Kornilov: 100 Years Ago Donbass and Kharkov Explained Why They Cannot Be Considered as Ukraine

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



The Ukrainian political analyst Vladimir Kornilov about when the tendency of Donbass to separate from Ukraine arose.

On this day, August 15th, exactly 100 years ago, the businessmen of Kharkov and Donbass clearly explained to the Provisional government why their land can’t in any way be considered as Ukraine.

The chairman of the Council of Mining Industrialists of Southern Russia, the Kharkov resident Nikolay von Ditmar on behalf of the entrepreneurs made a lengthy letter to St. Petersburg, explaining the harmfulness of the idea to include the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog basin in the structure of autonomous Ukraine, whose fate in those days was actively debated. The communique is extensive, but very revealing. That’s why I will allow myself a very lengthy quote:

“According to the available information concerning the negotiations of the Provisional Government with representatives of the Kiev Central Rada, it is seen that the Kharkov, Ekaterinoslav (Dnepropetrovsk – ed], Tavricheskaya [Tauride – ed], and Kherson governorates are being included in the delegates of the aforementioned Rada in the region, subordinated to it. It should be noted that these 4 governorates (and also in part of the Voysko Donskoye region) includes all of the Donetsk carboniferous coal and Krivoy Rog iron ore basin and all the steel plants of South Russia. All of this mining and metallurgical industry is not at all local Kray, but common State property and in view of the colossal importance of this industry for the very existence of Russia, of course, there can be no question that this industry and this region could find itself in someone else’s possession, but all people and be subordinate to any authority other than that of all the people — the power of the state. The State and its body of government take from all people — southern mining and metallurgical industry created by a century of efforts and means of all the people and the State itself — the backbone of economic development and military power of the State and all the past work for inhabitation and prosperity of the earlier-deserted Kray and to hand it over to provincial autonomy and maybe even a Federation based on a pronounced national characteristic…

This decentralization of power and governance should be considered possible and necessary outside national autonomy, but even from this point of view, bodies of such local authorities and governance must be in the Kharkov region, and cannot be transferred from the Kharkov region to the Kiev one, because equally this transfer could be done for example in the Tsaritsyn or Caucasian region, and with much greater success than in Moscow…

All of this region in an industrial, geographical, and domestic sense is very different from Kiev. All of this region has its own completely independent and utmost importance for Russia, lives its independent life, and there is no decisive reason that can cause the administrative subordination of the Kharkov region to Kiev’s one, but on the contrary, such artificial subordination, which absolutely doesn’t correspond to reality, will only complicate and hamper life in the region, especially as this subordination is dictated not by issues of feasibility and state requirements, but exclusively by national aspirations of the leaders of the Ukrainian movement…

If, nevertheless, in the aforementioned governance of the Kharkov region there is Ukrainian rural population, and this can still give some justification for claims to autonomy, so many regions, counties, and cities are no different in this, because there are no Ukrainians there, and never in general were they thought of as being from Ukraine. Both industry and trade, as well as cities and major centres are created not by Ukrainian activities, but by a common Russian one, and all the major cities have a common Russian character…

And now, nevertheless, there are propositions about the attachment of Kharkov to Kiev Ukrainian governance, measures are taken for its forced Ukrainization using urban and rural schools, which is already causing the protests of parents…

That’s why without touching the Kiev region, I can say that the whole of the Kharkov region in the structure of the Kharkov, Ekaterinoslav, Tavricheskaya governorates, as well as parts of the Kherson governorate must be completely excluded, in view of its State importance, from the region of the proposed Ukrainian autonomy, because it is not possible to conduct the most dangerous experiments in a region that is never in any way subjected to any expropriation as the most important part of the State body.”

An actual quote, isn’t it?

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