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The Moulding of Ukraine

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Kataryna Wolczuk

Chapter two. In search of a tradition: discontinuities of statehood in Ukraine’s history

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  • 1 The most comprehensive treatment of Ukraine’s history in English can be found in Orest Subtelny, U (...)

1The dynamics and challenges of state formation in post-Soviet Ukraine can only be understood and appreciated in the context of the history of Ukraine. Its history, like many other nations of Eastern and Central Europe, was marred by failed or circumscribed statehood. Since the period of Kyiv Rus’, Ukraine witnessed two attempts to build an independent polity, both of which to some degree succeeded in establishing an institutional infrastructure, controlling territory, winning the allegiance of its population and gaining international recognition.1 However, there was hardly any temporal or symbolic continuity between those historical reincarnations of statehood; they differed radically in terms of the form of government, territory, and the conception of ‘the people’. The first, the Cossack Hetmanate, was a pre-modern formation, while, the second, during the Ukrainian Revolution, 1917–1921, not only lasted for a short period of time, but also spawned several different embodiments of the Ukrainian state. Under Soviet rule, Ukraine possessed all of the nominal trappings of sovereign statehood, most notably, a full set of republican institutions, like all other Soviet republics. Yet in reality, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was only a hollow institutional caricature of a sovereign state.

  • 2 Mark von Hagen, ‘Does Ukraine Have a History?’, Slavic Review, Vol. 54, No. 3 (Fall 1995), p. 667.

2In the light of discontinuity and diversity of legal and political institutions, Ukraine’s history does not lend itself to configuration as linear national history modelled on the Western historical narratives of a nation-state, which tend to be centred on dynastic, institutional– administrative and/or territorial continuities. Post-soviet Ukraine lacks the ‘historical legitimacy’ derived from distinct and ‘identifiable’ institutional traditions and stable territorial boundaries. Moreover, there is not much else to pin national history onto, because the church, elites, language, and culture were all damaged, disrupted or destroyed and thus could not serve as firm pillars of national history. As von Hagen asserted, ‘today’s Ukraine is a very modern creation, with little firmly established precedent in the national past’.2

3As a result of its history, Ukraine emerged as an independent state in 1991 with incompletely articulated and competing ‘grand narratives’ of its past, which glorified conflicting political traditions and historical periods, either pre-communist or Soviet. While few states in Central and Eastern Europe have an unblemished historiographical legitimacy by (ethnocentric) Western standards, the case of Ukraine is particularly complex and interesting because of, firstly, the multiple historical ruptures and, secondly, the advanced erosion of memories of pre-communist statehood. Both of these issues raised the vexed question of what exactly the indigenous political tradition was that Ukraine should embrace upon gaining independence in 1991. History left the elites in post-Soviet Ukraine with a Pandora’s box of constitutional choices when it came to defining the conception of statehood in institutional, territorial and national terms. In particular, the significance of the Soviet rule in Ukraine’s history proved difficult to define with any degree of consensus. The chapter aims to provide an overview of the circumvented tradition of statehood. It will highlight the sources of diversity of political models that were confronted and had to be reconciled in the process of elaborating the conception of statehood in independent Ukraine. It will also help to illustrate the very limited use of the historical reservoir of political ideas on statehood from the pre-communist period during post-Soviet state building. The chapter is structured chronologically and divided into three parts. The first provides a brief overview of the pre-modern history of Ukraine with a focus on the Cossack period. The second part examines the origins of the national movement in the modern era and the attempt to create a state in 1917–1921. This section also examines the form of government, the territorial model and the conception of nationhood as defined in 1917–1921. The third section will analyse the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic as a quasi-sovereign formation, and focus on the institutional framework, territorial changes and the concept of the ‘people’.

FROM KYIV RUS’ TO THE HETMANATE

  • 3 Subtelny, Ukraine. A History, p. 123.

4The meaning of the name Ukraine, literally ‘borderland’, reflects its location on the borders of other states, which dominated that part of Europe over the centuries after the disintegration of the first state on the territory of today’s Ukraine—Kyiv Rus’. In the tenth century the Kyivan Rus’ patrimony fostered contacts with Byzantium and converted to Christianity. After the schism within Christendom in 1054, Rus’ became confined to a domain of Orthodox Slavic people. Following the death of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, Kyiv Rus’ disintegrated into many principalities, amongst which the Galician principality to the west was the most powerful. After its demise in 1340 Galicia was incorporated into the Polish state. At the same time, the remaining territory of Kyiv Rus’ fell pray to a Mongol invasion. Undoubtedly, the topography of Ukraine—the flat steppes, which posed no natural boundaries— accounts for the ease and frequency with which the territory of Ukraine was plundered and conquered over centuries, as Ukraine turned into a battle ground for domination by the states which surrounded it, such as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Ottoman Empire, the Polish– Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Crimean Tatar Khanate, Moscovy, the Russian empire, and the Habsburg empire. Apart from the Mongol devastation, in the fourteenth centuries Ukraine was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to the north, which was simultaneously coming closer to Poland. The dynastic union of Krevo in 1385 between Lithuania and Poland was followed by the 1569 Union of Lublin, which created the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita). The exposure to the gentrified republic resulted in Ukraine’s polonisation and conversion to Catholicism. This conversion was institutionalised in the Union of Brest in the 1596 when the Uniate Church was created, which recognised the authority of the Pope, but retained Eastern rites. However, as Poland was not strong enough to defend its eastern borders, it had effective control only of the Right Bank of Dnieper. The Left Bank, the so-called ‘wild fields’, witnessed the rise of a distinctive socio-political formation—the Zaporizhian Host. The ranks of free Cossack warriors swelled from the influx of peasants who had run away from their masters against encroaching serfdom from Polish Ukraine; as Subtelny pointed out: ‘in newly colonised Ukraine, some of Europe’s most exploitative feudal lords confronted some of its most defiant masses’.3 In 1648, Cossack Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytskyi staged a Great Revolt against Polish landlords, inspired also to defend Orthodoxy again Catholic expansion and the autonomous political formation—the Cossack Host—was established on both banks of the Dnieper. Unable to win the war with Poland without help, Khmelnytskyi looked for an ally and in 1654, the Union of Pereiaslav was signed between the Cossack Host and Russia, according to which the Cossacks recognised the authority and obtained the protection of the tsar and the Host joined Russia as an autonomous entity. However, more military struggles followed, and the Treaty of Andrushevo of 1667 split Ukraine: the Left Bank—the so-called Hetmanate—went to Russia, while Poland retained the Right Bank.

  • 4 Zenon E. Kohut, ‘The Development of a Little Russian Identity and Ukrainian Nation Building’, Harv (...)
  • 5 Zenon E. Kohut, Russian Centralism and Ukrainian Autonomy: Imperial Absorption of the Hetmanate 17 (...)

5In eighteenth century Russia, the Hetmanate developed a separate political identity underpinned by a unique system of government, liberties and rights, which facilitated an emergence of a distinctive Little Russian identity.4 However, the Hetmanate could not survive the strengthening and centralisation of the Russian state and political and cultural differences between Little and Great Russia were gradually ironed out. In 1720 Peter the Great prohibited the publication of books in Ukraine other than religious ones. In addition to halting the development of Ukrainian national culture, which had thrived in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, this retarded Ukraine, in comparison to Russia, in the development of a modern secular culture. In 1775 the Cossack Sich on the Dnieper was destroyed, followed by the abolition of the Hetmanate in 1783 by Catherine the Great.5 The subsequent integration of the Ukrainian elites (starshyna) into the Russian nobility led to the loss of their distinct Little Russian identity, as they took advantage of new career opportunities within the Russian states. By 1820s, the starshyna—the main carrier of a Little Russian identity—was Russified and the peasantry was fully enserfed. By the early nineteenth century, Ukraine’s role as a bridge between the West and Russia came to an end, and Ukraine effectively turned into a province within the Russian empire.

  • 6 See, for example, Frank E. Sysyn, ‘The Khmelnytsky Uprising and Ukrainian Nation- Building’, Journ (...)
  • 7 Rudolf Mark, ‘Social Questions and National Revolution: The Ukrainian National Republic in 1919–19 (...)
  • 8 See Ralph Lindheim and George S. N. Luckyi (eds.), Towards an Intellectual History of Ukraine: An (...)

