What made the biggest
states envy us?
What about the terrain? / Territory

In the IX century, the first East Slavic state encompassing the modern borders of Ukraine emerged. An outline of Rus' appeared on the map. Slavs from the Northern Dvina to the Taman Peninsula started to merge together; from Dnipro’s tributaries upstream.

At first, there were tribal autonomies, however, as the principality acquired state transformations, they disappeared. In modern days, Kyiv and Chernihiv residents are no longer known as glades or northerners. Kyiv became an important center of state-building processes, but it was also a focal point of interethnic conflict.

In times of despair from the raids of eastern tribes ‘the kingdom of golden domes’ served as a symbol of unity between the people and the princes.
The Rus’ lived, defended its land and expanded. Within two centuries, it had built a myriad of cities and buildings, becoming one of the largest European states by the end of the XII century.

Let's rule / Reign

Typically, the state government passed along the line of inheritance. Yet coup d'etats took place fairly frequently even in those olden days. How do you think the Ruriks came to power? We had initiative Olegs, reckless Igors and brave Svyatoslavs in our midst.

However, the reign's history is highly unpredictable. Thereby, a woman in Rus' had a chance to gain power. It was Princess Olga who introduced many reforms: fixed taxes, lessons, and dues, as well as Christianity, which was later embodied by her grandson.

However, the state developed most during the reigns of Volodymyr the Great and Yaroslav the Wise.

Volodymyr the Great

"One God, one religion" was the pledge by which Europe stood at that time. In 988, Volodymyr the Great took a decisive step and baptized Rus'. In those days, only the process of choosing a religion could establish relations with the Holy Roman Empire or strengthen ties with the Byzantine Empire. As a result, Rus' was placed on par with the world's leaders of the time, and the Grand Prince's authority was bolstered to new heights.

The new religion changed the culture: temples and schools were built throughout the territory, and writing was spread. Among the most significant structures was the Church of the Dormition of the Virgin or the Church of the Tithes because it housed the remains of Princess Olga.

A number of coins dating back to the time of Volodymyr the Great have been preserved. Gold and silver coins depicted a trident - the modern emblem of Ukraine.

Yaroslav the Wise

Under Volodymyr's rule, Kyivan Rus' prospered, but it was his son who took the initiative to expand it.

The country's cultural development reached its peak during Yaroslav's reign. The Grand Prince's passion for education resulted in the creation of libraries, schools, cathedrals, and entire cities. St. Sophia's Cathedral, built to honor the victory over the Pechenegs, is the oldest surviving church from that period.

A collection of written laws, known as the Ruska Pravda, was published in 1015. This is probably why Yaroslav was awarded with his prominent


The kingdom of galicia-volhynia

How could a Ukrainian
become king?

Think of a typical coronation: a crowded hall, bustle and commotion interrupted when people dressed in old-fashioned dresses appear… The monarchical families of Great Britain and Spain are perhaps the first to come to mind. However, there were also kings among Ukrainians. Our history is taking a captivating turn, but let us take one step at a time.

Two lands - one state

Despite the decline of the Rus', its political life did not end. In 1199, the Kingdom of Galicia- Volhynia, the second state formation of pre-modern Ukraine, was established. It was formed by merging two adjacent lands. You probably already figured out which ones. Halych became the capital, and the name of its founder is etched into history.

Roman Mstyslavych was the first prince and father of a new dynasty. He was a major contributor to the welfare of the state, which had existed in this area for about 150 years. It's time to dive deeper!

РKing of the Rus'

Following Roman's death in 1205, his two sons, Danylo and Vasylko, were to become his legal heirs. However, not everything went as planned. It was the Galician boyars who held power for a long time. After long clashes, the brothers established themselves in Volhynia, and in 1237 the elder finally began to rule in Galicia. Eventually, the descendants of Romanovych dynasty took control over Kyiv.

Danylo ruled the kingdom skillfully. Under his rule, new castle towns, such as Kholm and Lviv, were built, new churches and monasteries were established, and villages destroyed by the Golden Horde were rebuilt.

By the way, concerning the Mongol invasion. The Prince fiercely fought the invaders and even at the time of a full enslavement, he managed to save his authority, being one of the first who received a shortcut on the reign from Batu Khan. In 1239, Danylo obtained the title “King of the Rus” from the Pope Innocent IV, and 14 years later he was crowned in Dorohochyn, which is now a territory of modern Poland. Albeit, the ties with Vatican were soon cut. The next crowned Ukrainian was Danylo’s grandson, but this now is a completely different story.

Let the chips fall where the boyars say

An interesting peculiarity the Galicia-Volhynia state had which differentiated it from its predecessor was a position of the dominant class. Despite the comprehensive, at first glance, authority of the prince, the opinion of the local boyars remained significant.

They initiated the invitations to the council and, by contrast, launched some serious coup d'état. Doesn’t it remind you of something? This disunity, in particular, occurred as the result of political fragmentation of Rus’. And even though the cases of arbitrary actions had place on the territories of all then princedoms, as in, for example, Kyiv or Chernihiv ones, it was the Galician boyars who were spoiled the most. Only in 1245 King Danylo managed to finally eliminate the boyars opposition.



Where do our unsubduedness
and invincibility come from?

After the 24th of February, 2022 such a term as "territorial defense" has been securely fixed in our everyday life. It (territorial defense) is men and women who voluntarily came to the defense of our Ukraine: their cities, small towns, villages. The recklessness of territorial defense warriors isn't surprising - we had been famous for our resistance to aggressive neighbors for a long time.

A free human (who, what, where)

“If you don't take good care of your belongings, they will take offense and go away from you”. Perhaps you've heard something like this before? We don't know about things, but with people this principle definitely works. Even since the days of Danylo's son at the end of XIII century, some farmers left the "civilized"countries and went to "no one's" lands at the rapids of Dnipro river, that is, expanses of modern central and southern Ukraine. Then the first records of "cossack"or "free people" started to appear in different sources.

ЇTheir life was under a constant threat and therefore it made them self-organize, unite and get ready to defend themselves. This is how appeared the very first Sich - a fortified stronghold with a distinctive system of self-government which, over time, served as a military center and a symbol of Cossacks' unity. And already in XV-XVIII centuries it was the Cossacks who helped other dissatisfied Ukrainians - organizationally and with living force - contributing to the liberation movement.

