Ukrainian nationalism


Ukrainian nationalism is the ideology promoting the unity of Ukrainians into their own nation state. Although the current Ukrainian state emerged fairly recently, some historians, such as Mykhailo Hrushevsky, Orest Subtelny, and Paul Robert Magocsi, cited the medieval state of Kyivan Rus as an early precedent of specifically Ukrainian statehood.[1] The origins of modern Ukrainian nationalism are also traced to the 17th-century Cossack uprising against the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth led by Bohdan Khmelnytsky.

Flag of Ukraine
St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery in Kyiv

Background


The Cossacks played a role in re-awakening a Ukrainian sense of identity within the steppe region.[2] A dominant figure within the Cossack movement and in Ukrainian nationalist history, Bohdan Khmelnytsky (c. 1595–1657), commanded the Zaporozhian Cossacks and led the Khmelnytsky Uprising against Polish rule in the mid-17th century. Khmelnytsky also succeeded in legitimizing a form of democracy which had been practised by cossacks since the 15th century.[3]

This sense of democracy played a key part of the sense of ethnic identity.[citation needed] Bohdan Khmelnytsky spoke of the liberation of the "entire Ruthenian people", and recent research confirmed that the concept of a Ruthenian nation as a religious and cultural community had existed before his revolution.[4] Centuries later, Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine's national poet, repeatedly condemned Khmelnytsky for handing the Ukrainian people over to rule by the House of Romanov, which Shevchenko considered far more tyrannical colonialists than the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had been.[5] Despite this, many modern Ukrainians still glorify Khmelnytsky's role in the history of Ukraine.

Another prominent figure in Cossack nationalism, Hetman Ivan Mazepa (1639-1709), made large financial contributions focused on the restoration of Ukrainian culture and history during the early 18th century. He financed major reconstructions of the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv,[6] and the elevation the Kyiv Mohyla Collegium to the status of Kyiv Mohyla Academy in 1694.[6] Politically, Mazepa was misunderstood[by whom?] and misrepresented,[by whom?] and found little support among the peasantry.[7]

In literature


One of the most prominent figures in Ukrainian national history, the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, voiced ideas of an independent and sovereign Ukraine in the 19th century.[8] Taras Shevchenko used poetry to inspire cultural revival to the Ukrainian people and to strive to overthrow injustice.[8] Shevchenko died in Saint Petersburg on 10 March 1861, the day after his 47th birthday. Ukrainians regard him as a national hero, becoming a symbol of the national cultural revival of Ukraine. Beside Shevchenko, numerous other poets have written in Ukrainian. Among them, Volodymyr Sosyura stated in his poem Love Ukraine (1944) that one cannot respect other nations without respect for one's own.

In the 20th century


World War I

Postcard published by the Ukrainian Brigade, "United Ukrainians defend against both Polish and Russian forces", 1920

With the collapse of the Russian Empire a political entity which encompassed political, community, cultural, and professional organizations was established in Kyiv from the initiative from the Association of the Ukrainian Progressionists (TUP). This entity was called the Tsentralna Rada (Central Council) and was headed by the historian, Mykhailo Hrushevskyi.[9] On 22 January 1918, the Tsentralna Rada declared Ukraine an independent country.[9] This independence was recognized by the Russian government headed by Lenin as well as the Central Powers and other states.[10] However, this government did not survive very long because of pressures not only from Denikin's Russian White Guard but also the Red Army, German, and Entente intervention, and local anarchists such as Nestor Makhno and Green Army of Otaman Zeleny.[9]

Territory that was claimed by Ukraine according to an old postcard dating 1919

Interwar period in Soviet Ukraine

As Bolshevik rule took hold in Ukraine, the early Soviet government had its own reasons to encourage the national movements of the former Russian Empire. Until the early 1930s, Ukrainian culture enjoyed a widespread revival due to Bolshevik concessions known as the policy of Korenization ("indigenization"). In these years an impressive Ukrainization program was implemented throughout the republic. In such conditions, the Ukrainian national idea initially continued to develop and even spread to a large territory with traditionally mixed population in the east and south that became part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

At the same time, despite the ongoing Soviet-wide anti-religious campaign, the Ukrainian national Orthodox Church was created, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The church was initially seen by the Bolshevik government as a tool in their goal to suppress the Russian Orthodox Church, always viewed with great suspicion by the regime for its being the cornerstone of the defunct Russian Empire and the initially strong opposition it took towards the regime change. Therefore, the government tolerated the new Ukrainian national church for some time and the UAOC gained a wide following among the Ukrainian peasantry.

