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About The Book

The territorial expansion that transformed Russia into a huge, multinational empire was characterized by a thirst for centralism and a unitary form of government. At the same time, circumstances forced Russia to permit a certain amount of autonomy to the lands on the western periphery of the empire. The Ukrainian Hetmanate, having found itself under the suzerainty of the Russian tsar, in 1654, managed to maintain separate military, administrative, financial, and court systems for another century. Strained relations between the centralizing forces (bent on creating a unitary system of government, a unified social structure, and even a single culture) and local authorities (in the Hetmanate, the Polish Kingdom, etc., who demanded recognition of their rights and privileges) remains one of the main, albeit little researched, chapters in Russian history. Zenon E. Kohut follows the clash between Russian centralism and Ukrainian autonomy, focusing attention on the period from the reign of Catherine II, during which Ukrainian institutions were eliminated by imperial decree, to the 1830s, when Ukrainian society was finally integrated into the Russian Empire. The author investigates three main questions. Firstly, he shows how the imperialist attitudes of Russian functionaries, influenced by the introduction of Enlightenment ideas mixed with the theories of an organized police state, strengthened the desire for a centralized Russia, and how these theoretical musings influenced the political course of the empire. Secondly, Kohut shows to what extent Ukrainian society opposed imperialistic encroachments on the one hand and adapted itself to the new environment on the other. Thirdly, the author concludes that the unification of Ukraine and Russia led to the russification of Ukrainian cities and turned Ukrainians into a nation of villagers. Translation of Russian Centralism and Ukrainian Autonomy: Imperial Absorption of the Hetmanate, 1760s–1830s, published by the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (1988).

About The Author

Zenon E. Kohut

Zenon E. Kohut

A prominent historian and a former Director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Dr. Zenon E. Kohut is the author of many scholarly articles and books including Російський централізм i українська автономія. ліквідація …

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