Ukrainian national identity between European values and «homo sovieticus»

Ukrainian nationalThese events have something in common, particularly the name: terrorism and violence. Although, they happened in geographically distanced countries of Europe: in France and Ukraine, they are bonded by the fact, that both of them have become the object of the terrorist threat. The international community shall do everything possible to prevent such acts of violence in any part of the world, where the human rights and their freedoms are of axiomatic civilization value.

Today, the question of Ukrainian identity is especially important, as all the events that have started the November 21st, 2013 and thereafter were named «Maidan», were mainly caused by the desire to protect the personal identity. The events in the country started from the Kyiv citizens’ protests against the refusal of the Ukrainian government, guided by Mykola Azarov, to support the European Integration of Ukraine. However the «Maidan» society was formed very quickly, and finally it was supported by the whole Ukraine.

One shouldn’t take for granted the information that «Maidan» in Kyiv has gathered the representatives of only certain regions of Ukraine, as more or less, this movement has connected all citizens of Ukraine, who were joined by one aim – to get rid of the dominant influence of the criminal, imperial post-soviet system. The signing of the agreement with the EU was perceived as one of the major chances to better conditions of life turn.

There is no doubt that the first motifs of «Maidan» society formation were later supplemented by the other factors that quite literally started the formation of the new citizens of the new Ukraine, and led to the formation of the new qualities in the Ukrainian citizens identity, more than just certain ethnic and national features, as it was defined in USSR system.

The process isn’t simple; it is accompanied by the tragic events and is still not finished. The powerful regressive system does everything to prevent the normal evolutionary process of Ukrainian return into the European community. I would like to emphasize that it is not «joining», but «return», as Ukraine bears the impress of the difficult historical heritage of the enforced separation from the European grounds and the foreign culture influence during many centuries; first – of the Tsardom of Russia and then of the Russian Empire and USSR.

Ukrainian identity and Europe. Is there anything in common? The answer is clear: there is not only affinity, but also the genetic connection that for centuries haven’t been torn, although it had no clear international importance. The narration of historical facts hardly fits our subject: the problems of the modern world that are directly related to the events in Ukraine of the 21st century. However, I have to mention some important events that are worth and need to be remembered.

Historical argument of the Ukrainian identity affinity with the European world and the European values.

Modern Ukraine has definite connection with the historical heritage of the Kievan Rus’. It is proved by thousands of scientific researches and historical facts. First mentions of the Kievan Rus’ sovereignty appear in VI-VII centuries AD.

The geopolitical value of Kievan Rus’ was demonstrated not only by the quite successful occupation of other states and territories, but also by the considerable civilizational influence, that the Kievan Rus’ had among the closer and distant lands, by the cultural and economic interchange within the medieval European community. Many of the European ruling dynasties looked toward to intermarry with the family of Grand Kyivan Knyazhs.

I would like to mention 2 facts. It is well known, that Yaroslav’s daughter, Anne became a wife to Henry I of France. It determined her destiny as the ancestor of almost 30 kings of France, starting from the Capetian dynasty and then House of Valois. There is also quite probable historical statement that almost at the same time, in 1067, Anne of Kiev’s (and later – queen of France) sister, Elisaveta Yaroslavna of Kiev became a wife to Sweyn II Estridsson, King of Denmark.

In general, Yaroslav the Wise concluded 7 dynastic marriages for his children. It explains, why he was also called the matchmaker of the Europe. His son Iziaslav married Gertrude-Olisava, princess of Poland. Sviatoslav married the Austrian princess, Oda of Stade. Vsevolod married the Greek princess, and Yuri –the German princess. Elisaveta, who was mentioned above, first married the Norwegian king, Anastasia – the King of Hungary and Anne – the King of France.

These relations between Ukraine and European countries weren’t stopped either in the XV-XVIII centuries. To prove it, it is sufficient to mention the names of Ivan Sirko, Bohdan Khmelnytsky, Ivan Mazepa and Philip Orlik with his first European Constitution of the Ukrainian state. The establishment of the equal international relations became possible after the power shift of 1917-18th in the Russian Empire.

However, all these endeavors to restore full relations with the European world during 5 centuries at least, were accompanied by the factor of imperial engulf of the historical grounds of Kievan Rus’ – Ukraine by the traditionally aggressive policy of Tsardom of Russia first, and then of the Russian Empire.

In fact, after the final destruction of the Ukrainian state in the XVIII century, the Russian Empire took unprecedented measures: it absorbed the historical memory of the Ukraine – Rus’ national identity and turned it into its own local demonstration of the Russian state evolvement. It is more than century, that the researchers are arguing and proving, using the obvious facts, that the falsification of Ukraine-Rus’ history in the Russian historiography was really dramatic, especially since the XVIII-XIX centuries.

