Polish Factors in Right-Bank Ukraine
from the Nineteenth to the Early Twentieth Century
Copyright (c) 1998 by the Slavic Research Center. All rights reserved.
The Revolution of 1917 completely changed the ethnic features of Right-Bank Ukraine. First, it eliminated the Polish landed nobility which dominated this region even after the division of the Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita) at the end of the eighteenth century. The remaining Polish population in Right-Bank Ukraine, having lost their own ethnic elite, were inevitably ukrainianized during this century. Second, the restrictive settlement policy (cherta osedlosti) for the Jewish population, another dominant ethnic group in the region, was abolished, and a significant number of Jews emigrated to the central part of the Soviet Union. Third, according to the Leninist principle of self-determination, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was created and Ukrainians were de jure declared to be the "representative nation" of this region. Thus, for the first time after the Unification of Lublin (1569) Eastern Slavs became the dominant ethnic groups, politically and socially, in Right-Bank Ukraine. Paradoxically, as Ukrainians were emancipated from Polish and Jewish exploitation, the animosity between the same Eastern Slavs, i.e., Ukrainians and Russians, came to the fore. The annexation of Galicia by the Stalinist Soviet Union and the "exchange of the populations" (deportation of the Polish population from Galicia to the Republic of Poland) in 1947 completed a historical cycle which had begun with the Pereiaslav Agreement (1654), and the original raison d'etre for the "union" between Russians and Ukrainians ceased to exist.
The ethnic features of Right-Bank Ukraine in the nineteenth century have been misunderstood, since the post-1917 paradigm of "Ukrainians v.s. Russians" (both insignificant ethnic groups in this region before 1917) has been retrospectively given to that century. According to the 1897 census, however, Russian speakers made up only 3.5 % of the total population of Volyn province, 3.3% of Podoliia province, and 5.9% of Kiev province. It is obvious that only an insignificant number of Russians lived on the western side of the Dnepr, even after more than a century since the division of the Rzeczpospolita. Few realize that Right-Bank Ukraine had been a center of Polish literature during the first half of the nineteenth century and a vigorous eastern front of the Catholic expansion throughout the century. It is difficult to understand why both the Russian nationalist parties in Right-Bank Ukraine in the late Imperial period, and the officer corps of the Denikin Army - neither of which recognized the very existence of the "Ukrainian problem" - consisted mostly of ethnic Ukrainians, if we ignore the predominance of Poles and Jews in this region before the 1917 Revolution.
Ukrainian studies in the West have been monopolized by the Ukrainian diaspora, which for understandable reasons did not pay sufficient attention to Polish factors in Ukrainian history. Soviet historiography also - probably because the USSR and Poland were allies under socialism - refrained from analyzing conflicts between Polish landowners and Ukrainian serfs (or peasants, afterwards) from the ethnic point of view, only regarding them in terms of class struggle. As a result, the fate of Poles in Right-Bank Ukraine has been more or less studied only in the Republic of Poland. Unfortunately, nationalist propaganda in independent Ukraine has aggravated the situation. In post-communist Ukrainian historiography Ukrainian history appears to be confused with the history of Ukrainians, and the latter is confused with the history of Ukrainian nationalist movements. Recent important studies of Poles in the modern Right-Bank Ukraine are: Le Noble, le Serf et le Revizor. La noblesse polonaise entre le tsarisme et les masses ukrainiennes (1831-1863) by Daniel Beauvois (Lille, 1985); a Ph. D dissertation by Witold Rodkievicz, "Russian Nationality Policy in the Western Provinces of the Empire During the Reign of Nicholas II, 1894-1905" (Harvard University, 1996); and a doctoral candidate dissertation by Nadiia Shcherbak "Natsional'na polityka tsaryzmu u pravoberezhnii Ukraini v kintsi XIX - na pochatku XX st. Za materialamy zvitiv mistsevykh derzhavnykh ustanov [Tsarism's Nationality Policy in Right-Bank Ukraine from the End of Nineteenth to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century - Based on Reports by Local State Institutions]" (Kiev University, 1995). Affected by the paradigm of "prison of nations," the last one analyzes tsarist policies on Ukrainians, Poles, and Jews only separately. In my view, however, it is impossible to understand any nationality policy, if we neglect the relations between the nationalities in the region.
