Posted in Architecture, Photography, Religion, Travel, Ukrainian culture, Ukrainian history

Dormition Church of Lviv (церква Успіння Львіва)

I originally intended this post to be part of my 2022 April A to Z series on Ukrainian history and culture, but I stuffed it into the drafts folder because I couldn’t find enough information about the church’s history, artwork, and architecture for a substantial, detailed post. Yet again, I didn’t allow myself any time to work on a post about my radical rewrite of The Very Last, so here’s that bonus A to Z post.

New additions are in bold.

Copyright Konstantin Brizhnichenko

Throughout history, Lviv’s Dormition Church has had four incarnations. The first, probably constructed during the High Middle Ages, was burnt in 1340 when Polish feudal lords attacked the city. Church #2, built of bricks and first mentioned in 1421, was destroyed in 1527 when a great fire swept through Lviv. Peter the Italian, an architect from Lugano who became a citizen of Lviv, rebuilt the church from 1547–59. Alas, the third church fell victim to another fire in 1571.

The Chapel of the Three Saints was built nearby from 1578–91, and the Italian architect Pietro of Barbona rebuilt the Kornyakt Tower, which had collapsed in 1570. Both of these structures were joined by a fourth church which was constructed from 1591–1629 by Paolo Dominici Romanus, Wojciech Kapinos, and Ambrosiy Prykhylnyy. The ikons were painted by Mykola Petrakhnovych-Morakhovskyy and Fedir Senkovych.

Copyright xiquinhosilva

Many people financed the construction, primarily Moldovan rulers (both male and female). It was originally built of brick, but midway through construction of the walls, the Assumption Brotherhood replaced it with hewn stone. The church was consecrated on 26 January 1631 by Lviv Bishop Yeremiya Tissarovskyy and Kyiv Archimandrite Petro Mohyla.

On 3 January 1584, prior to the start of construction on the fourth church, the Catholic Archbishop of Lviv, Jan Dymitr Solikowski, attacked the existing church. He expelled congregants, scorned the priest and ignored his authority, and sealed the church.

And what was the unspeakable crime committed by the Orthodox faithful? Not adopting the Gregorian calendar and continuing to use the Julian calendar, which was ten days behind by the 16th century, on account of a never-corrected error from the Council of Nicaea.

This intolerant archbishop also forbade Ukrainians from ringing church bells on their own holiday dates and attacked the Church of the Epiphany that same year of 1584.

Copyright xiquinhosilva

In the 18th century, noblewoman Feodosiya Strilbytska, wife of parish priest Oleksiy Strilbytskyy, donated 6,000 złotych to the church. Out of gratitude, a painting of her was put on display. It’s now in the Lviv National Gallery of Arts.

Yet another fire damaged the church in 1779, and it was rebuilt in 1796 with a few changes. Perhaps surprisingly, given the era, it was beautified with stained glass windows designed by Petro Ivanovych Kholodnyy in 1926–27. Though Soviet rule was atheist, Stalin hadn’t yet risen to full, unquestioned power and begun cracking down on the use of non-Russian national languages and cultures. During the 1920s, national expression flourished in republics which had long been under the heel of enforced Russification.

Copyright Швітланьо (Shvitlano)

Copyright Aeou

Lviv artists Kostyantyn and Yakiv Kulchytskyy carved the coats of arms of donors Simeon and Iyeremiya Mohyla above the northern and southern doors.

Some of the ikons in the ikonostasis have been with the church since the fourth iteration opened in the 1630s. The most valuable are from the Passion Cycle, made by Fedir Senkovych and Mykola Petrakhnovych-Morakhovskyy.

Copyright Alexander Skrypnyk

The church was restored and repaired from 1965–73.

The Lviv Assumption Brotherhood, the non-clerical Ukrainian Orthodoxy fraternity who founded the church, remains active to this day. Members patronize the Sunday school, care for the building’s upkeep, and organize the cultural and spiritual life of the church.

Copyright Kugel at WikiCommons

Copyright Oleksandr Kaktus

On 29 November 1989, the church came under jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Sunday school began in 2008, with three age groups, and a children’s choir was formed in 2012.

