Why do we believe that today’s English-speaking reader needs this book of ours? We saw the amazement with which the world, including our nearest neighbors, watched the Euromaidan events. It was quite a discovery for them that there was a hitherto unknown fantastic country that was fighting hard for freedom and a chance to belong to their circle. Many Europeans began to forget the way their countries had passed before the European Union emerged. And, all of a sudden, this young passionate force roused them – it surprised some, scared others, and perplexed still others. This raised very many questions. First of all, what kind of a country is Ukraine? This is a big question by itself. This book is an attempt to answer it.
A WORD TO THE READER
Thank you, friends, for taking this book into your hands.
I have always been interested in history. So, when 15 years ago I conceived a historical project for the newspaper, I asked a well-known professor of history to advise me what I should begin with to increase my knowledge. He told me to read 25 volumes of Mykhailo Hrushevsky’s historical works, to begin with…
Out of humane considerations, valuing the precious time of a contemporary individual, we offer you the Top 25 most important texts which a foreigner must read if s/he wants to know Ukraine better. To write these 25 articles, very many people had to read Hrushevsky’s 25 volumes – and not only them.
Why do we believe that today’s English-speaking reader needs this book of ours? We saw the amazement with which the world, including our nearest neighbors, watched the Euromaidan events. It was quite a discovery for them that there was a hitherto unknown fantastic country that was fighting hard for freedom and a chance to belong to their circle. Many Europeans began to forget the way their countries had passed before the European Union emerged. And, all of a sudden, this young passionate force roused them – it surprised some, scared others, and perplexed still others. This raised very many questions. First of all, what kind of a country is Ukraine?
Why did many Europeans not know about this country, its potential and aspirations? This is a big question by itself. This book is an attempt to answer it.
Ukraine was separated from its own history for centuries. The Europeans were in turn separated from knowledge about Ukraine. It is time to change this.
The history of Ukraine’s bloody estrangement from the world is encoded in Ukrainian folk songs and fairytales: a brother robbed and killed his brother, blood was shed, a snowball bush grew in that place, and a pan-pipe was made from it, which told about the crime. There are many themes which our ancestors used to let others know historical truth.
A state that borders on Ukraine has staged a “hostile takeover” of our country. It has even stolen our name. Unfortunately, this has never been a matter of common knowledge, but some European intellectuals were aware of this. As long ago as in 1935, well before World War Two had begun, a prominent British historian and political writer, Lancelot Lawton, whom we mention in this book, clearly said in a series of The Times articles that “the Ukrainian question” was critically important for peace and democracy in Europe. He was convinced that as long as the Ukrainian people, who had a thousand-year-long history, were without an independent state, there would be no justice and stability in Europe. He also said that the theft of Ukrainian history was history’s most brazen theft. Ukraine, Russia, and the rest of the world badly need the return of this truth.
Our history has not been dissolved in Russia. This has in fact caused the current difficult problems in this country. Russia has attacked us out of fear – the fear of discovery. Lancelot Lawton was right to warn: the history stolen from Ukraine is a trap for Russia.
This historical collection has an article by the great philosopher Serhii Krymsky who says that Kyiv is the second Jerusalem. Our preserved spirituality and aspiration for freedom is a challenge to a Kremlin’s stillborn claim to being “the Third Rome.”
Learning the history of Ukraine, the world will see how to tackle Russia – where it should be afraid of or try to help it. And, as Kyivan Rus’ greatly influenced the emergence of Muscovy, it is only natural that we feel certain responsibility for that country’s destiny.
Russia should become a true federation patterned after the US, supposedly its biggest antagonist. And I think Ukraine and Russia should also pattern their relations in the future on those between Britain and the US. This comparison may seem a bit lame at first glance, but only a bit. Whenever I say that Ukraine is the Britain of the Slavic world, I mean not only its historical longevity, but also the fact that Britain is a unique civilization that has had no constitution for centuries, while Ukraine had no state of its own. There are certain mechanisms and communicating vessels that function because we share the same idea of good and evil. Ukraine is an important ally as far as the strengthening of the positions of good in the world is concerned.
