|Conventional short name:|
| National motto: |
Воля, злагода, добро (Freedom, Concord, Kindness)
|Other:||Kharkiv, Katerynoslav, Donets'k, Kherson|
|Prime minister:||Mykola Subotnyk|
|Area:||208,679 sq. mi. (457,091 sq. km.)|
|Organizations:||Baltic League (candidate member)|
The Ukrainian People’s Republic is a unitary presidential-parliamentary republic. The power in Ukraine is divided into three branches – legislative, judiciary and executive. The director general is the head of state, elected for the term of five years by the citizens of Ukraine of over twenty years of age.
The legislative power in Ukraine is represented by the Directorate whose 450 members are elected by a popular vote for a term of five years. The Directorate includes the Central Council which is responsible for the formation of the Council of Ministers headed by the prime minister who is the head of government and the supreme executive office.
Justice in Ukraine is executed by courts only. The jurisdiction of the courts is extended to all legal relations that emerge in the state. The General Court of Ukraine is the supreme judicial body in the court system of general jurisdiction. It also considers matters of constitutional jurisdiction.
Ukraine is divided into 18 provinces plus the capital Kiev which has the same status as a province.
Below is a table listing the provinces in alphabetical order, their names (short form and long form) written both in Latin and Cyrillic script.
|Short name||Long name|| Area|
| Čerkas'ka Oblast'|
|9,146 (20,034)||1,669,533|| Čerkasy|
| Černihivs'ka Oblast'|
|14,548 (31,865)||1,481,859|| Černihiv|
| Černivets'ka Oblast'|
|3,360 (7,359)||1,098,152|| Černivtsi|
| Donets'ka Oblast'|
|12,106 (26,517)||5,760,878|| Donets'k|
| Ivanivs'ka Oblast'|
|8,160 (17,874)||786,594|| Ivanivka|
| Katerynoslavs'ka Oblast'|
|14,597 (31,974)||4,245,405|| Katerynoslav|
| Kharkivs'ka Oblast'|
|14,342 (31,415)||3,467,912|| Kharkiv|
| Khersons'ka Oblast'|
|12,994 (28,461)||1,398,395|| Kherson|
| Khmel'nyts'ka Oblast'|
|9,425 (20,645)||1,702,622|| Khmel'nyts'kyy|
| Kyïv (province)|
| Kyïvs'ka Oblast'|
|12,843 (28,131)||2,175,194|| Kyïv|
| Kyïv (city)|
| Kyïvs'ka mis'ka rada|
Київська міська рада
|383 (839)||3,107,479|| Kyïv|
| Luhans'ka Oblast'|
|12,182 (26,684)||3,029,952|| Luhans'k|
| Mykolaïvs'ka Oblast'|
|11,230 (24,598)||1,505,044|| Mykolaïv|
| Poltavs'ka Oblast'|
|13,125 (28,748)||1,939,809|| Poltava|
| Sums'ka Oblast'|
|10,881 (23,834)||1,546,698|| Sumy|
| Vinnyts'ka Oblast'|
|12,104 (26,513)||2,109,121|| Vinnytsya|
| Yelysavethrads'ka Oblast'|
|11,225 (24,588)||1,348,332|| Yelysavethrad|
| Zaporiz'ka Oblast'|
|12,409 (27,180)||2,295,713|| Zaporižžya|
| Žytomyrs'ka Oblast'|
|13,619 (29,832)||1,653,465|| Žytomyr|
|Ukrainian People's Republic|
|Ukrainian People's Republic|
|Ukrainian People's Republic|
There are few significant differences in Ukraine's history *here* and *there* before the 20th century. Until the Great War I Ukraine was part of Russia. In the period between the two Russian revolutions (the first brought Kerensky's provisional government to power, the second the Bolsheviks), Ukraine declared independence, but quickly became the scene of a violent war between the Bolsheviks, the White Armies, Ukrainian nationalists, and the Germans.