6Although the Cossack Sich—in the form of the Hetmanate—could survive only under protectorate of a more powerful state, Ukraine developed a distinct political and administrative entity, which survived the best part of the eighteenth century. The Sich and the Hetmanate served as a fertile ground for cultivating glorifying myths of a national liberation struggle and a concerted aspiration for national autonomy, which were apparently frustrated by the tsars’ breach of the Pereiaslav Agreement.6 However, the legacy of Cossackdom cannot be easily moulded into the ‘tradition of statehood’. The stabilisation of the Hetmanate associated with the transformation of the Cossack starshyna into gentry contrasted with the anarchistic-individualistic tradition of the Sich and the Haidamak movements, which exemplified a rebellion against the emergence of the modern, centralised state.7 The Cossack tradition did not provide an equivocal design for the institutional framework of a modern state. The Hetmanate combined republican and monarchical traits, as a collective deliberative body (Heneralna Rada, and then Rada Starshykh) co-existed with powerful Hetmans. As such this form of government has been interpreted both as a precursor of a presidential system, in which powers are concentrated in a chief executive, and the government by assembly (see chapter 5). But even if mythologised as ‘the tradition of state building’, the Russification of the Cossack starshyna and the strangling of the autonomy of the Hetmanate meant that this episode in the history of Ukraine did not provide the basis for modern Ukrainian statehood. Beyond the realm of myths and symbols, the actual impact of the Cossack state on the future make-up of the Ukrainian state, in terms of institutional and legal traditions was minimal, with the exception of the intermittent conservative regime of Hetman Skoropadskyi in 1918 (see below). In the context of the discontinuity which followed the Cossack period, the intellectual aspirations to political trappings of statehood in Ukraine cannot be traced back firmly beyond the mid-nineteenth.8

THE UKRAINIAN REVOLUTION

UKRAINE’S NATIONAL ‘AWAKENING’ IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

  • 9 Miroslav Hroch, Social Preconditions of a National Revival in Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge Univers (...)
  • 10 See the book review by Roman Szporluk in The Annals of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences (...)
  • 11 The impact of the ‘Little Russian’ identity on the formation of modern Ukrainian identity is ambig (...)
  • 12 Krawchenko, ‘The Social Structure’, pp. 97–112.
  • 13 On the process of language development in Ukraine see George Shevelov, ‘The Language Question in t (...)
  • 14 ‘Western Ukraine’ can be understood as ‘Eastern Galicia’ under Austro–Hungary, or more broadly inc (...)
  • 15 On the formative influences of Poland (and Russia) on the formation of the modern Ukrainian nation (...)
  • 16 On developments in Galicia in the nineteenth century see, for example, Andrei Markovits and Frank (...)

7Following the partitions of Poland in 1772, 1793 and 1795, the political subordination of Ukraine changed once again. Right-bank Ukraine (Kyiv, Podila, Volynia) was transferred to Russia, hence ‘re-joining’ Left-bank Ukraine, while Galicia became part of the Habsburg Empire. As the modern Ukrainian national movements incubated in parallel in two empires, they developed different traits as a result of diverse political, cultural and socio-economic conditions. The rise of the modern Ukrainian national movement in the tsarist empire can be conceptualised by using the scheme developed by the Czech historian Miroslav Hroch.9 Despite its shortcomings,10 for the purpose of this study, the scheme serves as a useful analytical tool for succinctly outlining developments. Hroch distinguished three phases in the process of national awakening of non-dominant ethnic groups in Eastern Europe: academic, cultural, and political. In the academic stage, from the 1820’s onwards during the so-called Ukrainian Revival, scholars developed an interest in the culture and language of the peasantry, albeit without any defined and articulated political goals. In the second, cultural stage, a new type of activist embarked on agitation of the ‘ethnographic masses’ in order to win them over to the national cause. In Ukraine, the populists, who rejected the primary historical role of the nobility (especially as by then the Cossack starshyna had been assimilated into the Russian landlord class)11 focused on the masses as an engine of human progress. The work of artist Taras Shevchenko (1814–1861), a redeemed serf, played a pivotal role in this phase. In his writings, Shevchenko used the Ukrainian vernacular to tell of past glories and the present ignominy of Ukraine and its people under foreign yoke. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the predominantly cultural activities of the populists had developed a political vein. The clandestine Cyrillo–Methodian Society of 1846–1847 and the Hromady in the 1850–1860’s combined populism with demands for cultural autonomy. These political ideas, however moderate, had little resonance beyond a narrow group of urban intellectuals. According to the 1897 census, 93 percent of Ukrainians were peasants, in Kyiv 54 percent of the population were Russians, and only 22 percent Ukrainians. There was hardly any Ukrainian bourgeoisie in Left-bank (that is territories to the east of the Dnieper) Ukraine. While the nascent working class was predominantly Russian and Jewish, ethnic Ukrainians—impoverished, peasant, illiterate, passive, and parochial—were not receptive to ideas of national revival and the assertion of cultural rights.12 The cultural stage of the development of national consciousness was frustrated by the slow modernisation under tsarist rule and political repression. The process of raising the national awareness of the masses was given a crushing blow in the 1860–1880s in the form of the banning of the Ukrainian language in the public domain, including schools and publishing.13 Thus, economic backwardness, the repressive policies of the tsarist regime, and the underdevelopment of the educational and cultural infrastructure seriously thwarted the emergence of third stage—the politicisation of the masses in support of national autonomy. Throughout the second part of the nineteenth century, the nascent intellectual elites in tsarist Ukraine grappled with the conception of ‘the Ukrainian people’. They oscillated between the assertion that Ukrainians were a branch of one people (Russkiy narod), who developed a distinct culture because of their different historical experiences (Mykola Kostomarov, 1817–1885), and the more radical assertion that Ukrainians had distinct roots from Russians (Mykhailo Hrushevskyi, 1866– 1934). Despite these differences, the intellectuals adhered to the federalist model of statehood, in which Ukraine would be one of the constituting units. This model was most fully formulated in the writings of Mykhailo Drahomanov (1841–1895) who advocated the transformation of the Russian Empire into a democratic, constitutional republic composed of twenty states; the territory of Ukraine was to be organised into four states. As a committed socialist-anarchist Drahomanov doubted the role of the state in securing individual freedoms, and thus rejected the Western European model of a centralised nation-state for democratised Russia in general and Ukraine in particular. In Drahomanov’s view, federalism would ensure not only the optimal conditions for Ukraine’s national emancipation, which the centralised tsarist state hampered, but would also realise the universal principle of the individual freedom and autonomy. In contrast to the proponents of federalism, by the turn of century, the advocates of separatism, that is supporters of outright independence for Ukraine (samostiinist), such as Mykola Mikhnovskyi, Viacheslav Lypynskyi and Dmytro Dontsov were in a minority in ‘Russian’ Ukraine, although they were stronger in Galicia. The obstacles to the development of national movement, however, were not as pronounced in Galicia, which was incorporated into the Habsburg Empire at the end of the eighteenth century, where Ukrainians were known as Ruthenians.14 Although the level of socio-economic development was the same or even lower than in tsarist Ukraine, the Crown provinces of Galicia and, to a lesser extent, Bukovina, benefited from the fledging practices of parliamentarism (after 1867), an educational system in Ukrainian, religious freedoms, the right to use Ukrainian in state institutions, they also developed specifically Ukrainian institutions such as economic co-operatives, reading societies, newspapers, etc. In Eastern Galicia ethnic and religious divides coincided with the key social cleavage, as the Polish landlords ruled the Ukrainian peasantry. As a result, the Ukrainian national movement developed in fierce opposition to Poles (but in loyalty to Vienna).15 Despite some confusion over the issues of identity in Eastern Galicia, independent statehood (samostiinist) was declared the objective of the Ukrainian national movement once Austria–Hungary crumbled, and Ukrainian nationalists encountered competing Polish claims to Eastern Galicia.16

THE UKRAINIAN REVOLUTION, 1917–1921: AN OVERVIEW

  • 17 The Rada represented Ukrainian parties, the most important of which were the peasant- oriented Ukr (...)
  • 18 In the Declaration of July 1917, the Provisional Government recognised Ukrainian autonomy, althoug (...)
  • 19 Ivan L. Rudnytsky, ‘The Fourth Universal and Its Ideological Antecedents’, in Taras Hunchak (ed.), (...)

8The collapse of the empires in the course of the First World War presented the Ukrainian elites with a long-awaited chance to realise their socio-economic and political ideals. Yet the international context and the divisions between the elites led to a creation of a string of successive governments: the Central Council, the Hetmanate, the Directory in Dnieper Ukraine, and the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic in Galicia (Halychyna). While all of them claimed to embody Ukrainian statehood, the relations between them were often full of tensions. The period of the Ukrainian Revolution will be briefly presented below in order to argue that the political, military and social context impacted on the attempt at state building to the extent that it is difficult to define the pre-communist tradition of statehood with a high degree of precision. Taking into account the ideological profile of the Ukrainian elites, separatism was not on the cards, when in the aftermath of the February revolution, in March 1917, the Central Council (Tsentralna Rada) was created in Kyiv by the prominent Ukrainian populist and socialist intellectuals and activists, such as Mykhailo Hrushevskyi, Volodymyr Vynnychenko, Serkhiy Yefremov, and Semen Petliura.17 The Rada, which turned itself into a representative body in the summer of 1917, competed for power with the Bolsheviks and the Provisional Government in Ukraine.18 In April 1917 the Ukrainian elites called for the federalisation of the Russian state with Ukraine as one of its autonomous units. Following the October Revolution, in its Third Universal (November 1917), the Central Council proclaimed the creation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UNR) which was to be joined by federal ties to democratic Russia. It was only the military offensive of the Bolsheviks on Kyiv that forced the Ukrainian elites to accept that ‘a complete breakup of the Russian imperial state was a more realistic goal than its democratisation and federalisation, and that for Ukraine the alternatives were, indeed, either independent statehood or national annihilation’.19 In January 1918 in its Fourth Universal the Rada proclaimed full independence of Russia. However, this accelerated radicalisation of the Ukrainian national movement was not backed by the institutional and human resources necessary to turn proclamations into reality. In particular, the Ukrainian leaders, inexperienced and idealistic as they were, failed to appreciate the need for establishing state institutions and an army to defend its territory. This proved to have pivotal consequences as soon as Ukraine became a theatre of numerous military interventions.