On the Black Council and not only (the Sich, its system)

Since one of the reasons for Cossacks' appearance was political discontent, the system those people created was built on democratic foundations. Each of them had his own piece of land and a right to vote, however, not everything from this list was applied to women.

The head of the Cossack state was Koshovyi Otaman - a person who was in a military, administrative and judicial power. In order to take up this position it was important that the candidate has an influence and authority in the Cossack army, not a fortune or noble ancestry. Only Cossack Council had more power than the Otaman.

It was convened twice a year, in January and October, in order to resolve the most important for the community issues: announcement of a military campaign, distribution of farmlands, elections of the Koshovyi Otaman and the Cossack officers. The Sich army was subdivided into hens which, in turn, were subdivided into regiments, then into groups of militants consisting of 10 and 100 people, where each group had their own commander. Priests had a big influence in the Cossack state, since faith was one of the most important aspects of Cossacks' life. By the way, it is exactly why on the Day of Intercession of the Holy Virgin we honor our defenders.

Drunkards and hooligans (the destruction)

The democratic order and free life of the Cossacks caused quite a bewilderment. With each year it developed more and more into traditions of the political culture. However, there were the ones against it: for Moscow tsars - and over time emperors - freedom was unacceptable and it was more convenient to think of the Cossacks as “drunkards and hooligans”. If Hetmanate - a Cossack state formed as a result of the liberation movement - made compromises and signed treaties, then the Sich Cossacks always remained independent.

However, external and internal causes created favorable conditions for destruction of the Cossack Sich, which had taken place already in 1175.



Who led the Ukrainian
thirst for freedom?

At times, it may seem as if nothing can be changed, the circumstances are more powerful than us, and we will be weighed down forever. It is then up to us: to the same opinion and do nothing, or to act. Any Ukrainian can easily recall several politicians who changed everything radically by taking a second path. Here is an example of such a figure.

When does patience run thin?

Within a short period of time, news of the founding of the first Sich, as well as the military successes of the Cossacks, spread worldwide. Steppe warriors aroused admiration and the idea of possessing such a military force became increasingly popular. Thus, under the initiative of the Polish king in the middle of the XVI century, registered or mercenary Cossacks were formed. In addition to protecting the eastern borders of the Commonwealth, the Registered Cossack formations had to take part in any military conflicts of the kingdom. They were entitled to certain privileges. Meanwhile, national oppression and religious oppression persisted, and anti-Polish protests increased. The Cossacks were reconciled only in 1630's. It went down in history as the "golden peace", however, it was just the calm before the storm.

Khmelnytsky means ‘khmil’ {Ukrainian for ‘hops’}

An uprising led by Bohdan Khmelnytsky erupted in 1648. Bohdan, a former Cossack sotnyk {commander of a hundred men}, elected as the hetman, raised an entire nation, resulting in the formation of the Cossack state - the Hetmanate. His first resolute decision was prompted by an attack of a Polish nobleman on his khutir [single-homestead settlement].

The astonishing achievements of the Cossacks in 1648-49 and the support received in Kyiv led the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to sign the Treaty of Zboriv, which made the borders of the Zaporozhian Army pass through Kyiv, Chernihiv and Bratslav. However, in two years, the demarcation line narrowed to Kyiv Voivodeship alone.

Khmelnytsky was not only a strong military leader but also a diplomat: his knowledge of Oriental languages helped him, in particular, to form strong relations with the Crimean Khanate. At least five unions were formed under the hetman's leadership, although some were never fully implemented.

However, the Khmelnytsky era became a starting point for a generation of distinguished military leaders, diplomats, and government officials who were committed to the unity and political ideal of the Ukrainian Cossack state.

Military victories,
and baroque

The Hetmanate combined the best of the Cossack traditions developed in the Zaporozhian Sich with the political experience of parliamentarism acquired through defending its own privileges. Try to recall what Ukrainian presidents hold in their hands during their inauguration. The mace was once the most important symbol of the hetman's power, so it's still used during the oath. A patronage system was also evident: many hetmans and representatives of the starshynas {military officers or state officials} made generous donations to educational institutions and churches. The financing aided the growth of the book printing, architecture, jewelry, and handicraft industries. The heyday of the Baroque style, which also occurred during the Hetmanate, even had a separate name - "Cossack".


The Hetmanate

When did Russia deceive us
for the first time ?

Time travellers and fantasy movie fans are well aware of the butterfly effect. Even one small reckless step can lead to undesirable consequences, which are often difficult to fix. History, unfortunately, remembers the imprints of the past for a long time.

Where did the "russian world" come from?

As the liberation war continued, Bohdan Khmelnytsky sought allies for the young Ukrainian state. Negotiations with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Ottoman Empire did not yield results. Then, contrary to the opinion of many of his allies, the hetman trusted the promises of the Russian Empire for military assistance. However, let us emphasize that this was not for free but for a monetary tribute and control over foreign relations. In all other respects, the Hetmanate had to remain politically independent: retain its state system, territory and control over internal affairs.

Therefore, the Cossacks took the oath to the king in Pereyaslav in 1654. Khmelnytsky's expectations of receiving substantial military aid from Moscow were not met immediately. Furthermore, the Muscovites began to consistently limit the sovereignty of the Cossack state.

They took advantage of a loophole in the treaty: it was considered 'eternal', but with the election of each new hetman, it had to be reaffirmed, and always in favor of the king.

Two banks of the Dnipro

After Khmelnytsky's death, the differences between the Cossack officers became more intense. In 1667, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Russian Empire actually divided the Hetmanate along the Dnipro into the Right-bank (Pravoberezhna) and the Left-bank (Livoberezhna) ones. The Truce of Andrusovo grossly violated the treaty between Cossacks and Moscow. Both Hetmans of the Left-bank, for example, Demian Mnohohrishny and Ivan Mazepa, and the Right-bank, namely Petro Doroshenko, fought against this.

However, their support didn’t truly become nationwide. Many officers received preferential treatment from suzerains and didn’t want to change anything. At the same time, descendants of the Cossacks continued to fight for sovereignty. One of them:

Pavlo Skoropadsky who headed the Ukrainian state in 1918 was a relative of Hetman Ivan Skoropadsky.