A Ukrainian People's Republic (UNR), fully independent from Russia, was proclaimed on 22 January 1918 by the Central Rada, a huge body led by the famous historian Mykhailo Hrushevsky which acted as a parliament. However, as a direct result of the Brest-Litovsk treaty (March 1918), this government was overthrown with German help. On 29 April 1919 the UNR was dissolved. Instead, Ukraine became an independent state (Ukrajinska Derzhava - Ukrainian State) under a combined German-Venedic protectorate with a kossack hetman, Pavlo Skoropadsky, as its titular head. This government however had little internal support and was eventually overthrown by the Ukrainian nationalists, who then for the second time proclaimed the Ukrainian People's Republic in November 1918. Supreme authority in this new UNR was exercised by a collective body, the Directorate, first led by Volodymyr Vynnychenko and then, after February 1919, by Symon Petlyura.
Initially, the UNR did quite a good job expelling the Russians from its territory. But soon enough, the UNR was on the losing side in a war on two fronts: one with Russia, the second with Veneda. The main reason for the conflict with the latter was the short-lived West Ukrainian People's Republic (ZUNR), the core of which was a predominantly ethnic Ukrainian territory previously known as Galicia that had declared its independence from Veneda on 1 November 1 1918, and united to the UNR in January 1919. Giving it up was pretty unacceptable for both sides. Its capital, Czytać Leoniór, was considered an icon of Venedic culture, while Galicia as a whole had been the spiritual centre of the entire Ukrainian nation during the 19th century. But the more the White Armies consolidated their power in Russia, advancing also into Ukrainian territory, the more the Directorate came to understand that it could not afford a war with Veneda without being completely overrun by Russia. Much to the fury of the Galician Ukrainians, the Directorate signed a peace treaty with Veneda in June 1919. The UNR withrew its claim on Galicia in exchange for military assistance against Russia and the promise that Galicia would enjoy an autonomous status within Venedic borders. After that, the UNR had its hands free to expel the remaining Bolsheviks and subsequently the White Armies from its territory.
This was not the last fight in its history, but Ukraine was now at least established as an independent state.
The Interwar period
During the first decade of its existence, the Ukrainian People's Republic flourished. On 7 March 1920, a constitution was adopted. The Central Rada (Tsentralna Rada) was restored as the republic's parliament, while all executive power was put in the hands of a presidential body of five men, the Directorate (Direktoriya), and a government. Symon Petlyura remained the head of the Directorate ("general director"), but after the 1923 elections this function was taken over again by Volodymyr Vynnychenko. Vynnychenko remained in office until 1937.
Ukraine was pretty much what one would call a model democracy. Political life was dominated by Social Democrats and Socialists, the country enjoyed its independence, and almost every party had both "socialism" and "Ukrainian" in its name, because that was the spirit of the time. Most notable among the parties that formed the political scene were the following:
- The Ukrainian Social-Democratic Workers' Party (Українська Соціал-Демократична Робітнича Партія, УСДРП, popularly abbreviated "есдеки") was the largest party for most of the time. Founded in 1905, this party represented social democracy in the political spectrum. The USDRP was related to the Russian Mensheviks.
- The Ukrainian Party of Socialists-Revolutionaries (Українська Партія Соціалістів-Революціонерів, УПСР, popularly abbreviated "есери") was founded in 1917 and represented a slightly more moderate current in Ukrainian socialism. It was related to the Russian Socialists-Revolutionaries. The leader of the party was Mychailo Hrushevski. In 1936, the party renamed itself the Ukrainian Socialist Party (Українська соціалістична партія, УСП).
- The Ukrainian Party of Socialists-Federalists (Українська Партія Соціалістів-Федералістів, УПСФ, popularly abbreviated "есефи") was also founded in 1917. In spite of its name, the UPSF was a liberal, moderately conservative party, related to the Russian Kadets. Its leader was Serhij Yefremov. In 1923, the party renamed itself the Ukrainian Radical-Democratic Party (Українська радикально-демократична партія, УДРП).
- The Ukrainian Party of Socialists-Independentists (Українська Партія Соціалістів-Самостійників, УПСС) was another party that had "socialism" in its name but had nothing in common with it. Instead, it was a centrist party but strongly orientated towards Ukrainian independence. After 1922, the party was named the Ukrainian People's Party (Українська Народна Партія, УНП).