The paradigm of "prison of nations" in studying modern empires is seriously challenged. As for the Russian Empire, John P. LeDonne remarked that it could only expand by incorporating the ruling elite of surrounding nations into the imperial ruling estate. Second, while the paradigm of "prison of nations" perceives the Russian Empire as a "cone" with Great Russians at its apex and the ruled nations at the base, Andreas Kappeler argues that the hierarchy of empire was more complicated and multi-dimensional. He noticed three dimensions, i.e., political loyalty, estate principle, and cultural distance from Great Russians, which determined the place of each ethnic group in this hierarchy. Simplifying Kappeler's argument, we can contrast the "tree" model with the traditional "cone" one for explaining the ethnic structure of the Russian Empire.
Figure 1. Two models for explaining the ethnic structure of the Russian Empire
The cosmology of the Russian Empire was distinguished, for example, from the Habsburg one since the former took it for granted that the Empire, because of its western expansion, had incorporated such ethnic groups as had a more developed statehood than Great Russians did. However, this notion of inferiority did not always work against taking risks of expansion but, on the contrary, led Great Russians to such an assertion that "our civilization is undeveloped and crude, but therefore young and vigorous. It is thus legitimate to expand toward the West and rule such developed nations as Poles and Baltic Germans."
The third position criticizing the "prison of nations" model, typically presented by Raymond Pearson, argues that "russification" in the sense of ethnic assimilation of non-Eastern Slavs was unfeasible since the tsarist regime "possessed neither the totalitarian ambition nor the modern resources" for this purpose. "Russification" meant nothing more than increasing the "hegemony of the Russian language, culture and institutions." Then, how could the Russian Empire govern its Western provinces despite its low technology of public administration and the socio-political inferiority of Eastern Slavs in the region? In my view, the only possible way was to "divide and rule" or to adopt "ethnic Bonapartism." The tsarist government provoked Ukrainian peasants to fight against "Polish latifundia" or "Jewish parasitism," while simultaneously appeasing Poles and Jews that the government would defend their safety and property from the assaults by Ukrainian masses. As such, one or another general tendency in the tsarist nationality policy (e.g., from administrative to cultural assimilation, or Alexander II's liberalism to Alexander III's reaction) could never exist simply because the "repression" of one ethnic group was often combined with "tolerance" towards another. For example, in Right-Bank Ukraine peasants' servitude was sustained artificially for the purpose of damaging Polish landowners. It meant that the traditional land use by Ukrainian peasants was protected by the government. The restrictions on Polish land ownership introduced after the 1863-64 rising could not be adopted for Baltic Germans despite several attempts, since it might have harmed the very potential buyers of the land sold by Poles, and thus could have damaged the cause of de-polonization of the Western provinces. The same "trade-off" relationship could be found between Poles and non-Pole Catholics.
The three characteristics of the tsarist nationality policy (i.e., incorporation of the local elite, "tree" model of imperial cosmology, and ethnic Bonapartism) could not but be revised in Right-Bank Ukraine since the dominant ethnic group in the Region was the Poles and it was "Russians" (Ukrainians) that were dominated by the Poles. According to the official terminology at that time, "Russians" meant Eastern Slavs but not Great Russians (See Figure 2).
