Stories from Oles Buzina: The end the unequal marriage of Galicia and Ukraine


Fine city of Lviv. Does it want to be a capital of the dwarf Western Ukrainian Republic? 

March 4, 2017 – Fort Russ News– Translated by Kristina Kharlova 

Published: April 4, 2015 

This five year old article by Oles has not previously been published online. It sheds light on the background of the current dramatic events and their historical causes. Facts, facts and nothing but the bare facts, which Oles Buzina so brilliantly arranged into slender ranks. From the files for June 5, 2010.

Ukrainian historian and author Oles Buzina was killed by Ukrainian radicals on April 16, 2015 

I wouldn’t touch this painful issue, if not for the scandalous revelations of the former minister of internal affairs Yury Lutsenko spread through the media. 

“Ordinary people living in Western Ukraine, are now actively discussing the necessity of dividing the country, he said. — This weekend I was in Western Ukraine — in Ternopil, Lviv, was in Lutsk, Rivne. I saw the situation on the ground. I was mostly in bookstores and talked with the salespeople. Never before have I seen such tension and a volume of questions: “Isn’t it time to divide the country?” Today, there are talks that the country cannot live divided wall against wall — either we make up, or break up. God forbid politicians talk about this, but ordinary people are talking.”

I wonder what would the tough minister Yura say, if something similar was voiced five years ago by some of the politicians in Eastern Ukraine in the days when the “orange authorities” threw thunder and lightning at Severodonetsk Congress, and Lutsenko called supporters of not just break up, but even harmless federalism only as “federasts” [rhyming with a derogatory term – KK]? Who would have thought that the long tongue of Yury Vitalyevich will lead him so far from the capital of Kiev? And not just into opposition, but almost separatism!

And yet it is not just about the fondness of idle chatter in Ternopil bookstores of one former official. For the first time I had to face the ghost of Galician separatism in the spring of 2003 during a visit to Lviv. The fence on one of the main streets said with large Latin letters in white paint: “Freedom to Galicia!”. I immediately remembered some Western-Ukrainian Newspapers rationalizing proposals to switch the Ukrainian language from backward Orthodox Cyrillic to cutting edge Western Latin alphabet

It was at the end of Kuchma reign which ended with the great “Orange” spectacle. Returning from Lvov, I found myself in the company of Galician “immigrants” in Kiev, and shared with them my observations on visits to their homeland. One of them with rings up his nose, like a Papuan, then a rock musician, and later a famous TV host with proper euro-orientation who for five years will be throwing his “two cents” at one of the ‘most honest’ TV channels, explained to me: “We have in Galicia a great disappointment and even an inclination towards separation if everything keeps going this way!”

It was a spring of 2003. Quitely, but confidently marched Kuchma’s ukrainization (read — “galicinization”), pushing Russian language from schools, new Mazepa-Bandera “hero” legends were fabricated, which in a couple of years will become monuments. And if this march has not yet looked like a sweeping swing of Yushchenko, but everything was unfolding for the benefit of my Galician friend, and not, say, a Donetsk miner, a resident of Odessa or me – disgraced Kiev writer, paying for these cultural “experiments” on myself. I thought then: What more do you want? Latin alphabet?

People in the West and the East of our country are really very different. How much did the culture police from Western Ukraine complained that they were “improper” Ukrainians! And how painful for Galicia was the response article of Dmytry Tabachnyk, who said that Little Russian Ukrainians and Galician Ukrainians — are two different nations.

This division is old. Just in our official historiography, it has long been a taboo. The founders of Ukrainian nationalism, formulated their project of single indivisible Ukraine on the border of XIX—XX centuries, at a time when its future territory was divided between the two major Eastern-European empires. They referred to a theoretical postulate that people from Galicia and the Dniper region — are one people, separated only by the ill will of the Austrian and Russian emperors. And that their eternal dream — to live in one common country “from Syan to Don”, where dawns are clear and waters are still, the Carpathian mountains and the wide Dniper, steppes with Zaporozhian Cossacks and meadows with dancing gutsuls.

This perfect utopia did not fit the reality that from the mid-seventeenth century Galicia and Ukraine had no common history. The split between them occurred during the uprising of Bogdan Khmelnitsky. The concept of “Ukrainians” did not yet exist. The entire Orthodox population of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth called themselves Rusyns. The Rusyns of East supported Bogdan and chose Moscow orientation. Galician Rusyns [or Ruthenians as they were called in Europe – FR] remained with the Polish king. Soon the spilt was cemented by a religious schism. At the end of the XVII century, the last Orthodox Bishop of Lviv, Joseph Shumlyansky transferred his diocese into the Uniate. 

Orthodox Wiki:

The Union of Brest was the 1595-1596 decision of a number of Orthodox bishops in the region of what is modern Ukraine, Poland and Belarus (“Rus'”) to depart from the Orthodox Church and place themselves under the Pope of Rome. Thus was formed the Unia, from whence derives the term Uniate.

The hierarchs of the Kievan church gathered in synod in the city of Brest to compose the union’s 33 articles, which were then accepted by the Roman Catholic pope. At first widely successful, within several decades it lost much of its initial support. In Austrian Galicia, however, the church fared well and remains strong to this day, most notably in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. 

