For some Ukrainians, Ukraine is not enough to realize our big ambitions. “Little Ukrainian culture” is too narrow for those people.
Building a strong, independent, democratic Ukraine is not a sufficiently large-scale mission. That is why they dream of ideas of reconstructing Russia, that is why they are looking for “other Russians”, who should become allies in this “really ambitious task.”
That is why they listen with admiration to those Russians who, not finding themselves in Putin’s Russia, want to build “another Russia” among us, so that they can then export it to their homeland.
And what if we really focus all our efforts on changing our neighbor into a democratic country together with other Russians (liberal, pro-Western)?
This will really be a global transformation! It will change not only Russia but also the whole world!
Maybe in this new world, we Ukrainians will live better and safer? But in order to understand what will happen when Ukrainians help the Russians change their state, instead of building their own, you don’t need to invent a future.
It is enough to look back.
The history of the creation of the Russian Empire at the beginning of the 18th century or the Soviet Union in the 20th is, in particular, the history of those ambitious Ukrainians for whom Ukraine was not enough.
Such as my compatriot Stepan Yavorsky, a native of Halychyna and a graduate of Kyiv Mohyla Academy. One of the henchmen of the creator of the Russian Empire, Peter I, the de facto head of the Russian Church transformed an independent institution into a tool in the hands of the emperor.
He not only took the side of Peter I in the war with Mazepa but also imposed an anathema on the Ukrainian hetman.
However, Yavorsky’s cooperation with the Russian emperor was not just treason.
For him personally, this was an opportunity to realize his large-scale ambitions. Like transforming the Moscow Academy to a model of his native Mohyla Academy. In this, he was helped by many other high-ranking Ukrainians who formed the basis of the teaching staff of the Moscow Academy for decades. In general, many leaders of the reformed church were active builders of the new empire and most of them (70 out of 127) in the first half of the 18th century, were Ukrainians.
Another graduate of Mohyla, Feofan Prokopovych, was the author of the above-mentioned church nationalization project, which eliminated the “dual power” and concentrated all power, including church power, in the hands of the tsar. It was he who played a huge role in the creation of Russia as a centralized empire.
Ukrainians not only built the internal structure of Russia but also expanded its borders, taking part in Russian attacks on neighboring states. The Kyiv colonel Oleksandr Bezborodko, who came from among the Cossack ranks, initiated the conquest and occupation of Crimea, Georgia and the division of Poland.
He did not forget about his homeland either: he imposed additional taxes on the residents of Ukraine, which were supposed to compensate for the deficit in the empire’s budget.
Many Ukrainians considered the construction of the Ukrainian state too trivial for them, even after the 1917 Revolution.
The Bolshevik idea of rebuilding the Russian Empire and the world looked more ambitious. That is why, for example, Yuriy Kotsyubinsky, the son of one of the most famous Ukrainian writers, became the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the so-called Soviet Ukrainian People’s Republic, in the hybrid war of the Bolsheviks against the real Ukrainian People’s Republic.
20 years later, the Bolsheviks “thanked” him for his service by arresting and shooting him.
But the fate of Yuriy Kotsyubinsky did not deter others who considered it normal to realize their ambitions, serving the empire against their people.
Vitaly Fedorchuk, a native of the Kyiv region, had a wonderful career in the Soviet system, heading the Soviet KGB and then the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Moving to the top of the rungs of the Chekist ladder, he mercilessly destroyed the Ukrainian national movement, launching large-scale repression against Chornovil, Stus, Svitlychny and hundreds of other dissidents.
And even the current restorer of the Russian Empire, Putin, has a faithful Ukrainian Cossack, or rather just a Kozak. Dmytro Kozak, a native of the Kirovohrad oblast, has been one of those closest to the current president of the Russian Federation ever since he was the mayor of St. Petersburg.
Since 2014, he has been responsible for the affairs of the occupied Crimea in the Russian government. From 2020 – he was the Deputy Head of the Administration of the President of Russia, responsible for its policy toward Ukraine. Dmytro Kozak was a participant in the negotiations with Ukraine, which ultimately ended in February of this year with the large-scale Russian invasion.
Ukrainians are already changing Russia. They are among those who turned her into an imperial monster.
Invented by Kyiv intellectuals in the 18th century, it has been trying to kill its mother for three hundred years.
This is our Frankenstein’s monster.
Among some Ukrainians, it causes admiration or even jealousy at how strong and scary it turned out to be.
This is about our strength, our mind, capable of creating such things!
But infatuation is deadly. Because the monster wants only one thing: to kill us.
Attempts to see it as something human, close to us, something we can live with are just as dangerous. There is no such thing. It is our death, or we are it.
I am sure our generation will eventually realize the second option. We have to do with our monster what Dr. Frankenstein failed to do with his monster – to destroy it, to aid in the final decomposition of its already dead body.