These events greatly raised the national consciousness among the Ukrainians and brought about the development of a new generation of Ukrainian cultural and political elite. This in turn raised the concerns of Joseph Stalin, who saw danger in the Ukrainians' loyalty towards their nation competing with their loyalty to the Soviet State and in early 1930s the "Ukrainian bourgeois nationalism" was declared to be the primary problem in Ukraine. The Ukrainization policies were abruptly and bloodily reversed, most of the Ukrainian cultural and political elite was arrested and executed, and the nation was decimated with the famine called the Holodomor.

Interwar period in the West

After World War I, what is now Ukraine was annexed by the newly created Second Polish Republic and by the Soviet Union. Both governments continued to view Ukrainian nationalism as a threat. In March 1926, Vlas Chubar (Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of Soviet Ukraine), gave a speech given in Kharkiv and later repeated it in Moscow, in which he warned of the danger that Symon Petliura, the exiled former President of the Ukrainian People's Republic, represented to the Soviet Government. It was as a result of this speech that the command was allegedly given to assassinate Petliura on French soil.[11]

On 25 May 1926, at 14:12, by the Gibert bookstore, Petliura was walking on Rue Racine near Boulevard Saint-Michel of the Latin Quarter in Paris and was approached by Sholom Schwartzbard. Schwartzbard asked in Ukrainian: "Are you Mr. Petliura?" Petliura did not answer but raised his walking cane. As Schwartzbard claimed in court, he pulled out a gun and shot him five times.[12][13]

Petliura was buried alongside his wife and daughter in the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris, France. According to senior KGB defector Peter Deriabin, Schwartzbard was a Soviet secret police (GPU) operative and was acting on the orders of Soviet Ambassador to France, Christian Rakovsky. Schwartzbard's handler in preparing for the targeted killing of Petliura was fellow GPU agent Mikhail Volodin, who arrived in France August 8, 1925 and who was subsequently in close contact with Schwartzbard.[14][15][16][17]

News of Petliura's assassination triggered massive uprisings in Soviet-ruled Ukraine particularly in Boromlia, Zhehailivtsi, (Sumy province), Velyka Rublivka, Myloradov (Poltava province), Hnylsk, Bilsk, Kuzemyn and all along the Vorskla River from Okhtyrka to Poltava, Burynia, Nizhyn (Chernihiv province) and other cities.[18] These revolts were brutally suppressed by the Soviet Government. The blind kobzars Pavlo Hashchenko and Ivan Kuchuhura Kucherenko composed a duma (epic poem) in memory of Symon Petliura. To date Petliura is the only modern Ukrainian politician to have a duma created and sung in his memory. This duma became popular among the kobzars of left-bank Ukraine and was also sung by Stepan Pasiuha, Petro Drevchenko, Bohushchenko, and Chumak.[19]

The core defense at the Schwartzbard trial, as presented by the noted French jurist Henri Torres, was that Petliura's assassin was avenging the deaths of his parents and the other Jewish victims of pogroms committed by Petliura's soldiers, whereas the prosecution (both criminal and civil) tried to show that Petliura was not responsible for the pogroms and that Schwartzbard was a Soviet spy. After a trial lasting eight days the jury acquitted Schwartzbard.[20][21]

In retaliation for the Polish Government's policy of Polonization and for the forced rebaptism of both Orthodox and Greek Catholic into the Roman Rite, Tadeusz Hołówko was murdered while staying in a guest house owned by nuns of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church at Truskawiec on 29 August 1931. Hołówko was one of the first victims of an assassination campaign waged against Polish politicians and policemen by the paramilitary Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). His death, widely discussed in the Polish press, the international press, and even at a League of Nations session,[22] was part of a vicious circle involving the Second Polish Republic's brutal repression of ethnic-Ukrainians (the 1930 "pacification" of Eastern Galicia)[23][24] and the OUN's retaliatory assassination campaign. Some time later, a senior Polish police commissioner investigating Hołówko's assassination, Emilian Czechowski, also became an OUN assassination victim.[22]