History is a powerful resource. The newspaper Den has been carrying out a project, unprecedented in newspaper dimensions, for more than 10 years, and it seems to have achieved its goal. At least when I came to the Euromaidan in one of the first days, a young man approached me and asked for an autograph. “Are you not mistaken? Are you sure you want me to give you an autograph, for I’m not a TV star?” I asked in surprise. “Yes, I’ve read your books,” he answered. It is very significant for me that the other author of the preface to this book is Hanna Hopko, a young public activist. A longtime Den reader, she actively endorses the ideas of our projects. She went through all the Maidan’s phases – from the romantic to the fiery revolutionary. And she is working today on a package of reforms that Ukraine needs so badly and stays in contact with the world’s intellectual leaders.
Actually, the paradigm, in which Hanna is also involved, has been formulated in Den as identity and modernization. Surely, Ukrainians as a post-genocidal nation are not a phantom. It is our tragedy and the product of Stalin’s colonizing policy. And the year 1933 weighed heavily on generations. But knowing the powerful historical truth, which became possible also thanks to our projects, caused an upheaval in people’s minds. And this resulted in the Revolution of Dignity.
It is very important for us that our partners, friends, and neighbors understand: yes, Ukraine is a young state which faces a lot of urgent problems, but we are a very ancient civilization. We are not laying claim to becoming a superpower which Kyivan Rus’ was a thousand years ago. For us, the return of our history means being aware of responsibility for a millennium rather than for 23 years of contemporary history.
This book offers a travel according to a fascinating intellectual itinerary. There seemed to be no unidentified territories on Earth, but it has turned out that there is one. It is Ukraine. For the people, who appreciate a fresh idea, Ukraine may become the greatest “geographical” discovery in the 21st century.
editor-in-chief of Den/The Day newspaper
August 15, 2014, Kyiv
Supporting Ukraine’s struggle, the world is helping itself
This book will allow you to share the feelings of a new generation of Ukrainians that are transforming their nation as well as geo-political realities at a breath-taking pace. Now, in a decisive and stormy period, this new voice keeps pressing the government, drawing up and advancing the reforms that Ukraine needs badly. Faced with this daunting challenge, this generation is trying to gain new friends in the world by explaining their vision for a future Ukraine.
I am convinced that this generation of change makers and state builders will lead by example and will inspire their peers all over the world to do the same. I hope that this publication will assist them in their effort.
In an article by historian Yaroslav Dashkevych, you will read “How Muscovy stole the history of Kyivan Rus’.” We, the heirs to Kyivan Rus’, have confirmed again on the Maidan that we are ready to give our lives for our country, for its thousand-year-long history, for our independence and human dignity. It is symbolic that, when the Maidan was broken up in late November 2013, thousands of activists and students ran to St. Michael’s Cathedral which gave refuge and rallied them together. It is this cathedral that communists destroyed 77 years ago on August 14, 1937.
Facing this cathedral is another majestic temple, St. Sophia’s Cathedral, built in the early 11th century long before Moscow had appeared on the historical map. The temple has only survived thanks to France, for Queen Anna was the founder of almost a half of Europe’s royal houses. Inside the temple are the 11th-century unique mosaics of Saint Sophia who blesses our struggle.
As I pray daily for Ukraine, I think about one more Sophia who is 3.5 years old now. She is my daughter. I do believe that my Sophia’s generation will be looking proudly at the temple and standing firmly on the native ground.
The Ukrainians have paid the dearest thing they have, their lives, on the Maidan and in the war in the east for dignity and the right to be independent and have thus displayed the unity of our nation.
Thank you for supporting our Revolution of Dignity! It is our choice of civilization and readiness to assume responsibility for effectiveness. The future of Europe is being decided in Ukraine again.
The world needs a strong Ukraine. A successful Ukraine is the cornerstone to the future of Europe a truly united continent that is not divided by history, ideology, fear or ambition. And Ukraine is willing to make fundamental sacrifices for this vision. For this very reason, rediscovering Ukraine and its history in a global context is the primary goal of this publication. Thank you for supporting this vision!
I am sincerely grateful to the newspaper Den and its editor-in-chief Larysa Ivshyna for being able to take part in publishing of the book Ukraine Incognita. TOP 25. Den’s projects fulfill an important function by continuously raising the question “What else is to be done to respond to the challenges of time?” Answers to the questions from a Ukrainian perspective are of international significance and can be sought by a joint effort, for the events in Ukraine – the Maidan, the annexation of Crimea, Russia’s war in eastern Ukraine – are a quintessential crisis challenging the foundations on which international policy is built upon.
With love and belief in the common future,
Ph.D. in Social Communications;
Coordinator, Reanimation Package of Reforms