We can say that it was the first experience of Russia using historical (informational) means of war against Ukraine, as the tool for annexation and maintenance of the authentic Ukrainian land, the people mind management ideological tool.

The practice of Ukrainian history falsification didn’t change either in the official ideology of the Soviet Union, starting from the early 20s of the XX century. It is also subject to the process of so-called «voluntary» entry of Ukraine into the Soviet Union, the Holodomor, that lead to the millions of victims among the Ukrainians who were deliberately exterminated by creating conditions of starvation, and the constant battle with the Ukrainians, who questioned the restoration of the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, as the full state of Europe.

The announcement of the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine in 1991, didn’t put an end to the restoration of full Ukrainian state process, but was just a beginning of it. In this light, the events of Maidan in 2013-14 were only the important milestone in the recovery of the European status of Ukraine.

However, this milestone was major and extremely important, as it demonstrated the birth of the modern Ukrainian European identity. The evolution of modern Ukraine over the last 23 years of independence certified the birth of the citizens with the new identity, Ukrainian European identity. This people were ready to put their own lives on the European values and the protection of essential human rights. What is really tragic, and what we can see now in Ukraine is in fact a war with the historical invader who strives in every way to prevent the return of Ukraine into the community of countries, where the roots of Ukraine-Rus’ state with its capital in Kiev are historically lie.

Ukrainian identity in the modern conditions.

Today the question of philosophical definition of the term «identity» remains one of the most difficult. Right now it would be improper to do the theoretical insight into the history of the identity theory. However, one of the main research problems is the recognition of the identity either as the substantive essential basis of the person that is permanent in proving oneself, or as the dynamic temporal complex of person’s impressions about itself.

It would be reasonable to uphold the position that first of all, the identity is a dynamic and variable form of human consciousness. Its meaning depends on many factors, including environment, education and nurturing, influences on the certain conclusions, and finally – the informational content of the mind.

In this connection, it is necessary to make the main conclusion – there is no dominant uniform identity in the modern Ukraine. However, it shows rather grand dynamic process of the modern Ukrainian identity formation, evoked by the events at the beginning of Maidan, than the lack of status of Ukrainian identity. The Maidan has finally indicated the birth of citizens, no longer identifying themselves with the Ukrainian Soviet history, who stepped forward to the way of self-determination, focused on the European values.

Actually, it was specifically the radical attempt to cease identifying themselves with the Soviet imperial environment that created a mortal threat to the imperial Soviet, and later the modern Russian system, the successor of the USSR.

It is no surprise that the Maidan consciousness is the greatest threat to the integrity of the «Russian world», as it appeared as the conscious and, most of all, as the personal choice, that wasn’t controlled from the outside. It destroys the philosophical foundations of the centenary existence of the empire, leaded and guided by the ideology of destruction, even the physical one, of the self-sufficient person.

As for the author, the main problem of the modern confrontations lies in the fact that the events in Ukraine have demonstrated the possibility and the fact of transformation of the «Soviet person» into the person, who has accepted what we call the European values and essential human rights as something evident, the meaning of life and existence. Denying them means losing life. This is probably one of the major changes in the definition of the current Ukrainian identity.

And again, this modern Ukrainian identity is a mortal danger to the «Russian world» substance. The fact of the possibility of «Soviet man» or the «Russian world man» transformation into the personality can lead to the centenary history of the empire, guided by the violence ceasing to exist. Talking about violence, I mean the violence against the person’s consciousness, which is sacrificed for the sake of substance of the state.

There is one comment on and the confirmation of the abovementioned message. If we look at the geography of the aggression outbreaks in the modern European values – oriented world, including Asian area, we can come to a conclusion that it clearly fits the historical geography of spread of the Russian, and moreover, of the Soviet imperial interests.

Moreover, the tension, aggression, instability and terrorism grows at the areas, where the model of Soviet-Russian management was used at least for a short period. Unfortunately, such management was used almost all over the world. In the over-tense situation of the modern world, Ukraine is situated in the center of the premature detection of more than cosmological aspirations of the modern Russian government to dominate in the world and to prove, that its way of existence is the only possible, corresponding the laws of Genesis.

Why premature? There are more and more facts, testifying that the absorption of Ukraine as the independent sovereign state was planned in 2015 via manipulations with the constitutional basics of the state, and creation of the «hybrid» legislation for the possibility of sort of «voluntary» reconstruction of the status «1991», meaning the USSR. It is clear that the government of the former President of Ukraine was to provide the process.