Figure 2.Changes in terminology of ethnic relationship in Right-Bank Ukraine from the imperial period to the twentieth century
Therefore, obrusenie in the nineteenth century meant "Eastern Slavonization" but not russification. Its aims were, first, de-polonization, second, de-semitization, and third, the assimilation of German and Czech colonists. Ukrainians could never be an object of the obrusenie at all because they were, according to this terminology, "Russians" from the beginning. If they could be russified, it was only in the sense of "emancipation from Polish influences." This paper calls Russians in the present sense Great Russians, and relies also on the word "Russians" according to the tsarist terminology, emphasizing it by quotation marks. Moreover, obrusenie itself was not a word often used in the then official documents. The government preferred such expressions as "strengthening Russian elements." Objectively, it was also the most proper expression since whole tsarist nationality policy in Right-Bank Ukraine was based on their inferiority complex, while the word "obrusenie" conveys a nuance that "the strong suppressed the weak." The inferiority complex among Great Russians was not only caused by the socio-economic superiority of Ukrainian Poles and Jews over "Russians" in terms of demographic weight, estate composition, ownership of land and capitals, and literacy rates. Rather, Great Russians were convinced that they were no match for Poles and Jews in terms of political resources, i.e., ethnic consciousness, coherence as an ethnic group, and political tact, to name a few.
One of the reasons for which Ukrainian Poles could resist the assimilation for more than a century after the division of the Rzeczpospolita is that they were not an ethnic but a political nation. Until the beginning of this century "Poles" did not mean ethnic Poles, it meant those who accepted Catholicism, the Polish language, polonism, and the imperial idea of the Rzeczpospolita. It is strange that both Russian and Ukrainian historiographies have been labeling the political activities by Ukrainian Poles during the nineteenth century a "national liberation movement." As a matter of fact, however, what was going on in the South-Western provinces of the Russian Empire was not a battle between ruling and ruled nations but a battle between two imperial ideas and cultures, one of which luckily happened to be a winner at that moment. If the Rzeczpospolita had defeated the Russian Empire, Poles would have done the same thing for the Eastern Slavs that Great Russians did for the Poles. Therefore, the idea of the restoration of the Rzeczpospolita (but not the independence of Poland) and the recovery of the historical (but not ethnic) territory continued to be a lifeline which enabled Poles living in the Russian Empire to remain Poles.
After the 1863-64 rising took place and therefore the autonomy of Poland was abolished, Great Russian statesmen and intellectuals (for example, Iu.F. Samarin) often suggested to Poles that if they abandoned their ambition for the Western provinces of the Empire, the government would reestablish the former system of crown unification between the Russian Empire and Poland. But it was nothing but a surrender of Polish identities as a political nation. As long as the Western provinces did exist, Poland could not become a Finland. This was the reason why other nationalist movements in the Russian Empire disliked their Polish "comrades," thinking that Poles and Great Russians are spots of the same ink.
Since the ruled ethnic group in Right-Bank Ukraine was "Russian" (Ukrainian), the tsarist nationality policy in the region obtained a legitimizing cause - the "emancipation of 'Russians' from Polish and Jewish exploitation." This aim was established officially - despite the widespread image - not after the 1830-31 rising, but after the arrival of Dmitrii Bibikov at the post of Governor-General of the South Western Region in 1837. Why was the traditional tsarist nationality policy of incorporating the local Polish elite so inert that it survived for several years even after the first Polish rising? According to Edward Thaden, first, challenges of Enlightenment (the French Revolution, Kosciusko's uprising and others) convinced the Russian and Polish serf masters that they should be allied. Second, the annexation of the Rzeczpospolita was expected to strengthen the traditional character of the Russian Empire as "a multinational state ruled by cosmopolitan, landowning elite." Third, since Russia deprived Turkey of the control over the Dnepr at the end of the eighteenth century, Polish landowners began to prefer the Black Sea route to the Baltic one for grain export to Western Europe. Lastly, because of their experiences of government reform in the last years of the Rzeczpospolita and under the Duchy of Warsaw, the Polish nobility was expected to play a reforming role for the Empire, as had been the case with Baltic Germans a century before.