  • 20 On the strength of the Bolshevik forces in Kyiv during the revolution see, for example, Leszek Pod (...)
  • 21 For an account of the revolution in Ukraine see John Resheter, The Ukrainian Revolution, 1917–1920(...)

9Despite the fact that the Bolsheviks lacked popular support in Ukraine (their power base was limited to the Russian working class),20 they had a competitive advantage over the Rada thanks to their military, industrial, and organisational superiority.21 The Bolsheviks refused to recognise the ‘bourgeois-nationalist’ UNR as a legitimate government of Ukraine and staged a war against the new Ukrainian state. In turn, the Central Powers (Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey) recognised the UNR and signed a separate peace treaty in Brest in February 1918. Under the pretext of assisting the UNR against the Bolsheviks, the Germans entered Ukraine in April 1918 and triggered the fall of the Rada on 30 April 1918 (on the very day when the Constitution of the UNR was debated). Under German tutelage power was taken over by the conservative Hetmanate led by a descendant of a Cossack Hetman, General Pavlo Skoropadskyi, who was supported predominantly by Russified and Russian landowners. Having announced the creation of the ‘Ukrainian State’ (Ukrainska Derzhava), he assumed the role of the Hetman. However, following the defeat of Germany and Austro–Hungary and Skoropadskyi’s decision to enter a federal treaty with (non-Bolshevik) Russia, the Hetmanate was overturned seven months later.

  • 22 Rudolf Mark, ‘Social Questions and National Revolution: The Ukrainian National Republic in 1919–19 (...)

10The UNR was restored when a new Ukrainian government, the Directory (Dyrektoriat), emerged in November 1918 led by, among others, social-democrats Volodymyr Vynnychenko and Symon Petliura. Soon Petliura assumed the role of Chief Otaman of the republican army in order to lead a military struggle on several fronts. However, mass support for the UNR and revolutionary vigour of the peasantry had evaporated by early 1919, and anarchy and chaos swept Ukraine, with the Bolsheviks, Whites, Denikin, anarchist Makchno and the Ukrainian troops moving across and fighting on its territory.22

  • 23 On the fate of the unified Ukrainian state see Jan Jacek Bruski, ‘Miedzy sobornoscia a separatyzme (...)

11In Western Ukraine, in November 1918, the collapse of Austro– Hungary prompted the creation of the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic (ZUNR), under the leadership of Yevhen Petrushevych. The ZUNR immediately clashed with Poles who voiced competing claims to Eastern Galicia, and the resulting war with Poland engulfed the larger part of the province. Apart from military actions against the ZUNR, the Polish army simultaneously fought the army of Petliura in Volynia. Thus, before the Directory’s troops were expelled from Kyiv by the Bolsheviks in January 1919, Ukrainian forces consolidated to fight the common enemies. On 22 January 1919 unification of the UNR and the ZUNR was proclaimed in Kyiv in the ‘Act of Unity’ (Akt Sobornosti). The concept of Sobornist’, which until then referred to the ecclesiastical unity of the Orthodox Church, came to denote the unification of all historical Ukrainian territories into one state. The enlarged Ukrainian state was to be a quasi-federal as Galicia was to maintain its autonomy as a Western Ukrainian Oblast of the UNR (ZOUNR). Yet the scope of this autonomy remained undefined, as actual unification never took place, because of the military struggle on the one hand, and the profound ideological and cultural rift between the revolutionary Dnieper elites and more conservative, legally-minded and nationalist Galician leaders, on the other.23

  • 24 The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed in January 1919 in Kharkiv on the basis of (...)
  • 25 The Council of Foreign Ministers of the Allies sanctioned the temporary right of Poland to Eastern (...)
  • 26 Motyl, The Turn to the Right and John A. Amstrong, Ukrainian Nationalism, 2nd ed. (Engelwood, Colo (...)

12The weakness of Ukrainian forces and their military defeats against the Bolsheviks prompted Petliura to enter an alliance with Poland at the cost of conceding Galicia. According to the Treaty of Warsaw in April 1920, the UNR renounced its authority over Eastern Galicia in favour of Poland in exchange for military help against the Bolsheviks, which by that time had instituted their government in Kharkiv.24 The treaty was interpreted as treason by Western Ukrainians, who, in retaliation broke off their alliance with Petliura. The joint Ukrainian–Polish forces failed to win their war with Bolshevik Russia, and the Treaty of Riga of 1921 between Poland, Russia and the Soviet Ukraine confirmed the division of Ukraine along the lines defined in the Treaty of Warsaw, which conceded Eastern Galicia and Volynia to Poland.25 The bitter disillusionment with the failure to secure independence over 1917–1921 steered some sections of the Ukrainian elites towards an indigenous strand of integral nationalism, the leading ideologist of which was Dmytro Dontsov.26

  • 27 This view was most fully elaborated in a collection of essays, Hunchak, The Ukraine: 1917–1921 and (...)
  • 28 For works stressing this factor see the essay on Vynnychenko in Rudnytsky, Essays in Modern Ukrain (...)
  • 29 Alexander J. Motyl, Sovietology, Rationality, Nationality: Coming to Grips with Nationalism in the (...)

13It is beyond the scope of this section to debate the causes of the ultimate failure of a state building project. In general, this failure has been attributed to a lack of social basis and incompleteness of the sociological nation;27 a lack of experience, procrastination, indecisiveness and internal divisions amongst the revolutionary elites;28 and the ideology of the elites, and neglect of institution building coupled with a lack of international support.29 Yet the UNR, the existence of which was punctuated by the regime of Hetman Skoropadskyi in 1918, represented not only the first consolidated effort to organise a Ukrainian state in the modern era, but also a particular framing of statehood, which was nurtured by the conjunction of particular historical, political, socioeconomic and cultural circumstances. In contrast to a centralised, autocratic tsarist regime, the UNR embodied aspirations to radical parliamentarism, decentralisation, and the pluralist conception of a political community. And the socio-economic plight of Ukrainian society shaped the socialist and social-democratic ideas on the state’s role in the socioeconomic transformation. However, the latter ideas were not shared by the Western Ukrainian elites, something that prevented the coming together of the elites from Galicia and Dnieper Ukraine to build a Soborna Ukraina. The conceptions of statehood, embracing an institutional framework, territorial model and notion of the political community, which were put forward in the period of 1917–1921, will be analysed in more detail below. It will be shown that even if any particular institutional design is difficult to pin down because of disruptions, the overarching principles guiding the Ukrainian leaders can be asserted with some clarity. The principles, however, did not find much support when the renewed state building project was embarked on in 1991.

THE UKRAINIAN STATE, 1917–1921

THE POLITICAL COMMUNITY

  • 30 The texts of the constitutional documents for the period 1917–1920 were published in Konstytutsiin (...)

14The UNR embodied a civic, pluralistic conception of nationhood with institutional provisions for minority representation. The Tsentralna Rada transformed itself from an organ of the Ukrainian national movement into an authoritative, territorial legislative body by including the local Russian, Jewish and Polish minority. In the ‘Law on National Unions’ of January 1918 national minorities were given the unique right to national-personal autonomy organised in the form of National Unions (Natsionalni Soiuzy), which could claim authority over and represent all members of the national minority, regardless of their place of residence in the UNR. The draft Constitution of the UNR, ‘The Charter of State System, Rights and Freedoms of UNR’ (which was never promulgated because of Skoropadskyi’s coup in April 1918), proclaimed that ‘sovereignty lay with the people of Ukraine, that is the body of citizens of the UNR’ (art. 2) and the right of the ethnic groups inhabiting Ukraine ‘to manage their cultural affairs within the state boundaries’ (art. 6). National-personal autonomy was provided for the biggest groups (Russians, Poles and Jews) by direct norm in the Charter, whereas other minorities had to collect at least 10,000 signatures of the members of the minority in order to obtain that right.30

  • 31 Hrytsak, Narys istorii Ukrainy, p. 129.

15The Skoropadskyi government also adhered to the territorial conception of nationhood (although it seems that as Ukraine was envisaged as a monarchy, the concept of popular sovereignty did not apply), and the ‘Law on Citizenship’ of June 1918 automatically granted citizenship to all of those who lived in Ukraine at that time and would take an oath of loyalty to the Ukrainian state.31 However, being more representative of the Russian and Russified Ukrainian gentry and tsarist apparatchiks, the Hetman did not continue the progressive policy of the Tsentralna Rada towards national minorities, and in July 1918, the institution of the personal-national autonomy was abolished. The brief ‘Law on the Temporary Organisation of State Power of Ukraine’ of April 1918 was silent on the rights of minorities and only declared that Orthodoxy was the state religion, while religious freedoms were to be guaranteed for other denominations (art. 10).

