THE OLDEST PERIOD OF UKRAINIAN HISTORY:
The first man (archanthropinae) appeared on Ukrainian territory about one
million years ago during the Stone Age. Archanthropinae probably came from
the western regions of Southern Asia and the Balkans. Soon to follow were
Neanderthal men (about 135-150 thousand years ago), who were more mentally
and physically developed and had family relations. Then about 35 thousand
years ago, came Cro-Magnon, the first representative of Homo sapiens.
During the Middle Stone Age the population increased considerably and people
could not feed themselves by relying solely on hunting. Thus, they learned
how to fish, gather berries and plants, and how to domesticate animals.
During the Neolithic era, men learned how to cultivate land, rear cattle,
and make pottery. The divergence in economic occupations of people in
different regions of Ukraine became greatly appreciated during this time.
More agricultural development, hunting and fishing and cultural and economic
developments were on the rise at this time. Also during this time, a
primitive communal system with a matriarchal social base was formed on
During the Copper-Bronze age (the 4-3rd millennia BC) labor productivity
grew and there were significant changes in the primitive society due to
property stratification and changing ideology. The Tripillian culture, which
quickly developed vast new territories, is distinguished as having been
In the first millennium BC, Slavs played a leading role in the development
of civilization of ethno-Ukrainian society. There were also other ethnic
groups which had considerable influence on the ethnogenesis of Ukrainians,
such as the, Scithians, Balts, Germans and Kerlates. The territory of Slavs
expanded considerably with the coming of a new era. In written sources, they
are known as Anths and Sclavs. They shared a common language, similar way of
life, similar customs and beliefs. However, there were different tribes,
each having its own chiefs, military and policy. After some time, although
the Anths disappeared from the South European political map, their
traditions have not. The descendants of Anths began populating in the vast
The intensive break-up of patriarchal traditions was observed in the 7th and
8th centuries in the development of East Slav society. Property inequality
of the community intensified and determined the formation of the social
hierarchy. These processes were especially active in the territory of the
Middle Dnieper Area and adjacent lands. Archeological sources have
discovered rather quick development of arable farming, cattle rearing,
handicrafts, and trade. Soon political and economic centers of Slavic tribes
appeared, such as Kyiv. About 14 East Slav tribe unions existed in Ukraine
during the 6th - 9th centuries. This lay the political groundwork for Rus.
In the late 9th century conditions appeared for forming early feudal states
in the area of Slavonic settlement. Modern Kyiv, Chernihiv and Pereiaslav
were the centers of its territory.
In the year 882, it was stated in old chronicles that Oleg, the Prince of
Novhorod, having killed Prince Askold and Prince Dir, mounted the Kyiv
throne. He became the ruler of Kyiv or Old Rus, the first state of Old
Slavs, which soon turned into one of the greatest countries of Medieval
Europe and which played an important part in political life on the
continent. It also served as a certain protective barrier between European
civilization and nomadic East. Kyiv became the capital of the state.
The poly-ethnical Old Rus state was a monarchical form of government. When
he proclaimed Kyiv to be the political center of Rus, Prince Oleg (as well
as his successors) were greatly concerned about the problem of consolidation
of the nearest tribal principalities around Kyiv - the force of central
state institutions being applied it its territory. All the East-Slav tribes
and many non-Slav people were under dominion of the Kyiv Prince at the end
of the 10th century. Kyiv Rus spread from the Black Sea to the White Sea,
from the Carpathians to the Volga River. The vastness of the territory
determined the availability (within limits) of certain language and cultural
peculiarities - a potentiality of centrifugal tendencies being inevitable.
The Prince's armed forces played the role of the state elite in Kyiv Rus
until the early 11th century. Elder men at arms served as the Prince's
advisers in the most important state affairs and occupied all administrative
and court posts. Under the reign of Yaroslav Mudriy (or Yaroslav the Wise)
(1019-1054), they performed only military functions, while administrative
and legislative staffs were subject to boyars (old tribal aristocrats by
Kyiv princes of the 9-10th centuries cared mainly about strengthening the
economic and political power of the state. They fortified cities, put in
order legal proceedings and a fiscal system, and regulated the obligations
of the dependent population. During Princess Olga's reign (approximately
946), the first attempt was made to expel paganism and replace it with
Christianity. But Christianity wasn't officially introduced as a state
religion in Rus until 988 by Prince Volodymyr Sviatoslavych. Diplomatic
relations of the Old Rus State with the neighboring countries, in
particular, Byzanthia and the German Empire, intensified during the mid-10th
century after the fall of Khozar's state.
The military marches of Kyiv Princes played an important part in the
expansion of the territory of Kyiv Rus and assertions of its power in the
eyes of surrounding people. The "Povist mynylykh lit" mentions the
victorious raid of Prince Oleg of Tsarhorod in 907, owing to having made
peace with the Byzantine Emperor. Some years later, the Russians made
several raids on the lands of the Arabian caliphate. In the 940s, Prince
Ihor (Oleg's successor), made several military raids to the Crimean East and
Taman, to Byzanthia and to the Caspian Seaside. Military activity of the Old
Rus State was also observed in the 960s and early 970s during the reign of
Prince Sviatoslav (964-972).
The creation of the Old Rus nation state took place during the reign of
Prince Sviatoslav's son, Prince Volodymyr (978-1015). The economical and
political strength of the state, the authority of the Prince's rule, and the
organization of law considerably increased during his reign. The successful
military raids of the Prince expanded the limits of the Rus territory.
The process of forming the Old Rus State finished in the beginning of the
11th century under Yaroslav Mudriy. That was the time of the greatest rise
of Kyiv Rus. The international authority of the country increased, due to
the dynastic relations and diplomacy of the Prince. Yaroslav put forth much
effort to subdue civil war (which occurred after the death of Volodymyr) and
to protect the state territory from nomad raids. Under Yaroslav the
importance of cities in economic and cultural life of the state increased,
and relations between the different regions became revived, which helped to
increase the trade, agriculture and handicraft industries. The first code of
the Old Rus state was created - a collection of laws, "Ruska pravda".
Unfortunately, the Prince's successors were involved in many feuds that
inevitably resulted in breaking the unity of the Rus state.
It wasn't until the early 12th century that Volodymyr Monomakh (1113-1125)
managed to stop these feuds for a while. It was under his reign that Kyiv's
authority as the capital was once again increased, and the authority of the
Kyiv Prince expanded to the major principalities, and other princes. It was
by his initiative that the convention of princes was called to decide
important affairs and disputable issues. The internal and external position
of the state was stabilized. This was the stage when all the characteristics
of the medieval socio-political system with great feudal property, certain
ideological religious and political directions had been established in Kyiv
From the 1130s the disintegration process of the Old Rus State attained an
irreversible character. For several years, the territory of this newly
powerful state was separated into several independent principalities whose
owners did not stop military conflicts until the mid-13th century. The
authority of the Kyiv Prince as the state head became quite formal but did
not lead to the complete disintegration of the Old Rus state. Kyiv still
remained its capital. The personal power of the Kyiv Prince was replaced by
the government of "collective suzerainty" of the most influential and
powerful Princes. A single centralized monarchy was changed into a federal
monarchy, which no longer had the might nor size of its predecessor.
The period of feudal disintegration on the Old Rus lands not only set a mark
on their political, socio-economic and cultural development, but also
introduced certain innovations to geographical definitions of the state. In
particular, the Kyiv Chronicle of 1187 had first coined the term "Ukraine"
to define the southern area of Rus lands (Kyiv, Pereiaslav and Chernihiv
provinces). After some time, this name was also applied to Halychyna, Volyn,
and Podillia. Despite several attempts to unite principalities separated by
boundaries, which took place during the 12th and 13th centuries, Kyiv Rus of
1237 weakened economically and politically and suffered the forays of
Mongol-Tatar Hordes of Batyi. The Horde reign in the lands of Ukraine
continued for more than two centuries.
After the disintegration of the Old Rus state in the 12th century into
separate regional formations, the Halytsian-Volynian principality had
undertaken the state-creating traditions of Rus. In spite of the devastating
wars, which had not passed through the principality, certain stabilization
of economic and political development was observed in this area in the 12th
century. The increase in population, economic potential, as well as the
regulation of economic relations was visible in the Halytsian Subcarpathia
and Volyn territories. In 1199, principalities with common economic and
cultural conditions and political and economic relations, united and formed
the Halytsian-Volynian state under the reign of Halytsian Prince Roman, a
descendant of Volodymyr Monomakh. Prince Roman was the first in the history
of the Old Rus state to be referred to as "Grand Duke", "Autocrat of the
The reinforcement of the Prince's power in the Halytsian-Volynian state took
place under constant hostility on the part of the powerful boyar opposition
supported by foreign protectors: Hungarians and Poles. After the death of
Roman Mstyslavych, the boyars succeeded in excommunicating his sons: Danylo
and Vasylko. In 1214, Kalman, a young Hungarian prince who married a Polish
Princess, was proclaimed King of the Halytsian-Volynian principality. From
that time began a long war by Danylo Halytskyi and his brother Vasylko to
have their father's throne returned to them. This war became known as the
liberating war, for restoring state independence and territorial unity of
the Halytsian-Volynian principality. Danylo Romanovych's main task was to
reinforce the state institutions of the principality and social support,
which the boyars should have returned to him. Under these conditions, he
allowed for the state-creating experience of Byzanthia and a number of other
West European countries.
By the end of the 1230s, Danylo Halytskyi managed to secure the neighborly
relations by marrying his son to the daughter of Bela IX, the Hungarian
King. The Prince had rendered great services to his country in protecting
boundaries of the Halytsian-Volynian Principality during the Mongol-Tatar
invasion to Rus. The fortification line he had constructed immediately
before the invasion allowed decreasing the number of plundering raids as
compared to other principalities. For 1254-1255, he succeeded in gaining a
number of victories over the Horde armies and in driving them away - outside
the boundaries of Ukraine.
The internal and foreign policy of Danylo Halytskyi favored the increase of
his popularity in the eyes of the world community. Courtiers of European
countries considered it an honor to be associated with the
Halytsian-Volynian Prince. In 1253, he was crowned by Pope Innokentyi IX in
the town of Dorohychyn, in Pidliashia. This act confirmed the recognition of
the Halytsian-Volynian principality as a subject of international law.
Territorial possessions of the principality considerably increased in the
13th century, under the descendant of Danylo Romanovych. In particular, the
lands of Liublin and a part of Transcarpathia were added to the
principality. The Halytsian-Volynian Prince possessed the lands of Lithuania
for a certain time. Notwithstanding, the partial economic and political
dependence on the Golden Horde, the Principality leaders managed to keep to
their own foreign policy. But the constant exhausting struggle with foreign
and home enemies gradually weakened the Halytsian-Volynian principality, of
which its enemies took advantage without delay. At the end of the 14th
century, the lands of the recently b state proved to be divided between
Poland, Lithuania, Hungary and Moldavia.
