Tuesday, 27 February 2018 22:25


Oleksandr Palii, A History of Ukraine, 27.02.2018



The Muscovite tsars always directly emphasized, even in their ukases, that the objective of Muscovy’s policy in Ukraine was to obliterate Ukrainians as a people. 


In 1721 Muscovy officially proclaimed itself as the Russian Empire. By using the Greek name Rossiya (meaning Rus' or Ruthenia), imposed on Muscovy by a Peter I ukase, Muscovy tried to appropriate the glory and heritage of the medieval Kyivan Rus’ and the great Kyiv princes. 


To eliminate any memory of names Rus', Ruthenia and Ukraine, Muscovy began to use a word Malorossiya (Little Russia) for the lands along the Dnipro river, and later Muscovy began to use a similar word Novorossiya (New Russia) for the lands to the north of the Black and Oziv (Azov) Seas. The fact is that till the 19th century all Europeans used the name Russia for the lands of the eastern Galicia (i.e. around Lviv aka Lemberg city) and called it inhabitans Ruthenians. So, Russia is just a stolen name of Ukrainian lands. 


The Muscovy's government increasingly interfered in the internal affairs of Ukraine. The Cossack artillery was moved to Muscovy. Muscovy also deployed its troops in Ukraine on a permanent basis to be maintained at the expense of the local population. Tens of thousands of Cossacks were sent to remote construction sites where they died en masse from the harsh climate and diseases. 


In 1721, a building of an old library in the Kyiv Cave Monastery (where the chronicles from the princely era were kept) caught fire while a delegation of the Ukrainian clergy was in Moscow to defend the ancient rights of the Ukrainian church. The chronicler believed it was arson


In 1722, Peter I founded the "Little Russian Collegium", a body to control Ukraine. Hetman Ivan Skoropadsky (born in 1646, hetman by order of Peter I in 1709-1722) was struck by the news and died soon afterwards.


Prior to this, Ukraine’s affairs were managed by the hetman and Cossack officers, while the "Little Russian Office", part of the Embassy Office (i.e. the ministry of foreign affairs), monitored their activities in the interests of Moscow. This setup recognized that Ukraine was a foreign state.


the occu PolubotokActing Hetman Pavlo Polubotok (born in 1660, hetman in 1722-1724, died in 1724 in prison)


As an energetic and patriotic man, acting hetman Pavlo Polubotok (1722-1724) kept pressing for permission to elect a new hetman and complained about the violent disturbances caused by the Muscovite troops. He prohibited the Cossack officers, under pain of severe punishment, to use ordinary Cossacks for their construction and household needs and set out to eradicate bribery. Peter I summoned Polubotok and leading Cossack officers to Petersburg and had them arrested. At this time, in order to avoid a rebellion, the tsar ordered the Cossack army to be moved to the southeastern border allegedly to protect Ukraine from the Tatars. 


In December 1724 Pavlo Polubotok died in the Peter and Paul Fortress (Petersburg). His death deeply moved the Ukrainian people who started to glorify him as a martyr hero who died for Ukraine. Peter I died one month later. 


A short time after that, Ukraine’s right to elect its hetman was restored and Danylo Apostol (born in 1654, hetman in 1727-1734) was elected at Hlukhiv council as a new hetman in 1727. In 1728 he went to Muscovy's tsar Peter II and even inked some new agreements softening the tsar power in Ukraine, but the pressure on Ukraine never stopped since Apostol's death in 1734. For the next 16 years there was no hetman in Ukraine


In 1747 tsarine Elizabeth I, a daughter of Peter I and Catherine I, who was married to count Oleksiy Rozumovsky (thou in morganatic marriage), having listened to her spouse (of the Cossack origin) ordered to appoint his younger brother, Kyrylo Rozumovsky, as a hetman of Ukraine. The Hlukhiv council approved this appointment in 1750, albeit Kyrylo came back to Ukraine from Saint Petersburg only in 1751. 