  • 32 Seats in the parliament would be allocated in the following way: Ukrainians 70 percent, Poles 14.6 (...)

16The Dyrektoriat returned to the tradition of the Tsentralna Rada. However, more ethnic undertones could be detected in the way the link between the state and the eponymous, Ukrainian majority was defined. The institution of national-personal autonomy was restored but only for the Jewish minority. Greater emphasis on the role and status of the titular majority was evident in the draft ‘Basic Law of the UNR’ prepared and debated in 1920 amongst the exiled members of the Ukrainian government. State territory was defined in accordance with the ethnographic principle: ‘all territories, where the Ukrainian people constituted the majority’ (art. 4) and Ukrainian was defined as the state language (art. 8). The trident was recognised as the state emblem, and blue and yellow defined as state colours (arts. 9 and 10), (these state symbols were then invoked by the national-democratic opposition on the eve of independence as the legitimate state symbols of Ukraine). Nevertheless, the Dyrektoriat did not essentially depart from a pluralist notion of nationhood. The ZUNR also advocated a civic conception and granted the national minorities the right to be represented in the legislature on the quota principle,32 (although elections to parliament, the National Council, did not take place because of the war with Poland). Overall, during the Ukrainian Revolution the political community in Ukraine was framed predominantly in inclusive, civic terms, which spawned a pluralistic model of statehood as minorities were granted cultural autonomy and political representation. This reflected the moderate democratic nationalism of the Ukrainian intellectuals, and the weakness of ethno-national awareness in Ukrainian society. The Ukrainian national movement developed in the shadow of the ‘Great Russian’ nation and tsarist autocracy, and at the beginning of the twentieth century, the strength of cultural and psychological bond between Ukrainians and Russians was reflected in the preoccupation with individual freedoms and equality, rather than the assertion of the position of the titular ethnic majority.

THE INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK

Institutions at the Centre

17Overall, the Ukrainian elites did not pay much attention to a rapid establishment of the institutional framework, with the notable exception of the ZUNR. According to Rudnytsky:

  • 33 Rudnytsky, ‘The Fourth Universal’, p. 208.

The inadequate political and legal training of the Rada’s leaders was reflected in the drafting of Universals. These major state papers, which possessed the significance of fundamental laws, were wordy and overloaded with secondary matters, while the formulation of the salient points often lacked precision.33

  • 34 A parliamentary republic was advocated by all left-wing and centrist parties, including the Ukrain (...)

18Moreover, due to the profound political instability and military struggle, which by early 1919 engulfed the territory of Ukraine, the institutional arrangements changed with kaleidoscopic speed and diverged from the form of government envisaged by the constitutional acts. Therefore, institutional arrangements over 1917–1921 were essentially provisional, ill-defined, and were never properly tested in practice. Even if the form of government was insufficiently elaborated, the parliamentary form of government was the unanimous choice of the UNR and ZUNR elites,34 whereas Hetman Skoropadskyi opted for a monarchy. The Central Council, by transforming itself into the first legislature of the new state and appointing a coalitional government (Heneralnyi Sekretariat) (as was announced in the second Universal of July 1917), created a parliamentary system. In particular, amongst the Ukrainian elites, Mykhailo Hrushevskyi, who was elected the head of the Tsentralna Rada, was an ardent supporter of parliamentarism. According to the Fourth Universal of January 1918, the Heneralnyi Sekretariat was transformed into the Council of People’s Ministers (Rada Narodnykh Ministriv). The draft UNR constitution ‘Charter of State System, Rights and Freedoms’ of April 1918 proclaimed the principle of the separation of powers, (which was interpreted in a functional way), and envisaged a pure parliamentary form of government. Legislative power was to be vested in the directly elected National Assembly (Vsenarodni Zbory), which appointed the collective executive—the council of ministers and the general court (Heneralyi Sud), which was the highest judicial review body. There was neither prime minister nor head of state; these functions were combined with the headship of the National Assembly. However, at the meeting when the draft was debated Hrushevskyi was elected president of the UNR, even though this post was not envisaged by the Charter, something which indicates the largely improvised approach.

  • 35 ‘Being tested’ is the criterion which for Sokolewicz determines the (in)desirability of restoring (...)

19After the short-lived regime of Skoropadskyi, the UNR was reconstituted and became known as the Directory. In principle the parliamentary system was reinstated, yet in practice it did not function. The Congress of the Workers (Trudovyi Congress) acted as a parliament, which temporarily delegated all state powers to a narrow body—the Dyrektoriat led by Vynychenko and Petliura. The body soon came to be dominated by Petliura, who adopted the title of Otaman, and, in the face of military threats to Ukraine, assumed dictatorial powers. Also, the Dyrektoriat continued to exist beside the council of people’s ministers and the powers of these two bodies overlapped. The draft Constitution, which was prepared in exile, defined the UNR as a ‘sovereign and independent state with a democratic-republican, parliamentary system’ (art. 1). Legislative power was to be vested in the State Council (Derzhavna Rada), whereas the executive was to consist of the head of state and the council of ministers (art. 106). Finally, the ZUNR also adhered to a parliamentary form of government. The legislature, the National Council (Natsionalna Rada), appointed the government (Derzhavnyi Sekretariat), and the leader of Council acted as the head of state. However, in June 1919 as military pressures on the ZUNR mounted, the National Council granted its head, Yevhen Petrushevych, dictatorial powers. In marked contrast, in ‘Russian’ Ukraine, in April 1918 Hetman Skoropadskyi broke with republican parliamentary traditions of the UNR by establishing a monarchy, thereby invoking the tradition of the powerful Cossack Hetman, exemplified by figures such as Khmelnytskyi and Doroshenko. However, the actual nature of the regime— whether constitutional or absolutist monarchy—was never clarified. In the initial ‘Address to the Ukrainian People’, apart from the Hetman, who appointed the cabinet of ministers, an assembly (Seim) was mentioned. Its composition, role and powers, however, were not defined. The brief ‘Law on the Temporary Organisation of State Powers’ of June 1918 vested all powers in the hands of the Hetman, who assumed the role of an absolutist monarch. The Ukrainian revolutionary elites who embarked on the project of state building in 1917 had predominantly populist, socialist and socio-democratic ideological roots. While the national movement was humanistic, libertarian and committed to democratic socialism, it lacked legalistic, constitutional awareness and rigour. Despite the progressive ideals, the insufficient constitutional know-how was exposed in imprecise and ill-thought institutional designs in the draft constitutions. Moreover, while parliamentarism was clearly the chosen form of government, the practice diverged from the constitutional proclamations, and Ukraine witnessed a succession of different provisional governments, which were a result of profound external vulnerability as well as splits within the elites themselves. Thus, in contrast to Western Ukraine, which had prolonged experience of parliamentarism since 1867, in ‘Russian’ Ukraine, parliamentarism was not consolidated and tested in practice.35 As military struggles intensified, individuals were granted extraordinary powers. Therefore, the figure of a strong leader also featured in the pre-communist Ukrainian political tradition. The Hetmanate of Pavlo Skoropadskyi even more forcefully exemplified this trait.

The Territory and Territorial–Administrative Model

20In a similar vein, the spatial organisation of state power remained ill defined and open to conflicting interpretations, although overarching support for decentralisation, a revolutionary idea at the early twentieth century Europe, characterises the UNR. In the nineteenth century, within tsarist Russia, Ukraine was divided into nine gubernias. The latter served only as territorial–administrative units, and, prior to the revolution, ‘Russian’ Ukraine lacked tradition of territorial self-government. In contrast, Eastern Galicia and Bukovina in Austro– Hungary participated in parliamentary institutions and local Diets (whereas the Ukrainians in Transcarpathia were denied autonomy under Hungarian rule).

  • 36 On the ideas of Mykhailo Drahomanov see ‘Drahomanov as a Political Theorist’ in Rudnytsky, Essays (...)
  • 37 An English language translation of the ‘Free Union’ was published in Ivan L. Rudnytsky (ed.), Mykh (...)

21Nineteenth century political thinkers in Dnieper Ukraine saw the future of Ukraine in a federalised Russia, with extensive territorial self government.36 Drahomanov in the ‘Free Union’ (1884) outlined a federalist model for the Russian empire, which was to be divided into territorial units (oblasts) in accordance with their ethnic, economic and geographical profile. Ukraine was to be divided into Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa oblasts.37 In a similar vein Hrushevskyi in the ‘The Constitutional Question on the Ukrainian Issue in Russia’ (1905) drafted plans for the division of Ukraine into 27 zemli (lands) and 3 autonomous cities (Kyiv, Odesa and Kharkiv). Yet, the long-standing federalist ideals were thrown into disarray in the course of 1917, because of the reluctance of the Russian elites to recognise the right of Ukraine to autonomy, let alone to federalise the remnants of the tsarist empire.