The Maidan erupted suddenly not only for the government of Ukraine and Russia, but also for most Ukrainians. But it suddenly has found the sufficient number of citizens who were ready for changes of the personal identity from the person of the recent historical period to the new one. This is precisely why the most cynic attempts to destroy the Maidan and the Maidan’s consciousness indicate that this event gave rise to the possibility of demolition of the whole civilization of the «Russian world».

Considering these factors we can determine the environment of formation and existence of the modern Ukrainian identity.

Typology of modern Ukrainian identity.

There is no doubt that the distinguished types listed below are not intended to be exhaustive. However they let us to navigate in the current situation.

1. Ukrainian identity marked by the affiliation to the citizenship of Ukraine – the national identity;

2. Within this type of identity the citizens of Ukraine with the modern Ukrainian identity can be distinguished, for whom the essential human rights, their protection and the European values became dominant;

3. Citizens of Ukraine who clearly recognize their affiliation to the citizenship of Ukraine, but who mostly identify themselves on the basis of «Ukrainian Soviet person» identity;

4. Citizens of Ukraine who recognize their affiliation to the citizenship of Ukraine but continue to identify themselves on the basis of «Soviet person» identity;

5. Citizens of Ukraine who involuntarily acknowledge their affiliation to the citizenship of Ukraine, and who identify themselves on the basis of «Soviet person» identity;

6. Citizens of Ukraine who involuntarily acknowledge their affiliation to the citizenship of Ukraine, who identify themselves on the basis of «Soviet person» identity and at the same time the «Russian World person» identity;

7. Citizens of Ukraine who deliberately ignore their affiliation to the citizenship of Ukraine, and who identify themselves on the basis of «Soviet person» identity and at the same time the «Russian World person» identity;

At the moment, there are no precise statistics on each type of identity, but the general national resistance against Russian aggression upon Ukraine confirms the predominance of Ukrainian citizens of the 1st-4th types. Types from 5th to 7th are the most problematic for the integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. Today we can see the struggle of Russian Federation for the possibility to manipulate the citizens of Ukraine with these exact from 5th to 7th types of identity.

The aggressor’s means of control over the identity of Ukrainian citizens.

Another thesis that should be mentioned at the conference is as follows: in the situation of a hybrid war we are dealing with the phenomenon of a «hybrid identity». Targeted efforts towards the formation of a hybrid identity violate the clear identification of the residents of Ukraine, primarily as the citizens of a sovereign, independent state, the subject of international law, that have all the powers and means to defend their lives and their state.

The hybrid form of identity support by the Russian government also involves the transformation of consciousness, and its filling with the profitable content, or even the physical extermination in the strategic events of those who consciously discovered the properties of identity, focused on the priority of European values, and the recognition of the essential human rights.

Today this exact group of citizens is standing at the vanguard of the Ukraine joining the European community. Finally, we shall state, that together with the military demonstration of war, the main battle is the battle for the minds of people, of Ukrainian citizens, who will by their deeds determine the direction of Ukraine. It is also important that the said domination over the minds of people concerns not only the citizens of Ukraine, but most of all the citizens of Russia.

As it was already mentioned before, the same conditions can be seen in the countries, where the Soviet-Russian governance model, the model of government and society relations was implemented even for a short period. As a result, in the minds of these countries’ citizens, there are still the residuals of self-identification with the Soviet life environment and Soviet components of personal identity.

That’s why the fight for the opportunity to restore the control over the content of consciousness as well as the reasons of the certain identity formation becomes the mean of expansion of Russian ideology, which is a prerequisite for the deployment of the next steps of the aggressive expansionist policy.

All these components are illustrated in details in the situation in Ukraine. If the setting of control over the reasons for specific identity formation hadn’t been done beforehand, the military phase of the expansion would have been impossible. Today we can see actual hostilities in those specific regions of the country, where the Russian influence managed to take control over the self-identification of Ukrainian citizens environment, moreover – to form the content of the citizens of another country identity, necessary for them.

At the regions, where such attempts have been neutralized in time, we see tense situations, which are still can be described as situations of peaceful stability. Here, it is appropriate to mention Odessa, Kharkov, Mariupol, Zaporozhye, Dnipropetrovsk, and other Ukrainian cities.

Consequently, the following statement should be as follows: we shall regard the philosophical definition of the personal identity, as the dynamic, evolving phenomenon, that moreover can be influenced and manipulated. The present situation in Ukraine can be treated as the example for the analysis of the means of such control and management of the citizens’ identity by the other country. Therefore, the maintenance of the «hybrid identity» status involves the creation of «manual control over the identity» tools.

«Manual control» over the identity.