Copyright Ivan Sedlovskyi

Copyright Ivan Sedlovskyi

Posted in Ukrainian culture, Ukrainian history

A to Z reflections on Ukrainian history and culture (А до Я роздуми про Українську історію та культуру

This was my eleventh year doing the A to Z Challenge, and my ninth with two blogs. For the fourth year, I only began researching, writing, and editing my posts in March. In years prior, I put them together many months in advance.

Since Ukrainian history and culture aren’t nearly as intimately familiar to me as their Russian counterparts, I needed to do a lot of exhausting research. The vast majority of the information in my posts were things I only learnt as I was researching them.

Because I have two blogs, and the themes on my main blog are always very intense and research-heavy, waiting until March is not a strategy I want to continue with. I’ve finally realized that’s the reason I feel so mentally exhausted and run ragged by April first. When I completed my posts as much as nine months in advance, I had much more energy for visiting lots of blogs and writing for Camp NaNo in particular, and more overall energy in general.

Topics I considered but crossed off my list were Vasyl Avramenko (father of Ukrainian dance), Christmas in Ukraine, Moysey Fishbein (a writer), the Janowska concentration-camp, Makhnovshchina (an anarchist-controlled area of Ukraine from 1918–21), the Odesa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, Pochayiv Lavra (a beautiful, large, historic monastery), Priest’s Grotto (a cave which sheltered several Jewish families during the Shoah, some for up to 344 days), St. George’s Cathedral of Lviv, St. Sophia Cathedral of Kyiv, Ukrainian language, West Ukrainian People’s Republic (an area which existed from 1918–19), the White Dacha (Anton Pavlovich Chekhov’s residence in Yalta, now a house museum), and Mariya Zankovetska (a renowned theatre actress).

I also began writing a post about Lviv’s Dormition Church, but filed it away in my drafts folder because there weren’t enough specific historical or architectural details for a more substantial treatment. I’ve put other discarded A to Z posts in my drafts folder in years prior, and eventually posted them.

As much as possible, I tried to pick lesser-known subjects, though a few seemed inevitable. It was obvious H could only be the Holodomor, R would be Rushnyk, L would be Lviv, and Y would be Yalta. I also knew going in that I’d have to do Ukraine’s national writer Taras Shevchenko, who was originally slated for T instead of S. Other subjects I had to include were the poet Vasyl Symonenko and writer-bandurist couple Olena and Mykhaylo Teliha.

I crossed off Makhovshchina and West Ukrainian People’s Republic because the thought of writing those posts gave me a headache. They weren’t as relatively simple as writing about a person, city, building, or aspect of culture. They’d require a lot of research, careful selection of what exactly to include and exclude, and probably several days of writing and editing. Not exactly general-interest subjects!

Though some of the topics have tie-ins with my writing (the Holodomor, Bila Tserkva, Jewish Ukraine, Yalta, Lviv, Chornobyl, rushnyk), I decided not to mention them like I usually do with my A to Z posts. It didn’t feel appropriate given what’s going on now.

I have at least ten more topics planned for future years!

Post recap:

Andrey Ivanovych Sheptytskyy (Андрей Іванович Шептицький)
Bila Tserkva, Ukraine (Біла Церква, Україна)
Chornobyl (Chernobyl), Ukraine (Чорнобиль, Україна)
Drohobych, Ukraine (Дрогобич, Україна)
The Executed Renaissance (Розстріляне відродження)
Feodosiya, Ukraine (Феодосія, Україна)
Oleksiy Oleksandrovych Glagolev (Олексій Олександрович Глаголєв)
The Holodomor (Голодомор)
Ivan Yakovych Franko (Іван Якович Франко)
Jewish Ukraine (Єврейська Україна)
Kostyantyn Dmytrovych Ushynskyy (Костянтин Дмитрович Ушинський)
Lviv, Ukraine (Львів, Україна)
Marko Vovchok (Марко Вовчок)
National Academy of Visual Arts and Architecture (Національна академія образотворчого мистецтва і архітектури)
Dr. Sofiya Atanasivna Okunevska-Morachevska (Софія Атанасівна Окуневська-Морачевська)
The Peresopnytskye Gospel (Пересопницьке Євангеліє)
The Ukrainian Quintet of Borys Lyatoshynskyy (Український квінтет Бориса Лятошинськия)
Rushnyk (Рушник)
Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko (Тарас Григорович Шевченко)
Olena and Mykhaylo Teliha (Олена і Михайло Теліга)
Lesya Ukrayinka (Леся Українка)
Vasyl Andriyovych Symonenko (Василь Андрійович Симоненко)
Weddings in Ukraine (Весіллі в Україні)
Xenocracy (Ксенократія)
Yalta, Ukraine (Ялта, Україна)
Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy (Володимир Олександрович Зеленський)


