Decline of Ukrainian statehood and culture (1712-1783)

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Lipich Vitalii

Form 11-V

School 1

Lutsk — 2002

After defeat of Mazepa, tsar Peter intensified his efforts to

subjugate Ukraine. Hetman Skoropadskyi had his powers restricted by

Russian supervisors. His residence was transferred from Baturyn to

Hlukhow near Russian border, where two Russian garrisons were stationed

to ensure his loyalty to Moscow.

Ukrainian population became burdened by plundering Russian military

units, dispersed throughout the country. Cossacks were sent to work on

construction of canals near St Petersburg, connecting river Volga with

Baltic Sea, where they died in thousands from hunger, exhaustion and

sickness. Many Cossack colonels were replaced by Russian nationals.

In 1722, tsar appointed a council called «Little Russian

Collegiate ", controlled by senior Russian officers and headed by

brigadier Velmyaninow, to monitor and audit hetman «s activities and

decisions. This, for practical purposes, transferred all powers to

Russians, leaving Cossack hetman and his officers only with empty


Hetman Skoropadskyi was very upset by such situation; he became ill

and died in 1722. tsar Peter used this opportunity to abolish the

office of hetman altogether. He directed Cossack colonel Polubotok to

perform hetman «s duties under supervision of Velmyaninow and refused to

agree to Cossack requests to elect new hetman.

Russian occupiers continued to persecute and impoverish Ukrainian

population. They kept sending more Cossacks to work on construction of

canals, connecting Caspian Sea with Baltic Sea, where some 20 000

Cossacks perished during years 1721 to 1725.

Polubotok was an honest and energetic man. He managed to improve

law and order within Cossack establishment and to improve living

conditions of the population. However this did not please Russian

authorities, who relied on disorder and corruption to maintain their

grip on Ukraine. They feared Polubotok «s growing popularity and his

efforts to re establish Hetmanate.

Velmyaninow complained to tsar that Polubotok was not complying

with his directives. Consequently Polubotok was arrested and

interrogated under torture in Petropavlowsk fort, near St Petersburg.

He died there, as a martyr for Ukrainian cause in autumn 1724, in spite

of tsar «s belated efforts to save him and to reconcile with Cossacks.

tsar Peter died soon after, at the beginning of year 1725.

Ukraine was thus left at the mercy of Velmyaninow and his henchmen.

As for Cossack colonels, some were in prison near St Petersburg and

others, who were not already replaced by Russians, kept quiet and to

scared to resist.

tsar Peter was succeeded by his wife Catherine. Faced with possible

war with Turkey, she needed Cossacks and wanted to return to them some

of their former freedoms. However she faced a stiff opposition from the

" old guard «in Russian government, therefore Cossacks received only few

minor concessions. Catherine died in spring 1727 and the grandson of

tsar Peter, Peter II became the emperor of Russia.

The new Russian government sacked Velmyaninow and his «Little

Russian Collegiate ", released Cossack colonels from jail and appointed

70 year old Danylo Apostol as Cossack hetman. On 1st October 1727

Apostol was formally accepted by Cossacks by ceremonious election in


Although reporting to Russian «resident «Naumow, new hetman managed

to carry out considerable improvements in Ukrainian situation. His

loyalty to Moscow was ensured by presence of one of his sons as virtual

hostage in St Petersburg.

tsar Peter II died in 1730 and his aunt tsarina Anna became the

ruler of Russia. When hetman Apostol fell ill and became paralyzed, she

refused to hand over his powers to Cossacks and ordered Russian

" resident ", prince Shakhowski to form a council, consisting mainly of

Russians, to take over. Hetman Apostol died in January 1734 and later

in that year Zaporozhtsi in Sitch decided to come over from Turkish to

Russian side.

