочеркасский расстрел: герои, палачи и жертвы трагедии 1962 года". Retrieved 2019-06-02.
  9. ^ a b Kozlov, V. A. (Vladimir Aleksandrovich); Козлов, В. А. (Владимир Александрович) (2005). Neizvestnyĭ SSSR : protivostoi︠a︡nie naroda i vlasti, 1953-1985. Moskva: Olma Press. ISBN 5224053579. OCLC 65428522.
  10. ^ Kozlov, V. A. (Vladimir Aleksandrovich); Козлов, В. А. (Владимир Александрович) (2005). "13". Neizvestnyĭ SSSR : protivostoi︠a︡nie naroda i vlasti, 1953-1985. Moskva: Olma Press. pp. 333, 334. ISBN 5224053579. OCLC 65428522.
  12. ^ "События в г. Новочеркасске 1 мая 1962". (in Russian). Retrieved 2019-06-02.
  13. ^ "MASSACRE IN WORKERS PARADISE". Washington Post. 1990-12-18. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2019-06-02. On the morning of June 2 at around 11, 7,000 workers and other demonstrators began a protest march from the plant to the center of Novocherkassk. They simply ignored the troops and tanks that surrounded the plant. As they marched, some workers tried to block the railway line leading into town as a further show of protest.
  14. ^ Kozlov, V. A. (Vladimir Aleksandrovich); Козлов, В. А. (Владимир Александрович) (2005). Neizvestnyĭ SSSR : protivostoi︠a︡nie naroda i vlasti, 1953-1985. Moskva: Olma Press. p. 370. ISBN 5224053579. OCLC 65428522.
  15. ^ Kozlov, V. A. (Vladimir Aleksandrovich); Козлов, В. А. (Владимир Александрович) (2005). "13". Neizvestnyĭ SSSR : protivostoi︠a︡nie naroda i vlasti, 1953-1985. Moskva: Olma Press. p. 345. ISBN 5224053579. OCLC 65428522.
  16. ^ "Russia: And Then the Police Fired". Time. 1962-10-19. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2019-06-02.
  17. ^ Vladislav Zubok and Constantine Pleshkov, Inside the Kremlin's Cold War: from Stalin to Khrushchev, Harvard University Press, p. 262
  18. ^ Hosking, Geoffrey. A History of the Soviet Union, Fontana Press, London. 1992.
  19. ^ ""Не хватает денег на мясо и колбасу, ешьте пирожки с ливером"". Бессмертный барак. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  20. ^ "Шапошников Матвей Кузьмич - История на сайте Бессмертный барак". Шапошников Матвей Кузьмич :: Бессмертный барак. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  21. ^ (in Russian) Новочеркасск вспоминает жертв трагедии, Vest, 2007
  22. ^ And Then the Police Fired, TIME Magazine, October 19, 1962
  23. ^ Kozlov, V. A. (Vladimir Aleksandrovich); Козлов, В. А. (Владимир Александрович) (2005). "13". Neizvestnyĭ SSSR : protivostoi︠a︡nie naroda i vlasti, 1953-1985. Moskva: Olma Press. p. 335. ISBN 5224053579. OCLC 65428522.

External links