Ukrainian Lands as Part of Great Lithuanian Principality and Rich Pospolyta
The military-political movement of Lithuania and Poland to Ukrainian lands
began in the 1330s and 1340s, when the Lithuanian Grand Duke Liubard
conquered Volyn. The assignment of the lands of the Halytsian-Volynian
principality between two foreign states was completed by the
Lithuanian-Polish War of 1351-1352, after which Halychyna proved to be under
the power of the Polish King (later the West Volynian lands: Kholmian and
Belzian, came under the Polish crown). The Podilia, Kyiv, Siver and
Pereiaslav provinces also became parts of Lithuania under Liubard's
successor: Grand Duke Olgerd. The local population did not resist Lithuanian
expansion to Ukrainian lands. It can be explained that Vilno did not try to
break traditional socio-political institutions and the economic system which
existed at that time. The state did not want to meddle in the spiritual life
of Ukrainian lands. And what is more, it intensively assimilated Ukrainian
cultural and religious influences. In 1458, even separate Kyiv metropolia
was formed, which was an additional impetus to the development of
centrifugal tendencies in Ukrainian lands. The accessibility of Orthodox
Kyiv to Western and Greek-Byzantine influences permitted the most important
achievements of European civilization to be assimilated and adapted on the
Forced to resist the onset of German Knights and Golden Horde Khans, as well
as the home opposition, the Lithuanian and Polish governments created an
international union, validated by the dynastic marriage. The Union
conditions foresaw the incorporation of the Great Lithuanian Principality to
Polish Kingdom. At the same time, they took measure to politically
centralize Lithuania. In particular, Volynian, Novhorod-Siverian, Podilian
and Kyiv appanage principalities stopped to be independent. Now, they were
subject to the vicars of the Grand Duke of Lithuania. In the future,
notwithstanding certain successes, Ukrainian appanage princes did not manage
to restore their past positions. For all that, the political and cultural
influence of the local princes and boyars in the state was too considerable.
In particular, Ukrainian language was the official language of Lithuania.
Traditional norms and bodies of self-administration were in force in the
country. Vilno also had to reckon with the interests of the Ukrainian
reigning elite when performing its home and foreign policy. All of that
determined the relative internal stability of the Lithuanian-Russian state.
However, soon the Lithuanian-Catholic element began dominating within the
state. Naturally, this called for certain resistance on the part of the home
aristocracy. A whole number of revolts took place in the terrain of
Ukrainian lands in the late 15th to early 16th centuries. Princes I.
Olshanskyi, M. Olelkovych, F. Biliskyi (1481), and M. Glynskyi (1508) took
part in these rebellions.
The first written mention of Cossacks appeared in the late 15th century. The
appearance of Cossacks played an outstanding part in the historical fate of
Ukraine. Cossacks represented a social standing of free people who defended
their land and guarded its boundaries against Turkey-Tatar aggression.
In the middle of the 16th century the Cossacks created their own
military-political organization: Zaporizhian Sich. It had the original
military-administrative system based on the principles of Cossack democracy.
The Cossacks founded specific political institutions such as: institutions
of military councils, the Zaporizhian Army Kish as the higher
executive-legislative organs, and their own legal proceedings.
The Cossacks were a rather b and numerous organization. K. Kosynskyi and S.
Nalyvaiko led the Cossacks in the first great revolts. They took fortresses,
liberated towns and villages, and their law became firmly established in the
Kyiv, Volyn and Bratslav provinces. Among other great Cossack leaders were
Taras Fedorovych, Pavlo But, Yakiv Ostrainyn, Dmytro Hunia.
In 1633 the Polish government, influenced by the revolts, legalized the
existence of the Orthodox Church (of which Petro Mohyla was the
Metropolitan), and in 1638 the Warsaw courts abolished the Cossacks'
privileges which were previously conquered. Among these Cossack privileges
were a legislation of their own, the appointment of officers by election,
and the limitation of register.
The defeats of the Cossack rebellions of the 16th to early 17th century made
the grave position of Ukrainians worse. Cossack leaders, as well as
thousands of rebellious Cossacks and peasants, were annihilated and lands
were redistributed. The "gold tranquillity" which prevailed in the early
part of the 17th century proved the tranquillity only for Polish magnates
and squires who had not obtained lessons from the events of the late 16th
and early 17th centuries. Gradual accumulation of force before the decisive
conflict with the powerful state machine of Rich Pospolyta took place in
Liberating War of Ukrainian People in the mid-17th Century
The Liberating War in the mid 17th century had become an event of great
significance that fundamentally changed the further development of Ukrainian
history. Its most important result was the formation of the independent
The war began in February 1648 from the conquering of the Sich by rebels and
election of Bohdan Khmelnytskyi (1595-1657), the Chyhyryn sotnyk, as Hetman
of the Zaporizhian Army. News about the events in Zaporizhia quickly spread
across Ukrainian land, and drew the broadest circle of the population into
the rebellion. The success of the rebels was insured by the activity of the
newly elected Hetman oriented to the rebellion expansion to the districts,
winning over to his side of the register Cossacks, formation of the national
army, avoiding the premature military actions with the Polish Army.
Two processes had been distinctly crystallized at the beginning of the
Liberating War: state formation and a complete change in the principal model
of socio-economic relations. The triumphal attack of the Cossack Army in the
spring and summer of 1648 - as well as the liberation from the reign of
Polish squires of the vast territories of Ukraine (battles under Korsun and
Zhovti Vody) and the defeat of Poles under Pyliavtsi and a raid of the
Cossack Army to the vicinities of Lviv and Zamostia - had determined the
essential change in Hetman's political plans.
The idea of Cossack autonomy within the limits of the Kingdom of Poland was
inferior to that of the necessity of complete defeat of Rich Pospolyta and
creation of the own state whose foundations had been laid by the end of 1648
in most parts of Ukrainian territory. Thus, during June-November 1648, the
process of forming national state institutions was mainly completed in the
central, southern and eastern regions, while in the western regions they
were in the intensive process of formation the old administrative territory
was replaced with a new regiment-sotnia the Cossacks' court and judicial
procedure was introduced the National Army was formed serious changes were
observed in the social structure of the population. The Cossacks' played a
leading part in ruining the Polish state, and in the formation of Ukrainian
The close links between national liberation and social struggle at the very
beginning of the war was a characteristic feature of that time. It was a
social struggle that played an exceptionally important part in the formation
of the new socio-economic system of the Ukrainian state. Hundreds of
detachments of the peasants and townsmen ruined the estates of squires,
destroyed shliakhta, leaders, village magistrates and Catholic churchmen.
The Cossack ideal became a generator of the activities for masses of
peasants. Their conscience imagined the Cossack to be a man free from any
obligations (except for military) before a squire and a state. That is why
the struggle for obtaining the Cossack immunity (personal freedom, the right
to possess land, to be under their own jurisdiction) became the
all-Ukrainian phenomenon during this time . The social struggle resulted in
the peasants' war which for the first time in the history of Ukraine
embraced the greatest part of its territory and proved to be an especially
important factor in the development of national revolution. Peasants refused
to perform numerous duties in favor of their landlords (statute labor in
particular). The Liberating War opened a possibility of transfer of peasants
and townsmen to the status of Cossacks who had a lot of rights and
privileges at that time. At the same time, the Cossack officers also
consolidated their positions during the years of war. They also took the
road of material enrichment and wanted to secure the ownership of land and
acquire production enterprises.
The lessons of the first war allowed Bohdan Khmelnytskyi to make certain
corrections in his political program early in 1649. Henceforth, his first
rate task was to unify all ethno-Ukrainian lands in the limits of the
national state. A new program also provided for the recognition of social
gains of the people masses, and consolidation of the Hetman's power.
The period 1649 to 1652 was characterized by the active efforts of the young
state to firmly establish itself in the world arena. The Hetman's government
made a military-political union with the Crimean Khanate, carried on active
negotiations with Moscow and Warsaw, and established diplomatic relations
with Porta, Moldavia, and Transylvania.
Extremely unfavorable geopolitical situations interfered with Khmelnytskyi's
plans. In order to avoid the Union of Crimean Khan Islam Hirey with the King
of Poland, Yan Kazymir, the Hetman had to make the Zboriv agreement in
August 1649. The latter, though recognizing the existence of the Cossack
states, limited its territory by Bratslav, Kyiv and the Chernihiv provinces.
At the same time, it abolished a number of social gains of the Ukrainian
people. In response, the Cossacks and peasants took up arms once again. Mass
actions in a number of regions took place for much of 1650. The threat of
civil war was avoided because of Khmelnytskyi's social policy.
The ruling circles of Rich Pospolyta tended to decide the Ukrainian problem
by the methods of war. In February 1651, the Polish Army passed to the
offensive. A new military campaign was started which nearly turned into a
catastrophe because of the insidious Crimean Khan under the town of
Berestechko. This agreement was signed in September 1651 in Bila Tserkva.
The terms of this agreement greatly limited autonomy, which evoked mass
discontent among the Ukrainian people. Patriotic enthusiasm embraced
Ukraine. Khmelnytskyi mobilized the army and won a great victory in the
battle near the settlement of Batih against the Polish Army on May 23, 1652.
Nearly the entire Ukrainian territory was liberated from Polish oppression.
However, the development of this victory was not successful. The
anti-Ukraine coalition, which included Rich Pospolyta, Moldavia, Valakhia
and Transylvania, was created in the summer of 1653. The Crimea-Porta
relation grew worse. Under these conditions, the relations with Moscow
assumed a peculiar place in the Hetman's political plans. In the opinion of
the Ukrainian ruler, the orientation to the Moscow state could provide for
irreversibility of the changes that had occurred at that time in Ukraine:
the liberation from Polish power, the functioning of Ukraine as an
independent state, and the reunification in the future of all Ukrainian
lands under the Hetman's hist mace. After long-term negotiations, Ukraine
consented to embrace the protectorate of Moscow. On October 1, 1653, a
corresponding resolution was passed by the Zemstvo Council, the highest
representative body of the Moscow State. On January 8, 1654, the decision on
the Zaporizhian Army subjection to the Moscow Tsar was made by the
participants of the Pereiaslav Rada.
This agreement provided for the preservation of the political system that
existed in Ukraine, the army, the in-force model of socio-economic
relations, and rights for making an independent home policy. Partial control
was established only over its foreign-political activities and taxation
policy. The agreement of 1654 ratified the creation of a confederation - a
military union. However, being a part of monarchic Moscow, the Ukrainian
state was deprived of prospects for its development.
After 1654, a new stage in the course of the Liberating War began. The aim
of the Ukrainian state to destroy Rich Pospolyta and to reunite all
ethno-Ukrainian lands within the Cossack territory was invariable. As a
result of miscalculations by the Moscow government in evaluating the
military-political situation, the military campaign from the autumn of 1654
to winter of 1655 resulted in an awful ravage of the Bratslav province.
Hetman Khmelnytskyi began searching for allies among other countries. He
succeeded in improving relations with the Crimea and Turkey, modified
relations with Transylvania, and created an important alliance with Sweden.
At about the same time, Moscow, intimidated by the success of the Swedish
Army, signed the Vilno truce agreement with Rich Pospolyta in August 1656,
and began military actions against Karl X. When he had come to know about
Moscow's change in the foreign-political course, the Hetman Khmelnytskyi
understood its balefullness for realization of the program of reuniting
Ukrainian lands and began looking for the ways to create an anti-Poland
coalition with Sweden and Transylvania. He set his special hopes on the
success of the Ukrainian-Transylvanian raid on Poland which, unfortunately,
had a tragic end for the troops of Gyorgy II Rakoczi. The failed raid meant
a crash in the plans of Ukrainian sovereign to win the victory in the
struggle with Rich Pospolyta in coalition with Sweden and Transylvania. The
internal situation in Ukraine also became worse. The Hetman's influence on
the settlement of state affairs weakened due to poor health. The growth of
social strength became noticeable, the will of Cossack officers increased
and some groups were fighting for power. During this time, the Tsar's
government activated the measures on the limitation of autonomous rights of
Ukraine. During the most critical period of this time, Hetman Bohdan
Khmelnytskyi died on July 27, 1657.