З усім тим нащадки козацьких родів продовжували боротьбу за державність. Згадаємо лише одного з них: Павло Скоропадський, що у 1918 році очолив Українську Державу, є родичем гетьмана Івана Скоропадського.

Cossacks’ truth

Rather favorable conditions for the development of politics and economy, education and art, science and language by the time of the Hetmanate resulted in Ukrainian self-sufficiency. This was even documented in the Cossack or also Benderska Constitution.

No, Stepan Bandera is still far ahead. Do you remember the very first proto-constitutional document that we have mentioned already? So, Hetman Pylyp Orlyk concluded the next one. Back then, he was in emigration in a Moldavian town Bendery, therefore the document was called like this. The Constitution of Orlyk outlined the relations between the Hetman and his senior officers, laid the foundations of Ukraine’s state system, rights and duties.



Why should we learn ?
“the seven free sciences”?

Nowadays, in Ukraine, secondary education is compulsory, while higher education is clearly a necessity for everyone. Needless to say, this was not always the case. Nevertheless, it was education and the most knowledgeable people of that time who played a significant role in Ukrainians' struggle for self-government.

City air makes you feel free

In Ukraine between the XVI and the first half of the XVII century, cities were centers of political life. In addition to the old cities of Kyiv, Lviv, Medzhybish, Kam’yanets’, Ostroh, Cherkasy, and Vasylkiv, new ones like Konotop, Fastiv, Kremenchuk, Hadyach, Myrhorod, and Uman’ started to appear.

Right-bank Ukrainian cities, which were under the influence of the Commonwealth, had a European system of self-government that was known as Magdeburg Law. Among its provisions were self-government and the judiciary, as well as rights to real estate, permanent rent, and freedom of choice. Cities were governed by elected bodies, which, unfortunately, included only Catholics. However, it was this system of municipal government that brought Ukrainians closer to freedom, contributing to the formation of appropriate ideas for freedom.

Intellectual riots

The Commonwealth government actively encouraged Polonization of Ukrainian lands. Occasionally, riots broke out in rural areas, but in cities, educated people reacted in their own specific ways. They rallied around fraternities that began to appear throughout Right Bank Ukraine: in Lviv and Lutsk, in Kyiv and Ostroh. These public organizations founded schools, published books, and supported original Ukrainian culture.

The role of some Brotherhood schools was so significant that they were re-established when Ukraine gained independence. Thus, in 1632 there was a unification of Kyiv Brotherhood School and Kyiv Lavra School into Kyiv-Brotherhood Collegium, which later received the name of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.

Higher education without exams

The position of a king in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was elective. In 1587, a rich Ukrainian nobleman Vasyl-Kostiantyn of Ostroh was a candidate for the crown. He was one of the few politicians of that time who supported the resistance to Catholicization.

As early as 1576, he established the first higher education institution for Slavic peoples – The Ostroh Academy. The educational process was divided into triviums (three years) and quadriviums (four years). One could study grammar, rhetoric and dialectics, as well as arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy, respectively. Those were the “seven free sciences”. The students were also able to study Slavic, Polish, Old Hebrew, Greek and Latin languages. It was in the Ostroh Cultural Center where the most powerful Ukrainian publishing house of that time appeared – Cyrillic Typography of Ivan Fedorov (Fedorovych). The Greek-Slavic Primer (1578) - the first Ukrainian textbook; Andrij Rimsha’s Chronology (1581) - Ukraine's first printed poetry book; and the first Slavic-language Ostroh Bible (1581) among many others were all published here. Today, as a continuation of our ancestors’ traditions, the National University of Ostroh Academy is still in operation.



How did the Ukrainian
modern nation originate?

Revolting against injustice is not exclusively a Ukrainian trait. Revolutions swept across Europe and North America in the XVII–XIX centuries. People sought independence, social and political reforms, and recognition of their rights. As a result of Western civilization's aim for radical modernization, philosophers referred to this era as “modern”. Ukrainians were then firmly rooted in the European context.

Nationalization through intelligent means

For years, the leaders of the Commonwealth, Russia, and Austria-Hungary attempted to erase the memory of the peoples, who formed their empires, including the Ukrainians. However, after the revolutionary events in Europe, the Ukrainian national movement reemerged with renewed vigor. Although Ukrainian lands were divided between the Russian and Austrian Empires, these processes were not hindered in any way, except that they were carried out differently.

Whenever the educated intelligentsia is involved, arguments and evidence will be found. Therefore, the idea of Ukrainian separateness originated with the cossack descendants. Language, culture and history are considered to be the the foundation of the national movement. Thus, Ukrainian intellectuals plunged into ethnographic research. Ukraine's villages served as the subject of their experiments, where, as we know, change is slower than in cities.

This research has enabled the development of a new Ukrainian literature at the beginning of the 19th century, whose founder was widely regarded as Ivan Kotlyarevsky. His works Eneida and Natalka Poltavka depict a full-fledged, living Ukrainian language. Hryhorii Kvitka-Osnovyanenko, Panteleimon Kulish and Taras Shevchenko also showed national cultural realities in their works.

We need more education!

In 1805, the first higher education institution of Naddniprianshchyna (Dnipro region) was established in Kharkiv. The initiator of this project was a local nobleman Vasyl Karazin. Back then he served as the emperor’s advisor and managed to convince him in the necessity of a higher education institution in Malorussia’s province. Thus, Kharkiv University became the fifth open university in the Russian Empire; the only one older in Ukraine was Lviv. Thanks to this university, Sloboda Ukraine became a scientific center for the Ukrainian national movement

It is here where the most prominent cultural and scientific figures of that time gathered.

In 1834, in Kyiv a St. Volodymyr Imperial University started to function. The institution was initially planned as a center for spreading Russian ideology, but none of that worked. Since the middle of XIX century, the university became a center of the public opinion. Here the members of The Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius studied and worked. Now this educational institution bears the name of Taras Shevchenko.

The building of V. N. Karazin National University of Kharkiv
after Russian shellings in 2022

Dig into the roots

Works of Dmytro Bantysh-Kamensky, Mykhailo Maksymovych, Petro Hulak-Artemovsky and Mykola Kostomarov contributed to forming a Ukrainian modern nation and reviving a historical memory.