However, this 40 years honey moon between the local Polish nobility and the Russian government meant nothing for Ukrainian serfs but a tragic continuation of infringements. According to a survey of local court records conducted by Bibikov, in Kiev province (i.e., not including Volyn and Podoliia provinces) serf masters or manor managers caused injuries resulting in serfs' death or abortions as often as almost once a month. Moreover, most of the wrongdoers were not punished and the names of sufferers were not recorded at all. There was a case of Count Mechislav Pototskii who built something like a harem, gathering there beautiful serf women.
If the tsarist nationality policy of incorporating Poles was so inert, then why had it not been resurrected until the end of tsarism, once it had abandoned in 1837? Of course the 1863-64 rising was decisive, but I need to add other factors. First, the banner of "emancipation of "Russian' brothers" was such that it could not be pulled down, once it had been hoisted. This was exemplified by the fact that the inventory reform started by Bibikov could not but lead to an exceptional, pro-serf variant of the Emancipation in Right-Bank Ukraine. Second, in the mid-nineteenth century a series of geographic and ethnographic surveys were organized by the South Western Branch of the Imperial Geographic Society (sponsored by the Governor-General of the South Western Region) and the Kievian School in historical studies. Until that period, despite their official declarations, the tsarist government and Great Russian intellectuals used to think that the division of the Rzeczpospolita had given them a strangers’ land and people. But these surveys showed that the native population in Right-Bank Ukraine had preserved their Eastern Slavic ("Russian") character, despite the two centuries rule by the Rzeczpospolita. The Russian government unexpectedly discovered that their traditional slogans had a certain scientific foundation.
At the end of the nineteenth century the government realized that the excessively pro-peasant (pro-malorus) policy was not only damaging Polish landowners, but also intimidating Russian landowners' immigration from the inner provinces, which made the government soften its attitude toward the Poles. This newly adopted appeasement toward the Poles (on the other hand, embitterment toward Ukrainian peasants) was combined with attempts at introducing institutions uniform with those in the internal provinces of the Empire - to introduce land captains and zemstva on one hand, and abolish servitude on the other. But this policy change was extraordinarily difficult to realize because it would have injured the most fundamental legitimacy of the Russian Empire's western rule. Moreover, the Revolution of 1905 showed that Poles had not abandoned the ambition for their "historical territory," which naturally stiffened tsarism's Polish policy again. After this revolution the epoch of mass electoral politics arrived, and both the government and local Great Russian movements strengthened their populist tactics to attract Ukrainian voters. The most convenient lure for this policy was, not surprisingly, the Ukrainians' resentment against Polish latifundia. Thus the policy of incorporating the local Polish nobility could not be implemented until the end of tsarism.
As is shown above, there was a trade-off relationship between tsarism's Polish and malorus policies in Right-Bank Ukraine. The tsarist rule of this region can be divided into the pro-Polish/anti-Ukrainian periods (until 1837; 1848, when the government facing the European Revolution temporarily relied upon the existing ruling elite; and from the end of the nineteenth century to 1905) and the anti-Polish/pro-Ukrainian periods (from 1837 to 1848; after 1848 to the end of the nineteenth century; and after 1905). In other words, out of the three elements of the tsarist nationality policy incorporation of the local elite and divide-and-rule tactics could not be exploited operatively in this region. On the other hand, these difficulties in relying upon traditional imperial management resulted in developing more modern ethnopolitical tactics, such as the populist use of land issues or the involvement in party politics.