THE UKRAINIAN STATE
DURING THE LATE 17TH CENtURY:
The Hetman's State in Ukraine that Khmelnytskyi created had great potential
for independence. However, these potentials were not realized for many
reasons. It wasn't until the late 17th century that the domestic problems
that tore Ukrainian society apart became more defined as a result of a
policy of tsarism. The brutal struggle between some hetmans and claimants of
the Hetmate broke out immediately after Khmelnytskyi's death. The country
was drawn into the vortex of civil war, political crisis and economic
displacement for many years.
The intricate socio-political situation required that existing problems be
resolved quickly. However, political mistakes, unweighted means in the
social sphere made the available contradictions in the society too sharp.
New Hetman I. Vyhoskyi (?-1664) pursued a course for the creation of an
oligarchic republic and gradually lost the support of the greatest part of
cossacks. Zaporizhia, and a number of regiments in Left-Bank Ukraine who
neglected the Hetman's aspirations, proved to be in opposition to him. The
Tsar's government, interested in weakening the Cossack State, also made its
contribution to increasing civil disquiet. Governments of other neighboring
states were also in a hurry to take advantage of this situation.
During the civil war, which began in Ukraine in the spring of 1658, its
leader (first in the state's history) was the first to look for support from
the foreign force (not to defend the state independence, but to fight with
the domestic opposition and the rising people). He created the Tatar Horde
in order to smash the rising regiment and cossacks headed by M. Pushkar and
Y. Barabash, and decided to renew the union with Rich Pospolyta. The Hadiach
agreement of September 16, 1658, provided for the return of Cossack Ukraine
under the Polish crown as an autonomy. The agreement's conditions changed
the then political system of the Hetman's power. In the socio-economic
aspect of things, they renewed the pre-war forms of land ownership. Changes
in the course of foreign policy as well as cruel measures of people in the
Left Bank Ukraine area increased the discontent of cossacks, with I.
Vyhovskyi reigning, and created a precedent of a split of the state. This
created an elite which was dangerous to the territorial unity of the state.
A tendency of the Left Bank officers to be oriented with Moscow, and the
Right Bank officers to be oriented with Warsaw was manifested and became
more profound at this time.
Newly elected Hetman Yurii (about 1641-1685), a son of Bohdan Khmelnytskyi,
could not prevent the increase of the troubling symptoms. The Chudnivsk
agreement, which he made during the military campaign of 1660, practically
recognized the validity of the Hadiach agreement. In 1663, deprived of real
political support, Yurii Khmelnytskyi abdicated. The Hetman's mace in Left
Bank Ukraine, owing to the support of the Tatars, came to the hands of
General Secretary (Pysar) P. Teteria. Near the city of Nizhyn in 1663, the
Chorna Rada, as it is called in Left Bank Ukraine, elected the Cossacks'
chief, I. Briukhobetskyi (?-1668), to be Hetman,. Such was the division of
Cossacks' Ukraine into two Hetmanates. The complete territory distribution
of Ukraine between two states was confirmed by the Andrusiv truce of 1667
between the Moscow State and Rich Pospolyta. The Left Bank and Kyiv with
surrounding territory stayed with Moscow the Right Bank remained under
Poland, and Zaporizhia was subject to both states. Some time later, the
territory dismemberment was confirmed by the clauses of the so called
"Eternal" peace of 1686.
The signing of the Andrusiv agreement made the reunion of Ukrainian lands
much more problematic. But notwithstanding, the deep socio-political
contradictions between the state elite oriented to different foreign forces
and continual interference of the latter to the domestic life of Ukraine,
both its regions were bound into a single state organism by political and
economic factors. The prospects of the territory consolidation of the Left
and Right Banks became most visible in the period of the reign of P.
Doroshenko (1627-1698), a colonel from Pryluky. Being one of Khmelnytskyi's
fellow warriors, the Left Bank Hetman belonged to the convinced supporters
of the existence of a single powerful Ukrainian state. To achieve this aim,
he began fighting with Poles, made an agreement with the Tatars, negotiated
with representatives of the Moscow Tsar and Left Bank Hetman I.
Briukhovetskyi. He succeeded in uniting both of the territories under his
mace for a short time. But the interference of Russia and Rich Pospolyta
which extended a campaign against the Hetman made this victory an unstable
one. The Cossacks' Ukraine proved to be drawn into a new vortex of political
struggle and internecine wars. At the beginning of July 1668, P. Doroshenko
had to leave Left Bank Ukraine, and in March 1669, at the Cossacks' Council
in Hlukhiv they elected a Chernihiv colonel who was supported by Moscow, D.
Mnohohrishnyi (?-1696), to be Hetman of Left Bank Ukraine. The agreement he
had with the Moscow government essentially limited the sovereignty of the
Under the new conditions, P. Doroshenko, supported by the Korsun Council in
March 1669, became inclined to accept the Turkey protectorate. At the same
time, he did not think it impossible to come to an understanding with Moscow
or Rich Pospolyta, but on the condition that their governments would
recognize the sovereignty rights of the single Cossacks' Ukraine.
Doroshenko's political career ended in 1676.
At the General Council in Pereiaslav, General Judge I. Samoilovych was
elected a Hetman of Cossacks' Ukraine "on both sides of the Dnieper". He
succeeded in holding the Hetman's mace for fifteen years. An autocrat and
loyal to his officers and to the Tsar, he was also oriented to the creation
of the aristocratic state with b Hetman's power. He resisted the attempts of
the Zaporizhia chiefs to affirm their political independence, often
expressed his discontent with the Moscow government, as they had renounced
the right for Left Bank Ukraine in favor of Poland. He always tried to draw
the attention of Moscow and Rich Pospolyta to the fact that the Right-Bank
Ukraine and West Ukrainian Lands with the Left Bank Ukraine can be a single
Late in the 17th century, one could observe considerable changes in the
social sphere of life in Cossacks' Ukraine. The hetmanate was a multi-class
social organism. The population mainly consisted of peasants who had
conquered their personal freedom with weapons, and for some period, they
owned their own land. However, due to historical conditions, all the actions
of the Hetman's administration (both economic and socio-political) were
subject to interests of the Cossack upper layers, who were the privileged
class in society at that time. They obtained the right to possess land, to
occupy themselves in production activity, to take part in political life of
Ukrainian membership in the Moscow state also influenced its economic
development. In particular, certain changes took place in the Hetmanate
foreign trade and economic relations. The country painfully lost its
traditional western trade routes and sales markets. They were gradually
reoriented to Moscow.
The institutions of the Ukrainian state system, formed in the years of the
Liberation War, still functioned in the second half of the 17th century
within the borders of the Hetmanate. However, the Russian government began
the limitation and later liquidation of the traditional military-political
system of Ukraine. The offensive of Moscow also touched the Ukrainian
Orthodox Church, which from 1686 was subject to the Moscow patriarchy. The
decades after 1654 gave the impetus to gradual but inflexible processes when
the Ukrainian state lost its ethnic features - the whole socio-political
institution being liquidated.
UKRAINIAN LANDS DURING THE 18TH CENTURY:
The violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine in the last part of
the 17th century considerably determined certain peculiarities in social,
political and economic development for the following decades of its two
great regions: Left Bank Ukraine and Slobozhanshchyna, and West Ukrainian
lands. Almost until the end of the 13th century, the Left Bank region was
part of Rich Pospolyta. The winnings from the Liberation War of the mid 17th
century were gradually abolished and the prewar regime was renewed. But
certain elements of state-creating traditions still remained the important
fact of socio-political life in the land. In the early 18th century, there
were cossacks' regiments in the Right Bank Dnieper area. Large villages with
quickly developing economic activities were distributed in the area.
Unfortunately, the international situation was not favorable for the Right
Bank cossacks. Poland soon established its power in the entire Right Bank
The same was the situation in Eastern Halychyna. Royal authorities acted
within its boundaries. Polish lords owned great land estates that included
hundreds of towns and villages. Only cities (Kamianets-Podilskyi and Lviv)
had a right of self-government. The Union was still introduced in West
Ukrainian regions. In the early 18th century it was adapted by Lviv and
Lutsk bishops as well as by other church hierarchies. As to other Ukrainian
lands: Transcarpathia was still part of Hungary and Northern Bukovyna was
under the reign of the Moldavian principality, the vassal of Turkey. Foreign
ethnic political institutions and right standards were in force there.
Considerable changes occurred in the political condition of the Western
Ukrainian lands in the late 18th century. The downfall and division of Rich
Pospolyta marked the territory-state belonging to Halychyna, Transcarpathia
and Northern Bukovyna. As a result of the first Poland downfall (1771),
almost all of Halychyna and the western part of Volyn and Podillia were
conquered by Austria. Those lands were unified with a part of Polish
provinces into the "Kingdom of Halychyna and Lodomeria". The other
territories were gained by Austria after the third downfall of Poland
(1795). Northern Bukovyna was also occupied by Austria. In 1774, the Vienna
troops occupied the whole territory of the land (in 1775 these gains of
Austria were affirmed by the Constantinople convention). Transcarpathia,
which preserved traditional division into comitates, remained under the
reign of the Hapsburgh monarchy.
For the last part of the 18th century, Austrian Emperor Josef II and Empress
Maria Theresia realized a number of reforms in the land. They limited the
power of landlords over peasants, canceled the peasants' personal dependence
on landlords, liquidated certain duties. The government also made reforms in
the spiritual sphere (e.g., they opened a lyceum in Mukacheve and seminary
in Lviv). At the same time, schools with education in Ukrainian were
organized. A number of Ukrainian departments were founded in Lviv
University, which opened in 1784. Unfortunately, these progressive actions
of Austrian government were ceased in the future.
The liberating struggle never stopped in the lands of Right Bank Ukraine. A
great peasants' rebellion burst out in 1702-1704. The rebels crushed the
Polish Army in the Kyiv province, Podillia and Volyn. The Right Bank rebels
had the help of Cossacks from Zaporizhia and Left Bank Ukraine, and people
from Moldavia, Bielorussia, and Valakhia. This "people's rebellion" was
suppressed. However, the so-called movement of Haidamaks rose in the region.
Small, yet extremely mobile squadrons of Haidamaks attacked the landlords'
estates, merchants' caravans, separate tenants, etc. The Haidamak movement
continued until the mid 1770s.
The great people's liberation revolt began in Right Bank Ukraine in 1768 and
was known as "Koliivshchyna". The rebels conquered the fortress of Uman as
well as a number of other towns and settlements. Cossacks' regiments were
introduced in certain provinces. However, some months later Poland, with the
help of the Russian Army, succeeded to defeat the main cossack regiments.
In the second half of the 18th century, Rich Pospolyta went through a period
of decline. As a result of the downfall of Rich Pospolyta, the territory of
the Right Bank belonged to Russia. Two years later, the lands of Volyn and
Bielorussia also became a part of Russia. General imperial orders:
separation into vice-regencies (later provinces), Russian court system,
action of "nobility charter", etc. were introduced into these regions.
However, the issue of reuniting all the Ukrainian lands was not yet
completely resolved. They became parts of the Russian and Austrian empires.
