“Nationalist Mythology”: Ukraine Proposed to Recognise the Soviet Period of Its History as An “Occupation”

Translated by Ollie Richardson



The Kiev authorities should, at the legislative level, consolidate in the current State the continuity of the traditions of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, which existed from 1917 to 1920. Such an opinion was expressed by the head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory (UINM) Vladimir Vyatrovich. According to him, for this purpose the government needs to carry out large-scale work on the recognition of the Soviet period in the history of the country as an “occupation”. In turn, Russian parliamentarians reminded that at the time of the Soviet Union the territory of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic considerably grew, and if Kiev recognises an “occupation”, half of the territory of the country should be returned.

Ukraine must carry out large-scale work on the recognition of the period of its stay in the structure of the Soviet Union as an “occupation”. Such a statement was made on the air of the national “Channel 5” by the head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory (UINM) Vladimir Vyatrovich.

He also expressed confidence that Kiev needs to take “political and legislative steps that would give the heredity of the Ukrainian statehood of 1917-1921 to the modern State”.

“It is obvious that we need legislative initiatives that would accurately document present-day Ukraine’s successorship of the traditions of the Ukrainian People’s Republic,” declared the head of the institute.

According to Vyatrovich, in 2018 there will be “a number of important events” connected to the so-called Ukrainian revolution of 1917-1921.

“Next year we will have a number of important events linked to the Ukrainian revolution. It will shape the society’s opinion on the connection between the modern Ukrainian state and the Ukrainian People’s Republic and define the essence of the Soviet period. In the end, those theses that have been heard for a long time on the historic soil are more often voiced in the political field,” noted the director of the UINP.

“This concerns the Soviet occupation and building the Bolshevik and later the Communist occupation regime,” stated Vyatrovich.

He added that it is possible to designate 2017 as the centennial of the beginning of “Bolshevik aggression”.

At the same time, Vyatrovich stressed that the Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine of August 24th, 1991, won’t be revised, because this document refers to the indivisibility and inviolability of the territory of the country.

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“Sane people turned their back on him long ago”

Commenting on the words of the director of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, the Deputy of the State Duma from the Republic of Crimea and Deputy Chairman of the Nationality Affairs Committee Ruslan Balbek stated that Vyatrovich was repeatedly spotted substituting historic facts.

“Vyatrovich has the juggling of historic facts in his blood. In 2009 he organised a Holodomor museum, in which photos from the US of the times of the Great depression were presented. Now he tries to fool the people into believing that Ukraine was subjected to Soviet aggression, however, he forgot to add that the territories grew by 200%,” stated the parliamentarian in conversation with RT.

Thus, according to him, Vyatrovich’s initiative is unlikely to be supported by the population of Ukraine.

“Vyatrovich’s admirers modestly hide their faces under balaclavas and ‘Right Sector’ banners, because sane people turned their back on him long ago,” noted Balbek.

“Undoubtedly, Vyatrovich’s statement is a paradise for the Ukrainian authorities. But anyway, millions of Ukrainians still celebrate the holidays of the times of Soviet ‘occupation’; they honor war heroes and don’t offer a hand to historical ‘geniuses’ like Vyatrovich,” added the interlocutor of RT.

In turn, the chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots Leonid Kalashnikov stated the possible consequences of the recognition of the “Soviet occupation”.

“If to look at this seriously, it will be necessary to return half of today’s Ukraine to Russia, and not just Crimea, because Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, and Donbass weren’t a part of Ukraine before the creation of the Soviet Union,” said Kalashnikov.

“The Ukrainian People’s Republic was a very ephemeral formation”

The Deputy Director of the Center for Ukrainian and Belarusian studies of the Lomonosov Moscow State University Bogdan Bezpalko stated that Vyatrovich’s words are myths aimed at the formation of anti-Russian nationalism among Ukrainians.

“Of course, this isn’t true at all, because the status of occupation entails the full exhaustion and exploitation of national wealth, resources, minerals, human material, the lack of higher education, and the lack of any scientific, intellectual, or cultural development,” said the political scientist.

He recalled that at the time of the Soviet Union Ukraine was one of the most developed republics and received enormous industrial potential and enormous scientific development.

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Nevertheless, according to the expert, such statements sit within the framework of Ukrainian nationalist mythology, because the current Kiev authorities don’t want to implement continuity from the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

“I doubt that in this situation it will be possible to somehow link modern-day Ukraine with the Ukrainian People’s Republic in any logical way — i.e., conscientiously and benignly. Moreover, the Ukrainian People’s Republic was a very ephemeral formation, which serious historians don’t consider as an experience of Ukrainian statehood,” added the interlocutor of the agency.

“In fact, all of these ideas are myths, which are simply called upon to create in the residents of Ukraine an anti-Russian consciousness of a nationalist character and to justify the idea of independence, which in practice is extremely destructive in relation to everything: the economy, science, culture, a normal standard of living, and the wellbeing of people who live in Ukraine,” explained Bezpalko.

He added that Ukraine, in fact, received independent statehood only in 1991, and to justify the severance of ties with Russia and the pivot to the west the Kiev authorities need to convince its citizens that Ukraine was previously under occupation.

The term “Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1921” is mainly used in modern Ukrainian historiography to describe a series of events interpreted as a national liberation fight. During the revolution of 1917 the Ukrainian People’s Republic – with its center in Kiev – and the Ukrainian People’s Republic of Soviets – with its center in Kharkov, was formed.

After the formation of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, numerous territories belonging to Malorossiya, Donbass, and Novorossiya were transferred to it. Later Eastern Galicia, Northern Bukovina, and Southern Bessarabia became a part of the republic. Following the results of World War II – Transcarpathia, and in 1954 – Crimea.

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