- The United Communist Party of Ukraine (Об’єднана Комуністична Партія України, ОКПУ, popularly abbreviated "окапісти") was established in 1921 as a result of the merger of three parties, the Ukrainian Bolsheviks (КП(б)У), who had been part of the Russian Bolsheviks' party but was pretty much left alone after the latter's defeat in Russia; the national-communist Ukrainian Communist Party (УКП), which had split off from the USDRP in 1920; and the so-called Borotbists, which had split off from the UPSR in 1919. The leaders were Vasyl Blakytnyj, Oleksandr Shumskyj.
- The Ukrainian Democratic-Agrarian Party (Українська Демократично-Хліборобська Партія, УДХП), a conservative party, founded in 1917 and based in the countryside.
- The Ukrainian Union of Agrarians-Independentists (Український Союз Хліборобів Державників, УСХД), a small monarchist party split off from the UDChP in 1920.
- The Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (Організація Українських Націоналістів, ОУН), an extreme nationalist organisation formed in 1927.
- The National-Republican Party (Національно-Республікансьска Партія, НРП), a small centre-right party founded in 1921.
- The Ukrainian Labour Party (Українська Трудова Партія - УТП), a small party founded in 1917 and ideologically very close to the UPSR.
- The Union of Industry, Trade, Finance, and Agriculture (Союз Промышленности, Торговли, Финансов и Сельского Хозяйства, Протофис), an organization of Russian and russified political activists, mainly representing the interests of the conservative business elite. It was founded in 1918.
- The Society "Slavic Brotherhood" (Товариство "Слов'янське Братство" - СЛОБ), a small Pan-Slavi group founded in 1924 by admirers of the Russian SNOR regime. Although it never enjoyed much support, it suddenly became a major party after the Russian-inspired coup d'etat in 1937.
- Poale Zion, a Jewish party.
This period was characterised by a huge national revival and a relative stability. But despite all successes, the country became more unstable in the 1930s. The socialist parties became the scene of internal strife and governments succeeded each other at a quick pace. The relationship with Russia was problematic from the beginning. Russia's new leadership was very frustrated about the deplorable state Russia was in after the war, and they decided to do all that was within their power to restore the old empire.
Almost equally complicated were the relations with Ukraine's other neighbours, Veneda and Lithuania. Many Ukrainian politicians could never quite swallow the fact that they had lost Galicia to Veneda in return for a ceasefire and some military assistance, especially since the Galicians were far from happy within Veneda's borders themselves. Even worse was the situation in Volhynia, the poorest part of interwar Lithuania, where the Ukrainians were treated as second-rate citizens on their own territory. On the other hand, many in Veneda itself hoped for a restoration of the old pre-partition Rzejpybiełka, which would not only mean reunification with Lithuania, but also include huge parts of central Ukraine. During the 1930s, there were regular talks between Russian and Venedic officials, and it has been proven that a partition of Ukraine between Russia and Veneda was on the agenda more than once.
In May 1937, a Russian-inspired coup d'état put an end to nearly two decades of social-democratic leadership in Ukraine. With the support of ethnic Russians, russified Ukrainians, Cossacks, rich landowners and part of the business elite, as well as part of the military and the police, both the Directorate and the Central Rada were disbanded and dismantled. Russia officially never crossed any borders, but it is suspected that Russian agents played a significant part in the coup as well. In any case, power was taken over by rightist and generally pro-(snorist) forces. The new government was a mishmash of conservatives, liberals, Ukrainian nationalists, Russians, and Pan-Slavists.
Under its new rulers, the UNR was quickly abolished and the Ukrainian State (Ukrajinska Derzhava) was established, with Cossack leader Bohdan Chaykovsky as its dictator, carrying the title "grand hetman".