The data obtained from the 1897 census indicate the aristocratic, urban, and highly literate character of Russian speakers in the Right-Bank provinces at that time, while the same data characterize the then Ukrainian speakers as a peasant, rural and mostly illiterate ethnic group. This is not surprising because, as mentioned above, after more than a century since the annexation of Right-Bank Ukraine only a handful of Russian-speaking "occupants," i.e., high officials, officers, clergymen, and professors, had immigrated (to make the matter worse, only temporarily) from the other side of the Dnepr. In contrast to their Russian and Left-Bank counterparts, Right-Bank rural youths enjoyed few chances of social mobility because the government did not allow the Western provinces to have zemstva (accordingly, zemstvo schools neither) for fear of the local Polish nobility and because cities in the region were dominated by cultures and languages the rural youths did not understand. Therefore, Right-Bank Ukrainian youths preferred to remain in their villages, where the "Prussian path" of agrarian capitalism provided them with relatively abundant chances of employment.
According to the same census, Kiev province was most russified (in both the Great Russification sense and the Eastern Slavonization sense). Russian speakers in Podiliia and Volyn provinces were, as mentioned above, made up a very small group in the population. As for Volyn province, even the Eastern Slavs as a whole constituted only 73.7% of its total population, while the percentage in Podoliia province amounted to 84.2%. The government was anxious about the ethnic composition of Volyn province especially after the Russo-Austrian relationship worsened in the 1890s.
Jews in Right-Bank Ukraine constituted a "petty bourgeois," urban, and highly literate ethnic group. For example, in Volyn province 97.7% of Jews belonged to the "petty bourgeois estate" (meshchany); 50.8% of its urban population and 46.4% of the population of its capitol city, Zhitomir, were Jews; and 44.7% of Judaist (Judaism-believing) men and 21.7% of Judaist women were literate. The composition of Polish speakers was significantly aristocratic, both urban and rural, and highly literate. Rural Poles consisted of landowners, various managerial workers in Polish estates, and declassed szlachta which had been converted into various non-privileged estate groups until the end of the nineteenth century. Urban Poles were dominant in such intellectual professions as the law, engineering, and municipal government. If we compare Great Russian and Polish nobles, the percentage of "lifetime nobles" was much less among the latter (in Volyn province 6.7% of the Russian speakers and only 1.8% of the Polish speakers belonged to this category), probably because Poles were excluded from the state officialdom.
While the numbers of Eastern Slavs, German and Czech speakers, and Jews were approximately the same as those of Orthodoxes, Protestants, and Judaists respectively in all the three Right-Bank provinces, the Catholic population was significantly larger than that of the Polish speakers (the Catholic population was 1.6 times larger than the Polish-speaking population in both Volyn and Kiev provinces, and 3.8 times larger in Podoliia province). There was thus room for "divide and rule" tactics between Poles and non-Pole Catholics.
Comparing the literacy rates of Russian-speaking Orthodoxes, Ukrainian-speaking Orthodoxes, and Polish-speaking Catholics in the six provinces of the Right-Bank and Left-Bank Ukraine, we can compile the following table.
Table 1. Literacy rates of the three ethnic groups in six Ukrainian provinces
*Total population (thousand) **Literacy rate (%)
As for Russian and Polish speakers, the more people used the language, the lower their literacy rate. Polish speakers in Right-Bank Ukraine were less literate than their Left-Bank counterparts, while the opposite can be said for Russian speakers. It might be because a significant size of a language group indicates that the language had penetrated to the non-elite strata of the society. Ukrainian speakers in the Left-Bank Ukraine were more literate than their Right-Bank counterparts, probably because the former enjoyed zemstva's public education, however insufficient it was. The fact that in Chernigov, one of the most progressive zemstvo provinces in the Empire, the literacy of Ukrainian-speaking Orthodox men (who, as was the case with all the Ukrainians, were deprived of the right to be educated by their own native language) was, although a bit, higher than that of Russian-speaking Orthodox men challenges the Ukrainian nationalists' assertion which attributes the then Ukrainians' low literacy rate to tsarism's restrictive language policy.