There were decades of political disconnection, statelessness, and the
national persecution of Ukrainians in the future.
The Left-Bank Hetmanate Between Independence
The beginning of the 18th century was marked by the complication of the
domestic and foreign political situation in Left Bank Ukraine. The Northern
war between Russia and Sweden for the Baltic Sea coast, resulted in the
increase of economic pressure on the part of the Tsar's government on
Ukrainian manufacturers, the attraction of its human resources to
participate in the military actions and fortifications and construction. The
taxation burden was put not only on the ordinary cossacks and peasants, but
it also reached the social elite.
Ivan Mazepa (1644-1709), who was elected Hetman in 1687, acted on the
opportunity of the Sweden invasion in Ukraine to take a risky step. Together
with his confederates and four thousand cossacks he united with the army of
Karl XII in October 1708. An agreement was soon made between Ukraine and
Sweden which provided for complete independence of Ukraine from "all foreign
possession". Unfortunately, the general Ukrainian public, which had not been
sufficiently informed about the Hetman's intentions, did not support his
plans to stir up a rebellion against Peter I. In particular, peasants and
common cossacks feared to find their way to the yoke of Polish shliakhta. In
addition, they did not want a renewal of rules which had existed on the
entire Ukrainian territory since 1648. The mass repression on the part of
the Tsar's troops pounced on those suspected of having relations with Mazepa.
Hundreds of cossacks and officers were persecuted - some of them were
imprisoned, some annihilated. Ivan Mazepa was declared a traitor, and his
name was anathematized. By the Tsar's command, the officers elected I.
Skoropadskyi (1646-1722) as the new Hetman.
After the defeat of the Swedish Army near Poltava in June 1709 and the
capitulation of Karl XII and his allies, the offensive of tsarism against
autonomy of the Hetmanate was executed much more quickly. The highest state
posts in the Hetman's administration were given to people devoted to Peter
I. First, Russian landlords appeared in Ukraine (as they were the closest
fellow warriors of the Russian emperor), and then middle gentry appeared. In
1709, the Zaporizhian Sich was destroyed. Thousands of cossacks left for
Turkey in search of refuge. The government of Peter I subsequently
annihilated all the traces of the Ukrainian state system, undermined the
welfare of the Ukrainian people, and ruined the economic potential of
Ukraine. During the elections of I. Skoropadskyi (1708), Peter I refused to
sign traditional agreement articles between Russia and Ukraine. The new
Hetman was practically deprived of the right to make independent decisions.
The next step in limiting the rights of autonomy of Ukraine was the creation
of the First Little Russia Collegium (1722), which became the chief
managerial authority of the Hetmanate. The measures with regard to the
successive liquidation of the local Cossack self-ruling were also taken in
Slobodian Ukraine. Such a policy of Peter I could not help but result in the
resistance of the national elite, where the idea of Ukrainian independence
was still alive. It was manifested mostly in the Constitution by P. Orlyk,
in which the preliminary experience of Ukrainian state existence had been
generalized and the future ways of its development outlined. In the mid
1720s, P. Polubotok (about 1660-1724), who was appointed Hetman, rose for
the defense of the national state system of Ukraine. But his plans were not
supported by the demoralized society - torn by social conflict.
Under the successors of Peter I, the relative consciousness in relations of
the Russian monarchy with Ukraine altered with the strengthening of
incorporation tendencies. The Little Russia Collegium was abolished under
Peter I. In 1727, Ukrainians received permission to elect a new Hetman. D.
Apostol (1654-1734), a colonel from Myrhorod, was chosen as the new Hetman.
During his hetmanship, he succeeded in realizing certain reforms, perfected
the judicial system, secured the return of cossacks to the Hetmanate, and
founded the "New Sich". But all the activities of the Hetman were under the
control of tsarist residents. He was deprived of the right to act in foreign
policy and was subject to Russian General field marshal. Economic and legal
prerogatives of the Hetman's power were also essentially limited. Tsarism
began interfering with the affairs of Ukraine. The wave of protests to
restore the hetmanship in Ukraine was expanded among other Cossack officers.
In 1750, K. Rozumovskyi (1728-1803) was elected as the last Hetman of
Ukraine. In his domestic policy, he reorganized the Cossack army, performed
court reforms, gathered the meetings of Cossack officers. He also tried to
pursue independent foreign policy, favored the transfer of Ukrainian
problems from the jurisdiction of Senate to the Collegium of Foreign
Affairs, applied for the liberation of Ukrainians from participation in
military actions outside of Ukrainian territory. However, Catherine II,
disturbed by the increase in Rozumovskyi's authority, decided to completely
liquidate the hetmanship. The Second Little Russia Collegium was created in
1764. It's task was to completely liquidate the autonomy right which was
still in use in the Left Bank Hetmanate. The attack of tsarism on the
remains of Ukrainian autonomy entered its final phase in the 1770s and
1780s. Already in 1765, Catherine II had ordered to liquidate Slobodian's
Cossack army. The Slobodian Ukrainian province was organized there - which
was later included in the Kharkiv viceroyalty.
A Manifesto of August 3, 1775 proclaimed the liquidation of the Zaporizhian
Sich. The socio-political system of Hetman Ukraine also underwent
fundamental changes. In the early 1780s, its territory was divided into
regions ruled by governor-generals. At the same time, the traditional court
system was abolished. The force of the "Nobility Charter" was expanded to
the Left Bank of Ukraine in 1785. General-imperial ruling authorities,
standards, and customs were soon established. In essence, all of the organs
and institutions of the Ukrainian state system were demolished.
By the end of the century, Ukraine had lost not only its political
independence, but also its economic independence as a result of the economic
policy of the Russian monarchy. The political and economic dependence on the
Russian state was strengthened, and the Hetmanate lost the originality of
its system. Serfdom was secured by law in Left Bank and Slobodian Ukraine in
1783. This process was much quicker in South Ukraine, which was densely
populated in the late 18th century. By 1796, the Russian government executed
the existence of serfdom there.
Ukraine of the 19th
Eastern Ukraine, occupied by the Russian monarchy, included the lands of the
Left Bank, Slobodian, Right Bank Ukraine, and the region of the South.
During the 19th century, Eastern Ukraine was subject to general imperial
laws of socio-political and economic development. The validity of Russian
law, the administrative-territorial system, and executive personnel expanded
on this territory. The absolute power in all nine provinces (into which
Eastern Ukraine was divided at the beginning of the 19th century) was
delegated by a special edict from hand to hand of governor general who
performed administrative and supervisory functions.
Tsarism pursued a course of Russification of the Ukrainian population of
Eastern Ukraine. As a result of such a policy by the Russian government, the
number of Ukrainians in this area decreased to 80% by the end of the
century. In particular, the national element in the structure of urban
population did not exceed the one third of the general number of people. As
a result of intensification of industrial production in these recently
agricultural lands, one could see the strengthening of the class of workers
as well as the growth of the national bourgeoisie.
The liberation traditions of Ukrainians began their renaissance in the early
19th century. It first began in circles of national intellectuals -
Ukrainian writers in particular. The activities of the Kharkiv romantics -
Ukrainian subjects in works by M. Hohol - were of great significance for
preserving the spirits of cossacks' victories. In the future, their cause
was continued by Ivan Franko, Lesya Ukrainka, P. Hrabovskyi, and Taras
Shevchenko. The Ukrainian national cultural renaissance was favored by the
opening of the Kharkiv (1805) and Kyiv (1834) Universities by the founding
of a popular paper, "Ukrainskyi vesnik" (1816-1863), the scientific literary
journal, "Osnova" (1861-1863), and the first historical paper in Ukraine, "Kyivskaia
starina" (1882-1906). Scientific activity of well-known Ukrainian historians
was directed at maintaining wide circles of public and historical memory
about old traditions of the national-liberation struggle of Ukrainian people
for state independence and social justice.
From the first decades of the 19th century, the Ukrainian national culture
movement was closely connected with the political one. A lot of Ukrainians
were the acting members of general Russian Masonic organizations, which
proclaimed the creation of "judicious society" of the people with equal
rights - the target of their activities. They took part in secret officers'
societies, oriented against the Russian monarchy. The population on the Left
Bank region supported the liberation revolt of the Polish landlords of
1830-1831. Ethnic Ukrainians, together with the Poles, stood up for the
freedom of Poland during the rebellion of 1863-1864.
The activities of the Brotherhood of St. Cyril and Methodius was the
important point on the path of consolidation of the national liberation
movement. That was a non-legal political organization created in Kyiv in
1846 by representatives of the Ukrainian national intelligentsia. Taras
Shevchenko also spread the national liberation ideas in his poetic works.
The attainment of state independence of Ukraine and the establishing of it
as an equal member of the confederation of independent Slavic countries,
with Kyiv as the political center, was the goal of the Brotherhood
activities. The demand for liquidation of the monarchical system of the
Russian Empire and the abolition of serfdom were the closest political
requirements of the Brotherhood members. The practical activity was
concentrated on education and search of the way to raise the economic
development of Ukraine. Russian Tsarism savagely punished the Brotherhood
Having been spread in national consciousness, these ideas were developed in
the social movement of the late 19th century. Members of these often illegal
organizations were united by the calls of Ukrainism, the devotion to their
people and pride in their history. The social workers were mainly busy in
cultural and educational work. They organized schools, issues textbooks and
The liberation and social ideas were also spread among the working class in
Ukraine. The strengthening of national social pressure and economic
exploitation on the part of the Russian monarchy met the firm resistance of
peasants and town dwellers. Their refusal to work and armed uprisings became
the most spread form of social protest in the 19th century. They demanded
personal freedom, land and liberty.
The social struggle developed with new force in the late 19th century. In
the mid-1850s, the peasants' movement embraced 422 villages of the Kyiv,
Katerynoslav and Kherson provinces. Peasants' rebels were maintained by the
students from the Kharkiv and Kyiv Universities. Agrarian reform of 1861,
which abolished serfdom in Ukraine, simultaneously limited the peasants'
land ownership. The former serfs answered to the next wave of revolts.
A new stage of the liberation movement in Ukraine was connected with the
activities of Russian populists (narodniks). Their circles and organizations
worked in Kyiv, Odesa, Chernihiv and other cities. The ideas of freedom and
equality were spread by narodniks mainly among peasants. After 1885,
narodniks lost their leading part in the liberation movement. It was
intercepted by the social democratic intelligentsia, which made a lot of
efforts to bring their political calls to the consciousness of workers. The
first political organizations (i.e., Marxist circles) appeared in the 1880s
The 20th century was marked by the considerable aggravation of the
revolutionary struggle. First, Ukrainian political parties (the
Revolutionary Ukrainian Party, Ukrainian Socio-democratic Workers' Party,
the Society of Ukrainian Progressionists) were under its influence. Their
leaders were D. Antonovych, O. Lototskyi, V. Vynnychenko, S. Petliura, S.
Yefremov and others. Some of these individuals became prominent figures of
the future Ukrainian revolution.
Notwithstanding the Draconian laws of Tsarism of 1863 and 1876 with regard
to the Ukrainian language, the development of Ukrainian culture rose to a
new level. It became an important factor of national renaissance. The
creative work of M. Hrushevskyi, (e.g., the multi-volume "History of
Ukraine-Rus"), works by B. Hrinchenko, A. Krymskyi, and M. Arkas were
noticeable literary landmarks. Pressing social and national problems were
addressed in the works of many poets.