  • 38 Sliusarenko and Tomenko, Istoria ukrainskoi konstytutsii, p. 105.
  • 39 The Tsentralna Rada essentially retained the tsarist territorial division, although gubernias were (...)
  • 40 However, the territorial model envisaged in the draft Constitution of 1918 was interpreted also as (...)
  • 41 Bruski, ‘Miedzy sobornoscia a separatyzmem’, p. 51.

22The Third Universal of July 1917 declared that the UNR would consist of the gubernias of Kyiv, Podila, Volynia, Chernihiv, Poltava, Kharkiv, Katerynoslav, Kherson, and Taurida (excluding Crimea). The future of other territories where the majority of population was Ukrainian was to be decided in a referendum. According to the draft Constitution of April 1918 ‘the Ukrainian People’s Republic shall provide its lands (zemli), volosti [administrative division of Tsarist Russia] and communities (hromady) with the right to extensive self-government, abiding by the principle of decentralisation’ (art. 5).38 Therefore, selfgovernment was to be institutionalised in a three-tier territorial division: zemlia, volost’ and hromada.39 But while the largest unit (zemlia) was to have a regional self-government, it was not explicitly defined as a federal component of the state.40 The UNR, thus, was to be a decentralised and not federal state. The Act of Unification between the UNR and ZUNR of January 1919 envisaged that Galicia would become an autonomous part of the Ukrainian state, as the Western Oblast of the UNR (ZOUNR). However, the scope of spatial division of power and territorial autonomy were never clearly spelled out, as the Act of Unification between the UNR and ZUNR was effectively nullified by November 1919.41

  • 42 Mykola Tomenko, Ukrainska perspektyva: istoryko-politolohichni pidstavy suchasnoi derzhavnoi strat (...)

23Ultimately, the Ukrainian Revolution did not represent a culmination of the state-building process, but the first steps in that direction. At the time when the UNR was proclaimed, the elites in ‘Russian’ Ukraine were striving for (and would probably be satisfied with) territorial autonomy within Russia. They were animated by a vision of a just, social, democratic order and a Ukrainian state was instrumental in the creation of that order rather than a goal in itself. The pace of events forced the elites to ‘think the unthinkable’ and to opt for radical solution— independent statehood, which they neither contemplated, wished or prepared for, and which could not be sustained due to the prevailing internal and international context. While the UNR embodied progressive aspirations and scored some spectacular achievements, the Ukrainian Revolution witnessed a daring attempt to carve out some kind of Ukrainian state from the failing empires under profoundly adverse conditions. In Dnieper Ukraine the Ukrainian leaders aspired to create a parliamentary republic with a social-democratic profile, a decentralised territorial model and a civic notion of nationhood. Despite these progressive ideals, the elites’ procrastination and military struggle prevented the institutional consolidation of the new state, as it came under attack from several directions. Thus, the essentially improvised nature of the institutions diverged from the constitutional provisions and opened the way to conflicting interpretations.42 Moreover, during the Revolution the pronounced differences in the political experiences, ideological outlook and chosen strategies of the leaders from Dnieper Ukraine and Galicia, became stumbling blocks on the path of unification of Ukraine. The UNR effectively functioned as a state for less than a year, and its leaders procrastinated on institution-building, which ultimately—at least to some degree— contributed to the UNR’s demise. The institutional arrangements were provisional, and to a large degree remained in the form of declarations, never fully refined by being tested in practice.

THE UKRAINIAN SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLIC: 1919–1991

24Despite the unmitigated failure to set up an independent state in 1917– 1921, the endeavour advanced the cause of Ukrainian statehood; it compelled the Bolsheviks, who from 1919 onwards consolidated power in Ukraine, to recognise these aspirations. The strength of the centrifugal forces unleashed in the peripheries of the tsarist empire prompted the Bolsheviks to take on the federalist principle of Austro–Marxism; they first set up an ‘alliance’ and then a ‘union of states’, which in addition to Russia included national republics created of former borderlands of the Russian empire. In order to accommodate the fledging national sentiments of non-Russians in the new state, amongst others Ukrainians were granted their own ethno-territorial homeland—a Soviet Socialist Republic—as:

  • 43 Rudnytsky, Essays in Modern Ukrainian History, p. 464.

[T]he embodiment of a compromise between Ukrainian nationalism and Russian centralism—of course not in the sense of a formal, negotiated agreement but rather of a de facto balancing of antagonistic social forces, neither of which was strong enough to assert itself completely.43

25After two unsuccessful attempts to gain control over Ukraine in 1918 and 1919, the third Soviet Ukrainian government was established in December 1919. The 1919 constitution passed by the Soviet Ukrainian government in Kharkiv guaranteed the sovereignty of Soviet Ukraine and the right to conduct an independent foreign policy. Although the 1920 Treaty between Soviet Ukraine and RSFSR established an economic and military union, and Ukraine surrendered some commissariats to RSFSR, it was still defined as a sovereign and independent republic with rights to maintain direct diplomatic relations with other states. On the basis of the 1919 constitution, the Ukrainian SSR acted as a constitutive member of the Soviet Union in December 1922, when the treaty was signed by the representatives of the Russian, Belarussian, Transcaucasian and Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republics, as a result of which the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics came into being.

26Alongside many ethnic groups in the borderland of the tsarist empire, Ukrainians were endowed with all the nominal trappings of statehood but denied sovereignty. The subsequent republican constitutions of 1926, 1937 and 1978 defined Ukraine as a ‘sovereign republic’, while the constitutions of the USSR declared that ‘every union republic shall retain the free right to secession from the USSR’ (article 13 of the 1936 constitution and article 72 of the 1977 constitution of the USSR). The republic was equipped with a complete set of legal and administrative institutions. Moreover, perpetuating the façade of independence, together with Belarus, Ukraine was also granted membership of the United Nations in 1945.

  • 44 L. Aryeh Unger, Constitutional Developments in the USSR: a Guide to the Soviet Constitutions (Lond (...)

27Like all other republics, Ukrainian sovereignty was a constitutional figure of speech. The new constitutions of the UkrSSR of 1926, 1937 and 1978 were duly adopted after the passage of the Constitutions of the USSR (in 1924, 1936 and 1977),44 and all the constitutional texts were drafted under the instructions from the centre. Moscow provided all Soviet republics with an almost identical template of administrative, economic and cultural institutions, such as ministries, academy of sciences, writers’ unions, etc. The republican sovereignty was circumvented by removing decision-making powers from the republican institutions and vesting them with the Communist Party of Ukraine, which constituted an integral part of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in accordance with the principle of democratic centralism. But quite apart from the omnipotent role of the Communist Party, the constitutional provisions explicitly asserted the supremacy of the Union centre over the republics. Republican institutions, including the Supreme Council, were subordinated to All-Union institutions, which had authority to override the decisions of the republican institutions. The 1936 and 1977 constitutions of the USSR included a provision that ‘in the event of divergence between the laws of the union republics and a law of the Union, the Union law prevails’ (arts. 20 and 74, respectively), while the 1978 constitution of the UkrSSR asserted that ‘the economy of UkrSSR forms an integral part of one economic system, which encompasses all aspects of social production, distribution and exchange on the territory of the USSR’ (art.16). The constitutional subordination of Soviet Ukraine to the Union, and the monopolisation of decision-making process in the Party rendered Ukrainian sovereignty a constitutional fiction. Because of the largely nominal character of the constitutions of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Sliusarenko and Tomenko, the editors of the post-Soviet compilation of Ukrainian constitutional acts, concluded:

  • 45 Sliusarenko and Tomenko, Istoria ukrains’koi konstytutsii, p. 174.

All four constitutions of the Soviet Ukraine were political documents and were drafted in the ideological departments of the Central Committee of the CPSU. Taking this into account, as well as Ukraine’s status of quasi-state these [Soviet] constitutional acts can be included in the category of the fundamental laws of the state only with great caution.45

28Nevertheless, even if the Ukrainian SSR can be defined as a pseudo-state at best, it shaped the identity of independent Ukraine in institutional, territorial and national terms. While the Ukrainian Revolution lasted effectively for 4 years, Soviet rule in Ukraine spanned seven decades and left an enduring imprint on society and its political structures. Therefore, the socio-economic development and cultural change which took place in Soviet Ukraine will be outlined in the next chapter in order to help explain for the dynamics of Ukraine’ passage to independence and the subsequent path of state building. The remaining part of this chapter will examine the legacy of Soviet rule in Ukraine in terms of the institutional model, the concept of political community, and territorial changes insofar as they became a baseline against which the new Ukrainian state was defined.

THE INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK: THE SYSTEM OF SOVIETS

29An analysis of the institutional structure of a Soviet republic tends to be preceded by the qualification that it reveals rather little about the nature of the political regime as the written constitution differed radically from the ‘political constitution’, which actually conferred power in the CPU. Yet, the demise of the Party on the eve of the breakup of the Soviet Union turned the soviets into an institutional fulcrum of the Soviet republics. Thus, the essential features of the institutional structures, with which Ukraine entered independence, will be outlined below.