In 1755 direct trade between the Hetman State and Western Europe, countries in the Black Sea area and Zaporizhia was banned. The Russian government supported foreign merchants, especially Muscovites, in Ukraine in every way.


In 1761 a German-born tsar Peter III came to power in Muscovy. He was loyal to Ukrainians but was soon put in jail after a coup d'etat and killed in 1762 (in the age of 34) by an order of ... his wife, Prussian-born Catherine II. 


In 1764 tsarine Catherine II forced hetman Kyrylo Rozumovsky to renounce his office and abolished the hetmanship, breaking all previous agreements with the Cossacks and Ukrainian hetmans for the last one hundred years. Catherine II did all she could to kill as much Ukrainians as possible until her death in 1796. 


the occu Rozumovsky

Hetman Kyrylo Rozumovsky (born in 1728, hetman in 1750-1764, died in 1803), portrait by Jean Louis Tocqué


During the Muscovy-Turkish War of 1768–1774 the Muscovite and Zaporozhian armies together fought against the Ottoman Empire. The Cossack fleet played the main role in naval warfare. Zaporozhian kish otaman Petro Kalnyshevsky (1690–1803) and Cossack officers received awards from the empress. Muscovite nobles considered it an honor to enlist in Zaporozhian units — Grigory Potiomkin joined the Kushchiv kurin, Mikhail Kutuzov the Irkliiv kurin, etc. 


Nevertheless, as the Muscovite troops were on their way back from the Muscovy-Turkish War, they encircled the Zaporozhian Sich and palanka centers (fortified settlements) in 1775. The Muscovites had a total of over 100,000 men. The majority of the Zaporozhian Cossacks spoke in favor of putting up resistance to the enemy and it was only the strong urging of the kish otaman that dissuaded them from this idea. 


All buildings in the Sich, a total of more than 500, were destroyed. Ammunition, insignia, flags, the archive and treasury were removed from the Sich’s depositories.


Otaman Kalnyshevsky was imprisoned on the Solovets Islands, where he was kept in a cold pit so small that he was unable to stand up straight. He spent 26 years in prison, reaching the age of 113. Constant darkness and cold blinded him and rotted his clothes. 


In her manifesto of 1775, tsarine Catherine II accused the Zaporozhian Cossacks of “violent rule”, meaning freedom, and that serfs from across Muscovy fled to the Sich. These slaves believed that “violent rule” was precisely where they were born. 


the occu Sich

Last Council at the Sich, painting by Viktor Kovalov, 19th century.


In 1783 peasants in Left-Bank and Sloboda Ukraine were turned into serfs, i.e. completely deprived of the right to leave their landlord. However, the most horrible thing was that a landlord could freely sell his serfs, exchange them for any property and separate spouses and parents and children. 


This was essentially the kind of slavery that had existed in Muscovy for a long time but was unheard of in Ukraine. It should be noted that the khan abolished slavery in the Crimea in 1771, and the Austrian Empire outlawed corvée in 1780. 


Serfdom obliterated the social achievements of Khmelnytsky’s Liberation War, which Ukrainian society had enjoyed for 135 years. Until 1783, serfdom law in Ukrainian lands was limited to the payment of quitrent or corvée. Even under Polish rule, entire estates changed hands without affecting peasants and their feudal service. 


In 1783 the regiment system was scrapped in Left-Bank Ukraine and the Cossacks were transferred to hussar regiments without any liberties or self-government.


the occu zhupan

A Cossack chancellor in traditional Cossack dress — zhupan (short caftan) and kontusz (outer garment), painting, 1786.


At the same time, Muscovy totally destroyed Ukrainian schools and education. According to the 1740–1748 census, seven regiments in the Hetman State (now three oblasts in Left-Bank Ukraine) had 866 schools, almost one per each town or village of any significance. None of these schools survived until 1800. 


Nearly the entire Ukrainian population was literate in the Hetman State in the 17th and 18th centuries, while the 1897 census in the Russian Empire revealed that a mere 15% of Ukrainians were literate. There are not many examples of such a steep decline as the one that followed Muscovy’s takeover of Ukraine. 



the occu table



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