Posted in Ukrainian culture, Ukrainian history

Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy (Володимир Олександрович Зеленський)

Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy, the heroic President of Ukraine, was born 25 January 1978 in Kryvyy Rih, central Ukraine’s largest city. His father, Oleksandr Semyonovych Zelenskyy (b. 23 December 1947), is a mathematician, mining scientist, professor, doctor of technical sciences, and specialist in automation of geological and surveying support. His mother,  Rymma Zelenska (b. 16 September 1950), is a retired engineer.

His paternal grandfather, Semyon Ivanovych Zelenskyy, served in the Red Army infantry (57th Guards Motor Rifle Division) during WWII and attained the rank of colonel. The rest of his family were murdered during the Shoah. In August and October 1941, almost the entire Jewish population of Kryvyy Rih (6% of the city, 12,745 people) were massacred.

As a young child, Volodymyr lived for four years in Erdenet, Mongolia (the country’s next-largest city), where his father worked at the time. Because of the rigidly enforced Russification policies of the USSR, his first language was Russian. Ukrainian is his second language, and English his third.

Though Volodymyr got an educational grant to study in Israel at age sixteen, his father forbade him to go. The Iron Curtain had fallen by this time, but many Jews who grew up under the Soviet system retained a fear of publicly marking themselves as Jewish or being associated with our indigenous homeland. (The most in vogue iteration of antisemitism today comes straight from the USSR’s playbook of the 1970s, which is a subject for a whole other post!)

Volodymyr attended Kryvyy Rih Institute of Economics, then part of Kyiv National Economic University and now part of Kryvyy Rih National University. While a student, he joined a team competing on Russian comedy show KVN (Klyub Vesyolykh i Nakhodchivykh) (Club of the Funny and Inventive). His team, Zaporizhia-Kryvyy Rih-Transit, won in 1997. Later that year, he formed and began captain of another team, Kvartal 95, which competed and toured the countries of the former USSR from 1998–2003. 

On 6 September 2003, Volodomyr married his girlfriend of eight years, Olena Volodomyrivna Kiyashko (b. 6 February 1978). Though they had gone to school together from an early age, they didn’t become acquainted until their university days. Their first child, Oleksandra, was born 15 July 2004, and their son Kyrylo was born 21 January 2013.

Kvartal 95 began making shows for several Ukrainian TV stations in 2003, as well as producing films. Almost all of the films Volodymyr acted in from 2009–18 were produced by Kvartal 95. His filmography includes Love in the Big City, Love in the Big City 2, Love in the Big City 3, Office Romance. Our Time, Rzhevskiy vs. Napoleon, 8 First Dates, 8 New Dates, Servant of the People 2, and I, You, He, She. In 8 New Dates, his character’s daughter Sasha is played by his real-life daughter.

He also competed on the Ukrainian version of Dancing with the Stars in 2006, produced the comedy series Svaty (In-Laws) from 2008–12, and produced and starred in the comedic political satire Servant of the People from 2015–19. The lattermost became very real to life when he also was elected President of Ukraine.

Image used solely to illustrate the subject under fair use doctrine

In late 2017, members of Kvartal 95 created a political party also called Servant of the People, which they formally registered in March 2018. Allegedly, this party was originally only created to prevent the name from being stolen, and wasn’t intended as a serious political entity. However, by October 2018, Volodymyr was a leading candidate in opinion polls for the upcoming presidential election.

On 31 December 2018, only a few months before the election, he announced his candidacy on a New Year’s Eve evening TV show. This announcement ended up upstaging incumbent Petro Poroshenko’s holiday message.