The state of Ukrainians in the lands subject to the Austro-Hungarian Empire
in the 19th century was not less complicated than of those in the territory
of Eastern Ukraine. The population of Eastern Halychyna, Northern Bukovyna
and Transcarpathia (mainly peasants) suffered from economic and social
oppression, as well as from national restraints. The expansion of the force
of centralized authorities to these territories provided for the
stabilization of economic relations between them, and created conditions for
their gradual evolution. By the mid-19th century, the Austro-Hungarian
government, influenced by the revolutionary situation in Europe in 1848,
began reforms directed at improving agrarian relations in the country. In
particular, they liquidated juridical dependence of peasants on the
landlords - the plots of lands were allotted to them. This created
conditions for the successive transformation of the peasantry in active
In April 1848, Austria acquired the status of constitutional monarchy. But
the declared democratic liberties and national equality of people often
remained on paper. Constitutional-parliamentary management was restored only
in the 1860s. The adoption of the December 1867 constitution guaranteed (at
least formally) the equality of nationalities and languages. Separate
regions of the empire (e.g., Halychyna) received the right of limited
authority. The measures taken by the Austrian government favored the
intensification of economic life in West Ukrainian lands, and their
incorporation into the world system of trade relations. The agrarian reform
of 1848 opened the path for complete reorganization of the agricultural
branch in the land. As a result of splitting up the peasants' farms, by the
end of the 19th century, a market of hired manpower that favored the
increase of profit in agricultural production, was created. Further
development of the enterprise industry was observed in the West Ukrainian
In the 19th century, there were certain changes in the socio-political life
of the region. The activation of the enlighteners' ideas and the furthering
of the ideology of romanticism, which was caused by the rise of the
liberation movement on the European continent, favored the intense processes
of national renaissance. The first cultural-educational circles appeared in
Peremyshl and Lviv. Interests in the history of the land, language and
folklore considerably increased at this time. However, the decisive part in
the development of the national movement at that time belonged to the
socio-cultural association "Ruska triitsia". The motives of the liberation
of the region were seen on the pages of publicists' articles, almanacs, and
The revolutionary events of 1848-1849 had broad resonance in the West
Ukrainian lands. The first Ukrainian political organization, the Chief Rus
Council, appeared in Lviv in 1848. Its program documents were filled with
ideas of autonomy, democracy, and reformation in different spheres of
political and intellectual life of the region. Revolutionary events
enlivened the Ukrainian national liberation movement in Northern Bukovyna (a
rebellion headed by Lukian Kobylytsia) and in Transcarpathia (O. Dukhnovych
and A. Dobrianskyi).
The national movement was not stopped after the revolution suppressed.
Representatives of younger generations of intelligentsia founded youth
organizations: communities in Lviv, Berezhany, Peremyshl, Sambir, Ternopil,
Stanislav. The whole pleiad of outstanding political figures of Ukraine came
from the milieu of these young people (e.g., Ivan Franko, Mykola Pavlyk,
Ostap Terletskyi). Such political parties as the Rus-Ukrainian radical
party, the Ukrainian Socio-Democratic Party, the Ukrainian National
Democratic Party among others, appeared in the region late in the 19th
century. The Greek-Catholic church, headed by Metropolitan Andrii
Sheptytskyi, became an influential force.
The development of the national liberation movement in the Western Ukrainian
lands was not isolated, but was in close relations with analogous processes
in Eastern Ukraine. There occurred the intense exchange of opinions and
ideas, of literature and periodicals. The people of Ukrainian territory,
separated by boundaries, thought of themselves as one nation.
On February 23, 1917, the revolution broke out in Petrohrad (the empire
capital St. Petersburg was renamed during the Russian-German war of 1914).
Tens of thousands of soldiers from the local garnisson joined workers on the
third day of conflict. Two authorities appeared in the evening of February
27, which played an essential part in the following events: Petrohrad
council of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies and the Provisional Committee of
the State Duma (Parliament). On March 2, Tsar Mykola II abdicated and the
Duma Committee, in agreement with the Petrohrad Council constituated the
executive organ of new power: the Provisional Government. It had to prepare
democratic elections to Constituent Assembly which had to determine the form
of the state system and to adopt Constitution.
Representative authorities in provinces came to civil organizations where
representatives of trade-industrial circles and administrative bureaucracy
occupied leading positions. As to their party belonging, almost all of them
were constitutional democrats (cadets). A Council of United Public
Organizations appeared on March 4 in Kyiv. The commissars of the Provisional
Government were given the executive power, which had earlier belonged to
tsarist governors and district police officers. Heads of province and
district land administrations became such commissars. Elected committees
began functioning in volosts instead of the officers.
The society of Ukrainian Progressionists (organized by M. Hrushevskyi, S.
Yefremov, and E. Chykalenko in 1908 as the inter-party political block),
having left the underground, used the recommendation of the Provisional
Government to create the councils of united public organizations in
provinces to form the All-Ukrainian Council. The Ukrainian Tsentralna Rada
(Central Council) also appeared in Kyiv on March 4 - simultaneously with the
Council of United Public Organizations. This representative democratic body
(UTR) appeared on the wave of revolutionary events to head the
national-liberation movement in all Ukrainian provinces. It included the
representatives of the Society of Ukrainian Progressionists, Orthodox
clergymen, progressive Ukrainian social democrats, and heads of cooperative
culture-educational, military, students' and scientific organizations,
societies and communities. Mykhailo Hrushevskyi, the recognized leader of
the Ukrainian liberation movement, was still in exile when elected as Head
of the Tsentralna Rada.
The Organization of the Workers' Council began in Ukrainian industrial
centers and that of soldiers' councils in harnisons and in the front
immediately after overthrowing the monarchy. The workers' councils were
established in Kharkiv, Kyiv, Katerynoslav and Kremenchuk. The councils were
non-party organizations which had no historical analogues. Their first
appearance during the revolution of 1905-1907, and again in 1917 was
evidence of the workers' distrust of any state institution. The call for
expropriation of the tools of production was most popular in these councils.
By the middle of 1917, 252 councils had been created in 9 Ukrainian
provinces - including 180 in Donbas.
Socialist parties of the socialist-revolutionaries (SRs) and social
democrats (the Menshevists' part), who influenced the workers' and soldiers'
councils during the first months of the revolution, wanted to create the
democratic parliamentary republic. They had no intention of proclaiming the
councils under their control or for the state organs to take the political
power. This is why they supported the legitimate Provisional Government. The
Bolsheviks' division of social democrats (after their chief V. Lenin came
back from emigration in April 1917) added this motto to their armory: "All
power to the Soviets". So, the Bolshviks stood in the way of democratic
orientation of the revolutionary process. The acquisition of control over
the councils (Soviets) and the announcement of the Soviet Republic meant the
establishment of a political dictatorship of the Bolshevik party. The slogan
of nationalization of the production tools proved to be equivalent to
establishing their economic dictatorship.
The number of Bolsheviks in Ukrainian provinces grew quickly from 2 thousand
before the revolution, to 10 thousand by the end in April 1917. Even as the
minority in the councils, they began organizing the army for the civil war
they foresaw. They organized workers' squadrons, militia, the red-guards
detachments. The resistance of councils under the control of mensheviks and
SRs and the counteractions of the local authorities of Provisional
Government, hindered this work to a certain extent. However, the Red Guards'
detachments were created in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Katerynoslav, and Odesa.
Meanwhile, the national revolution developed. In the first announcements of
the Tsentralna Rada, the national program was mainly a cultural trend. M.
Hrushevskyi, who had returned from exile, put the slogan of constitution of
national territorial autonomy of Ukraine. The head of UTR called for the
Ukrainians to not embrace the lands with the overwhelming Ukrainian
population. These were 9 provinces (the Soviet Ukraine was later created on
their territory) as well as Kuban, the northern and two southern regions of
the Bessarabian prince, Kholmsk province, western districts of the Don Army
region, and the southern regions of the Voronezh province.
The intense creation of political parties took place in Ukraine during the
first two months of the revolution. A party of socialists-federalists had
been formed on the basis of the Society of Ukrainian Progressionists. This
party had great influence with the Tsentralna Rada, though it had not become
the numerous one. The Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries had also
been organized and became the most massive one among the national parties.
By the middle of 1917, it accounted for about 75 thousand members. But the
number of members of the all-Russian party of SRs was incomparably greater
in Ukrainian provinces. The Party of Ukrainian Social Democrats, headed by
V. Vynnychenko and S. Petliura, also essentially yielded in quantity in
relations to the all-Russian party of mensheviks. By the middle of 1917, it
included about 5 thousand members, while the number of mensheviks in Ukraine
exceeded 50 thousand people.
The First Universal of Tsentralna Rada was announced on June 10, 1917 in
Kyiv at the congress of delegates of Ukrainianized regiments of the Tsarist
Army. It proclaimed that Ukrainian people had the right to manage their life
through the Ukrainian Constituent Assembly called on democratic ground. Some
days later, the executive organ of power, the General Secretariat headed by
V. Vynnychenko was created at the closed meeting of the Rada.
The Provisional Government had to recognize the Tsentralna Rada as a state
organ. After such a success, the Rada approved the Universal II, where it
informed about the creation of the General Secretariat and the development
of the law on Ukrainian autonomy.
The intensification of social economic crisis continued deteriorating the
material conditions of proletarized masses. Under these conditions, the
extremists’ slogans of Lenin’s branch of the All-Russian Party of Social
Democrats proved more and more popular. The number of Bolsheviks in Ukraine
reached 33 thousand people. As to its massiveness, Lenin’s party essentially
yielded to mensheviks as well as to Russian and Ukrainian SRs, but it was
distinguished by its discipline and offensiveness. From the second half of
the year, the Bolsheviks and their supporters began to prevail in the
Soviets of the workers’ and soldiers’ deputies. On September 8, the Kyiv
Soviet workers’ deputies first accepted the Bolsheviks’ revolution.
Threatened by the left extremism, the party of cadets began inclining to the
settlement of national crisis before using force. With the consent of its
leaders, the ruling clique of the army generals, headed by General L.
Kornilov, a Supreme Commander in Chief, made an effort to overthrow the
Provisional Government. But the plot was not discovered.
The Bolsheviks played the main part in its discovery. Their influence
essentially increased, especially in the southern and eastern provinces of
Ukraine, while the Provisional Government, saved by them, gradually lost the
support of people because of setting aside the immature reforms.
On October 25, 1917, Bolsheviks overthrew the Provisional Government and at
the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets in Petrohrad, they created their
own Government - the Soviet of People’s Commissars (Sovnarcom), headed by V.
Lenin. The October over throw created a new political situation, to which
the Tsentralna Rada had to react immediately. It issued its Universal III,
where it proclaimed the creation of the Ukrainian Republic (UPR).
Impressed by the offensive of the Russian troops controlled by Sovnarcom,
the Tsentralna Rada leaders quickly lost illusions of Russia’s
transformation into a democratic federal republic. The formal separation
from Bolsheviks’ dictature became a main task. On the night of January 12,
1918 M. Hrushevskyi issued the Universal VI of the Tsentralna Rada, which
proclaimed the independence of the UPR.
On January 27, 1918, the first peace treaty of the world war was signed
between the UPR and four states of the German block in Brest-Litovsk. A day
before the signing of the agreement, the Soviet Army entered Kyiv and the
Tsentralna Rada had to recognize that it needed immediate military help. ON
February 18, German and Austro-Hungarian troops began to occupy Ukraine.