With Ukraine becoming almost a province of Russia, russianization

of political, religious and cultural life intensified. Intermarriages

with Russians were encouraged and any efforts to regain independence

were brutally suppressed. Cossack colonels were kept under constant

observation and subjected to house Searches at the slightest sign of

disloyalty. Even any attempts to obtain justice were punished; when, in

1737, Kyiv «s city counselors tried to defend their rights against

Russian excesses, they were all jailed. Things were so bad, that when

in 1740 an English general Keith was temporarily appointed in place of a

Russian administrator, people were amazed by his human behavior and


Times were hard for the top layer of Ukrainian society, but even

harder for middle and lower classes and peasants, who suffered most from

Russian exploitation. Cossacks were being forced to fight for Russia

against Turks, Tatars and Poles for small rewards, and often for


Under such circumstances, yearning for the return of Hetmanate

autonomy persisted. The possibility of this to happen occurred after

the end of war with Turkey in 1740 and death of tsarina Anna in 1741. A

short regency of Anna II was terminated by a palace revolution,

whereupon the daughter of Peter I, Elizabeth was installed on Russian


Elizabeth was sympathetic to Ukrainian cause because, prior to

becoming tsarina, she befriended and fell in love with a handsome son of

a Cossack court choir singer, Oleksiy Rozumowskyi. She married him

after her coronation.

While visiting Kyiv in 1744, she agreed to promote Cossacks «

request to re install hetman «s office and proposed Oleksiy «s younger

brother Kyrylo Rozumowskyi for this position.

Twenty year old Kyrylo, who studied abroad, returned in 1746,

married into royal family and was bestowed with many orders and titles.

In 1747 Russian senate was requested to take steps toward re

establishment of Hetmanate.

In February 1750, ceremonious formality of election of new Cossack

hetman took place in Hlukhow, followed by celebrations and festivities.

In spring of 1751 hetman Kyrylo Rozumowskyi, again with great ceremony

and parade was installed as hetman.

Unfortunately, being brought up in St Petersburg, Rozumowskyi was a

stranger to Ukraine and ways of life there. His Russian advisor Teplow

was unsympathetic to Ukraine «s newly won autonomy and did all he could

to hinder its development. Rozumowskyi himself was bored with life in

Ukraine and preferred to spend most of his time in St Petersburg.

It could be said that, during this period, Ukraine was divided into

several parts such as Left Bank consisting of Hetmanate and

Slobidshchyna, Zaporozhian Sich, Right Bank, Halychyna (Galicia),

Wolhynia, Bukovyna and Transcarpatia.

The Hetmanate included areas around Poltava, Lubny, Peryaslav,

Kyiv, Nizhyn, Chernihiv, Hlukhiv and also areas, which are at present

parts of Russian Federation, around Starodub, Pochep and Mhlyn.

The neighboring areas centered around Kharkiv were called

Slobidshchyna meaning free (from serfdom) lands also referred to as

Sloboda Ukraine. They included Izyum, Balakleya, Akhtyrka, Sumy and,

presently Russian areas around Bilhorod, Ostrohozhsk and Sudza.

Originally these lands were settled by adventurous people, who tried to

establish themselves free from Polish and Russian domination. They

formed Cossack regiments for protection from Tatars and for some time

were able to lead an independent life, because they served as a buffer

from Turks and Tatars. However later they fell under direct Russian

rule; the autonomy of Loboda Ukraine was abolished under Catherine II

in 1765.

To ensure lasting domination over these two parts of Ukraine,

Russians tried to suppress Ukrainian culture. They disallowed Ukrainian

language in books, schools and theaters. The church and government were

controlled by Moscow and the only way for a person to advance was to

speak Russian and to be loyal to Moscow.

While Ukraine on the east side of Dnipro (Left Bank) was being

russianized, the western Ukraine consisting of Galicia Wolhynia and

Bukovyna (areas around Lviv, Ternopil Lutsk and Chernivtsi) was under

Polish influence. Polish authorities were preventing not only national,

but also economic development of Ukrainians. The Orthodox Church was

being gradually taken over by Polish dominated Catholic Church.

Between western Ukraine and, Russian dominated, parts on east side

of Dnipro was a large territory on Right Bank, partly de-populated by

recent wars involving Cossacks, Poles, Russians, Turks and Tatars.