Volodymyr’s campaign was predominantly virtual, and he didn’t even release a platform. He also barely interacted with mainstream media, and performed stand-up comedy routines with Kvartal 95 in lieu of campaign rallies. His approach worked, since he won the first round of elections on 31 March 2019, and earned 73% of the vote in the second round on 21 April.

Copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.

Pres. Zelenskyy’s political views include support for free medical marijuana, legalised gambling and prostitution (though evidence shows the Nordic model is far better for helping prostituted women), open list elections (which gives voters more say in the order in which candidates are elected), reproductive choice for women, de-Communization of Ukraine, bills to fight political corruption, and Ukraine’s entry into NATO and the EU.

During Tsar Vladimir’s act of wanton aggression in the Donbas region and Crimea, which began in April 2014, Pres. Zelenskyy helped to fund a volunteer battalion and donated a lot of money to the Ukrainian Army.

Copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.

Since Tsar Vladimir launched a wholesale invasion of the entire country in February 2022, Pres. Zelenskyy has distinguished himself as a hero par excellence, with the kind of unrelenting courage few people can dream of. He’s survived at least a dozen assassination attempts, and has steadfastly refused offers to be evacuated. His place is with his people in their darkest hour.

Pres. Zelenskyy is truly a modern-day Maccabee. I’m so proud he’s a member of the tribe.

Posted in Photography, Travel, Ukrainian culture, Ukrainian history

Yalta, Ukraine (Ялта, Україна)

Yalta, a resort city in the south Crimea, is located within a strip of mountains known as the Yalta Amphitheatre on account of its curved shape. Archaeological evidence shows it was first settled by the Taurians during the Bronze Age.

The Greeks who first lived there called the city Yalita, derived from gialos (pronounced yalos) (beach, seashore). According to legend, they had sailed a long time in search of a shore, and were so grateful to see land again they named their settlement after their landing-place. Over the ensuing centuries, it was also variously known as Galita, Jalita, Kaulita, Gealita, and Etalita.

Copyright Крылов Иван (Krylov Ivan)

In the second half of the 13th century, Venetian merchants settled in this successful port and fishing settlement. They were forced out by the Genoese in the 14th century, and Yalita became one of Genoa’s fortified trading colonies on the Crimean coast. The ruins of a fortress from the 12th to 15th centuries have been found by the Uchan-Su waterfall.

In the late Middle Ages, Yalita was part of the small Theodoro principality in the southern Crimea, the last gasp of the Byzantine Empire. Most of its inhabitants at this time were Armenians, Greeks, Crimean Goths, Circassians, and a few other ethnic groups.

St. Hripsime Armenian Church, Copyright Demmarcos

In 1475, the Ottomans captured the Crimean peninsula from Genoa and annexed it to their Crimean Khanate with much looting, killing, and burning. Yalita became part of the Mangup Kadylyk district. Though this khanate was ruled by Tatars and thus semi-independent, Yalita itself was under direct Ottoman rule.

Yalita was further destroyed by an earthquake in the late 15th century. Seventy years later, the area was repopulated by Armenians and Greeks. Around this time, the modern name Yalta arose.

There was a large slave market nearby, trading in Ukrainians and Russians captured from regular raids.

Emir Palace, Copyright Neovitaha777

In 1778, the Crimean Greeks and other Christians were forced to move to Mariupol on orders of the Russian government, and established a nearby village also called Yalta. When Russia annexed the Crimea in 1783, the Muslim population left en masse too. Barely anyone lived in Yalta by the time the Russo–Turkish War broke out in 1787. The once-flourishing city had become a tiny fishing village.

Aleksandr Nevskiy Cathedral, Copyright Demmarcos

In 1823, Count Mikhail Semyonovich Vorontsov, governor-general of the Novorossiysk Territory which included Yalta, distributed 200 acres of land for the purposes of rebuilding the area and planting vineyards and orchards. Yalta received city status in 1838, though it only had one street, 130 residents, and 30 courtyards.