According to the Peace Treaty, concluded on March 3 between Russia and the
Central States, the Sovnarcom committed to recognize independence of the UPR
and started peace negotiations.
The presence of the occupational army removed the revolutionary situation in
Ukraine. Activity of those social classes which required to respect the
private property and to liquidate chaos and anarchism increased. The former
tsarist General P. Skoropadskyi used these moods and came to power, being
proclaimed the Hetman of the “Ukrainian State”, which replaced the UPR.
Complete power was in his hands before calling in the parliament.
P. Skoropadskyi invited to his government authoritative figures who strove
to work constructively. However, occupants permitted his activities only in
the national-cultural sphere. Interested in removing maximum amounts of food
and raw materials from Ukraine, the military administration of the central
states continually meddled in the affairs of the state authorities. Peasants
began the war with occupants who supported the return of landlords to their
The Hetman’s regime could survive only under the occupation. On November 12,
1918 a truce was concluded between Germany and Entente countries, which
meant the end of the World War. German and Austro-Hungarian armies lost
their occupation functions. The next day there was a secret meeting of the
heads of Ukrainian parties who decided to organize the Directory to guide
the overthrow of the Hetman’s regime and to restore the UPR. The Directory
was headed by V. Vynnychenko and its armed forces were subject to S.
Petliura. They mainly consisted of thousands of battle-hardened rebels. Some
weeks later, the Directory took control of entire Ukraine.
The appearance of the Directory was unexpected for the neighbors of Ukraine.
The Entente planned to fill the power vacuum in Ukraine by bringing in 12-15
of its divisions with the occupation of Kyiv and Kharkiv. In November, the
armed forces of S. Petliura were opposed by the troops of Y. Pilsudskyi, who
wanted to draw as far eastward as possible the undetermined boundary of the
renewed Polish state. Red armies of L. Trotskyi were about to invade Ukraine
from the north and east and the White Guard of A. Denikin from the south.
The defeat in the world war lead to the disintegration of the
Austro-Hungarian empire and creation of independent states by its people. On
October 18, 1918, the Ukrainian National Rada was constituted in Lviv. It
proclaimed the intention to create a state on the ethno-Ukrainian lands
within the empire. The reviving Poland also raised the claims for those
lands. Therefore, the National Rada hastened to occupy Lviv and the whole
territory of Western Halychyna with its armed forces. On November 13, they
formed the West Ukrainian People’s Republic (WUPR). The head of the National
Rada, E. Petrushevych became the president of the WUPR, and K. Levytskyi
headed the State Secretariat. The reunion of both Ukrainian states was
announced on January 22, 1919 in Kyiv. The reunion declaration was to be
approved by the Constituent Assembly called from the territory of all
Ukraine. But it had not come to actual reunion. In 1919, the Polish troops,
armed by the Entente, occupied Eastern Halychyna and Western Volyn. Much
earlier, at the beginning of January, Soviet Russia began the invasion of
the UPR and occupied its capital on February 5. The Directory first stayed
in Vinnytsia, then in Zhmerynka, Proskuriv and Rivne. Early in May, S.
Petliura and other figures of the UPR emigrated.
In January 1919, the government of Soviet Ukraine refused the denomination
introduced by the Tsentralna Rada (UPR) and established another one, the
Ukrainian Socialist People’s Republic (Ukrainian SSR). The government’s name
also changed to Sovnarcom, as in Moscow. The government was headed by
Khrystian Rakovskyi, the leading figure of the Second International who
appeared in Russia after the advent of Bolsheviks and offered his services.
The elections of the workers’ council, the Red Army soldiers and peasants
deputies were held in spring 1919. As a result of the manipulations with
representation norms, the Bolsheviks gained a complete advantage. The
Soviets only served as a cover for the dictatorship of the RCP(b)-CP(b)U
which was supported by the army and Extraordinary Commission. In accordance
with the Ukrainian. SSR constitution, which had the constitution of Soviet
Russia as a model, the All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets became the higher
legislative body and All-Ukrainian Central executive committee (AUCEC)
performed its functions between congresses.
It was noted in the government declaration that the Ukrainian SSR was united
with the RRFSR on principles of “Socialist Federation”. The essence of
federations was not deciphered, but the RCP(b) program (adopted in March
1919) indicated that the Federate Union of Soviet of Soviet states is a form
of transition to complete unity. The Bolshevik party wished to centralize
the military and economic management in short terms. On June 1, 1919, the
all-Russian Central Executive Committee (ARCEC), proclaimed the decree about
the “military-political union”. Administration of the most important
branches of the state of soviet republics was concentrated in the Moscow
As soon as Ukraine became a soviet republic, it entered the sphere of the
action of the great experiment. The market economy was to be changed for
commodity-free production. Peasants hoped that the soviet power would give
them land estates of landlords as it had been promised in mottoes, which
Bolsheviks used when going to the October overthrow. However, the decree of
ARCEC adopted in February 1919, proclaimed collectivization as the current
task of the village. In conformity with the decree, Kh. Rakovksyi’s
government gave preference to state farms and communes created on the basis
of expropriated estates.
The powerful tide of the peasants resistance rose in response to the policy
which Lenin later called “military communism” (when it failed and they
refused from it). Ataman Zelenyi (D. Terpylo), member of the party of social
democrats (independent) was the first to oppose the government in the middle
of March. He did his best to spread the actions of his nearly twelve
thousand member army to the left bank of the Dnieper, to Pereiaslav and
Zolotonosha. The detachments of Nestor Makhno (who was named a “father”, or
bat’ko, by elected village atamans) operated in the Katerynoslav province,
in the region of Huliaipole. Makhno fought well against Denikin’s army he
conventionally supported the soviet power, definitely opposing the anarchism
of commissars and agrarian policy of Rakovksyi. The revolt of ataman M.
Hryhoriev in May 1919 was the greatest.
Anti-Bolshevist rises of peasants deeply influenced the sprits of the Red
Army, which mainly consisted of peasants, and provoked the mass desertion
and general discipline relaxation. A. Denikin, a commander of the White
Guards Voluntary army, took advantage of the occasion. From May to August
1919, the White Guards occupied Ukraine and started their march to Moscow.
Having placed the economy under the command of the state, Russian Bolsheviks
could create the army that greatly surpassed the number of Denikin’s armed
forces. At the beginning of February 1920, the Red Army liberated the entire
When the defeat of Denikin was inevitable, the government of Soviet Russia
turned its attention to Poland. Some propositions concerning peaceful
settlement of the problem with boundaries were made to the government of
Poland. Moscow supposedly consented to recognize the line of real
demarcation of military forces that were formed in the summer of 1919 to be
the state boundary. At the same time, beginning from 1920, V. Lenin began to
draw up to the west front the most efficient detachments of the Red Army
from everywhere, including the Urals, Siberia and Caucasus.
On the eve of the inevitable war with Soviet Russia, Y. Pilsudskyi, the head
of the Polish state, considered it expedient to regulate relations with his
former enemy, S. Petliura. Wishing to continue the war for an independent
UPR, Petliura accepted his conditions. The Warsaw agreement was made in
April 1920. The Pilsuskyi’s government refused from the intentions to expand
Poland to the limits of Rich Pospolyta of 1772 and recognized the UPR. This
concession was of symbolic value. However, Petliura had to make real
concessions when given consent to the state boundary along the line already
occupied by Pilsudskyi’s troops.
Pilsudskyi did not wait for the end of relocation of Soviet troops, and on
April 25, 1920, began the offensive along the 500 km front using the forces
of three armies which accounted for about 150 thousand people. Fifteen
thousand of Petliura’s soldiers advanced together with the Poles. On May 6,
they occupied Kyiv. V. Lenin placidly met the first success of Poles because
the objective correlation of forces was in favor of Russia. The
counter-offensive of soviet troops that started on June 5 soon turned into
the broad offensive headed by M. Tukhachevskyi. Moscow had formed a
marionette-like government of F. Dzerzhynskyi, whom they planned to make the
head of conquered Poland.
The threat of losing the state rights conquered in 1918 closely united the
broadest ranges of population around the government. Immediate help with
arms and ammunition was given by France. Troops of M. Tukhachevskyi were
stopped within 23 km of Warsaw and began to retreat in confusion under the
destructive Polish attack. In ten days, they were already over the Buh. At
the end of September, the front was in the region of Zhytomyr and Berdychiv.
The truce that was finalized in October fixed the consent of the Soviet
party to remain Western Ukraine and Western Bielorussia within the
boundaries of Poland.
After the withdrawal of Y. Pilsudskyi’s troops to the Zbruch river, the S.
Petliura’s army fought in Left Bank Ukraine for about one month with the
forces of O. Yegorov. On November 18, 1920 Petliura’s troops left the
frontier Volochysk and retreated to Poland. However, the UPR army continued
the hopeless struggle with partisan raids in the Right Bank. After numerous
protests by Rakovskyi, the Polish government stopped them at the end of
Strengthening of the
The end of the military events was not the sign for changing policy based on
the communist doctrine. On the contrary, the program of restoration and
development of industry according to the GOELRO plan was to be realized with
the help of a surplus-appropriation system (i.e., forced state tasks for
sowing and delivering agriculture products).
In the winter of 1920-1921 there was a mass uprising of Ukrainian peasants
against the Soviet power which S. Petliura had expected in spring of 1920
when he was in the offensive with the Poles against Kyiv. Possessed
peasantry rise against the trade prohibition and surplus-appropriation
system. Most efficient units of the Red Army, headed by V. Bliukher, H.
Kotovskyi, O. Parkhomenko, were sent to struggle with the peasants’
detachments. But the army itself also mainly consisted of peasants and
became less and less reliable.
In the spring of 1921, V. Lenin had to refuse from the surplus-appropriation
system and to renew free trade. New Economic Policy (NEP) replaced the old
communist one. The transition to NEP proceeded painfully and under pressure
of evident realities of the economic life.
The introduction of NEP in Ukraine was halted by famine. As a result of the
catastrophic drought of 1921, the famine embraced the Volga region, Northern
Caucasus, and the Southern provinces of Ukraine. The harvest of 1921 in most
regions of the Left Bank and Right Bank was rather sufficient and its
redistribution in favor of Southern provinces could prevent the famine. But
Moscow required not to stop the supply of industrial centers of Russia.
Lenin was not disturbed by the state in the Volga region nor in Ukraine, but
by breaks in Moscow, Petrohrad and other cities. That is why the famine in
Ukraine was kept a secret. Food cargoes of the American Administration of
Aid (APA), which were sent to Russia from August 1921, passed by Ukraine.
Numerous commissions rendering aid to starving people worked in the country,
but food supplies went to the Volga region and to refugees. In 1921-1922m
about 439, 000 people from the Volga region, the Urals, and Kazakhstan found
refuge in Ukraine.
The legalization of private trade and currency reform of 1922-1924 drew the
enterprises from underground. New bourgeoisie (tenants, wholesalers,
industrialists, commission agents, and brokers) appeared in the country.
They quickly saved the country from economic chaos, but the authorities
disapproved of them. Lenin emphasized that NEP is a forced and temporary
retreat from fulfilling the communist program.