In default of public education and the possibility to catch the boom of urbanization and industrialization, Ukrainian national intellectuals could not develop. According to Orest Subtelny, in 1897 Ukrainians made up only 16% of lawyers, 25% of teachers, and less than 10% of writers and artists in Ukraine. The nineteenth century was the most humiliating century for Ukrainians. It was thus hardly surprising that, at least before 1905, not only tsarism and the local Polish elite, but also Ukrainophiles themselves developed their nationality policy with the assumption that the identity of the local native population remained at the pre-national stage.
In 1865, the proportion of "Russian" land ownership in the total private land in the nine Western provinces was "1/70." Systematic restrictions on Polish land ownership and affirmative actions for "Russian" land purchases after the 1863-64 rising changed this proportion, as is shown in the following table compiled from government data in 1903.
Table 2. Ethnic composition of private land in Right-Bank Ukraine (% by areas)
The apparent parity between "Russian" and Polish land ownership shown in this table, however, was only a fiction. Privileges for "Russian" land purchases, as is often the case with any affirmative action, stimulated land speculation by Great Russians. Moreover, those Great Russians who bought land with more or less serious intentions were also temporary dwellers who lived there only because of their duties, missing their estates left in the internal provinces. Not surprisingly, the estates obtained by them in the South-Western provinces were often leased, most of which (according to government data, about 3/4) fell to Polish hands, even though the law restricted it.
It was said that large "Russian" estates (for example, Bobrinskiis', Shuvalovs', Tereshchenkos') were not inferior to the Polish ones, but the situation of "Russian" medium-size farms was much worse. Technical innovations in Polish farms were made collectively, by mutual aid, while "Russian" agrarians worked in isolation. When local agricultural societies began to be organized in Right-Bank Ukraine at the end of the nineteenth century, they were economic, apolitical organizations. After the Revolution of 1905, however, most of them fell under the Polish nationalists' influence. Polish often became the common language in agricultural exhibitions, which often aimed at showing the superiority of "Polish farming." This was a reason why "Russian" landowners, no match for Poles in civic activities, yearned to have zemstva as a device to influence Ukrainian peasants.
Since elections for the first and second State Dumas reflected the existing land ownership, the South-Western Poles sent a certain number of Polish representatives to St-Petersburg. The Stolypin's coup d'état on June 3, 1907 resulted in introducing national curiae. In other words, a ceiling was set for the number of Polish electors. As for elections for the State Council, however, such a gerrymander was unfeasible. Ironically, since zemstva did not exist in the region because of tsarism's anti-Polish policy, the provincial and county assemblies of nobilities, the domain of the Polish nobles, remained the only electoral medium for the upper house in parliament. Thus the representation had been monopolized by Poles until 1911, when the zemstva were introduced into this region. What is more distinguishing is their attitude to elections. While the "Russian" electorate were characterized by absenteeism, especially for the State Council elections, the Polish electorate coherently participated in elections even for the State Duma, although their chances in these had been contained.
A report submitted in 1909 by the chief of the Volyn gendarmerie to the provincial governor depicted the relationship between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. According to the report, most of ancestors of the local Orthodox priests were forced to convert themselves to the Catholic or Greco-Catholic Churches under Polish rule, being thus placed under the "intellectual and moral influence" of the Polish nobility. Up to then (1909) they bore Polish-style surnames, were fluent in Polish, keeping old Polish books in their home libraries. These circumstances developed an inferiority complex among Orthodox priests to "anything Polish." Orthodox theological seminaries lacked any "Jesuit-style basic training," and therefore it happened that Orthodox priests did not get angry, even after witnessing attempts by Catholic priests to convert Orthodox believers. Knowing the miserable life of Orthodox priests, students at Orthodox seminaries did everything to get jobs in the government or the army, to enter universities, and only the stragglers who failed in this exodus to secular jobs became priests.
By 1909 (when this report was written) Orthodox clergymen were increasingly politicized, and becoming spearheads of the Great Russian ideology in Right-Bank Ukraine, so this picture drawn by the gendarmerie chief seems to be obsolete. If it reflects the relations between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches in Right-Bank Ukraine during the nineteenth century, however, we can see why the Catholic Church remained influential throughout the century.
