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Russia

ukrainians, poland, ukrainian, kiev, century, hetman, treaty, people and russian

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RUSSIA ; CiALICIA ; POLAND.

The historical life of the Ukrai nian nation has differed entirely from that of the Russians or the Poles. Its roots lie in the ancient kingdom of Kiev, called °Old Russia* in the history books, and which formed a state erected by the southern group of the Eastern Slavic races, particularly by the Polan race around Kiev. A government existed early in the 9th century, and in 988 A.D. Greek Chris tianity was accepted by Vladimir the Great, the °Great Prince of Kiev,* and all his peoples. From this period began a great advance in the material and intellectual civilization of the peo ple; a high degree of commercial prosperity was attained while as yet the Russian lands lay wholly undeveloped. From Kiev Christianity spread northward and eastward. During the 13th century the Tatar invasion under Genghiz Khan brought disaster to Ukrainia: Kiev and other cities fell in flames, the plains were deso lated and thousands of the people were carried into captivity. Of the remainder, those who were not killed either starved to death sought refuge in Galicia. After the barbarian wave receded, the fugitives or their descend ants returned to their motherland, but in the meantime other Slav states had risen on the north. These latter coveted the fertile plains of the south and possessed the strength to bring them under their sway. The first of these states to exercise control over Ukrainia was Lithuania (q.v.), which ruled the land for 200 years, not without some justice and modera tion. After however, Lithuania became united with Poland, and with the advent of the latter state to a predominant position in the union, the sorrows of the Ukraine increased under oppression and led to the inevitable re volt. Though Poland ruled with an iron rod, she was too weak, even together with Lithu ania, to defend the Ukrainians against the sporadic raids of the Tatars, who issued from the Crimea, carried devastation as far as Gali cia and Volhynia, and depopulated the region by the seizure of slaves and slaughter. This perennial warfare on the border forced the Ukrainians to take independent defensive meas ures. The farmers, hunters and fishermen on the marshy borders carried arms and led a pre carious, half-industrial, half-military existence. They called themselves Kazaks (Cossacks), i.e., free warriors. These Ukrainian Cossacks created a military state organization in the 16th century around a strongly fortified position be low the rapids of the Dnieper, the Zaporog Sich. Some notable features distinguished the Zapo rog warrior state— absolute, democratic equal ity, obligatory celibacy and duly elected officials. In wartime unlimited power was vested in the highest official, the ataman or hetman, who then for the time being exerted the dictatorial sway of an autocrat. The Cossacks were regarded by the entire Ukrainian people as their natural defenders alike against Tatar marauder and Polish political taskmaster.

About the middle of the 17th century there was born the "Ukrainian problem') which lasted un til near the close of the great European War in 1918. Toward the end of the 16th century the prevailing discontent led to a number of Cos sack insurrections, culminating in the great Ukrainian revolution in 1648. After 100 years' constant struggle for liberation the Ukrainians threw off the Polish yoke, led by their hetman, the doughty Bogdan itself unable to stand alone, the Ukrai nian National Council (the Rada) made a treaty in 1654 with the Tsar Alexis of Muscovy, father of Peter the Great. That treaty brought the Ukrainians, figuratively speaking, out of the Polish frying-pan into the Russian fire, wherein they remained over 250 years. The treaty pro vided that the Ukraine should retain complete autonomy as well as their Cossack organization, the latter under their duly-elected hetman, with the right to conduct an independent foreign pol icy, while the military should stand under Rus sian suzerainty. But if the Ukrainian demo cratic ideals and form of government had been formerly obnoxious to aristocratic Poland, they were a still greater abomination to autocratic Russia. Three years after the signing of the treaty the liberator hetman died (1657) and Russia took the first steps toward crushing the national sentiments of the Ukrainian people and obliterating their democratic institutions. The incompetence of successive hetmans, jealousy and prejudice among Cossack officers, and the animosity of the poorer classes against the wealthy opened wide breaches into the na tional solidarity, which Russian officialdom did not fail to profit by. The autonomy of the Ukraine was gradually whittled away until, by the Peace of Andrussovo in 1667 with Poland, the country was split into two portions, one, that nearest to Poland, was ceded to that coun try, and the other, east of the Dnieper, was sup pressed with unspeakable ferocity by Peter the Great after the failure of Mazeppa and the bat tle of Poltava. Ukrainia, as a nation, ceased to exist; the Zaporog Sich managed to exist till 1775, when it was destroyed; the people became serfs under the process of Russification and re pression — a fate which also befell Poland a few years later, when the whole of that country, with the exception of Eastern Galicia and the Buko vina, which fell to Austria, was absorbed by Russia (1795). From this division of the coun try rose 2 dual Ukrainian problem— that of the Ukrainians under Russia and of the remainder under Austria, in which latter they fell under the domination of the Polish element in Galicia. Here even the name "Ukrainians) was super seded by that of "Ruthenes" (q.v.). In Rus sian territory the Ukrainians were officially des ignated as Russians and their language as a patois of Russian.

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