  • 46 Samuel N. Harper and Ronald Thompson, The Government of the Soviet Union, 2nd ed. (Toronto: D.Van (...)
  • 47 Archie Brown (ed.), New Thinking in Soviet Politics (Houndmills and London: Macmillan, 1992), p. 2 (...)

30The nominal institutional structure of the Soviet republic consisted of ‘a single system of organs of state power’ which is a hierarchy of layers of government—the soviets of people’s deputies (rady narodnykh deputativ). The system had humble origins according to Hamper and Thompson: ‘in their mode of origins, in short, the soviets, by ordinary Western standards, were simply overgrown, though exceptionally militant, city-wide strike committees momentarily thrown up by the Russian workers in the unruly days of 1905’.46 In the wake of the October Revolution, membership of the original soviets was broadened to include not only workers, but also soldiers and peasants, and institutionalised into a system of soviets. This way the conditions for involvement of the ordinary citizen in the running of the state were created (Lenin’s oft-quoted remark was that ‘under socialism the housewife will learn to run the state’). The councils provided an institutional locus for mass participation in politics, they consisted of ‘people from various walks of life’, who were not occupationally specialised or differentiated from the masses. In practice, the composition of the soviets was engineered to mirror societal structure. Deputies were released from their workplace to participate in the sessions of the soviets, which operated on a part-time basis. The soviets embodied the totality of state power. The Soviet approach deliberately discarded the separation of powers and ‘checks and balances’, as smokescreens behind which the bourgeoisie exercised unfettered power in Western countries.47

  • 48 Loewenstein, ‘Reflections on the Value of Constitutions in Our Revolutionary Age’, p. 153.

31In the Soviet Union, the ‘separation of powers’ was replaced by the principle of the ‘unity of power’: the soviets combined not only executive and legislative powers at the republican level, but also state power and self-government at the local and territorial level (which was based on the so-called state theory of self-government). The Supreme Soviet, which was the peak of the hierarchy of Soviets, was the highest state body in the republic with exclusive legislative powers and the prerogative to decide on any matter within the republican jurisdiction. All other state organs were in theory under the control of and accountable to the Supreme Council. The council of ministers was the ‘highest executive and administrative body of state powers’ and ‘responsible and accountable’ to the Supreme Council (art. 115 of the 1978 constitution of the UkrSSR). However, in practice this supreme position was not backed by any constitutional sanctions as no effective means of control were placed at the Supreme Council’s disposal. Although the Supreme Council had the exclusive right of law making, the hierarchy of the normative acts of the state lacked clarity and transparency. The council of ministers issued ‘resolutions and dispositions’ (art. 120), while the Presidium of the Supreme Council had the vaguely defined right to issue decrees (art. 110). Remaining under the close tutelage of the CPU, the Presidium was delegated specialised functions and, as a result, assumed the key powers of the Supreme Council (and the Council tended to confirm the Presidium decisions in its brief sessions). Indeed, Soviet parliamentarism— based on the omnipotence of the popularly elected assembly, free from any checks and balances—lent itself perfectly to rule by a single party.48

Table 2.1. A Comparison of the System of Soviets and Western Parliamentarism

Table 2.1. A Comparison of the System of Soviets and Western Parliamentarism
  • 1 The institution originated in the Paris commune. However, as it was not conducive to the developme (...)

32Note 11

  • 49 Western parliamentarism is an ideal type system, as it takes different forms, as for example, the (...)

33However, once the CPU lost its hegemonic powers in 1991, the Supreme Council could assume its constitutional powers. The supreme role of the assembly led some to refer to the soviet system as ‘Soviet parliamentarism’, which implied that it was a variation of Western parliamentarism. However, despite the appearance of parliamentarism, the structure, functions and theoretical underpinnings of the system of soviets differed diametrically from those that characterised Western parliamentary systems. These differences are spelled out in Table 2.1 (although gross generalisations were necessary to construe an ‘ideal type’ of Western parliamentarism), and they will be referred to in the following chapters.49

THE TERRITORIAL CHANGES AND ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISION

  • 50 In 1925 Southern Kursk and Voronezh, as well as Taganrog and Shaklty regions were transferred to R (...)
  • 51 Yaroslav Bilinsky, ‘The Incorporation of Western Ukraine and Its Impact on Politics and Society in (...)
  • 52 Before its annexation in 1939 Eastern Galicia’s territorial division was inherited from the Habsbu (...)
  • 53 The administrative structure of the Ukrainian SSR was defined in ‘The Act on the Order of Resolvin (...)

34The Soviet Union created a highly centralised model of statehood. Under Soviet rule, the bulk of ethnographic Ukrainian territories were unified for the first time within the boundaries of the Ukrainian SSR. The republic was initially made up of nine gubernias of the Russian empire: Kyiv, Podila, Volynia, Chernihiv, Poltava, Kharkiv, Katerynoslav, Kherson, Taurida, but without Crimea (that is the territory claimed by the UNR in the Third Universal of July 1917), and it also included some western districts of the Don Army province. In 1924 the Autonomous Socialist Republic of Moldova was created of several raions adjacent to the border with Romania, while some territorial adjustment in favour of the Russian SFSR were made in 1925.50 In September 1939 Western Ukraine was annexed by the USSR, as a consequence of the Ribbentrop– Molotov pact, and on 1 November it was officially incorporated into the Ukrainian SSR.51 In 1940 Northern Bukovina and Southern Bessarabia became part of the UkrSSR, while the rest of Bessarabia formed the Moldovan SSR. In 1945 Transcarpathia (also known as Subcarpathia or the Carpathian Rus’) was conceded to Ukraine in a treaty with Czechoslovakia. As result of the 1939–1945 border changes the following oblasts were created: Lvivska, Volynska, Rivenska, Ivano-Frankivska, Chernivetska, Ternopilska, Akermanska (Izmail), and Zakarpatska.52 The formation of present day Ukraine was completed with the transfer of the Crimean Oblast (which until 1945 was the Crimean Autonomous Socialist Republic) in 1954. After 1954, the Ukrainian SSR consisted of 25 oblasts and 2 cities of republican subordination—Kyiv and Sevastopol. Oblasts were purely territorial–administrative units and did not correspond to historical regions. Oblasts were further divided into districts (raion), cities (which were further divided into raiony), and rural settlements.53 Each of those territorial units was represented in a soviet (rada). As pointed above, there was no conceptual distinction between local, territorial and central government as the Soviet Union adhered to the so-called state theory of self-government, and the local and territorial governing bodies formed an integrated part of the state apparatus. In contrast to the Western state tradition of self-government, the councils combined the functions of self-government with state powers, something that effectively denied their autonomy from the central authorities.

THE POLITICAL COMMUNITY

  • 54 Rogers Brubaker, Nationalism Reframed (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), chapter 2.

35The Soviet regime in Ukraine constructed a complex, but essentially contradictory notion of the political community in attempt to reconcile class, ethnicity and territory as the markers of the political community in each republic. The four constitutions of the Soviet Ukraine (1919, 1926, 1937 and 1978) adhered to territory and class rather than ethnicity as the main criteria: ‘Ukraine (was) a state of all people, expressing the will and interests of the workers, peasants and intelligentsia: the working people of all nationalities of the Republic’ (1978 Constitution of the UkrSSR). At the same time, ethnicity was recognised as an important social category by the very formation of the UkrSSR, as Ukrainians were a titular nationality of a national–territorial administrative unit, after which that unit was named, and enjoyed some privileges conferred by the centre on titular majorities in the Soviet republics. Nationality was also institutionalised at a personal level as an ascriptive, legal category. It was fixed regardless of the place of residence, and, as such, acquired an extra-territorial, ethno-cultural dimension. Thus, as Brubaker argues the Soviet Union institutionalised two distinct models of nationhood: territorial/political and personal/ethnic.54 While these categories were overlapping, they were never made fully congruent, as representatives of one nationality did not reside only in their ‘titular’ republics. The UkrSSR was not inhabited exclusively by Ukrainians, and Ukrainians lived in other Soviet republics. Yet the lack of congruence between the ethno-cultural and territorial models did not matter because of the largely symbolic nature of the republican, territorial boundaries. The constitutional fiction of sovereignty made Ukraine’s political community only nominally ‘national’ and fully submerged in the wider community of the Soviet People (Sovietskyi narod). However, once the republican boundaries acquired political significance, this dual conception of a political community could not be sustained and a choice had to be made. The question of what united and turned citizens of independent Ukraine into ‘the people’, and the related questions of attributes of the state, such as state language, symbols, minority rights, proved to be highly sensitive and contentious.