Also, a mention should be made of History of the Rus’. In this book, based on ancient sources, it was for the first time proven that Ukrainians are a separate people from Russians, that they have their own history, and that Rus’ is Ukraine and not Russia. The author of this work is unknown, but it is attributed to Heorhiy Konysky. Ukrainian researchers used History of the Rus’ as the foundation for their further historical works.



Have we taken Russian
language lessons?

Did you know that the document, which consolidated the status of Ukrainian language as the state language, appeared a year before the declaration of independence? Nonetheless, we are witnessing a large-scale Ukrainization of the population just now. Why is that so? Let us figure it out.

Cyril and Methodius

The lively spread of fraternities in the second half of the XIX century did not bypass Naddnipryanshchyna {Dnipro Ukraine area}.

The Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius - a secret political society was founded on January 6, 1846. Most of the participants were highly educated people: professors, university teachers, writers, in short, the Ukrainian intelligentsia. You are probably familiar with some of them, such as Mykola Kostomarov, Panteleimon Kulish, and Taras Shevchenko. Despite lasting only six months, this organization had its own purpose and program. The Books of the Genesis of the Ukrainian People are Kostomarov's detailed description of the brothers' ideas, which included spreading Ukrainian language, traditions, Christian values, and creating autonomy for all Slavic peoples. The latter, however, has undergone significant change throughout the organization's existence.

Heorhiy Andruzky advocated for an equal republic. He believed in the unification of all Slavic peoples on the outposts of the confederation, of course, without including Russia. Mykola Kostomarov and Panteleimon Kulish held more restrained views. They hoped to reform and democratize the structure of the Russian Empire. Their hopes, however, were blind.

What is the point in hiding if everyone will know anyway?

The tsar soon found out about the righteous motives and naïve expectations of the young brothers. By spring 1847, all members of The Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius were arrested and exiled. The most ruthlessness the authorities showed in persecuting Taras Shevchenko. He was forbidden to draw and write and after two months of being in the imperial chancellery, the court decided to send off the Kobzar {an itinerant Ukrainian bard who sang to his own accompaniment, played on a multistringed bandura or kobza} to the Far East. However, punishments did not end here. The views of Ukrainian intelligentsia in favor of autonomy and their initiative provoked a tremendous indignation in the circles of tsar’s elite. It became the impetus for a linguistic terror. As early as 1863, by the initiative of the Minister of Inner Affairs of the Russian Empire “The Valuev Circular” was published and named in his honor.

It anticipated the ban on publishing educational, religious and academic books in Ukrainian language, its distribution and printing, and the “Ems Ukaz” {Decree} from 1876 banned any other display of the Ukrainian language.

Thus, Ukrainian language came under a complete censorship. The linguocide was reinforced by new laws, and sometimes even by despicable attacks on its primordial identity. Ukrainian language was standardized by rewriting and russifying the words. However, the attempts to suppress the “separatist movement” failed to succeed. Concerned people rebelled against the intentions of authorities. Volunteers caused another wave of the cultural liberation movement to appear, creating hromadas {communities}.



At what point was Ukraine
on the verge of a disaster?

Ukrainians know how to take chances, as you probably already know. Imagine: proclamation of autonomy, occupation, independence, a coup d'état, a rotten deal, an uprising, restoration of independence, unification, and again occupation... And it all happened over the course of about four years.

A good opportunity

On June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo, several Serbian nationalists assassinated Franz Ferdinand, the heir presumptive to the throne of Austria-Hungary, triggering World War I… Within a month, Austria-Hungary had declared war on Serbia. Its ally, the Russian Empire, began mobilizing. Dissatisfied with this, Germany, in response, declared war on Russia. Therefore, August 1 is officially considered the start of World War I, in which 38 countries were consistently involved.

Three exhausting years of weakening the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires gave Ukrainians hope for their own statehood. The intelligentsia of Naddnipryanshchyna {Dnipro Ukraine area} and the western Ukrainian lands resumed their fight for national-cultural and territorial autonomy, and eventually - independence of Ukraine.

Ukrainian Revolution

There were many significant events from the very beginning of the liberation struggle to its logical completion. The years 1917-1922 were marked by an abundance of events that could have filled an entire multi-volume encyclopedia. So, let’s list the most significant ones:


March 4, 1917

Establishment of the Central Council adoption of the Universals, proclamation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UPR).


Ukrainian-Soviet War I.

April 28, 1918

Hetmanate of Skoropadsky

November 13, 1918

Establishment of the West Ukrainian People's Republic (WUPR).

December 1918

The Directorate. Rebuilding the UPR

1918 - 1921

Ukrainian-Soviet War II.

1918 - 1919

Polish-Ukrainian War.

January 22, 1919

Unification Act between the Ukrainian People's Republic and the Western Ukrainian People's Republic

1919- 1922

Otamanschyna. Kholodnoyarsk Republic.

August 1919

The Kyiv Catastrophe. Ukrainian Death Triangle

December 6, 1919

First Winter Campaign


Joint Ukrainian-Polish Union against Soviet Russia.

Autumn, 2021

Second Winter Campaign

During this short period, such figures as Mykhailo Hrushevsky, Symon Petliura, Pavlo Skoropadsky, Yevgen Petrushevych and many others fought for Ukrainian sovereignty. Unfortunately, the lack of unity between these prominent patriots did not let Ukraine preserve the independence they longed for.

Ultimately, internal contradictions led the young Ukrainian state to a catastrophe. Austria-Hungary, as a member of the Triple Alliance, capitulated to the Entente and collapsed. The victorious states did not pay attention to the state-building aspirations of Ukrainians and divided our lands among themselves. Transcarpathia {Zakarpattia Oblast’} was given to the newly created Czechoslovakia, Bukovyna – to Romania, Galicia – to Poland. At the same time, the Left- and Right-Bank Ukraine were left under Soviet occupation for decades.

Independent State

When recalling the Ukrainian Revolution, it is difficult to avoid the event, which became one of the most prominent in our fight for sovereignty – The Act of Unification (or the Act of Zluky). On December 1, 1918, UPR and WUPR agreed to unite into an independent state. Within a month, republican councils ratified the treaty and on January 22, 1919 on Sofia Square in Kyiv, the creation of a united and independent Ukrainian People’s Republic was solemnly proclaimed by the Directory’s manifest. Even though back then the state had existed only until autumn, the Act of Unification between UPR and WUPR is a symbolic act of restoring the unity of Ukraine’s lands, which became one of the most important events in Ukrainian history.

