How Russians appropriate stranger’s names, another’s history, another’s land

24 March 2022

The most ancient names in human history are the names of reservoirs: rivers, lakes, floodplains, streams. Therefore, people have always given them names to characterize their ability to support their livelihoods. After all, human settlements on their shores are named after these reservoirs -and if the latter grow into unification centers, they pass these names on to their own self-government because the inhabitants themselves are also named that way.

That is why no one is surprised why the tribe that settled on the banks of the Izhora River (now within the Russian St. Petersburg) was called Izhora from the beginning of its self-awareness, and those who lived around Lake Chudskyi near Velykyi Novhorod – Chuddyu. The same can be said about other rivers and lakes in the vast expanses of the current Russian Federation from the Baltic to the Urals. But there is no river whose name would name this state!

At the same time, when in these areas from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century, state self-government was called Muscovy, the whole world knew that it is so named after its capital – Moscow, which received it from the river of the same name, on the banks of which the city was founded by Kyiv prince, Yuri Dolhorukyi. From the Meshchor dialect of the Finno-Ugric peoples, this is exactly what the swampy area, which carried muddy water, was called.

Such a river, which gave its name to a neighboring country, flows in Ukraine – Ros! And its waters, while it reaches the wide-water Dnipro among the deep black soil, are replenished from springs overflowing with the Rostavytsia, Rosava, Rosavchyk ponds – the root, as we see, is one. Thus, the affinity of the names of the reservoirs in the basin of Ros gave a new name not only to the local agricultural tribe of the glades but also to all those who united with them around their political and spiritual center – Kyiv. Ros – Rus – Rusichi – Ruthenians.

The legitimate representation of Kyiv as the main center of the Rusland has been mentioned since 852 in the oldest East Slavic chronicle “The Tale of Bygone Years,” and it testifies to its entry into the international arena. And our chronicler Nestor speaks of Rus princes from the Byzantine Emperor Michael III (840-867). And they were already at war with him, and there they knew about the Rusichi. For example, Patriarch Photius, a witness to the siege of Constantinople by our ancestors in 865, wrote: “The people are glorious, the people who were not counted, the people who were put on a par with the slaves, unknown – and got a name, insignificant – and became glorious, despised and poor – and reached a high position and innumerable wealth…”

So when a powerful state with its capital on the Bosphorus calls the settlement of our ancestors the Rusland, it seems that it has already been politically identified there. At least, we can say about the international recognition of Rusland in 860, when Byzantium concluded a treaty with the Kyiv princes Askold and Deer after their successful campaign in Constantinople.

And later, when the Kyivan princes became the suitors of all of Europe, the historical memory of great Rusland remained there for many centuries, which, conquering the territories of the Finno-Ugric peoples from the Baltic to the Urals, spread there from the “mother of Rus’ cities” the light of knowledge and the word of God.

It is clear that Muscovy could not boast of anything like that. So, since the proclamation of the concept of the Third Rome (1492), there they dream not only to capture the lands of former Rus’ till the Vistula but to appropriate all its significant achievements of civilizational progress as well. Especially in the development of education and science because the spirituality in the “white stone” lagged far behind European traditions.

One of the representatives of Western Europe described Moscow life in this way: “They are neither engaged in any science nor do they show the slightest desire to master any science, on the contrary, they live in such terrible darkness that they believe that a person cannot make a calendar if he is not a magician, as well as predict the turn of the moon and its eclipse if he does not understand the devil. Another foreigner added: “Living in terrible darkness, the representatives of Moscow society also boasted that they were the only true Christians, instead of condemning the Western clergy.”

Therefore, taking advantage of the statelessness of our people, the Moscow autocrats are gradually beginning to take over all the civilizational achievements of Ukraine. And to secure them for good, Peter I ordered to change the name of his state to Russia, which was in tune with the term Rus’. That is, in the eyes of the indifferent West, Muscovites are strangers in origin, having come to foreign territory and declared everything foreign to them Ukrainian – Russian, which is easily perceived instead of Ruskyi – real Ukrainian.

Since then, all our creative elite, starting with church choristers, find themselves in the Moscow region, where they already work in various fields as Russians, presenting their talents as the property of the local mixture of different ethnic groups. Few of our compatriots were lucky to stay with their own national soul.

In developing a program to destroy Ukrainians as a nation, the Russian autocracy paid special attention to the Orthodox Church, which played the role of perhaps the most important denationalizer. For example, as soon as Volyn, Brest, Kholm, and Pidlasie left for Russia after the partition of Poland, the process of destroying the Greek Catholic Church in that area was immediately launched, and its faithful were forced to convert to a foreign Russian Orthodox Church.

The second step was to change the administrative borders in order to, for example, separate the same Brest region from the continuous ethnic settlement, as it was included in the Hrodno province, where Ukrainians from Brest, Kobrin, Bielsko and parts of Pruzhany counties were completely strange to Belarusians there. In addition, for more than a decade the local Ukrainian population was transferred from one diocese to another: first to Minsk, then to Lithuania, and later to Hrodno. And all for the understanding of the inhabitants of Ukrainian counties, in order to kill their national consciousness.