It was very difficult to reach Yalta until 1837, when a gravel road was built. In 1848, a proper road to Sevastopol was built. Yalta didn’t even have a seaport anymore, and the pier built in the late 1830s was destroyed by a storm.

Yalta Lighthouse, Copyright Vadim Indeikin

During the Crimean War of 1853–56, local nobility donated 1,100 rubles to the soldiers, the sick, and the wounded. They also helped with food, clothing, wound dressings, and vehicles. Local residents were eager to assist the Russian forces in any way they could, since they were trying to oust the Ottomans.

After the war, only 36 houses were suit for living or accommodating institutions. The rest of the city fell into total disrepair yet again, though Yalta was quickly rebuilt and became a very popular resort city for the élites. Its lovely climate also made it a prime location for health spas.

Immaculate Conception Church, Copyright Карлова Юлия (Karlova Yuliya)

Chapel of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, Copyright Наталья Филатова (Natalya Filatova)

Tsar Aleksandr III ordered the construction of a new palace, Massandra, nearby. It was completed in 1889. Another nearby palace, Livadiya, was greatly expanded by his inept son Nicholas II. Many other nobles, extended members of the Imperial Family, and rich people also built grand estates in the vicinity.

Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy and Anton Pavlovich Chekhov spent many summers in Yalta. Chekhov built the White Dacha in 1898 and lived there until 1902. His story “Lady with Lapdog” is set in Yalta. Today the dacha is a house museum.

White Dacha, Copyright Olga-lyo

Lutheran Church of St. Mary, Copyright Андрей Романенко (Andrey Romanenko)

Yalta was enhanced by the construction of a new pier (completed in 1903), a lighthouse, a renovated embankment, sewers, and a new water supply system. Schools also arrived in Yalta, and industry flourished. However, there was only a small hospital.

St. Hripsime Armenian Church, Copyright V chekhov

St. Hripsime Armenian Church, Copyright Кертог (Kertog)

St. Hripsime Armenian Church interior, Copyright Ulyasik777

Yalta suffered greatly during the Red Terror of the Russian Civil War (1917–21), when many White Russians fled to the Crimea to wait for evacuation ships. The city was renamed Krasnoarmeysk in 1921, but the old name was restored a year later.

Though life was difficult after so many years of war, famine, hyperinflation, poverty, and disease, Soviet authorities sent vast amounts of food (even chocolate and caviar!) to Yalta sanitaria. By the early 1940s, there were 108 health spas where 120,000 people received treatment.

St. John Chrysostom Church, Copyright Vimoculars

Copyright Валерий Дед (Valeriy Ded)

Yalta was occupied by the Germans during WWII, and the entire Jewish community of 4,500 were murdered near Massandra in late 1941. Thousands of other residents were also tortured and shot.

In February 1945, Livadiya Palace was the site of a conference regarding the postwar reorganization of Europe.

Copyright Vadim Indeikin

Copyright Vadim Indeikin

Yalta was rebuilt after the war, and remains a popular resort and beach city today.

Glade of Fairy Tales, Copyright Andrew Butko

Posted in Ukrainian history

Xenocracy (Ксенократія)

Phryne Seduces the Philosopher Xenocrates, Angelica Kaufmann, 1784

Xenocracy, which means “government by foreigners,” comes from Ancient Greek roots xenos (stranger, foreigner) and kratos (power). Together, these roots also form the name Xenocrates (Xenokrates), a 4th century BCE philosopher. By itself, xenos is the root of many other words relating to foreigners and foreignness, such as xenophobic, xenophile, xenial, xenia, xenodochial, xenogogue, xenomorphic, xenolalia, xenoglossy, xenograft, xenoblast, xenolithic, xenobiotic, xenogamy, and xenogeny.

For much of Ukraine’s history, the land has been ruled by foreigners.

Copyright Revilo1803

Slavic tribes were first mentioned by Romans and Greeks in the first and second centuries of the Common Era, as Veneti and Spodi. These tribes are the common ancestors of all Slavic peoples. In the fifth and sixth centuries, they had diverged into the main tribes of Antes, Veneti, and Sclaveni.