To sum up, the Latin-Catholic-Polish tradition continued to outdo the Greco-Orthodox-Russian tradition in Right-Bank Ukraine even at the beginning of the twentieth century. Of course, Poles were not what they had been before the 1863-64 rising, but nevertheless they had not been ruined to the extent that Great Russians could compete with them without various affirmative actions and discriminative laws. This was the reason why in the region (1) the governor-generalship was kept in operation; (2) the most dense network of secret police in the Empire was organized; (3) zemstva had not been introduced until 1911, and only the zemstva based on an anti-Polish discriminative electoral system could be introduced in 1911; (4) elementary education was monopolized by government and Orthodox parish schools; (5) marshals of the provincial and county nobilities were not elected but appointed by the government; and lastly (6) the system of land captains was not introduced, and the peace mediators introduced during the Great Reforms continued to work till the end of tsarism. As a side-effect of the tsarist anti-Polish policy, the "Russian" elite in this region were also deprived of a significant part of civil rights enjoyed by the elite on the other side of the Dnepr. To use a favorite expression of Ukrainian nationalist historiography, the system of state institutions in Right-Bank Ukraine after the 1863-64 rising was an "occupation regime." The only correction we need to make is that it was an occupation regime not against Ukrainians, but against Poles and Jews.
Out of various inter-ethnic relations in Right-Bank Ukraine only the one indicated by Solid Line 1 in Figure 3 has been studied more or less intensively. The relations indicated by Solid Lines 2 and 3 have attracted much less attention, but at least historians have been aware of the importance of the issues. In contrast, studies of the relations indicated by the wave lines in Figure 3 have remained at an embryonic stage. Without this, however, tsarism's nationality policy cannot be understood, since it could rule the Western provinces, lacking reliable managerial and socio-political resources there, only by intervening in and manipulating the existing tension between the ruled ethnic groups. It would be a mistake to think that we could compile a general model explaining the tsarist nationality policy by scraping together the relations indicated by the solid lines. A medley remains a medley, but it will never become an analysis of ethnopolitics. The paradigm of "prison of nations" was generated not by the reality of tsarism, but by the incompetence of historians.
The more the South-Western provinces were "russified" (de-polonized and de-semitized), the more separatist the Ukrainian nationalists became. Between stara and nova hromady [the old and new generations of Ukrainian nationalists], i.e., from M. Drahomanov and V. Antonovych, both of which accepted the "dual identity" (malorus and at the same time "Russian"), to the generation of M. Hrushevskii, almost nothing changed in Right-Bank Ukraine in terms of ethnic consciousness of Ukrainian masses or stratification of national intellectuals. The only visible change was that the Poles became weaker. As is well known, the center of Ukrainophilism in the region was Kiev city, followed by Podoliia and, finally, Volyn province. Thus, geographically also, the more a region was "russified," the stronger its Ukrainophiles became.
Cultural anthropologists argue that the key to have an ethnic identity is in deciding "to whom to oppose yourself." In order to become Ukrainian nationalists, it was necessary to oppose yourself not only to Poles and Jews but also to Great Russians. If the last condition was lacking, you would become, as a rule, a supporter of the "dual identity." Since so few Great Russians lived on the western side of the Dnepr, in the eyes of Ukrainian peasants they were no more than an abstract "authority" or an episodic being called by the nickname "katsap." The intensity of these images of Great Russians would have been incomparable with the vivid resentment imprinted by daily contacts with Poles and Jews. Massive contacts between Right-Bank Ukrainians and Great Russians began only in the 1930s. And these contacts were remembered by Ukrainians with inseparable associations of the famine of 1933, the great terror, the Chernobyl accident and other tragedies. Considering this, it seems to be natural that after Ukraine had been completely de-polonized and de-semitized with the help of Soviet power, Ukrainians decided to become independent from the Great Russians too.
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