Although the regime applied certain means of terror from the beginning, this remained within the boundaries of what would have been considered acceptable in those days. Many politicians were temporarily arrested or otherwise incapacitated, a few were murdered, but it did not come to a massive slaughter. The new government even included a few defected members of the USDRP, the UDRP and the UNP, after their parties had been dissolved. After 1938, however, when the new regime was firmly established and backed up by Russia, its policies gradually became more harsh and more openly pro-Russian. The Ukrainian intelligentsia were repressed, tens of thousands of people were locked up in labour camps, and all kinds of opposition were dealt with by the State Security. Russian became the second official language of the country.
The Second Great War
In 1939, Ukraine joined the ranks of Russia, Germany, Hungary, Greece and Belarus in the "Großartige Allianz". In September of that year, it participated in the Russian attack on Lithuania and was allowed to occupy Volhynia. In 1940, Ukraine attacked and incorporated Moldova and the Crimea, both with Russian support. However, to the disappointment of the Ukrainian nationalists who participated in the Chaykovsky government, Ukraine did not get the two other (ethnically Ukrainian) territories it had hoped for. Galicia remained under German occupation and the Bukovyna was annexed by Hungary. After this, their enthusiasm for the regime faded, which almost collapsed. Leftist forces were already preparing to take over power as they had done in 1918 after the fall of the Skoropadsky regime. With difficulty Chaykovsky managed to maintain his power, but Ukraine became an unreliable ally for the Allianz.
When an armed conflict in the Balkans between Serbs and Croats escalated into a German-Russian war, in 1943, Ukraine sided with Russia, but was quickly overwhelmed by the German-Hungarian forces. By the end of 1944, all Ukraine - as well as Belarus, Lithuania, the Baltic states and most of European Russia - was under solid German-Hungarian occupation. A group of radical Ukrainian nationalists established a pro-German government in Ukraine, led by Stepan Bandera as president and Jaroslav Stetsko as prime minister. They tried to convince the Germans to create an all-Ukrainian puppet state, which would encompass both Ukraine proper, Galicia and Volhynia, but were never taken seriously by Hessler, who prefered to go for the complete economic exploitation of the country.
In the years 1943-1946 the Second Great War was essentially a war between three parties: the Allied Powers, which after 1945 also included the Scandinavian Realm; what had remained of the Allianz (mostly Germany, Hungary, Greece, Ethiopia and China); and the Snorist Coalition (Russia with what had remained of its allies). But in 1946 Russia concluded a separate peace with the Allies, and this proved too much for the Allianz: Germany's advance into Russian territory was finally stopped and, from that moment on, the Allianz was pushed back quickly into its own territory. In the second half of 1947, Russia and Ukraine recovered all their territory.
Under SLOB rule
Russia followed a very particular strategy in all the countries it had "liberated", including Ukraine. It provided them with Snorist governments and turned them into puppet states. Because the Chaykovsky regime had been almost completely wiped out, and because he had turned out to be an unreliable ally anyway, Vissarionov decided not to restore him. Instead, he formed a government consisting solely of representatives of the SLOB (Слов’янське Братство, "Slavic Brotherhood"), a small pan-Slavic SNOR satellite that participed in the Chaykovsky government although it had never played a role of any significance before that. Iosif Ryadkovsky became the leader of the country, who, like his predecessor, styled himself "great hetman", despite the fact that he was not even a Cossack.
The SLOB became the embodiment of Russian hegemony over Ukraine, which had become less than a puppet state now. Even the name of the country changed: Ukraine was renamed Malorussia (Малороссия, "Little Russia"), and Russian was proclaimed its one and only official language. Due to this change, the SLOB itself became the SLAB now. The Ukrainians were, of course, angered at this development and suffered a hard time under severe repression.
This new state was to include also Galicia and Volhynia, although in 1947 the war was still raging in those lands. It was intended to become part of a chain of satellite states, which would also include Estonia, Latvia, Skuodia, a Great-Belorussia, a strongly decimated Lithuania, a strongly diminished Veneda, Slevania, Hungary, Oltenia, Moldova, Muntenia, and the Crimea, as well as several countries farther east. Things would turn out differently, since the Allies persisted in the restoration of the Republic of the Two Crowns; as a result, Galicia and Volhynia ended up with the RTC again, and Ukraine was restored to its prewar borders. Interestingly, Ukraine was also forced to return two countries it had seized previously, Moldova and the Crimea. It is not known precisely why. Presumably, Vissarionov hoped to slavicise Moldova, among other things by giving it a huge Slavic minority. In the case of the Crimea it has been suggested that Vissarionov never completely trusted the Ukrainians, and wanted to have them surrounded beforehand in case they would ever turn against him.