The Soviet Union was formed on December 30, 1922. Ukraine changed its status
from independent republic to a union republic. The proposition by J. Stalin
during the discussion of party leaders on the forms of national-state
construction to make independent republics the autonomous ones within the
Russian Federation, was denied. Lenin proposed that all the independent
soviet republics equal in right create a new state federation. Each union
republic within the federation had great rights up to the right of leaving
Lenin’s proposition was realized. Even Josef Stalin did not oppose the
proposition. And it was not a coincidence since the dictatorship of the
party, which turned the USSR into the unitary state, never was reflected in
soviet constitutions. Its existence under the shelter of soviet power
allowed performing the boldest experiments in the national-state
construction and as in making far-reaching concessions to
A separate political bureau was created inside the Central Committee in
1919. In 1922, Lenin became sick and did not take part in active political
life. At this time, the struggle for power began in the Politbureau. During
this time, Rakovskyi was removed from Ukraine, and in 1925 Stalin put the
party organization of Ukraine under control of L. Kahanovych.
In December 1925, three years after the USSR was created, at the 14th
Congress, the state party changed its name and became the All-Union party -
In 1927, the 15th Congress of VCP(b) adopted directives of making the first
five-year plan of development of the national economy for 1928/1929 to
1932/1933, which included a principal decision for complete use of this
method of confiscation of peasants’ incomes. But peasants did not want to
sell their products for law prices. The crises in state grain procurements
took place in 1927-1929.
In the previous years they used the market method for finding a way out of
such a situation, by raising prices for bread. In 1928, Josef Stalin
separated peasants from the market and deprived them of the means of
production and prohibited free trade. In November 1919, the decision to
collectivize agriculture was made. In order to prevent resistance to
expropriation of peasants’ property, the state opposed the owners and
proletarized strata of the village population. Rich peasants (or kurkuli),
who strongly resisted collectivization, were expropriated or deported. When
peasants refused forced labor, Stalin’s response was famine. The results
were terrible, and 3.5 million people starved to death in Soviet Ukraine.
Total losses, including the decrease in the birth rate, reached close to 5
million. Approximately one million people perished in the Northern Caucasus.
Stalin had used the famine of 1932-1933 to get rid of the “Ukrainianization”
that had occurred in most regions of the Northern Caucasus and to prevent
people from discussing the experience of their transfer to Ukraine.
Cultural construction was a constituent of socio-economic transformation in
the period between the First and Second World War. The maintenance of the
cultural forms of the national movement under the ruthless struggle with its
state forms as well as the emphasis on raising the culture, were the main
features of policy of the state party in the sphere of culture. The
liquidation of illiteracy, introduction of general compulsory education,
preference for workers when applying to institutions of higher learning,
were among the important trends of cultural construction.
Religion composed an important part of the intellectual culture of people.
However, the communist party wanted to annihilate the church - the only
element of pre-revolutionary social structure that still existed - and
replace it with an atheistic consciousness. Religious music, literature,
philosophy and even church architecture were annihilated. One could not find
an Orthodox bishop in Ukraine at the end of the 1930s.
In 1935, Stalin decided to announce the victory of socialism and introduced
changes to the constitution directed at democratizing the election system -
replacing unequal elections with equal ones, and open elections with secret
ones. The constitution of the USSR was adopted on December 5, 1936, and at
the end of January 1937, the constitution of the Ukrainian SSR was
The outward democratization of power was accompanied by political
repression, which began developing after the murder of S. Kirov, on December
1, 1934. Millions of people died or were sent to the concentration camps
during mass repression of 1937-1938. Ukraine suffered from the “witch hunt”
more than did other regions of the USSR.
Ukraine in the
Second World War:
According to the clauses of the Riga peace agreement, Eastern Halychyna and
Western Volyn were parts of Poland. The Polish government did not give the
Ukrainians the rights of autonomy. During the land reform, Polish land
owners (mostly former military officers) obtained the best plots of land.
About 200 thousand of them were distributed in overpopulated areas of
Western Ukraine from 1920-1938. The colonization and assimilation policy of
Polish powers called for the resistance of population, ruled by two opposite
underground organizations: the Communist party of Western Ukraine and the
Ukrainian military organization. Early in 1929, the Organization of
Ukrainian nationalists (OUN) was created in Vienna.
On September 1, the attack of Poland by Adolf Hitler marked the beginning of
the Second World War. Almost simultaneously, Stalin attacked Poland on
September 1 from the east and occupied the greatest part of the country’s
territory: Western Bielorussia and Western Ukraine. In June 1940, Stalin
tookBessarabia, and Northern Bukovyna was annexed by Romania in 1940. After
the reunification of the Ukrainian SSR and Western Ukraine, the population
grew by 8,909 and by the middle of 1941, the population stood at 41,675,000.
The republic territory became 560 thousand square miles. The sovietization
of the newly-created western regions began. All the political, national
economic and cultural infrastructure that was created by Ukrainian
intellectuals and businessmen was annihilated. About 10% of the Western
population was repressed, and the population sharply felt the lack of
freedom with which the totalitarian regime had embraced them with.
On June 22, Germany and its allied powers invaded the Soviet Union from
three strategic directions. Having had no experienced military leaders, the
Red Army suffered great losses and the soldiers often found themselves
surrounded. By the end of September, the Red Army left Odesa, and in the
middle of October the battles were expanded near Kharkiv and Donbas.
The Soviet Union suffered great defeat, which cast doubt in the state’s
existence and the fate of its people. Hitlerites considered the territory of
Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, as the life space (Lebensraum) for German
people. Mad racist theories of Fuhrer, which materialized in his general
plan “Ost” were soon realized.
In December 1941, Wehrmacht suffered its first defeat near Moscow. In the
course of counterattack, the Red Army drew the Germans back for 400 km.
Nonetheless, 1942 was still unsuccessful. The catastrophe near Kharkiv,
where three armies were surrounded and crushed was one of the greatest
tragedies. Sevastopol fell in July, and on the 22nd, the receding Soviet
troops left the last settlements in the territory of Donbas. The enemy
penetrated the Caucasus and the banks of the Volga in the region of
Hitler gave a considerable portion of Ukrainian land to his ally, I.
Antonesku. They created a new Romanian province called “Transnistria”, with
a center in Odesa. West-Ukrainian lands were subject to governor-generalship
which embraced the greatest part of Poland. The Right Bank and the greater
part of the Left Bank, and areas adjacent to the Crimea, created
“Reichscommisariat of Ukraine”.
Terror swayed in the lands occupied by Germans, who completely exterminated
Jewish and Gipsy populations, as well as all other people suspected of not
being loyal to the Reich. Thousands of people starved to death because the
occupying powers didn’t care to supply food to the towns. In 230 camps for
war prisoners, 1,366 people died, most of whom starved to death.
Ostarbeiters, in a number close to 2.4 million, were taken off to work in
forced labor camps in Germany. Nearly 320 villages, with people still
dwelling in their homes, were burned down. About 6 million Ukrainians served
in the armed forces of the anti-Hitlerite coalition of countries. Of them,
about 3 million died, and every other person became an invalid. Between 7-8
million people, born in Ukraine perished during the war.
Partisan movement in Western Ukraine was lead by the OUN. On the eve of the
war, OUN split into two parts, which seemed to disagree with each other.
They were the OUN(b), headed by S. Bandera, and OUN(m), headed by A. Melnyk.
When German troops had occupied Lviv, Bandera and his adherents announced
“Act to restoration of the Ukrainian state”. A provisional government was
appointed, headed by Y. Stetsko. When Berlin authorities came to know about
the unwarranted actions of the nationalists, the government was driven away
and the OUN leaders found themselves in concentration camps. After two tides
of arrests and executions (in September and December 1941), the OUN under
Bandera went underground.
In the autumn of 1942, Bandera’s OUN decided to create the Ukrainian
Insurrection Army (UIA), called upon to fight with the Polish and Soviet
partisan-underground formations. Banderists defended the local population
from occupying forces and periodically entered into armed conflicts with
them. As a whole, the command maintained its troops in the state of armed
neutrality. They were guided by the pragmatic desire to spare their strength
for the struggles with the Red Army, since it became apparent that it would
After the defeat in Stalinhrad, a division of sich gunman, “Halychyna” was
created at the initiative of German authorities. This was a typical example
of collaboration. Cooperation with nazism doomed to defeat in the war could
not give anything the to the Ukrainian cause. The Stalinhrad catastrophe
created preconditions for mopping up the territory of Ukraine from the
On December 19, 1942, the enemies were dislodged from the first Ukrainian
villages. After the victory on the Kursk Bulge in July 1943, Soviet troops
counterattacked and quickly liberated Left Bank Ukraine and Donvas. Kyiv was
liberated on November 6, 1943.
In October 1944, the entire Ukrainian territory was free from enemy forces.
Transcarpathian Ukraine was liberated on October 26-28. In November, the
congress of people’s committee in Mukacheve made a resolution about the
Transcarpathian withdrawal from Czechoslovakia and its reunification with
Ukraine. The new region expanded Ukraine’s territory to 577 thousand square
After landing American and English forces in Normandy in June of 1944, the
defeat of Germany became inevitable. The Berlin operation, in which the
troops of the 1st and 2nd Bielorussian and 1st Ukrainian fronts took part
(total of 2.5 million people), became the last page in the war. On May 9,
1945, the statement of unconditional capitulation was signed in the presence
of Soviet, American, English and French representatives.
The results of the war and the postwar world order were determined by mutual
actions of the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition (first of which were
the Teheran and Crimean conferences). The conference in San Francisco in
June 1945, founded the United Nations organization. Ukraine and Bielorussia,
the union of republics of the USSR which had made a recognizable
contribution to the defeat of nazism, were among the founding nations of the
Material losses of the USSR during the Second World War surpassed 40% of
total expenditures of the belligerent powers. The part of the Ukrainian SSR
in the All-Union losses surpassed 40%. Ukraine suffered greater material
losses than Russia, Germany, France or Poland.
Restoration began immediately after the retreat of the German army, Great
care was taken to restore railways and coal-metallurgical complexes. By the
end of 1945, about 1/3 of the prewar industrial potential of the republic
had been renewed.
During the period of the first postwar five-year plan (1946-1959), the
Ukrainian industry, as a whole, achieved the prewar level of production. But
the isolation from the surrounding world was evident in that Soviet
industries lagged considerably behind other leading countries.
The success of industry growth was provided for the low part of wages of
workers and employees in national income, as well as for the nonequivalent
exchange between towns and villages.
Renumeration of labor in kolkhoz was extremely low and personal farming
property of peasants imposed high taxes and obligatory supply of natural
products. Notwithstanding the hard drought of 1946, the taxation imposed by
the state was not decreased. The Famine of 1946-1947 took the lives of
hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian peasants.
Total collectivization of agriculture was carried out in western regions
during 1948-1949. Its methods were as brutal as those used in eastern
regions in 1929-1933. Trying to resist the state which expropriated property
and made a peasant the hired manpower, the boldest went to the forest to
detachments of the UPA. Partisan activity in western regions was
extinguished only in 1952.
Cultural establishments, especially schools and clubs were often constructed
by the methods of people’s buildings, because of the lack of centralized
assets. But even in those times, Ukrainian artists made great contributions
to the national culture treasury. However, their creative work was deformed
by the impossibility to step aside the regulate propagandist principles.