CONCLUSION

36When new states emerge, their apparent newness tends to be underplayed by stressing the historical roots of a new polity; any preceding tradition of statehood, however short and circumstantial, is flagged up in order to boost the historical legitimacy of a new polity and dissipate an image of an artificial construct. Thus, the national past becomes a cognitive point of reference in the renewed process of state building and is often explicitly evoked (most tangibly in the Preamble of constitutions). The predicament of Ukraine was that its different parts had different pasts. As it was variously ruled by other states, such as the Polish– Lithuanian Commonwealth, the tsarist Russia, the Habsburg empire, inter-war Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, prior to 1954 Ukraine did not exist as a state within its current borders under a uniform set of institutions. Moreover, the indigenous tradition of Ukrainian statehood in the pre-communist period was multivocal as was seen by the Ukrainian People’s Republic, Skoropadskyi’s Hetmanate, and the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic. Their existence was cut short by the formation of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The UkrSSR was nominally conceived as a sovereign state, with a fully blown institutional edifice, yet it was a skeleton state with no life of its own and was animated by Moscow. And despite their temporal succession, the UkrSSR was cut off from the traditions of the UNR. Any historical continuity was denied and throughout Soviet rule, the UNR was depicted as a creation of the ‘Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists’, in spite of the socialist and social-democratic orientation of its leaders. Also, in terms of institutional design and Marxist–Leninist ideology, Soviet rule spelled a marked departure from the parliamentary, decentralised, and pluralistic traditions of the UNR. Thus, the twentieth century developments were marred by the kind of discontinuity, which characterised Ukraine’s earlier history. With its multiple and disjointed pasts, there were multiple sources of cognitive reference for constitution-makers in post-Soviet Ukraine. The demise of the USSR posed the question of the historical pedigree of the new state, and made any kind of restoration of pre-communist models in post-Soviet Ukraine onerous. Thus, Ukrainian state building, as reflected in the constitution making which started on the eve of independence, entailed the contest and reconciliation of alternative visions of an idealised political order, which were inspired by different interpretations of the Ukrainian pre-communist and communist past.

Notes

1 The most comprehensive treatment of Ukraine’s history in English can be found in Orest Subtelny, Ukraine. A History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988) and Paul Robert Magocsi, A History of Ukraine (Toronto–Buffalo–London: University of Toronto Press, 1996). A short overview is provided in Roman Szporluk, Ukraine. A Brief History (Detroit MI: Ukraine Festival Committee, 1979), while selected themes are treated in Ivan L. Rudnytsky, Essays in Modern Ukrainian History (Alberta: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 1987). For a compound survey of some writings on Ukraine see David Saunders, ‘Modern Ukrainian History’, European History Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 2 (1991), pp. 81–95.

1 The institution originated in the Paris commune. However, as it was not conducive to the development of representative democracy and party system, it did not take root in Western Europe. The Soviet Union revived the institution in order to emphasise the people’s rule and the supremacy of the will of ‘the people’ over that of elected representatives. For the discussion on the imperative mandate see Petro Martynenko, ‘Parliamentarism: the World Practice and Ukraine’s Searches’, The Ukrainian Quarterly, Vol. LII, No. 4 (Winter 1996), p. 318.

2 Mark von Hagen, ‘Does Ukraine Have a History?’, Slavic Review, Vol. 54, No. 3 (Fall 1995), p. 667.

3 Subtelny, Ukraine. A History, p. 123.

4 Zenon E. Kohut, ‘The Development of a Little Russian Identity and Ukrainian Nation Building’, Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Vol. 10 (1986), pp. 559–76.

5 Zenon E. Kohut, Russian Centralism and Ukrainian Autonomy: Imperial Absorption of the Hetmanate 1760s–1830s (Cambridge MA: Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, 1988).

6 See, for example, Frank E. Sysyn, ‘The Khmelnytsky Uprising and Ukrainian Nation- Building’, Journal of Ukrainian Studies, Vol. 17, No. 1–2 (Summer–Winter 1992) and ‘The Reemergence of the Ukrainian Nation and Cossack Mythology’, Social Research, Vol. 58, No. 4 (Winter 1991), pp. 845–64. pp. 141–70. See also, Andrew Wilson, ‘Myths of National History in Belarus and Ukraine’, in Geoffrey A. Hosking and George Schopflin (eds.), Myths and Nationhood (London: Hurst and Co, 1997), pp. 182–97 and Igor Torbakov, ‘Historiography and Modern Nation-Building’, Transition (6 September 1996). For an example of a study stressing the significance of the Cossack period in the process of Ukrainian state building in post-Soviet Ukraine see Valerii Shevchuk, Kozats’ka derzhava: etiudy do istorii ukrainskoho derzhavotvorenia (The Cossack state: essays on the history of Ukrainian state building) (Kyiv: Abrys, 1995). On the Ukrainian historiography see Stephen Velychenko, National History as Cultural Process (University of Alberta: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 1992).

7 Rudolf Mark, ‘Social Questions and National Revolution: The Ukrainian National Republic in 1919–1920’, Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Vol. XIV, No. 1/2 (June 1990), p. 116.

8 See Ralph Lindheim and George S. N. Luckyi (eds.), Towards an Intellectual History of Ukraine: An Anthology of Ukrainian Thought from 1710 to 1995 (Toronto–Buffalo– London: University of Toronto Press, 1996) and David McDonald, ‘Nationhood and its Discontents: Ukrainian Intellectual History at Empire’s End. A Review Article’, Journal of Ukrainian Studies, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Winter 1998), pp. 105–16.

9 Miroslav Hroch, Social Preconditions of a National Revival in Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985). For a succinct typology of nationalist movements see Miroslav Hroch, ‘From National Movement to the Fully-formed Nation: The Nation Building Process in Europe’, in Gopal Balakrishnan (ed.), Mapping the Nation (London, New York: Verso, 1996), pp. 145–74 and for a comparative table of the developments in national movements see Miroslav Hroch, ‘Nation Self-determination from a Historical Perspective’, Canadian Slavonic Papers, Vol. XXXVII, Nos. 3–4 (Sept 1995), pp. 283–98.

10 See the book review by Roman Szporluk in The Annals of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in the United States, Vol. 14, (1978–1980), p. 270.

11 The impact of the ‘Little Russian’ identity on the formation of modern Ukrainian identity is ambiguous. Kohut argues for a dialectical approach: when the Little Russian identity—defined in political terms—disappeared, the newly formed intelligentsia turned to the masses and focused on cultural activities, a synthesis of political and cultural strands took place. This laid the foundation for a modern Ukrainian nation building. This synthesis was exemplified, according to Kohut, by the writings of such thinkers as Kostomarov, Maksymovych and Kulish. See Kohut, Russian Centralism and Ukrainian Autonomy. For developments in nineteenth century Ukraine in the context of European history see Omeljan Pritsak, ‘Prolegomena to the National Awakening of the Ukrainians during the Nineteenth Century’, in Roland Sussex and J. C. Eade (eds.), Culture and Nationalism in Nineteenth Century (Columbus, Ohio: Slavic Publishers, Inc., 1983), pp. 96–110.

12 Krawchenko, ‘The Social Structure’, pp. 97–112.

13 On the process of language development in Ukraine see George Shevelov, ‘The Language Question in the Ukraine in the Twentieth Century (1900–1941)’, Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Vol. X, No. 1/2 (June 1986), pp. 71–170.

14 ‘Western Ukraine’ can be understood as ‘Eastern Galicia’ under Austro–Hungary, or more broadly including also Bukovina and Transcarpathia. The second meaning is usually used when denoting parts of Ukraine excluded from the Russian state in the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century. John-Paul Himka, ‘Western Ukraine between the Wars’, Canadian Slavonic Papers, Vol. 34 (December 1992), pp. 391–412.

15 On the formative influences of Poland (and Russia) on the formation of the modern Ukrainian nation and state see Roman Szporluk, ‘Ukraine: From an Imperial Periphery to a Sovereign State’, Daedalus, Vol. 126, No. 3 (1997), pp. 85–119.

16 On developments in Galicia in the nineteenth century see, for example, Andrei Markovits and Frank Sysyn (eds.), Nationbuilding and the Politics of Nationalism: Essays on Austrian Galicia (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1982); Paul Robert Magocsi, ‘A Subordinate or Submerged People: The Ukrainians of Galicia under Habsburg Empire’, in Richard L. Rudolph and David F. Good (eds.), Nationalism and Empire: The Habsburg Empire and the Soviet Union (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1992), pp. 95–108; Theodore Bohdan Ciuciura, ‘Galicia and Bukovina as Austrian Crown Provinces: Ukrainian Experience in Representative Institutions, 1861–1918’, Studia Ucrainica, Vol. 5 (1984), pp. 175–95; John-Paul Himka, ‘The Greek Catholic Church and Nation Building in Galicia, 1772–1918’, Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Vol. 8, No. 3/4 (December 1984), pp. 426–52; and John-Paul Himka, Galician Villagers and the Ukrainian National Movement in the Nineteenth Century (Alberta: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 1988).

17 The Rada represented Ukrainian parties, the most important of which were the peasant- oriented Ukrainian Party of Social-Revolutionaries, the Marxist Ukrainian Party of Social Democrats, and the Ukrainian Party of Socialist-Federalists, which grouped liberal intelligentsia.