It is also not known precisely why Russia did not fully incorporate Ukraine and Belarus, establishing them as semi-independent states instead. Probably, propaganda played a role here, directed not only at the Allies, but directed mainly at the Ukrainians and Belarussians in the RTC. Vissarionov still hoped to acquire their territories one day. It must, however, be said that Malo- and Belorussia's independence was mostly fake, and that they enjoyed even fewer liberties than countries like Latvia or Hungary. In 1949, Vissarionov established an international organisation called the Union of Slavic States (SSG), consisting, along with Russia, of Malorussia, Belorussia, Skuodia, Moldova and the Crimea. It was intended that it become a new state, which would pretty much include the territories Russia had lost in 1918. Later, this idea was abandoned by his successors.
Snorist repression reached its peak under Ryadkovsky's successor, Stanislav Chop (1950-1961). Chop was an ethnic Ukrainian who, in spite of that, hated anything Ukrainian and pursued a course of severe russification of his country. He had made his career in the secret police under Chaykovsky and was known for his blind obedience to his Russian masters. Chop was a genuine sadist, and under his leadership, an estimated one million people were killed, while hundreds of thousands of others were deported to Siberia. Almost all pre-war politicians - not only those belonging to leftist parties, but also the nationalists and officials of the Chaykovsky regime - were either killed or forced to leave the country. He wiped out almost the entire Ukrainian intelligentsia, closed down schools and universities, cultural institutions, and persecuted the Ukrainian-Orthodox Church. The use of the Ukrainian language, even under private conditions let alone in public, was severely punished. Entire villages that, according to Chop had collaborated with the Germans, were burned down and their populations murdered. Representatives of national minorities other than the Russians (Veneds, mostly), were either killed or forcefully "repatriated". Chop effectively turned Ukraine into one big jail, in which torture, hangings and even crucifixions were common business. It is said that he personally supervised or even performed hundreds or thousands of executions.
After Vissarionov's death in 1958, opposition against Chop rose, but he was more feared than anything, and Vissarionov's successor Andrei Vlasov tolerated him. However, after Vlasov had been deposed in 1961, one of the first actions of Russia's new leader Yevgeni Lipov was to free Malorussia of its hated leader. Chop was replaced as leader of the SLAB with another ethnic Ukrainian, Serhij Bubko (1961-1973).
Bubko effectively put an end to the terror of his predecessor. He released thousands of prisoners, loosened censorship somewhat, and even allowed for a moderate re-ukrainisation of the country. He attempted a partnership with Russia on a more equal base, but barely succeeded in achieving that purpose. Mass immigration from Russia continued, and on the international scene Malorussia remained Russia's faithful partner.
Bubko died in 1973. After that, Malorussia's political history was mostly a reflection of that of Russia. He was succeeded by Ostap Kyrylenko, under whose leadership corruption rose to a proportion similar to that in Russia. In 1982, Russia's mad leader Bogolyubov replaced him with a personal acquaintance, the priest Les Kondratiuk. In 1985, shortly before Mikhail Gorbachenko came to power in Russia, Kondratiuk was replaced with the moderate reformer Ihor Bezruchny.
When in Russia the power of the SNOR began to crumble, Bezruchny could not prevent the same thing from happening in Malorussia. At last a huge revolution broke out - known to historians as the Yellow Revolution. In a last effort to keep the SLAB in charge, Bezruchny stepped back in October 1989 and had himself replaced by a very progressive, democratically oriented member of the party, Taras Krupnyk, but it was no good and after a few weeks the people finally overthrew the government. Shortly thereafter, the SLAB was banned.