The union was strongly supported by the king of Poland and grand duke of Lithuania, Sigismund III Vasa, but opposed by some bishops and prominent nobles of Rus’ and perhaps most importantly by the nascent Cossack movement for Ukrainian self-rule. The result was “Rus’ fighting against Rus'” and the splitting of many traditionally Orthodox Christian people from their ancestral Church. 

A large area in the southwest of the Rusyn Empire became absorbed by Lithuania and Poland after the destruction of Kievan power by the Tartars. This southwestern part of Rus’ was known as Little Rus’ (which in Latin became know as Ruthenia); this is the territory that is present day Ukraine. In 1386, the kingdoms of Poland and Lithuania were united under a single ruler. The monarch of the united realm was Roman Catholic, and a substantial minority of the population were Orthodox. These Orthodox were in a difficult situation because the Patriarch of Constantinople, to whose jurisdiction they belonged, could exercise no control in Poland, as the former Byzantine capital had fallen to the Muslim Turks. The bishops were appointed not by the Church but by the Roman Catholic king of Poland. 

The authorities in Poland always tried to make the Orthodox submit to the pope to reunify Christianity. With the arrival of the Jesuits in 1564, pressure on the Orthodox increased. The state of the church in the area was poor; clergy were uneducated and the bishops were without the funds they needed to properly run the church. Many priests were ordained without basic training and new rites were developing that were neither Latin nor Greek in their character. Constantinople was under Muslim rule and Moscow had recently been elevated to the status of patriarchate. The bishops of the Rus’ were stuck between a population converting to Roman Catholicism on the West and a rising Muscovite force in the East. 

At the synod in Brest six out of eight Orthodox bishops—including the Metropolitan of Kiev, Michael Ragoza—supported the union, but the remaining three bishops from the extreme west of Ukraine and eastern Poland (Lviv, Lutsk, and Przemyśl) would not join the union until later (1700, 1702, and 1693 respectively). The Cossack forces of Ukraine felt the union was a betrayal to the Polish rulers and united with the Russian Empire to fight against Poland and all who supported the empire, including the Greek-Catholics. 

In 1620 Patriarch Theophanes III of Jerusalem arrived in Kiev and consecrated an Orthodox hierarchy, including Job (Boretsky) as Metropolitan of Kiev, for the church and thus there emerged a situation of both Orthodox and Eastern Catholic bishops coexisting in the same territory in Ukraine from that point onwards.

At the same time, Eastern Ukraine did not only preserve Orthodoxy, but also provided the bulk of Church patriarchs for the Russian Orthodox Church (according to contemporary German historian Andreas Kappeler, “60% of Russian bishops arrived from Ukraine”. While the Little Russians — the ancestors of modern Ukrainians — actively participated in the creation of the Russian Empire, becoming field marshals, ministers and world-famous writers, Galician Rusyns gradually turned into strangers. The Austrian government, receiving this land after the partition of Poland found this the most numerous and also the most backward ethnographic element of the region, living under the rule of Polish landlords, only represented “by serfs and priests”.

“Tyroleans of the East”

Under the influence of the cultural Renaissance in Little Russia — the appearance of such writers as Kotliarevsky, Kvitka-Osnovyanenko, Shevchenko, whose works have seeped through the Russian border into Galicia, prompted a search for “roots” and answers to questions: Who are we and where are we from? This gave rise to a hot ideological debate. Now they prefer not to remember that even in the beginning of XX century among the Greek-Catholic population of Galicia, there were three ethnic identities. Some Galicians considered themselves a common people with the Little Russians of the Russian Empire. Others (so-called “muscophiles”) argued that they are Russian — the same as in Moscow or Kostroma, only “spoiled” by centuries-old Polish-Austrian rule. And the third — those view has been voiced by Lutsenko, came to the conclusion that they are not Great Russians, and not the Little Russians, but just Galicians — a separate nation with a special historical destiny. 

Overall, despite these differences, Galicians remained deeply loyal to the Austrian court, hoping only for the protection of a “great Ceasar” in their age-old regional conflict with the Poles, dominating in the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria. They even earned a nickname from Vienna “Tyroleans of the East” — not for Aryan origin, but for demonstrative exalted devotion to the Emperor of Austria, characteristic of the natives of German-speaking Tyrol, the most German region of the multinational Austro-Hungarian Empire. By the way, up to 1918 there was not even a concept of Western Ukraine — the territory was called in the German manner as Galicia, or Red Russia.

Little Russia, 1904 

KK: It seems like the Red Russians (Galicians) have gotten lost along the path of the search for their roots, while Little Russians were quite content with the legacy they have amassed together with the Great Russians. In today’s Ukraine Galician-Bandera-Volyn massacre identity is being shoved down the throats of Little Russians through TV screens. The problem is Little Russians don’t share genetic Galican inferiority complex which always need an enemy to feed it’s appetite. Will Galicians succeed in forcing the Little Russians to reject their identity? Stay tuned…

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