By the way, in 1990, for the anniversary of the Act of Unification the first “Human Chain” (Live chain) took place, which later became a tradition for the annual Day of Unity of Ukraine, which we also celebrate on January 22.


Of Resistance

Why should the national
movement become radical?

A painful defeat can provoke people to take bold, sometimes cruel actions. Some fight with words, and some take up arms. The Ukrainian Radical National Movement frightens its enemies even today, forcing them to open a ghost hunt for Stepan Bandera or Roman Shukhevych. Why is that so? Let’s look deeper.

The prison of the republics

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was created by Lenin, the leader of the Russian Communists, on December 30, 1922. Initially, it comprised the Russian, Belarusian, Transcaucasian, and Ukrainian "republics," and later others. In reality, the Union was not much different from its predecessor, the Russian Empire. Even though the state constitution declared that all peoples were free and entitled to separation, it existed only on paper. The totalitarian apparatus, repression, and strict control were integral parts of the USSR. However, instead of the king, the rules were now dictated by the Communist Party.

As Ukrainian's thirst for freedom remained unquenched, the Communist Party sought to assert its influence once and for all. A policy of "indigenization" was pursued in 1923: national languages of the republics gained official status, the percentage of Ukrainians, Belarusians, and others among party figures increased, and ideological oppression in the cultural sphere declined. During this time, an abundance of artists emerged in Ukraine, and Kharkiv - the former capital of the USSR - became the cultural center. Talented writers, poets, painters, and other artists populated the city. Today, the works of these artists are considered part of a national revival. However, this did not last long.

The Unborn Renaissance

Stalin's accession to power in 1929 established a totalitarian regime in the USSR. Political oppression and prosecution returned with renewed vigor. A system of Gulag prisons was set up across the Union, and an atmosphere of intimidation prevailed. Historians count three waves of Stalinist repressions, and the "Shakhty Trial" is considered their beginning. In the years of the Great Purge, everyone fell victim to the destructive apparatus of the totalitarian system: government officials, workers, peasants, and even children. The fate of Ukrainian artists also remained unfortunate.

In 1930 in Kharkiv, the “Slovo” Building (Word House/House of Writers) was built. It received its name not only because of its façade, resembled the letter “C” from the top view, but also because of its residents. A cooperative of writers, who had to huddle in rented rooms, appealed to the authorities with the initiative of building this dwelling. This house became a place for union of the most progressive artists of that time who became neighbors one day. Among them were Ivan Bahrianyi, Mykola Khvylovy, Mykola Kulish, Ostap Vyshnya, Mykhailo Yalovy and many others. It is interesting to know what the fate of those writers might have been like, if it weren’t for the first arrests within just a year. Even the writers, who were loyal to communism, were disliked by the Chekists {security officers of the first secret police of the Soviet Union}. After Mykhailo Yalovy’s arrest, Mykola Khvylovy, foreseeing the upcoming terror, committed suicide. Many others were eventually executed. This generation of artists received an excruciating name «Executed Renaissance”. Today, “Bykivnya Graves” in Kyiv region is the biggest burial place for victims of Stalinist repressions.

Number of people arrested in the Ukrainian SSR

To Catch the Bandera

Political life of the Western Ukraine that became a part of the newly created Polish Republic was fairly eventful. Ukrainians were even allowed to have their own representatives in the parliament. Their party was called Ukrainian National Democratic Alliance (UNDO) and its main goal was to obtain independence for Ukraine by legal means.
However, not everyone was so democratic. In 1920, Yevhen Konovalets founded the Ukrainian Military Organization (UMO). It consisted of former groupings of Sich Riflemen and the Galician Army. Nine years later, UMO was reformed in Vienna, and that is how the well-known OUN, Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, appreared. The ideology of OUN was based on the “Integral Nationalism” by Dmytro Dontsov, according to whom, the interests of the nation justify any means of achieving them, even terror.

During the WWII, proactive Ukrainians tried to proclaim the Act of Restoration of the Ukrainian State. When they failed, they deployed a large-scale resistance movement. On October 14, 1942, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA) was formed. Aside from resisting the German occupants, they were also involved in confrontations with the Soviet partisans and the Polish army. The death of Roman Shukhevych in the 1950s is considered the end of nationalists’ armed struggle. His successors, unfortunately, failed to preserve the liberation movement. However, it will be revived during the dissident times at the beginning of 1960-80s.


of the national

Why should human
rights be protected?

Have you ever felt as if your life had taken a wrong turn and justice had turned away from you? In such moments, you want to scream and turn everything upside down. That is what the dissidents did in their time, and The Sixtiers {representatives of a new generation of the Soviet Intelligentsia} gave more color to the national movement.

Constitution is only
for foreign countries

The USSR underwent a number of significant sociopolitical changes during the second half of the 1950s. Stalin's actions were harshly condemned, and partial liberalization reduced party pressure, which became a good omen for the intelligentsia. A new movement, better known as “Dissident”, emerged. Contrary to their predecessors, dissidents used nonviolent legal methods to gain independence, relying solely on the USSR constitution. The state, however, did not ensure its proper functioning at all.

The first attempt to create an organization of this type arose in 1959 and was called the Ukrainian Workers’ And Peasants’ Union, abbreviated as UWPU. Within three years, all of its members were arrested, and its founder Levko Lukyanenko was sentenced to 15 years of prison. In fact, the Soviet investigator addressed him with the following statement, "The Constitution exists only for foreign countries."

Besides forming associations, many dissident articles, samizdat {reproduced, often hand-written, censored and underground makeshift publications) and tamizdat {literature published abroad often from smuggled manuscripts} were published. Censorship forced journalists and political critics to publish their works on their own, thus the name.

Forgotten ancestors and unforgotten victims

As for the national and cultural component, well, it thrived in the 1960s. Ukraine underwent a real uplift in art. During this period, new talents, that were not yet bound or subjugated by "social realism" were rapidly emerging. Today, they are commonly known as The Sixtiers. This movement brought together all forms of artistic expression to promote a national revival and a struggle against Russification. A few of its representatives included Vasyl Stus, Ivan Drach, Ivan Svitlychny, Lina Kostenko, Alla Horska, Serhiy Paradzhanov and Vasyl Symonenko. The latter, along with other poets, found graves of victims of Stalinist repression, for which he was later brutally beaten and eventually died.

