Capital : Kiev
Size: 233 100 sq m Popn: 52 200 000
The Ukraine was at the heart of the medieval state of Kievan Rus which emerged in the C9th. It united Ukrainians, Russians (Muskovites) and Belorussians to become the most powerful state in eastern Europe but fell to the invading Mongols in the C13th. In the C14th, the country, which had adopted Byzantine Christianity in 988, came under the rule of Roman Catholic Poland and the peasants were reduced to serfs. The Cossacks, composed originally of runaway serfs, led a revolt on 1648 and the hetman (elected leader) Bohdan Khmelnytsky who died in 1657, established a militarist state. In 1667, east and west Ukraine were partitioned between Muscovy and Poland.
The Tsars banned the publication of Ukrainian books in 1720 and introduced serfdom into east Ukraine ('Little Russia') in 1783. In the late C18th, Russia gained control of west Ukraine, except Galicia, which was annexed by Austria in 1772. During the C19th, there was a cultural revival and nationalist groups were secretly established, particularly in Galicia but Russification was increased during the reigns of the later Tsars. In the late C19th and early C20th, there was rapid urban and economic development.
When the Tsar was overthrown by the Revolution of 1918, the independent Ukrainian People's Republic was proclaimed, allying itself with the Central Powers (Germany, Austro-Hungary and Italy). Germany installed a conservative hetman regime but this was overthrown at the end of WWI. After a two-year civil war, west Ukraine (Galicia-Volhymnia) came under Polish rule with the rest coming under Soviet control and becoming a constituent republic of the USSR in 1922. There was a conciliatory policy of Ukrainization during the 1920s but the 1930s saw a mass purge of intellectuals, kulaks (rich farmers) and the destruction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The introduction of collective farming during 1931-2 led to the deaths of at least 7 million peasants.
The Red Army occupied Polish-controlled west Ukraine in September 1939, remaining until the German invasion in 1941. More than 5 million Jews and Ukrainians were deported and in 1944, Moscow accused the Crimean Tartars of collaboration and removed them en masse to Central Asia. When the Second World War ended, Soviet-ruled Ukraine was enlarged to include land that had been under Polish, Czechoslovakian and Romanian rule and became a founding member of the UN. Resistance by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army continued during the 1950s but
a period of 'sovietization' under the Soviet dictator Stalin led to the deportation to Siberia of 500,000 people and many Russians moved into the Ukraine. Stalin's successor was Nikita Kruschchev, who had been leader of the Ukrainian Communist Party from 1938 to 1947 and was rather more conciliatory towards the republic. The Crimea was transferred to Ukrainian jurisdiction in 1954, there was a revival of Ukrainian literature and the dissident movement grew. The liberal UCP leader, Petro Shelest, was replaced by the Brezhnevite, Vladimir Scherbitsky and there was a crackdown on dissent in 1972-3. The Uniate Church, officially abolished, continued an 'underground' operation and Helsinki Monitoring Groups became active during the 1970s.
After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, a popular environmentalist group, Green World, was formed. Demonstrations in favour of reform increased under the Glasnost policy, led by the People's Movement of Ukraine for Reconstructuring (Rukh) which was formed in 1989. Scherbitsky was ousted and the Uniate Church legalized and in the March 1990 supreme soviet elections, Rukh and 'reform communists' gained quite a large vote in some areas. Economic and political sovereignty was declared in July 1990. The Ukrainian president, Leonid Kravchuk, did not at first condemn the coup against reforming Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991, but after it failed he joined the nationalist movement, banning the UCP. He declared provisional independence in September, backed up by in December by a referendum vote of 90% in favour and was popularly elected president.
Ukraine joined the Commonwealth of Independent States which replaced the USSR, in December 1991 and was given immediate recognition by its neighbours in central Europe and Canada, which has about 1 million Ukranian inhabitants and later that month, by the USA and the EC. It was admitted to the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe in January 1992 and a programme of economic reform and privatization began. Dependence on Russia for oil was reduced by a pipeline deal with Iran and an independent currency, the grivna, was proposed to replace the rouble but ex-communist aparatchiks tried to stop the reforms. It had inherited large stocks of nuclear weapons from the USSR and promised to become a nuclear-free state by 1994 but agreed tactical arms shipments to Russia were suspended in March 1992 because there was no assurance that they were being dismantled. There were further disputes over the division of military forces and Ukraine and Russia agreed to joint control of the Black Sea fleet until 1995.
Since 1989, 150 000 Tartars returned to the Crimean peninsula and although the population remained 70% Russian, it declared its independence in September 1991 whilst remaining part of the Ukraine. It declared sovereignty in May 1992 but this was rescinded after Ukraine threatened to use 'all available means' to prevent its secession.
There are variations in spelling in English but many Ukrainian names are, like those of Russia, taken from the Bible and the early saints.
Many have their feminine form which is usually an '-a' ending (Morski - Morska) but these are not necessarily borne by women as Sergei Bubka is a male Ukrainian athlete.
These also occur as surnames.
|Desyantnik foreman||Diak clerk||Hetman Cossack leader|
|Kozak Cossack||Palamar sacristan||Psysar scribe|
|Soldat / Zhovnir soldier||Starosta elder||Tytar church warden|
|Ulan lancer||Viit mayor||Vladyka archbishop|
|Voyevoda governor||Voznaik bailiff|
This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.
Copies may be made for personal use only.
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