There are two important comments, that will determine the brief analysis of the means of the human minds control, and hence its self-identification. I would like to emphasize once again, that for the modern «Russian world» the mortal threat lies not only in the appearance at the territory of Ukraine of the community of people with identity based on the European values, but also the possibility of this type of consciousness appearance at the territory of Russia itself.

The paradoxical and dangerous fact is that the maintenance of Russia’s Status quo forces it to persecute the post-Soviet manifestations of consciousness with a focus on European values and human rights at any territory that used to be at the USSR or Russia’s zones of influence. For the religious leaders of Russia, it is crucial to demonstrate, that the evolution to the level of general civil democracy identity at the territory of the «Russian world» interests is fundamentally impossible, and shall those, who decide to get rid of the Soviet mind features be stigmatized as people, going the wrong way.

Otherwise, the age-old substance of the «Russian world» will rapidly and irreversibly collapse by the «domino effect». Thence, the minimum task for the modern Russian government is to increase the range of other countries’ citizens who continue to identify themselves according to 4-5 types.

One of the major tools of the «hybrid identity» support that blurs the clear contours of the national identity of Ukrainian citizens is the massive use of the modern media that have long ago gone beyond the limits of promulgation of the true facts about the events and phenomena. As a mean of the «manual control over the identity», the media are used to create the necessary material, which directly affects the reasons of human identification, and finally, the establishment of its identity.

In addition to the media, it is important to mention the following factors that stimulated and are still influencing the identification processes in Ukraine:

1. The annexation of Ukraine and its return to the «Russian World» zone of influence was planned long before the «Maidan» events of 2013-14’s. It can be proved by the facts from the own experience of Ukraine studies researches and by the public events that started immediately after President Yanukovych coming to power.

Working on the electronic edition of the scientific journal “Ukrainian studies”, starting from the 2009, the editorial staff drew attention to the increased interest in Russian search systems, that were extremely active in copying all the materials that were published on the site; in December 2009, the search system immediately copied 15 771 pages, in March 2010 – 10 360 pages, in June 2010 – 17 452 etc.

Hence we can say that it was that time, when the Russian analysts were performing potent analysis of the theoretical developments in the field of “Ukrainian studies”, particularly, of the Ukrainian identity.

2. The practice of the «historical reconstructions» became significantly widespread over the territory of Ukraine, the events in terms of these reconstructions were presented from the certain ideological perspective and it was the exact time, when the ideas about «fascists, anti-Semites and Nazis» in Ukraine were imposed over the society and the international community. Many representatives of the European Community, in particular, took the position for granted.

3. In addition to the content of identities manipulations in Ukraine, we should mention one of the theoretical bases of the modern expansion policy of Russian influence that is the theory of synergy that was actively developing in Russia for more than 10 years.

Unfortunately, this theoretical platform is used with the negative purpose, as the synergy of facts of terror, which are to ensure the spread of the Russian interests as far, as it is possible. Thus, the military actions at the sovereign territory of Ukraine, the acts of terror in France, in Armenia and in other countries, create the synergy of violence and tension; they become the means for geopolitical goals achievement.

In conclusion, I would like to mention the following. Today, the researches on the Ukrainian identity are very important. They can demonstrate how the goals can be achieved in other countries of the European Union. The similar manipulations with the attempts to «control the identities manually» were notices in the Baltic States, in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, etc. The negative synergy of these events can cause the catastrophic consequences for the European and international community.

I would like to mention, that the Ukrainian events became the unexpected impact for the rethinking of the role and importance for the international community of freedom, democracy, human rights and European values. The protection of these values by the modern Ukraine is provided by the lives of Ukrainians, the citizens of Ukraine, regardless of origin, religion, sex or the ideological viewpoints.

Thereby, the Ukraine applies with request to the world to understand that freedom and democracy are in need of protection and decisive actions; it is not merely the internal problem of Ukraine, Russia and the European Union. Thanks to the events in Ukraine, freedom, democracy and the values created at the territory of Europe became global and have created the new world paradigm.

Freedom and democracy become the meaning of existence of the new global system, of the new world order. I am sure that struggle for these values will lead to the peace and prosperity of the people of free will. Once again, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the sponsors of the conference for the opportunity to inform the European community about the important problems of the modern Ukraine, and for the possibility to discuss the outstanding values of freedom, human rights and democracy.


1. Af Karsten Fledelius Rusland, Ukraine og Den europ?iske Union! // MENNESKERET & VRANG. – 2015. – № 2. – P. 14-16. [Electronic resource] / Af Karsten Fledelius. – Access mode:

2_2015_WEB.pdf 2. The Contemporary Relations between Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union. Conference at Landstingssalen, Christiansborg (The Danish Parliament) // [Electronic resource] – Access mode:

Created by T. Kononenko [Bulletin of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Philosophy. №2 2017]

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