Gradually, Polish nobility began to return, reclaimed their landholdings

and started to exploit Ukrainian peasants as serfs. The resistance to

this, at first, was in the form of outlaw gangs, said to have robbed the

rich to help the poor. Some of the gang leaders were even considered as

folk heroes, such as Olexa Dowbush, who operated between 1738 and 1745.

There were also uprisings by so called Haydamaks, generally during

hostilities between Poland and Russia. The biggest uprising was in

1768. Haydamaks, led by Maxym Zaliznyak and Ivan Honta, captured Umanj

and killed many Polish oppressors and their Jewish collaborators. They

expected help from their Orthodox «brothers «from Russia. However

Russians made peace with Poland, captured Zaliznyak, Honta and many

other Haydamaks handed them over to Poles. Those, who were not

immediately tortured and executed, were tried in Kodno and sentenced, in

most cases, to death.

The Transcarpathian Ukraine (areas around Uzhhorod and Mukachiv)

was under Hungarian rule. Overwhelmingly rural in character

Transcarpathia had a Ukrainian — Ruthenian peasantry, a powerful

Hungarian nobility and a substantial number of urban and rural Jews.

Ukrainian population there did not display much enthusiasm for

independence but managed to retain their language, customs and religion.

Cancellation of Hetmanate was decided by tsarina Catering II, who

ruled Russia from 1762, after short reign of her husband Peter III.

Hetman Rozumovskyi resigned and, in his place, on November 1764, tsarina

re installed «Little Russian Collegiate », under presidency of Graf


Rumyantsev «s policy was to eliminate all remaining traces of

Ukrainian autonomy and separatism, to introduce serfdom of peasants and

to integrate Ukraine with Russia. This was resisted by Cossacks and

population at large.

In 1767 tsarina ordered election of deputies from all parts of

Russian Empire in order to be informed what kind of government people

want. The deputies from Ukraine declared their desire for Hetmanate

autonomy. This angered Rumyantsev and he sent out his officers to

persuade electors to elect deputies supporting his government; people

who resisted were jailed. However in spite of all efforts of Russian

authorities, the popular sentiment for return of Hetmanate system


In 1772 Galicia and, two years later, Bukovina were annexed to

Austro Hungarian Monarchy, which has somewhat improved conditions of

Ukrainians (Ruthenians in the contemporary terminology of Galicia).

In 1774 the Uniate church (renamed to Greek Catholic church) was, by

imperial decree, equalized in status with Roman Catholic church.

Educational reforms in 1775 allowed for instructions in Ukrainian

language. However on balance government policies favored the Poles.

The Cossack stronghold, Zaporozhian Sitch, was subservient to

Moscow and was utilized for raids on Crimea and Turkey. During Turkish

war, which started in 1768, several thousand Cossacks supported Russians

in battles on land and Sea. Their efforts were rewarded by eulogies

from tsarina but little else and restrictions of Cossack freedoms

continued. Their lands were being colonized by Russians, Serbians and

other foreigners with aim of creation of so called Novorossiya or New

Russia state in the south of Ukraine.

After end of Turkish war in 1775 the Cossacks were being gradually

disarmed and in the Summer of that year, Russian general Tekeli

surrounded Cossacks in Sitch itself with superior force and demanded

abandonment of their fortress. Faced with such overwhelming odds,

Cossack chief Kalnyshevskyj surrendered. Sitch was destroyed and

abolished by tzarist edict of 3rd August 1775. Kalnyshevskyj and other

Cossack leaders were exiled to Siberia.

The Cossack lands were granted to Russian nobles; Cossacks were

told to disperse and settle in towns and villages or to join Russian

forces. Many Cossacks escaped and settled in Turkey near Danube delta;

in 1778 they were formally accepted under Turkish rule.

By end of 1780 all districts, which were formerly under Hetmanate,

were incorporated into Russian regime. In 1783 all Cossack regiments

were transferred to Russian forces; peasants were prohibited to leave

their landlords, which made them serfs on their former land. Ukrainian

church autonomy was abolished and church property was transferred to

Russian treasury.

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