In 1933, the OUN retaliated against the Soviet State for the Holodomor by assassinating Alexei Mailov, a Soviet consular official stationed in Polish-ruled Lviv. On 15 June 1934, Poland's Minister of the Interior, Bronisław Pieracki, was also assassinated by the faction led by Stepan Bandera within the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. Poland's Sanation government retaliated by creating, two days after the assassination, the Bereza Kartuska Prison. The prison's first detainees were the leadership of the opposition National Radical Camp (the ONR),who were arrested on 6–7 July 1934.[25] Many Ukrainian nationalists and Polish critics of the ruling party soon joined them there. Stepan Bandera and Mykola Lebed were arrested, tried, and sentenced to death for Pieracki's assassination. Their sentences were later commuted to life imprisonment.[26]

On 23 May 1938, OUN leader Yevhen Konovalets was assassinated by the NKVD inside a Rotterdam cafe. Konovalets was inside the cafe meeting with Pavel Sudoplatov, an NKVD mole who had infiltrated the OUN, and who gave Konovalets a bomb rigged to explode inside a box of chocolates. Sudoplatov walked calmly away, waited until he heard the bomb explode, then walked calmly to the nearest train station, and left the city. Sudoplatov later alleged in his memoirs to have been personally ordered by Joseph Stalin to assassinate Konovalets as revenge for the 1933 assassination at the Soviet consulate in Lviv. Stalin also felt that Konovalets was a figure maintaining the unity of the OUN and that his death would cause the organization to become further factionalized, torn apart, and annihilated from within.[27]

Due to his sudden disappearance, the OUN immediately suspected Sudoplatov of Konovalets' murder. Therefore, a photograph of Sudoplatov and Konovalets together was distributed to every OUN unit. According to Sudoplatov, "In the 1940s, SMERSH [...] captured two guerilla fighters in Western Ukraine, one of whom had this photo of me on him. When asked why he was carrying it, he replied, 'I have no idea why, but the order is if we find this man to liquidate him.'"[28] Just as Stalin had hoped, the OUN following Konovalets' murder split into two parts. The older, more moderate members supported Andriy Melnyk and the OUN-M, while the younger and more radical members supported Stepan Bandera's OUN-B.

World War II

With the outbreak of war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1941, many nationalists in Ukraine thought that they would have an opportunity to create an independent country once again. An entire Ukrainian volunteer division of the SS had been created. Many of the fighters who had originally looked to the Nazis as liberators, quickly became disillusioned and formed the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) (Ukrainian: Українська Повстанська Армія), which waged military campaign against Germans and later Soviet forces as well against Polish civilians.[29] The primary goal of OUN was "the rebirth, of setting everything in order, the defense and the expansion of the Independent Council of Ukrainian National State." The OUN also revived the sentiment that "Ukraine is for Ukrainians."[30] In 1943, the UPA adopted a policy of massacring and expelling the Polish population.[31][32] The ethnic cleansing operation against the Poles began on a large scale in Volhynia in late February, or early spring,[32] of that year and lasted until the end of 1944.[33] 11 July 1943 was one of the deadliest days of the massacres, with UPA units marching from village to village, killing Polish civilians. On that day, UPA units surrounded and attacked 99 Polish villages and settlements in the counties of Kowel, Horochów, and Włodzimierz Wołyński. On the following day, 50 additional villages were attacked.[34] On 30 June 1941, the OUN, led by Stepan Bandera, declared an independent Ukrainian state.[35] This was immediately acted upon by the Nazi army, and Bandera was arrested and imprisoned from 1941 to 1944.[35]

Ukrainian nationalists demonstrate against Soviet Union and for a free Ukraine in 1941

The UPA was a military group that took up arms first against the Poles, and later, Nazis and eventually against the Soviets. During World War II, the UPA fought against the Polish, German and Soviet forces. After the Second World War, UPA took actions directed against Soviet rule within Ukraine. Many members of the UPA saw themselves as the armed wing of the OUN in its struggle for Ukrainian independence.[36] There has been much debate as to the legitimacy of UPA as a political group. UPA maintains a prominent and symbolic role in Ukrainian history and the quest for Ukrainian independence.[37] At the same time it was deemed an insurgent or terrorist group by Soviet historiography.[37]