Despite their scale, the artists did not have widespread support among the population. Cultural nights of the Sixtiers were repeatedly dispersed by the party’s order. The climax came in the premier of Paradzhanov’s movie “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors”. Before the screening, Ivan Dzyuba came on stage and spoke on yet another wave of arrests of the Ukrainian intelligentsia. Vasyl Stus and Vyacheslav Chornovil joined him from the hall. Later, all of the protesters were arrested. Those events were later highlighted in the movie “Censored”, which we recommend you to watch.

A state for people
or people for a state?

Nowadays, humanism is more important than any other human quality. Everybody should know this, but sadly our enemies don't. It is difficult to imagine that, in the course of evolution, such at first glance obvious things, have long been outside the realm of politics. Do you remember the Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted in France at the end of XVIII century as a result of revolution? A similar universal document appeared only in 1948. What about the USSR then? Under the Soviet rule, the Communist Party set all possible freedoms: people are a state’s instrument, therefore they have to satisfy its needs and most certainly correspond with them. Human rights activists, who were against such politics, were constantly persecuted. However, after 1975, this movement gained a new momentum.

The Helsinki Final Act was signed at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), which, among other things, defined the human rights in every country-participant. Within a year in the USSR, the Ukrainian Helsinki Group emerged in order to implement the above-mentioned agreements. It is thought that the founders of this group were a poet Mykola Rudenko and a Major General, as well as a Crimean Tatar human rights activist Petro Hryhorenko. Over time, the next organization will be founded based on its predecessor – Ukrainian Helsinki Union.


Independent Once Again

How easy is it to gain independence?

What should one do when everything seems to be falling apart and holding on to the past is increasingly unsuccessful? Psychologists will probably tell you to relax and take a break, but Ukrainian politicians – to declare independence. After all, in the context of state formation, pauses are unacceptable.

Countdown of the USSR

The political and economic crises of the Soviet Union progressed like cancer. Nikolai Gorbachev, the final General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, tried to improve the situation without any success. Allowing the economy market to dictate its own course and directly regulating it, taking a publicity course and censoring it at the same time indicated the failure of the Soviet policy. Among the factors triggering the collapse was also the disaster at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant near Kyiv.

The nuclear accident occurred on April 26, 1986, when the No. 4 reactor exploded and emitted radioactive emissions that are equivalent to 300 atomic bombings of Hiroshima. The state officials hid the fact of the catastrophe for some time. Labor Day {May 1} was marked by a solemn parade in the capital of the Ukrainian SSR and the number of people exposed to radiation is still difficult to confirm. The Chornobyl disaster remains one of the largest catastrophes in history, and its consequences remain significant. It was the silence that undermined the trust in the government and led to the awakening of Ukrainians.

The springboard to independence

The opposition started by the dissidents was gaining momentum: public associations and informal organizations were being formed. Among them were The Ukrainian Helsinki Union, The Taras Shevchenko Society and The Organization of National Movement of Crimean Tatars.

However, it is worth paying attention to the People's Movement of Ukraine for Perestroika {Reconstruction}, founded in September 1989, which became an important part of public and political life and had influenced the formation of a multiparty system. For the first time, all democratic groups in Ukraine were united. The participants of the movement held massive protests and actions.

The "human chain" was one of them.

On January 21, 1990, thousands of people joined hands and formed a human chain on the roads from Lviv to Kyiv to honor of The Unification Act {Act Zluky} between the Ukrainian People's Republic and the Western Ukrainian People's Republic. This action demonstrated the unity of Ukrainian people and became a tradition for a long time.

Rapid development of events
did not omit the Verkhovna Rada either {the Supreme Council}:

October 1989 — adoption of the Law on Languages, which granted Ukrainian language the status of the state language.

March 4th, 1990— elections to the Verkhovna Rada on an alternative basis,

July 16th, 1990 — adoption of the Declaration on State Sovereignty,

August 3rd, 1990 — adoption of the Law on Economic Independence.

Youth stands for freedom

Political and economic crises of the Soviet Union continued to deepen and those willing to preserve “utopia” of communism were seeking for new ways out. In order to get rid of their main headache, conservatives planned to sign a new union contract. It was supposed to reform the USSR and create a new state. However, there were those who disagreed.

On October 2nd, 1990, the Action of Civic Disobedience took place and was later named “Revolution on Granite”. A little tent city emerged on the Independence Square. Students from Kyiv, Lviv, Drohobych and Dnipro went on a hunger strike and submitted claims to the authorities. In particular, preventing the union contract from being signed. The authorities met their desires. Thus, the students brought us closer to independence and served as an example for all future generations of protesters.

The last spurt

On August 19, 1990, in Moscow, the State Committee on the State of Emergency (SCSE) was formed in order to prevent collapse of the so-called “prison of the republics”. Within a few days, the self-proclaimed authority attempted a coup d'état.

Vyacheslav Chornovil urged taking advantage of the precarious position of the Soviet apparatus, but Leonid Kravchuk, former Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, lacked determination. The expected turmoil began when it became clear that the August Putsch {Coup} failed and the doors to independence are widely opened.

On August 24, the Verkhovna Rada adopted The Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine. The formal approval of this document took place at an all-Ukrainian referendum along with election of the first president. 90.32% of citizens voted in favor of our independence and as early as the next day, it was recognized by Poland and Canada.

On June 28, 1996, members of the Verkhovna Rada adopted Constitution and in September of the same year, a monetary reform followed: hryvnia became the Ukrainian currency.


The history
of "maidans

When did?
«Razom nas bahato» appear

How often do you recall the Constitution? The fifth article of the Constitution of Ukraine states that the people are the sole bearer of sovereignty and the only source of power in Ukraine. How many historical lessons did Ukrainians have to learn to engrave these words in the Basic Law? It also stipulates that people can exercise power directly and not only through authorities. Ukrainians have already seized this opportunity, but the struggle continues.