A similar practice for the separation of Ukrainians for future planned Russification was carried out by the tsarist autocracy in the Lower Podonia. To accelerate the assimilation of the descendants of those famous Cossack formations that came to the Don from Zaporozhia and gradually dispersed in the conglomerate of different peoples in the Don Army, there in 1888 voluntarily included three districts of the Ukrainian Ekaterinoslav province – Rostov, Tahanroh, and Oleksandrov-Hrushevsky.

Ignoring the historical traditions of resettlement of Ukrainians was crossed in Slobozhanshchyna, where large areas were included in the Voronezh and Kursk provinces, although they even tended territorially to their natural center – Kharkiv.

The desire to level the customs and spirituality of Ukrainians in the places of new settlement as soon as possible, transforming them into canons alien to us, caused the decision of the tsarist authorities to reorganize the Ukrainian by national composition, the Black Sea Cossack Army in the mixed Kuban, including part of the former Caucasian line, which was formed from the Donets. In addition, the authorities gave new villages to Ukrainian settlements that had nothing to do with the historical memory of our people – they should testify to their alleged Russian origin: Kaluha, Penza, Ryazan, Tver, etc. And the Shvetz, Melnyk, Koval, Ivanenko, Tishchenko, Kramar, Shevchenko, Shapoval, Sushko, Babiy and others who came to the Kuban from Ukraine, according to the documents beccame Shvetsov, Melnikov, Kovalev, Ivanenko, Tishchenko, Kramarov, Shevchenkov , Shapovalov, Sushkov, Babiev…

The resettlement of Ukrainians to new lands for many centuries, as a rule, was caused by the need to use their agricultural talent to develop fertile fallows. From the middle of the 18th century, the Ukrainian peasantry began to plow large masses of the Volga steppes, marking new settlements with their native names. And soon, this process spread to the Orenburg steppes, the Urals. From the second half of the XIX century. Ukrainian farmers are already farming in the Kazakh steppes, creating such a huge region of their own settlement as the Siryi Klyn.

There, by the way, the tsarist government did not oppose the transfer of their own names of new settlements from Ukraine, as was the case in the Kuban. Obviously, based on the fact that detached peasants in the new conditions quickly assimilate. Especially since it was planned to move 40 percent of Ukrainian families to the settlements that were established in the steppes, and 30 percent each to Russian and Belarusian families, with the expectation that Russians and Belarusians would unite against Ukrainians. In practice, it turned out that most of the immigrants from a foreign country in the spirit and style of Moscow went to the woods near the water and railways, and the Belarusians, as close in mentality more willing to join the alliance with the Ukrainians on the agricultural side.

That is why they appear at the end of the XIX century in Northern Kazakhstan in the first wave of migration villages with a predominant, or even entire Ukrainian population. The same trend is observed in the agricultural development of Turkestan, where the empty but rich lands, which once roamed the Kyrgyz with their numerous flocks, “are now inhabited cultural oases, where you will find a typical Ukrainian house, farm, and Ukrainian language, and oxen-drawn in a long high cart, and red-cheeked in colored sundresses and shirts Ukrainian youth, who zealously sing their songs about a free Ukraine.

Ukrainian names will also appear in Siberia and the Far East. Migration flows from all regions inhabited by our ethnic group will be directed there. Later, more than 20,000 Kuban Ukrainians moved to the Mugan Valley in the Caucasus. Without providing them, as everywhere, with a national school, the tsarist autocracy, however, has not yet banned them from singing. The French engineer Marmon, who visited the Crimea in 1834, concludes his description of Kerch: “Of all the pleasures we had, I was especially impressed by the Cossack song, and the most wonderful voices sang sad, melancholy songs full of sweet melody.”

This “permissiveness” of the tsarist authorities was rudely stopped by their successors, the Russian Bolsheviks. At the end of 1932, they decided that the “Ukrainians” had already fulfilled their mission to bring down foreign lands far from Moscow, therefore, under the pretext of non-fulfillment of unbearable grain supplies, the Kremlin decided to stop the “Nebolshevik” Ukrainization and to ban everything Ukrainian outside the USSR.

As a result, millions of Ukrainians in the North Caucasus. Slobozhanshchyna, Volga region, Urals, Western Siberia, Kazakhstan, Turkestan. The Far East, the Caucasus, Moscow, and Leningrad were deprived of such. Everything created by them was declared a “genius of the Russian people.” In particular, since then, the places of agricultural colonization up to the Pacific Ocean founded by our ancestors Kyivky, Poltavky, Chernihivky are served as “Russian villages.”

By the way, the existence of such forcibly Russified Ukrainian settlements in Northern Kazakhstan is now proclaimed by Moscow’s great-power chauvinists as a reason to join them to “Mother Russia.”

During the interwar period of the first half of the twentieth century, enslaved Ukrainians in the western parts of our ethnic settlement found an effective way to self-organize their own economic life. At that time, they were actively implementing the slogan supported by Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky: “Yours to your own!” It enabled Ukrainians to survive in the competition because they produced goods from their raw materials, in particular food, sold them among our people, which contributed to the accumulation of Ukrainian capital and employment of national labor.

In the actions of our north-eastern neighbors towards Ukrainians, we see an innate sign of brazenly appropriating what was created by someone else’s labor. And such actions can be assessed unambiguously: stranger to stranger for stranger…

Volodymyr Serhiichuk,

Head of the Department of World Ukrainian History, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor.

Photo by UNIAN.