After the first free elections, the first official decision of the new parliament was to rename the state the "Ukrainian People's Republic". Subsequently, all institutions of the old UNR were restored, among others, the Central Rada and the Directorate. The first freely-elected general-director (= president) of Ukraine was Jaroslav Stus, a former dissident who had spent more than thirty years of his life in prison. After his term came to an end in 1994, he was succeeded by the Social Democrats Bohdan Rylsky (1994-1999) and Borys Hrynko (1999-date). Although the SLAB/SLOB itself has been banned, former officials of the party can still be found on many levels of society. Several of its successor parties are growing in popularity, and in the 2004 elections, Hrynko beat his post-Slobist opponent Viktor Janushchenko by only a small margin.
2004 elections statistics:
|Borys Hrynko||Social-Democratic Party of Ukraine||9,562,348||35,25|
|Viktor Janushchenko||People's Union "Unified Ukraine"||9,187,645||33,87|
|Yaroslav Shevchuk||Ukrainian Socialist Party "Batkivshchyna"||3,457,321||12,75|
|Serhiy Pavlyuk||Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists||2,942,654||10,85|
|Ivan Prytula||Ukrainian Democratic Party||1,975,349||7,28|
The next presidential elections in Ukraine will be held on 20 May this year. This year the government of Ukraine is doing its best to prevent the falsification of the elections. According to opinion polls, Taras Pavlyuk, a member of the Social-Democratic Party of Ukraine is the most popular candidate with the voters. Many experts think that this situation was brought about mostly by the breakup of the United Ukraine and the nomination of Oleh Donchenko, the leader of the left wing of United Ukraine, and by the fact that Pavlyuk is the candidate of both his party and the whole ruling coalition, which also includes the popular Batkivshchyna Party, the Ukrainian Social-Liberal Party and the Liberal Union. The other popular candidates are Ivan Prytula of the Ukrainian Democratic Party and Borys Kovalchuk of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, who hope to garner many more votes than they did in the 2004 elections. The full list includes 26 candidates. The Ukrainian Comission of Social Polls (Українська Комісія Соціальних Опитувань) press centre said that more than a half of the candidates are expected to get less than 0.1 percent in the voting.
Nowadays, Ukraine maintains close relations with the Republic of the Two Crowns and it aspires to be is a member of the Baltic League. The country's economic situation remains very problematic, though.
Political Parties in parliament
Соціал-Демократична Партія України (Social-Democratic Party of Ukraine) – a left-wing party which implements current social democratic policies. Currently it is the most popular party in Ukraine.
Народний Союз «Об’єднана Україна» (People’s Union “Unified Ukraine”) – a centre-right party which opposes the current economic policies. The main opposition party in Ukraine.
Українська Соціалістична Партія «Батьківщина» (Ukrainian Socialist Party “Fatherland”) – a far-left workers party in a coalition with the СДПУ.
Організація Українських Націоналістів (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) – an extreme nationalist organization, whose primary target is the annexation of Galicia, Crimea, Odesa and Kouban.
Українська Демократична Партія (Ukrainian Democratic Party) – a left-wing party opposing socialism.
Ліберальний Союз (Liberal Union) – a left-wing liberal party in a coalition with the СДПУ.
Українська Соціал-Ліберальна Партія (Ukrainian Social-Liberal Party) – a centrist party in a coalition with the СДПУ.
Блок Стасева (Stasiv Bloc) – a small bloc of parties that have reunification with Galicia as their primary goal.
Ukraine is one of the largest countries in Europe. It has a strategic position in Eastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, Romania and the Crimea in the south, the Republic of the Two Crowns in the west, Belarus and Russia in the north and Russia in the east. The border with Russia runs through the Sea of Azov.
The Ukrainian landscape consists mostly of fertile plains, or steppes, and plateaus, crossed by rivers such as the Dnieper, Seversky Donets, Dniester and the Southern Buh as they flow south into the Black Sea and the smaller Sea of Azov. The country has almost no mountains.
Ukraine has a mostly temperate continental climate, though a more Mediterranean climate is found near the Crimean coast. Precipitation is disproportionately distributed; it is highest in the west and north and less in the east and southeast. Winters vary from cool along the Black Sea to cold farther inland. Summers are warm across the greater part of the country, but generally hot in the south.