Two Victors and

Ukraine's polarity was evident in the early 2000s: one part aimed to join the European Union and NATO, while the other part sought integration with Russia.

The confrontation intensified during the 2004 presidential election. The second round of the election was contested between the Pro-Western candidate and opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko and the incumbent pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. Although the Central Election Commission announced the victory of the latter, observers and voters reported numerous electoral fraud.

Residents of many Ukrainian cities attended rallies. Mass demonstrations in support of Yushchenko were named after the color that symbolized the candidate's political campaign - The Orange Revolution. As a result, authorities were forced to agree with the people and hold another round. In the wake of his election, President Viktor Yushchenko embarked on a course of rapprochement with the European Union.

And millions came out

Another presidential election took place in 2010. This time, without any scandals, the Ukrainian government was headed by Viktor Yanukovych. He followed the same political course as his predecessor, but in late 2013, he refused to sign the European Union - Ukraine Association Agreement, shifting the country's policy towards Russia.
Ukraine's dissatisfied citizens are once again staging pro-European demonstrations. It all began with a peaceful protest by a group of young people, which was illegally dispersed by security forces. The following day, protesters flooded the streets of Kyiv. One of the most prominent places of popular resistance was Independence Square in Kyiv, which later gave protests their first name, "Euromaidan".

Its second name – Revolution of Dignity – appeared at the beginning of 2014, when "Berkut" officers got permission to use weapons against Maidan activists. The first hundred of innocent victims killed by the security forces are immortalized as the “Heavenly Hundred Heroes”. The protesters also take up arms, forcing Yanukovych to flee. Of course, he finds refuge in Russia.

After the first deaths in Kyiv, the protests spread almost all across most parts of the country. Maidan activists seize regional state administrations – the hearth of the local presidential power – however, in the Eastern parts of the country, they are beaten out by so-called "titushky". There were often casualties. Kharkiv and Odessa became symbols of resistance. At the same time the pro-Russian administration of these cities was either supporting Yanukovych or laying low.

The new provisional administration approves the Association Agreement, which, apparently, did not sit well with the Kremlin. Russia deploys yet another aggression against Ukraine. Early in the year, it finances and supports the “anti-Maidan” movements in many Ukrainian cities. However, the pro-European forces largely prevail.

"Little green men" oppose

"There is no Russia without Ukraine" – this motto is known for centuries. Indeed, Kremlin does not want tolose control over us at all costs, but the love for freedom and unity of Ukrainians is incompatible with this ideology.

At the end of February 2014, Russian army begins a military intervention in Crimea. At the same time, the militants involved do not wear any insignia, thus receiving the nickname “little green men”. As early as March 16, under the muzzles of occupying forces a “referendum” on joining Russia was conducted on the peninsula. As opposed to the overwhelming majority of all the world countries, the aggressor country recognizes the “will of the people” and appoints its own authorities in Crimea. Ukrainian leaders decided to try to liberate its territories from invaders in a diplomatic way, but their attempts were unsuccessful.

The new 'government' shows its true colors immediately by repressing dissentients. The apogee was the outlaw of the executive-representative body of indigenous people of Crimea – the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People – in 2016. The number of political prisoners in occupied Crimea has long exceeded a hundred. The dissentients regularly disappear under mysterious circumstances.


The Russian

Where did we stumble in 2014?

Ukraine began 2014 in a dual mood - one of victory over the Yanukovych regime, and another of confusion over the situation in the east and south. There is still a myth that says "not everything is so definite", but we are completely on the side of the Ukrainian state.

How propaganda works

Over the years, the Russian government has spent a great deal of money spreading its influence and promoting the ideas of "The Unified Russian World", "A Great Russian Culture", "A Mysterious Russian Soul," and "The Bad West". The neighboring countries are most affected by these views, as long years of Russification and a belief of a common "stable happy past" prevent them from living freely.

As an example, Russia's actions spread along at least three axes in the case of the European Union – Ukraine Association Agreement, which Viktor Yanukovych was to sign in November 2013. Firstly, it began an extensive information campaign, then refused to cooperate with the government of Ukraine and finally financed the "popular resistance" – the anti-Maidan movement demonstrations. After it became clear that it didn’t work out, armed aggression began. Thus, the researchers call such an approach “hybrid war”.

«The Russian world»
means war

Now we know that the Kremlin has been carefully laying the groundwork for another “reunification of peoples”: pro-Russian parties have been holding more seats in all levels of government; the rights of Russian language could not be encroached upon; pupils studied Russian literature separately; Russian movies in cinemas have been insanely popular, and Ukrainian stars preferred earning money in Russia. Those regions that have been in the "friendly embrace"

As a result, the "anti-Maidans" were especially effective in eastern and southern Ukraine, where the main participants were marginals and "titushky". Such colorful, but not very numerous formations have even announced the creation of "people's republics" in some cities. The citizens of those cities paid little attention to this, believing that everything would settle on its own, but the Kremlin had other plans

In April 2014, detachments of Russian mercenaries invaded Donetsk and Luhansk regions, seizing cities and appointing their own leaders, often marginals from the anti-Maidan movement.

In summer, thanks to the organized resistance, Ukrainian forces managed to liberate Lyman, Mariupol, Slovyansk, Kramatorsk, Druzhkivka, Kostyantynivka, Bakhmut, Toretsk, Avdiyivka, Maryinka, Shchastya, Rubizhne, Severodonetsk, Lysychansk and many other towns. In attempt to resolve the situation diplomatically, Ukraine signs disadvantageous “Minsk agreements”, hoping for the West’s help, but it was in vain. As of 2019, 24 cities of regional significance and 18 districts were under temporary occupation. Millions of peaceful residents had no other choice than flee from their own homes, since lawlessness and violation of human rights prevailed in the occupied territories.

Cyborgs exist outside
of movies too

Bewildered Ukrainian people quickly managed to come to their senses and establish a strong volunteer movement. Ukrainians have already long known organizations that could be trusted and consistently supported them – physically or financially. Volunteers are often compared to Saint Nicholas, because they are literally able to get anything under any circumstances to bring our victory closer.