Each of these tribes had countless sub-tribes, who ultimately became East Slavs, South Slavs, and West Slavs, and diverged even further into the many different modern-day Slavic peoples. By the fifth century, Antes lived in the area which became Ukraine. The end of Gothic and Hun rule made it possible for Slavic tribes to expand their territories.

Copyright SeikoEn

In the late fifth and early sixth centuries, Kyiv was founded by princely brothers Shchek and Khoryv, and their sister Lybid, to honor their oldest brother Kyy (Kyi). Many historians believe Kyi was a real ruler, not just a semi-legendary or mythological figure in an origin story.

In the seventh century, Ukraine was the site of Old Great Bulgaria. Bulgar tribes migrated elsewhere at the end of the century, and the area became part of the Khazar Kingdom. Unfortunately, there’s a pernicious conspiracy theory about the Khazars used by many modern antisemites.

Ethnolinguistic map of 9th century Kyivan Rus, Copyright Wiglaf

The kingdom of Kyivan Rus emerged in the ninth century. Most scholars believe the Ryurikovich Dynasty (who ruled before the Romanovs) were descended from Varangians (i.e., Vikings), not any Slavic tribe. In 882, Prince Oleg of Novgorod captured Kyiv from the Khazars. At least seven Slavic tribes lived in Ukraine during this period.

The name Ukraine first appeared in writing in 1187. Most scholars believe its name means “borderland” or “frontier region.”

Though the Ryurikoviches continued to rule Russia until 1598, Kyivan Rus itself fell apart in the 1240s on account of the Mongol invasion.

Copyright SeikoEn

Western Ukraine then became part of the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia (historically called Ruthenia, the Latin name for Russia), a vassal state of the Golden Horde. Under King Daniel Romanovych (1201–1264), Galicia–Volhynia was one of the most powerful and important states in Eastern Europe.

A lot of political intrigue and infighting ensued in later generations, and in the mid-13th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland carved Ukraine up amongst themselves. In 1569, the Union of Lublin joined the two powers into the giant Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Meanwhile, the Tatar-run Crimean Khanate controlled southern Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula from 1441–1783, and in 1667, an area on the left bank of the Dnipro River was annexed to the Russian Empire.

Copyright User:Mathiasrex based on layers of User:Halibutt

During these long occupations, many Ukrainian nobles became very Polonized, thanks to all the immigrating Poles who mixed with the local population. They converted to Catholicism, while peasants mostly stayed Orthodox.

The peasants didn’t exactly like their overlords’ attempts to make them into serfs. Those who resisted and fled became Cossacks and established unrecognized autonomous communities. Some were recruited by the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth to guard the southeastern borders from Tatars. Many also served in wars against Russia.

Because the reigning nobles refused to grant them real autonomy and kept trying to make them serfs, there were many rebellions between 1591–1775.

Copyright Halibutt

The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was carved up by the Russian Empire, the Habsburg Monarchy, and the Kingdom of Prussia in 1772, 1793, and 1795. Galicia, the westernmost part of Ukraine, went to the Habsburg Empire, which became the Austrian Empire in 1804 and Austria–Hungary in 1867.

The rest of Ukraine went to Russia, which banned the teaching, study, and use of Ukrainian language and culture. Many Ukrainian intellectuals moved to Galicia to escape this repression.

Copyright Spiridon Ion Cepleanu

During the chaos of the Russian Civil War (1917–21), the Soviet–Ukrainian War (1917–21), and the Polish–Ukrainian War (1918–19), cities changed hands many times, and several rival factions fighting for an independent Ukraine arose. The Free Territory of Ukraine in the east, Makhnovshchina, lasted from 1918–21, and the West Ukrainian People’s Republic in eastern Galicia lasted only from 1918–19.

Eastern Galicia went to Poland in 1920, and the rest of the country was under the Soviet heel by 1921. Then, during WWII, eastern Ukraine was occupied by Nazi Germany. After the war, Carpathian Ruthenia, which had variously belonged to Hungary and Czechoslovakia, was ceded to Ukraine, and Galicia also became part of the republic.

Finally, on 24 August 1991, Ukraine gained her independence. She lost some territory in 2014, when Tsar Vladimir illegally annexed the Crimea, and now is fighting for her life against genocidal goons who want to resurrect the USSR.