Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
In September, 1991, even before holding a referendum on the independence of Ukraine, the chairman of the Ukrainian parliament Leonid Kravchuk signed the law on successorship. The newly made Ukrainian State back then didn’t call itself anybody’s successor, but claimed for itself the borders of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and temporarily agreed for the Constitution of the Soviet Ukraine to act on its territory. It always recognized the obligations of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic to international treaties (however, with reservations).
And a year later an event took place that, back then, wasn’t given significance: the last President of the Ukrainian National Republic (UPR) in exile (in Canada) and head of Melnik’s wing of OUN, in the festive atmosphere of Mariinsky Palace handed over a diploma to the first President of Ukraine (this same Kravchuk) together with attributes of power – that Ukraine is the rightful successor of the UPR. In January, 1992, the blue-yellow flag of Ukraine was approved – aka the flag of the UPR proclaimed in November, 1917. The same thing concerns the coat of arms: the trident was approved as the UPR’s coat of arms on February 12th, 1918, in the town of Korosten near Zhytomyr in the HQ train carriage – for this purpose it was necessary to declare Korosten as the capital of the UPR for one day. The new birth of a trident as a small coat of arms of the Ukrainian State fell on February, 1992.
History repeated itself. In 1917, having taken advantage of the events in Petrograd [St. Petersburg – ed], representatives of Ukrainism at first hastily convened the Central Rada in Kiev and tried to reach an agreement with the provisional government about autonomy, and two weeks later, after the October revolution, declared the UPR. However, these representatives noted that “without separating from the Russian republic and preserving its unity, we will stand firmly on our land in order to help all of Russia as much as possible so that the all-Russian republic becomes a federation of equal and free people”. Thus, the Central Rada managed to take as many territories as possible: the appetites of the UPR extended to Novorossiya, Slobozhanshchina, Ekaterinoslav, Kherson, Kholm governorate, partially Taurida, Kursk, and Voronezh!
More than 70 years later, dismantling the USSR, Mr Kravchuk et al drew the borders of independent Ukraine using the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic’s borders, having promised the Russians of Ukraine peace and friendship, but meaning a revival of the UPR.
The UPR didn’t recognize the government of Bolsheviks, although it is precisely the October revolution that gave Ukrainian independence a chance. Ukraine – proclaimed in 1990-1991 – also decided to consign the Soviet part of its history into oblivion, up to the ban of communist ideology, symbols, and names connected to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. However, it decided not to refuse its Soviet heritage in the form of power plants, railroads, bridges, the subway, and ports. But monuments to Lenin and other leaders of the October revolution were taken down. Today on the website of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory such “sovok” [pejorative word for Soviet – ed] names as “Memory of Ilyich” [Lenin – ed], “Likbez“, “Achievement of October” are mocked. But the truth lies in the fact that the toponymics of the times of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic corresponded to the movement of life, while it’s impossible to call today’s Ukrainian backwards country an “Achievement of Maidan” – there are no achievements. The only thing they managed to do is rename settlements, streets, and avenues…
In honor of the 110th anniversary since the birth of Hauptmann Roman Shukhevych the Soviet boat “Kashtan“ was named after him. This is from the history of one more failed State – the “Ukrainian State”, declared as such by the Banderist part of OUN in Lvov in 1941. The new State created on the “maternal Ukrainian lands” of Western Ukraine saw Kiev as its capital, and intended to “closely cooperate with National-Socialist Great Germany, which under the leadership of its Leader Adolf Hitler creates a new order in Europe and in the world, and helps the Ukrainian people to be freed from under Moscow occupation”.
In the 90’s Mr Kravchuk nevertheless didn’t risk to connect himself to the “Ukrainian State”, which wasn’t recognized even by Hitler’s adherents, despite the full willingness of Banderists for “close cooperation”. However, independent Ukraine is also the successor of the UPR of Grushevsky–Petliura, and of the “Ukrainian State” of Bandera. An explosive cocktail of fragmentary scraps of the past.
Only these two periods of “independence” form the foundations of present Ukrainian statehood: the first was remembered for the quelling of the January revolt (1918) of workers of the Kiev “Arsenal” plant and for Petliura’s pogroms; the second (existing only conditionally) was remembered for the atrocities of Banderists. Ukrainian governors refused their history of being in the structure of the USSR.
New generations of inhabitants met the 100-year anniversary of the October revolution in the “decommunised” country. The neo-Banderist Ukrainian Institute of National Memory declared: no “so-called October revolution”, Ukraine celebrates its own date – “100 anniversary of the fight. Ukrainian revolution of 1917-1921”. A “century of fight” is overkill if to consider that the UPR in all its forms existed for only four years, and in April, 1918, the Central Rada was dispersed by the German military patrol, and in March, 1919, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed with its capital in Kharkov. The leaders of the UPR fought an overwhelming part of the “century of fight” against the Soviet power in Poland, France, and Canada. And at the beginning of 1918 the Donets-Krivoy Rog Soviet republic was created, the leadership of which rejected the pretensions of the Central Rada to the extensive lands of the present-day Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye, Dnepropetrovsk, partially Kharkov, Nikolaev, Kherson, and Rostov regions. In this same 1918 Odessa lit up.
Therefore if to look more attentively at this “century of fight” that the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory broadcasts, it will appear that many of its episodes are connected to the excesses of expansionism: after the October revolution the UPR tried to subordinate the territories that didn’t see a general future neither with the Central Rada, nor with the Hetmanat, nor with the Directorate. And its impossible to transform the cruel quelling by the authorities of the UPR of the uprising at the Kiev “Arsenal” plant and the working suburbs of the Ukrainian capital into an act in the “fight for independence”. 400 (according to other data – 1800) were killed, more than 700 were wounded, about 50 were shot – such is the result of a six-day bloody standoff, which the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory can’t include in the picture of the “Ukrainian revolution” in any way. A mass grave of “Arsenal” employees and other Kievans who rose up against the Central Rada is near the building of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, in Mariinsky park. The monument to the participants of the January uprising was desecrated already at the time of the “revolution of dignity” [2014 – ed]; in May, 2016, the monument to one of the leaders of the uprising Andrey Ivanov was demolished, and in 2017 the head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory Vyatrovich started talking about the need to dismantle the monument devoted to “Arsenal” workers. Everything that casts a shadow on the “Ukrainian revolution” must be eliminated, like how this regime eliminates the memory of the October revolution.
“Modern Ukraine is the successor of the State traditions of the Ukrainian revolution of 1917-1921,” stated the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory. And who would doubt it! Just like how 100 years ago those who were handed power in Kiev tried to spread their influence across the territories where the “traditions” of the UPR – from Grushevsky to Petliura, with an additive of “traditions” of Bandera – are resolutely not accepted. And these attempts won’t stop by themselves.
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