Timothy Snyder: The Making of Modern Ukraine. Class 19. Oligarchies in Russia and Ukraine | Summary and Q&A

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November 17, 2022
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Timothy Snyder: The Making of Modern Ukraine. Class 19. Oligarchies in Russia and Ukraine

TL;DR

The formation of modern Ukraine is influenced by historical events such as Polish-Ukrainian relations, the Solidarity movement, dissident discussions in the Gulag, and the push for human rights. The political notion of a national state also played a crucial role in Ukraine's independence.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How did Solidarity contribute to the formation of modern Ukraine?

Solidarity provided a platform for discussions about difficult questions, including Polish-Ukrainian relations. It advocated for political rights, released political prisoners, and expressed solidarity with nations within the Soviet Union, including Ukraine. Solidarity's approach helped shape a political notion of nationhood.

Q: What role did Ukrainian dissidents in the Gulag play in shaping Ukraine's political thinking?

Ukrainian dissidents in the Gulag engaged in conversations about the future of Ukraine, discussing the nation's political character and the complexities of creating an independent state. The debates in the Gulag influenced the shift towards a political understanding of the nation rather than purely an ethnic one.

Q: How did the Ukrainian Helsinki Committee contribute to the idea of a political nation in Ukraine?

The Ukrainian Helsinki Committee emphasized that national rights are individual rights, rooted in human rights. By highlighting violations of these rights, such as language suppression and restrictions on cultural expression, they argued for political nationhood and against the ethnic national framework.

Q: How did the dissolution of the Soviet Union lead to Ukraine's independence?

The shift in power and influence following the failed coup in the Soviet Union allowed Boris Yeltsin, the Russian leader, to pull Russia out of the Soviet Union. This led to a meeting between the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, where they agreed to dissolve the Soviet Union. Ukraine then held a referendum, which resulted in a majority vote for independence, allowing the establishment of an independent Ukrainian state.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The Polish factor has played a significant role in shaping Ukrainian history, including cultural, political, and conceptual aspects.

  • The Solidarity movement in Poland opened up discussions about difficult questions, such as Polish-Ukrainian relations, and advocated for political rights and freedoms.

  • Dissidents in the Gulag, including Ukrainian nationalists, contributed to the political thinking and debates about the future of Ukraine.

  • Human rights became an important language and tool for resistance against the Soviet Union, challenging the idea of normality and advocating for national rights.

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