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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Ukrainians emerged earlier as nation than many Europeans

A 10-volume anthology of Ukrainian state-building process has seen the light
27 April, 2010 - 00:00

The National Parliamentary Library of Ukraine hosted the launch of the uni­que 10-volume publication Ukraina. Antolohia pamiatok derzhavo­tvorennia X-XX stolittia (Ukraine. Anthology of State-Building Monuments, 10th-20th centuries) by the Kyiv-based Osnovy Publishing House.

The publication comprises the documents that paint an integral picture of the history of the Ukrainian state over many centuries and the very complicated dramatic road of historical development covered by Ukraine, as well as landmark sociopolitical and art monuments ranging between Prince Yaroslav’s Ruska Pravda and the edicts and appeals dated 2005.

The anthology begins with the time of Kyivan Rus’, followed by the renaissance of the Ukrainian statehood idea (14th to 16th century), the struggle for the Cossack state (16th to 17th centuries), the attempts to reanimate the Cossack state (18th century), romantics of the national revival (1800-63), struggle for the Ukrainian idea (1860s through the end of the 19th century), revival of the Ukrainian statehood (19th and 20th centuries), Rozstriliane vidrodzhennia (Executed Renaissance) of Ukraine (1920s through 1930s), the time of ordeal and consolidation of the national patriotic forces (1939 through the early 1980s), and finally, the revival and confirmation of the Ukrainian statehood (1987-2005).

“Every government interprets history in its own way, depending on ideology it represents,” says Valentyna Kyrylova, head of the Osnovy Publishing House. “Only documents give an objective and non-biased view of historical events; they are the most important witnesses of time. Therefore, we set the goal of giving people an opportunity to familiarize themselves with a large number of compactly collected documents and on this ground to develop, formulate, and defend their own opinion concerning the historical processes that have taken place in Ukraine.”

The writer Dmytro Pavlychko, who has authored the general preface to the publication, admitted: “The anthology, for the first time in our historiography, synchronizes the political struggle of the Ukrainian people for its statehood with certain cultural periods and analyzes the connection between the state-building struggle and development of the artistic word as the leading factor in our national culture. This was dictated by the intention to show the plot of literary development that has gone through the entire millennium and is an inexhaustible generator of the Ukrainian nation’s state-building energy.”

Each volume was compiled and pre­faced by one person, those including Ivan Dziuba, Valerii Shevchuk, Volodymyr Serhiichuk, Volodymyr Lytvynov, Raisa Movchan, and Yurii Slyvka.

“I have worked on the modern history documents,” says historian Volodymyr Serhiichuk. “In particular, I have inclu­ded two lists of people in my volume: those who voted for the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine and those who did not do so. And there is nothing we can do about this; this is what the documents read. The future generations will know their heroes and anti-heroes. These documents are also a lesson for the statesmen, sitting in Bankova and Hrushevskoho Streets, because society is even now assessing the events of the recent past. I have had an opportunity to not only collect the documents, but also to try and check them. Therefore, I have met with Leonid Krav­chuk and Leonid Kuchma and asked them questions. In particular, I asked Kuchma about his mistakes that he could menti­on. Incidentally, he told things that lar­gely coincided with the public opinion. By the way, as we were finishing our work on the anthology, Viktor Yushchen­ko was still a president, so we did not touch this period out of ethical considerations. These 10 volumes are an important brick in building Ukraine’s statehood. It is a fo­un­dation from which we can hardly be pu­shed off, because we can stand firmly on it.”

“This is a unique publication,” summed up Ihor Yukhnovsky, head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory. “Imagine history linked with two sources, the literary and archival ones. On the one hand, this is the most comprehensible and convincing form of historical speech. On the other hand, this is a continuity of Ukrainian cultural and historical life from the remotest time till the present day.

“I very much liked the preface written by Dmytro Pavlychko. He has made a retrospective review of Ukrainian history and in each historical period he wants to see Ukraine’s statehood and Ukrainians’ striving for it. After all, I have a respectful and loving attitude to all the authors of prefaces. These are the people who are building the state. Namely their state-building efforts will stay in memory, whereas the building of the state performed by state officials is over as soon as they leave their offices. They tend to be forgotten.”

According to the compilers, Antho­logy is a convincing weapon against the chronic “forgetfulness” of some pseudohistorians who want to date the beginning of Ukrainian statehood Aug. 24, 1991. And it also proves to the world that Ukrainians are a people that acquired statehood much earlier than many contemporary European nations.

By Nadia TYSIACHNA, The Day