Ukrainian Canadian historian Serhiy Yekelchyk writes that during 1943 and 1944 an estimated 35,000 Polish civilians and an unknown number of Ukrainian civilians in the Volhynia and Chelm regions fell victim to mutual ethnic cleansing by the UPA and Polish insurgents.[38] Niall Ferguson writes that around 80,000 Poles were murdered then by Ukrainian nationalists.[39] In his book Europe at War 1939–1945: No Simple Victory, Norman Davies puts the number of murdered Polish civilians at between 200,000 and 500,000, while Timothy Snyder writes that Ukrainian nationalists killed "between forty to sixty thousand Polish civilians in Volhynia in 1943."[40]

In present-day Ukraine


Lviv football fans at a 2010 game against Donetsk. The banner reads "Bandera – our hero."

In the first decade of the 21st century, voters from Western Ukraine and Central Ukraine tended to vote for pro-Western and pro-European general liberal national democrats,[41][42] while pro-Russian parties got the vote in Eastern Ukraine and Southern Ukraine.[41] From the 1998 Ukrainian parliamentary election[a 1][43][44][45] until the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election, no nationalist party obtained seats in the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament).[46][47] In these elections, nationalist right-wing parties obtained less than 1% of the votes; in the 1998 parliamentary election, they obtained 3.26%.[47]

The nationalist party Svoboda had an electoral breakthrough with the 2009 Ternopil Oblast local election, when they obtained 34.69% of the votes and 50 seats out of 120 in the Ternopil Oblast Council.[47] This was the best result for a far-right party in Ukraine’s history.[47] In the previous 2006 Ternopil Oblast local election, the party had obtained 4.2% of the votes and 4 seats.[47] In the simulatenous 2006 Ukrainian local elections for the Lviv Oblast Council, it had obtained 5.62% of the votes and 10 seats and 6.69% of the votes and 9 seats in the Lviv city council.[47] In 1991, Svoboda was founded as the Social-National Party of Ukraine.[48] The party combined radical nationalism and alleged neo-Nazi features.[49] Under Oleh Tyahnybok, it was renamed and rebranded in 2004 as the All-Ukrainian Association Svoboda. Political scientists Olexiy Haran and Alexander J. Motyl contend that Svoboda is radical rather than fascist and they also argue that it has more similarities with far-right movements like the Tea Party movement than it has with either fascists or neo-Nazis.[50][51] In 2005, Victor Yushchenko appointed Volodymyr Viatrovych head of the Ukrainian security service (SBU) archives. According to professor Per Anders Rudling, this not only allowed Viatrovych to sanitize ultra-nationalist history but also to officially promote its dissemination along with OUN(b) ideology, which is based on "ethnic purity" coupled with anti-Russian, anti-Polish, and antisemitic rhetoric.[52]:229–230 The extreme right-wing now capitalizes on Yushchenkoist propaganda initiatives.[52]:235 This includes Iuryi Mykhal'chyshyn, an ideologue who proudly confesses that he is a part of the fascist tradition.[52]:240 The autonomous nationalists focus on recruiting young people, participating in violent actions, and advocating "anti-bourgeoism, anti-capitalism, anti-globalism, anti-democratism, anti-liberalism, anti-bureaucratism, anti-dogmatism." Rulig suggested that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, sworn in on 25 February 2010,[53] "indirectly aided Svoboda" by "granting Svoboda representatives disproportionate attention in the media."[52]:247

In the 2010 Ukrainian local elections, Svoboda achieved notable success in Eastern Galicia.[54] In the 2012 parliamentary election, Svoboda came in fourth with 10,44% (almost a fourteenfold of its votes compared with the 2007 Ukrainian parliamentary election)[44][55] of the national votes and 38 out of 450 seats.[56][57] Following the 2012 parliamentary election, Batkivshchyna and UDAR cooperated officially with Svoboda.[58]

Fans of FC Karpaty Lviv honoring the Waffen-SS Galizien division, 2013
Euromaidan activists wave Ukraine's official flag, the flag of the Ukrainian People's Self-Defense and a red and black flag used by multiple nationalist organizations vying for Ukraine's independence after both World Wars; it dates back all the way to Ukraine's 16th century, March 2014.