Furthermore, volunteer detachments demonstrate unwavering courage. They have been demonstrating recklessness since the battles for Donetsk airport, during which 72 Ukrainian warriors held back forces that greatly outnumbered them for 242 days until January 22, 2015. Even the enemies called them "cyborgs". This word was used for every hero and became a synonym of invincibility, courage and resistance. The feat of Donetsk airport defenders inspired many artists and in 2017 a movie "Cyborgs: Heroes Never Die" by Akhtem Seitablayev was released.

It’s always the rapist
to blame

One of the slogans, which Russia used for launching a full-scale invasion in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, was a “complete liberation of Donbas”. Their propaganda doesn't elaborate on why, unfortunately. Administrative boundaries are just a formality, since they do not provide common transport or energetic networks, ideological or ethnic unity or whatsoever.

Looking for logic in the words of Kremlin is a Sisyphean task. For the last 8 years, the Russian Federation strongly denied its involvement in the events in Eastern Ukraine. Senior officials of the Russian government brazenly chanted the same mantras: "We are not there", "It is a civil war". However, the imperialistic nature eventually starts to show and when there is nothing to hide anymore, they boldly call someone else's territories "primordially Russian" that "favors their accession".

Russian Federation's rhetoric reminds that of an abuser: as if, the victim provoked him by wearing a skirt too short. However, it is important never to forget that it is always the rapist to blame.


war 2022

How did Ukrainians get tempered?

"If Ukrainians did not fight, if they capitulated, our future, the future of democracies, would be very bleak." This is the opinion of Timothy Snyder, a world-renowned historian, professor at Yale University and a specialist in Eastern Europe studies. He outlined 10 reasons why Ukraine's victory is so important for the entire world. And as Ukrainians, we are striving to achieve this goal as soon as possible.

The attack

Russia's aggression against neighboring countries did not begin in 2022. Even if you only look at our project, you will see its consistent and firm stance long before the modern name and state formation. It is the historically established cruelty that modern Russian politicians appeal to, for some reason calling it protection.

Russia launched an active hybrid war against Ukraine in 2014. Under the slogan "Crimea Belongs To Us",it occupied the peninsula, and also tried to shake the southeastern regions and force separatism. After that failed, it began occupying Donbas. Ukraine, however, unexpectedly repelled and the aggressor lurked.

At the beginning of 2022, approximately 200,000 Russian troops were stationed on Russia's borders withUkraine and Belarus, divided into 60 battle groups.

In a statement made on February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk, and three days later, at 5 a.m. on February 24, he declared a "special military operation" under his army’s attack. The large-scale military invasion began with Russian missiles attacking airfields and military facilities across Ukraine, heavy equipment and manpower crossing borders from Russia, Belarus and the occupied Crimea. A number of cities were hit, including Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Odesa, Mykolaiv, Kherson, and Mariupol. Kyiv was planned to be captured within 3-5 days. However, the enemy was driven away from Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy within a month, liberating the partially occupied territory.

Rescue in the Russian style

"Civilians will not be harmed", "the sole purpose of this special military operation is to liberate the country from the Nazis".

Did you hear these statements? Russia's military leadership and its own armyseem to be living in parallel worlds or, if you face the truth facts, are lying about the crimes they'vecommitted. From day one, Russia has been razing our cities and villages with artillery and missiles. Whilethey destroyed a great deal of military, industrial and infrastructural facilities, they also wiped out a great deal of parks, museums, schools, universities, galleries, zoos, libraries, and thousands of homes. Along with civilians.

The scale of Russia's crimes in the occupied territories can only be assessed after their  liberation. Thus,the inhuman behavior of the aggressors was revealed after Bucha and Irpin cities in Kyiv region were released from their grasp. Streets full of corpses, tortured to death people in their homes, blown-up cars with people who were trying to evacuate… Once you have seen it, you will never forget it. As well as almost every story of those who were lucky to survive. From these stories, we know that the invaders kill, torture, rape, rob and destroy.

They destroy even Ukrainian historic monuments. Think about the monument to Taras Shevchenko in Borodyanka, Kyiv region, whose head was shot by Russian soldiers, and The National Literary and Memorial Museum of Hryhoriy Skovoroda in Kharkiv region that is located a bit farther away from the frontline, yet struck by shelling.

Azov is Steel

Mariupol is one of the most destroyed towns. Russians occupied it before, in 2014. The same year the town was liberated and gradually restored. However, in 2022, the invaders did not give this town a chance.

Massive airstrikes, shelling with systems of volley fire and cruise missiles remained until the town's defenders left in the middle of May. At the same time, Russians did not give any opportunity to evacuate civilians and forcefully transported them to Russian territories.

Combatants of naval infantry, National Guard of Ukraine, “Azov” unit and territorial defense forces desperately resisted the enemy. The last outpost for the defenders was territory of “Azovstal” plant, in the basements of which Mariupol residents also found shelter. Military reinforcements and weapons were from time to time delivered to the defenders by helicopters. In the aftermath, civilians were evacuated. Russian troops tried to mercilessly smoke Ukrainian warriors from the plant’s territory, but in vain. They agreed to leave their positions only by the order of the authorities.

After transporting Ukrainian defenders, Mariupol was taken by Russians. The infrastructure is 90% destroyed; there is no electric power, gas, heating, or water. The invaders transport steel, food, valuable equipment by sea and send the remains of shattered buildings to landfills along with the bodies that remained underneath them. In return, the residents were at once provided with propaganda: cars with built-in TVs roam the destroyed streets.

Let us fight and we will win

As soon as Russians occupy territories, they erase and re-write history. They change names, forbid to speak Ukrainian, transport “ideologically acceptable” teachers and officials and so on. However, the citizens fight back. The guerrillas regularly stage mass protests, spread leaflets and notifications with trustworthy information about what is going on.

The information front of resistance to Russian Federation is just as important as the military one. During wartime, the Ukrainian state apparatus has developed a clear scheme of informing the public, so that civilians are not affected by uncertainty, diplomats demonstrate a miraculous professionalism spreading the truth in Western countries, and journalists and bloggers follow the guidance.

One of good and available to everyone ways to fight against the invaders is ridiculing. Memes help to guide aggression into the right direction, unite like-minded people, teach to be emphatic and inspire to continue the battle for the sake of Ukraine's unity. Let us remind some of them: 'Our Russophobia is still insufficient', 'Our father is Bandera', 'Russian warship, go f*ck yourself', 'How are you holding on, -kitchen cabinet?'