18 In the Declaration of July 1917, the Provisional Government recognised Ukrainian autonomy, although its August ‘Instruction’ limited the autonomous territory of Ukraine to five provinces and circumvented the powers of the Rada’s executive body Generalnyi Sekretariat.

19 Ivan L. Rudnytsky, ‘The Fourth Universal and Its Ideological Antecedents’, in Taras Hunchak (ed.), The Ukraine, 1917–1921: A Study in Revolution (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1977), p. 201.

20 On the strength of the Bolshevik forces in Kyiv during the revolution see, for example, Leszek Podhorodecki, Dzieje Kijowa (A history of Kyiv) (Warsaw, 1982), pp. 209–235.

21 For an account of the revolution in Ukraine see John Resheter, The Ukrainian Revolution, 1917–1920 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1952); Taras Hunchak (ed.), The Ukraine: 1917–1921: A Study in Revolution (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, 1977).; Richard Pipes, The Formation of the Soviet Union: Communism and Nationalism, 1917–1923 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1957).

22 Rudolf Mark, ‘Social Questions and National Revolution: The Ukrainian National Republic in 1919–1920’, Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Vol. XIV, No. 1/2 (June 1990), pp. 114–31. S. Guthier, ‘The Popular Basis of Ukrainian Nationalism in 1917’, Slavic Review, Vol. 38, No. 1 (March 1979), pp. 30–47; and Krawchenko, ‘The Social Structure’, pp. 97–112.

23 On the fate of the unified Ukrainian state see Jan Jacek Bruski, ‘Miedzy sobornoscia a separatyzmem. Funkcjonowanie i rozpad Ukrainiskiej Federacji Galicyjsko- Naddnieprzanskiej, 1918–1919 (Between sobornist’ and separatism: the functioning and fall of the Galician-Dnieper Federation, 1918–1919)’, in Irena Stawowy-Kawka and Wojciech Rajka (eds.), Ku zjednoczonej Europie (in Polish) (Krakow: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellonskiego, 1997), pp. 37–52. On the ideological differences between the leaders of the UNR and ZUNR see Alexander J. Motyl, The Turn to the Right: The Ideological Origins and Development of Ukrainian Nationalism, 1919–1929 (Boulder: East European Monographs, 1980).

24 The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed in January 1919 in Kharkiv on the basis of the short-lived Kryvyi-Rih–Donbas Soviet republic.

25 The Council of Foreign Ministers of the Allies sanctioned the temporary right of Poland to Eastern Galicia (up to the river Zbruch) under the condition that Poland would grant territorial autonomy to Galicia, protect religious and political freedom and that the final decision will be taken on the basis of a plebiscite. In November 1919, Poland was granted the right to Galicia for 25 years and the newly formed League of Nations was to decide about the future of Galicia. Soon however, this decision was changed and status of Galicia was finally decided only in March 1923, when the sovereignty of Poland was confirmed. On the inter-war period see John- Paul Himka, ‘Western Ukraine between the Wars’, Canadian Slavonic Papers, Vol. 34 (December 1992), pp. 391–412 and Volodymyr Kubijovych, Western Ukraine within Poland, 1920–1939 (Chicago: Ukrainian Research and Information Institute, 1963).

26 Motyl, The Turn to the Right and John A. Amstrong, Ukrainian Nationalism, 2nd ed. (Engelwood, Colo: Ukrainian Academic Press, 1990).

27 This view was most fully elaborated in a collection of essays, Hunchak, The Ukraine: 1917–1921 and Guthier, ‘The Popular Basis of Ukrainian Nationalism in 1917’.

28 For works stressing this factor see the essay on Vynnychenko in Rudnytsky, Essays in Modern Ukrainian History. On the divisions amongst the Ukrainian parties see also Motyl, The Turn to the Right. While a plethora of parties, movements and groupings emerged in revolutionary Ukraine, the Ukrainian elites were divided themselves on the question of the priority of the national vis-à-vis the social cause. Giving priority to social revolution, the left-wing of the social-democrats was willing to side with the Bolsheviks, whereas the right-wing refused to sacrifice the national liberation.

29 Alexander J. Motyl, Sovietology, Rationality, Nationality: Coming to Grips with Nationalism in the USSR (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), chapter 7. On the general discussion of the causes see also Yaroslav Hrytsak, Narys istorii Ukrainy: formuvania modernoi ukrains’koi natsii XIX–XX stolittia (A brief history of Ukraine: the formation of a modern Ukrainian nation) (Kyiv, 1996), pp. 159– 165.

30 The texts of the constitutional documents for the period 1917–1920 were published in Konstytutsiini akty Ukrainy, 1917–1920 (The constitutional acts of Ukraine) (Kyiv, 1992) and A. Sliusarenko and M. Tomenko (eds.), Istoria ukrains’koi konstytutsii (A history of Ukrainian constitutions) (Kyiv, 1997).

31 Hrytsak, Narys istorii Ukrainy, p. 129.

32 Seats in the parliament would be allocated in the following way: Ukrainians 70 percent, Poles 14.6 percent, Jews 11.9 percent, and Germans 2.7 percent.

33 Rudnytsky, ‘The Fourth Universal’, p. 208.

34 A parliamentary republic was advocated by all left-wing and centrist parties, including the Ukrainian Party of Social-Revolutionaries and the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Party which were the main parties of the Tsentralna Rada, while the latter dominated the Dyrektoriat.

35 ‘Being tested’ is the criterion which for Sokolewicz determines the (in)desirability of restoring pre-communist models. See Wojciech Sokolewicz, ‘The Relevance of Western Models for Constitution Building in Poland’, in Joachim Jens Hesse and Nevil Johnson (eds.), Constitutional Policy and Change in Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 251.

36 On the ideas of Mykhailo Drahomanov see ‘Drahomanov as a Political Theorist’ in Rudnytsky, Essays in Modern Ukrainian History, pp. 203–254.

37 An English language translation of the ‘Free Union’ was published in Ivan L. Rudnytsky (ed.), Mykhaylo Drahomanov. A Symposium and Selected Writings (The Annals of the Ukrainian Academy, New York, 1952), pp. 193–205.

38 Sliusarenko and Tomenko, Istoria ukrainskoi konstytutsii, p. 105.

39 The Tsentralna Rada essentially retained the tsarist territorial division, although gubernias were renamed zemli. Skoropadskyi reverted to the gubernias, the Dyrektoriat reinstated the zemli.

40 However, the territorial model envisaged in the draft Constitution of 1918 was interpreted also as federal. See for example, Oleksandr Kopylenko, De shukaty koreni? (Where to find the roots?), Uriadovyi Kurier, 30 April 1996, p. 6.

41 Bruski, ‘Miedzy sobornoscia a separatyzmem’, p. 51.

42 Mykola Tomenko, Ukrainska perspektyva: istoryko-politolohichni pidstavy suchasnoi derzhavnoi stratehii (A Ukrainian perspective: the historical-political foundation of contemporary state strategy) (Kyiv, 1995), p. 47.

43 Rudnytsky, Essays in Modern Ukrainian History, p. 464.

44 L. Aryeh Unger, Constitutional Developments in the USSR: a Guide to the Soviet Constitutions (London: Methuen, 1981).

45 Sliusarenko and Tomenko, Istoria ukrains’koi konstytutsii, p. 174.

46 Samuel N. Harper and Ronald Thompson, The Government of the Soviet Union, 2nd ed. (Toronto: D.Van Nostrand Company, 1952), p. 101.

47 Archie Brown (ed.), New Thinking in Soviet Politics (Houndmills and London: Macmillan, 1992), p. 20.

48 Loewenstein, ‘Reflections on the Value of Constitutions in Our Revolutionary Age’, p. 153.

49 Western parliamentarism is an ideal type system, as it takes different forms, as for example, the one based on proportional representation and the Westminster model. Thus, only the most general characteristics, which are intrinsic to parliamentarism in general, will be concentrated on.

50 In 1925 Southern Kursk and Voronezh, as well as Taganrog and Shaklty regions were transferred to Russia. Roman Laba, ‘The Russian–Ukrainian Conflict: State, Nation and Identity’, European Security, Vol. 4, No. 3 (Autumn 1995), pp. 457–87.

51 Yaroslav Bilinsky, ‘The Incorporation of Western Ukraine and Its Impact on Politics and Society in Soviet Ukraine’, in Roman Szporluk (ed.), The Influence of East Europe and the Soviet West on the USSR (New York: Praeger, 1976).

52 Before its annexation in 1939 Eastern Galicia’s territorial division was inherited from the Habsburg empire, in Volynia the territorial units originated in the 1864 territorial reform in Tsarist Russia, while Bukovina became part of the Romanian territorial system.

53 The administrative structure of the Ukrainian SSR was defined in ‘The Act on the Order of Resolving Issues of Administrative–Territorial Structure of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic’ adopted by the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic on March, 12, 1981.

54 Rogers Brubaker, Nationalism Reframed (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), chapter 2.

Table des illustrations

Titre Table 2.1. A Comparison of the System of Soviets and Western Parliamentarism
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