During and after the Russian military intervention in Ukraine, Russian media attempted to portray the Ukrainian party in the conflict as neo-Nazi. The main Ukrainian organisations involved with a neo-Banderaite legacy are Svoboda, Right Sector, and Azov Battalion. The Azov Battalion is led by Andriy Biletsky, the head of the ultra-nationalist and neo-Banderaite political groups Social-National Assembly and Patriots of Ukraine,[59] is commander of the Azov Battalion[60] and the Azov Battalion is part of the Ukrainian National Guard[61] fighting pro-Russian separatists in the War in Donbass.[62][63] According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, some individual anonymous members of the battalion identified themselves as sympathetic to the Third Reich.[60] In June 2015, Democratic Representative John Conyers and his Republican colleague Ted Yoho offered bipartisan amendments to block the U.S. military training of Ukraine's Azov Battalion.[61]

After President Yanokovych's ouster in the February 2014 Ukrainian revolution, the interim Yatsenyuk Government placed four Svoboda members in leading positions; Oleksandr Sych as Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, Ihor Tenyukh as Minister of Defense, lawyer Ihor Shvaika as Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, and Andriy Mokhnyk as Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine.[64] In a 5 March 2014 fact sheet, the U.S. State Department stated that "[f]ar-right wing ultranationalist groups, some of which were involved in open clashes with security forces during the Euromaidan protests, are not represented in the Ukrainian parliament."[65]

In the 2014 Ukrainian presidential election and 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election, Svoboda candidates failed to meet the electoral threshold to win. The party won six constituency seats in the 2014 parliamentary election and obtained 4.71% of national election list votes.[66] In the 2014 presidential election, Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok received 1.16% of the vote.[67] Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh gained 0.7% of the votes in the 2014 presidential election,[67] and was elected to parliament in the 2014 parliamentary election as a Right Sector candidate by winning a single-member district.[68] Right Sector spokesperson Boryslav Bereza as an independent candidate also won a seat and district.[69]

The radical nationalists group С14, whose members openly expressed neo-Nazi views, gained notoriety in 2018 for being involved in violent attacks on Romany camps.[70][71][72] On 19 November 2018, Svoboda and fellow Ukrainian nationalist political organizations Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, Right Sector, and C14 endorsed Ruslan Koshulynskyi's candidacy in the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election.[73] In the election, he received 1.6% of the votes.[74] In the 2019 Ukrainian parliamentary election, a united party list with the nationalist right-wing parties Svoboda, Right Sector, Governmental Initiative of Yarosh, and National Corps won not enough votes to clear the 5% election threshold, they won 2.15% of the vote, and thus no parliamentary seats.[75][76] Svoboda did win one constituency seat in the election.[75] Boryslav Bereza and Dmytro Yarosh lost their parliamentary seats.[75]

Nationalist political parties


Current

Defunct

See also


Notes


  1. In the 1998 parliamentary election, the radical-nationalist bloc of parties (All-Ukrainian Political Movement "State Independence of Ukraine" and Social-National Party of Ukraine) called Less Words (Ukrainian: Менше слів) collected 0.16% of the national vote but Oleh Tyahnybok was voted into Parliament from the bloc only.

References


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    Central Election Commission of Ukraine
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  68. Ukrainian Militia Behind Brutal Romany Attacks Getting State Funds, Radio Free Europe (June 14, 2018)
  69. Ukraine Roma camp attack leaves one dead, BBC News (24 June 2018)
  70. SBU opens case against C14 nationalists for detention of Brazilian mercenary – lawyer, UNIAN (18 June 2018)
  71. (in Ukrainian) The nationalists have been identified with a presidential candidate, Ukrayinska Pravda (19 November 2018)
  72. Zelenskiy wins first round but that’s not the surprise, Atlantic Council (4 April 2019)
  73. CEC counts 100 percent of vote in Ukraine's parliamentary elections, Ukrinform (26 July 2019)
    (in Russian) Results of the extraordinary elections of the People's Deputies of Ukraine 2019, Ukrayinska Pravda (21 July 2019)
  74. (in Ukrainian) Yarosh, Tyagnibok and Biletsky have all formed a single list for the elections, Glavcom (9 June 2019)

Further reading