Why Ukraine is not Russia

Har du noen gang tenkt på hva som er forskjellen mellom Ukraina og Russland? Her er en oversettelse av den russiske journalisten Valeriya Novodvorskayas historisk-analytiske essay. Den originale teksten finner du her: http://www.newtimes.ru/articles/detail/81082/

Why Ukraine is not Russia

About the people, not spoiled by “great power”


Patriarchal Gogol’s Little Russia (Malorossiya) can create an illusion that Ukrainians and Russians are one people. Plus Belarus. Cut into pieces by the knife of “geopolitical catastrophe”* (i.e. collapse of the Soviet Unionhere and further translator’s notes)

After leaving to Oka River, to the Northern woods, after merging with Finno-Urgic tribes the Russian character started to change, and not to the better. Kluchevskiy believes that scantier soils and shallower rivers made princes more authoritarian and stingy, and the people – more primitive. The tradition of agnatic seniority where all the princes were bound by family ties, goes away, fertile black earth (chernozem) remains in the South, while principalities become smaller and more boring: Oka and Moskva River are not the same as Dnepr. Gloomy woods gave birth to gloomy thoughts.

Vladimir-Suzdal* (one of the major principalities in Russia at that time) did not honour Kiev much, Prince of Vladimir, Andrey Bogolyubsky, was the first Russian prince to start repressions, suspicions and autocracy. He can be considered to be the ideological forerunner of Ivan the Terrible. And when in 1169 he attacked Kiev, ruined it more then the future Mongolians did, burned churches, killed and sent civilians for sale – this was the end of the warm Slavic myth about Kiev, mother of the Russian cities.

Fortunately for Kiev, after being destroyed by Mongolians, it became provincial to the Golden and the future Moscovian Hordes. Galicia-Volhynia together with the whole right-bank Ukraine started to be more and more affected by the power and charm of Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1362 they became its part, which meant freedom, confederate structure of Kievan Rus and the ability to use Statut, one of the earliest European constitutions. In XV century Kiev received Magdeburg rights.

In the future Great Russia in 1378 the confederate principal was however broken: in Moscow boyar Ivan Veliaminov was executed for trying to change his prince (which was fully legal before). From that moment on it was considered national treason.

In XVI century Ukraine together with Lithuania became part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The central power was very weak there and every magnate tried to grab the biggest piece of the pie. There existed also the right of ”veto” on the general sejm. Every nobleman could say: ”Won’t allow!” – and the law would not be passed.

Ukrainians were often fighting with the Polish because of land and religion, despite the Union. And it made Ukrainian character stronger. Think about the military democracy of Zaporizhian Sich. Latin literacy came even into bursa* (student houses). Choma Brut* (character of Gogol’s “Viy”) sang religious songs in Latin, not even mentioning Kiev-Mohyla Academy which had quite Western approach to education. The wind of freedom blew in the fields of Ukraine and people were fleeing there from Moscovian despotism, as the iron rings of Unitarian state closed up around the Great Russia already under Ivan III.

Ukraine has remained under the first three traditions: freedom-loving, individualistic Scandinavian; soft, humanitarian Slavic and finally light-headed uncontrollable tradition of the Wild field.

Whereas Moscovia has caught the Byzantine tradition of gilded “powerism” and heavy slavish “hordiness”. Compare the two National hymns: Ukrainian has it more about Cossacks, freedom and liberty, whereas the Russian – about power.

The Soviet Union trampled the Eastern Ukraine down, but it could not change the very Ukrainian essence. And now after 23 years of Cold War we are again putting our heavy hand on it. She meets us with horror and bewilderment: poor, virgin Ukraine, without Chechen blood on its hands and without imperial poison in its heart. Alexander Blok was right: we are Scythians – throwing over a lasso and traipsing into slavery.


Dette innlegget ble publisert i Culture, history, society. Bokmerk permalenken.

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