After the death of Stalin in March 1953, the political climate started to
gradually change in the country. M. Krushchov played a key role in the
political changes. Concentration camps were closed, and victims of Stalin’s
repression who survived began returning to Ukraine. The catastrophic
situation in agriculture was a concern for the first time. Degradation of
productive forces of the village was stopped by the indulgences in taxation
policy and pricing.
Changes in the political climate were legitimized by the decisions of the
20th congress of the party (February 1956) which from 1952 was called the
Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). Congress resolutions included
the substantiated thesis of the lack of fatal inevitability of a third World
War. Foreign policy of the Soviet government became more supple and
realistic. Krushchov delivered a speech at the closed meeting of the
congress where he denounced the outer manifestations of totalitarianism (the
personality cult of Stalin) and the most astonishing cases of abusing one’s
power of which the party itself suffered.
At the initiative of Krushchov, attention was drawn to the country’s delay
in the sphere of newest technologies and levels of their scientific
provision, which threatened to undermine the defense potential. The
space-rocket programs appropriations were essentially increased. The most
contemporary enterprises of the rocket, electronic, chemical, ship-building
and other branches of industry were constructed in Ukraine for rather short
terms the whole number of institutes within the Academy of Sciences of
Ukraine and outside its limits were created.
The achievements in the sphere of civil engineering, construction of
cultural objects, pension provision of citizens, countrymen in particular,
were too considerable. The generation of men of the 60s was formed. That is,
people with anti-totalitarian thinking. The creative work of Honchar,
Rylskyi, Dovzhenko and other artists had great socio-political resonance.
Features of the system crisis of soviet totalitarianism had been distinctly
manifested still in the times of Khrushchov. Potentialities of an increase
of the national income due to extensive factors, shortened while the command
economy was unable to provide production intensification. Numerous reforms
in the national economy and management system caused sensations but always
failed. At last in October 1964, Khrushchov was dismissed as a result of his
machinery conspiracy. The time of L. Brezhnev began: these were two decade
Stalinists that came to power chose the tactics of ignoring even those
crimes which became public after 1956. In 1965, state security organs made
the first turn of arrests of representatives of Ukrainian intelligentsia
accused of anti-Soviet activities. These activities manifested in protests
against ceasing the process of de-Stalinization, in asserting social and
national rights. But the dissidents’ movement was not stopped.
Policy in the sphere of national relations had not been discussed at the
congresses and plenums of the Central Committee of the state party since
1923, because it was decided that the national problem had been already
settled. But domestic policy still existed, varying according to
circumstances. In 1953, Khrushchov was the first to make O. Kyrychenko, the
head of the Communist Party of the republic. In 1954, the Crimean region was
added to Ukraine. L. Brezhnev had claimed to be a Ukrainian in prewar forms
for career purposed, but he proved to be a persistent Russificator at the
post of General Secretary of the CC of the CPSU. He did not leave from the
post of the First Secretary of the CC of the Communist party of P. Shelest
for a long time, until V. Shcherbytskyi took over the post in May 1972.
Shcherbytskyi belonged to the Dnipropetrovsk group of the General Secretary
followers. Secretary of the Central Committee on Ideology V. Malanchuk (also
chosen by Brezhnev) launched a broad campaign on persecution of scientific
and creative intellectuals. The rates of the purposeful Russification became
The extensive orientation of production required to bring into circulation
the ever-increasing amounts of material resources and labor force. The
“stagnation” was characterized in Ukraine by development of mining branches,
by wasting natural resources, turning a lot of localities into the zones of
ecological danger. Ukraine was polluted by waste of a mineral-raw-material
complex ten times more extensively than the USSR as a whole. After the
explosion of the fourth power unit of Chernobyl NPP in April 1986,
ecological conditions in the republic grew worse. The reason for the
greatest catastrophe in the history of mankind, was due to the low quality
of design, construction and maintenance of nuclear plants.
With the development of the system crisis, the state actively used the
principle of “price scissors” when the lion’s share of the income of
collective and state farms come to the state budget. The agriculture more
and more lagged behind while the flow of those who left villages still
increased. In 1960, the peasants composed a half of the population of
Ukraine, while in 1985 only a third. It proved impossible to feed the
two-thirds of town-dwellers under the labor productivity of those times. So
the food supply problem got worse year after year.
Thousands of billions of “petrol dollars” earned during the world petroleum
crisis of the 1970s were used for importing the cheapest commodities for
further reselling at the home market. When “petrol-dollars” had been
exhausted, they revealed the budget deficit (which was assiduously
The military-industrial complex exhausted the national economy. A necessity
to keep to parity in arms with the western countries brought the Soviet
Union to the economic abyss. It was evident that the USSR had lost the “cold
The Way to Freedom
Reforms initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev in spring 1985 were first controlled
by the state party. But with the expansion of publicity (“glasnost”) there
remained even less people who could find any harmony in relations between
the State and society. Communist ideology lost its authority, the society
was quickly politicized. These processes immediately acquired political
coloration in Ukraine. There began the actions of protest against closing
the schools with education in Ukrainian, against forcing out the national
language from the sphere of state management, book-publishing, mass media.
In November 1988, the first mass meeting took place in Kyiv which was
devoted to the problems of ecology, where V. Shcherbytskyi and other leaders
were blamed for concealing information about the after-effects of the
In 1989, the political strikes burst out in Donbas, and the People’s
Movement of Ukraine appeared in Kyiv. In the spring of 1989, the first free
elections (after 1917) were held in the USSR, which lead to the appearance
of a new center of power in a form of the two-level representative system:
the Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR and permanently acting the
Supreme Council of the USSR formed at the Congress. Under this new
situation, V. Shcherbytskyi was not in power for a very long period of time.
The party dictatorship and the entire totalitarian system fell to pieces
In March 1990, elections were held for the Supreme Council of the Ukrainian
SSR and local councils. A lot of new political figures, the adherents of
reforms, appeared on the scene in political life. On July 16, 1990 the
Parliament adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine. To save
the Soviet Union, Gorbachev started negotiations with the leaders of the
republics about the conditions of a union agreement, that could not be
coordinated with the principles of state sovereignty (Novoogariovian
process) declared by Republican Parliaments.
On the evening of August 19, 1991, the conservatives of the central
party-state management made an attempt of the state upheaval, striving to
turn the country life to the state before 1985. The putsch (the leaders of
the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine who also
participated) was a failure. On August 24, the extraordinary session of the
Supreme Council of the Ukrainian SSR approved “The Bill of Independence
Announcement of Ukraine”.
In the last days of August 1991, they adopted the edict about temporal
cessation and then the prohibition of activities of the Communist Party of
Ukraine. On December 1, 1991, the referendum on confirmation of “The Bill of
Independence Announcement of Ukraine” took place. There was a positive
response from 90.3% of the population who took part in the referendum. The
elections of the first President of Ukraine were also held. Leonid Kravchuk
became the first President of Ukraine.
The referendum in Ukraine created a qualitatively new situation with regard
to the problem of existence of the USSR. A week after this event, Borys
Yeltsin, President of RSFSR, Leonid Kravchuk, and S. Shushkevych, Head of
the Supreme Council of Bielorus, announced at the meeting in Minsk that the
USSR no longer existed as a subject of international law and geopolitical
reality. Ukraine became an independent sovereign state.
The response of the world community to the results of the national
referendum was unexpectedly unanimous: for December 1991, the independence
of Ukraine was recognized by 68 states, and in 1992 it was recognized by 64
states. Yeltsin’s government was one of the first states to recognize
Ukraine hoped that Moscow would remain the ruling center in the entire
territory of the USSR and, using the mechanism of the Commonwealth of the
former union of republics”, would not turn into a military-political unit or
into a new variant of the USSR. Ukraine abstained from signing the agreement
which endowed the Commonwealth institutions with super-state functions.
After the disintegration of the USSR, Ukraine inherited the third largest
nuclear potential in the world. In December 1991, the Supreme Rada resolved
the law “On Military Powers of Ukraine”, and in November 1993, adopted the
military doctrine in which it was announced that Ukraine did not see its
enemies in the neighboring countries and the army of Ukraine is only a
guarantee of its national security. For the first five years, the military
forces of Ukraine were reduced from 726,000 to 350,000.
Beginning with the Declaration on State Sovereignty, Ukraine always
emphasized the desire to become a non-nuclear state. In November 1994, the
Supreme Rada approved the decision on Ukraine joining the Agreement on
non-expansion of nuclear weapons on the condition of guaranteeing safety on
the part of nuclear states. Such guarantees were given and in the summer of
1996, the last 1280 nuclear warheads were removed from Ukraine.
The constitutional process, which began in July 1990 by adopting the
Declaration on State Sovereignty of Ukraine, became the most important
element in the creation of the state. This document ratified the principles
of sovereignty, democracy, inviolability of the territory of Ukraine, power
division into legislative, executive and court branches, equality of
citizens and state guarantee of their rights and liberties. The Constitution
of Ukraine was adopted on June 28, 1996 after a long-term political
struggle. The Constitution created a strong legislative foundation for the
regulation of public relations, development of sovereignty and a democratic
The democratic system went through its first serious trial in June 1994
when, as a result of free elections, the power was given up to Leonid Kuchma,
the new President of Ukraine.
The strengthening of Ukraine as a sovereign state is complicated by the
difficulties of the transition period, which are especially felt in the
sphere of the economy. The economic crisis, which was inherited from Soviet
times, became worse in following years. The disagreements and discussions
concerning the future of Ukraine continues. Different ideas as to the
desirable rates, orientations and even the expediency of the market reforms
still exist among the political elite and in the society. However, this
struggle is carried out by political methods and in the constitutional
field. When deciding its economic and political problems, Ukraine has had
the support of the world community. Ukraine meets the end of the 20th
century as an independent state.
Ukraine's Orange Revolution of 2004-2005 was a series of protests and
political events that took place throughout the country in response to
allegations of massive corruption, voter intimidation and direct electoral
fraud during the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election.
The protests were prompted by reports from numerous domestic and foreign
observers as well as the widespread public perception that the results of
the run-off vote of November 21, 2004 between leading candidates Viktor
Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych were rigged in favor of the latter. The
run-off was mandated by Ukrainian law due to the official results of the
presidential vote held on October 31, 2004, in which no candidate carried
more than 50% of the cast ballots. The winner of the run-off was to become
Ukraine's third president since its 1991 independence following the demise
of the Soviet Union.
Orange was adopted by the protesters as the official color of the movement
since it was the election campaign color of the main opposition candidate,
Viktor Yushchenko. The symbol of solidarity with Yushchenko's movement in
Ukraine was an orange ribbon or a flag bearing the "Так! Ющенко!" ("Yes!
Yushchenko!") slogan. While millions of Ukrainians demonstrated daily in
Kiev (Kyiv) — the capital city of Ukraine and the center of the revolution
where a large 24-hour tent city was set up by Yushchenko's supporters —the
action was highlighted by a series of nationwide protests, sit-ins, and
general strikes organized by the opposition, following the disputed results
of the November 21 run-off election.
Due in large part to the opposition movement's efforts, the results of the
original run-off were annulled and a second run-off election was ordered by
Ukraine's Supreme Court for December 26, 2004. Under intense scrutiny, the
second run-off was agreed by domestic and international observers to be
virtually problem-free. The final results showed a clear victory for
Yushchenko, who received about 52 percent of the vote compared to
Yanukovych's 44 percent. He was declared the official winner and with his
inauguration on January 23, 2005 in Kiev, the Orange Revolution reached its
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