Saturday, January 31, 2009

Year of Mazepa: Baturyn — forever!

The restoration of the historical and cultural preserve “Hetman’s Capital” in Baturyn is, undoubtedly, a significant event for every Ukrainian who has at least a vague idea about the importance of the Nov. 2, 1708 disaster for our homeland.

The Russian troops were led by “His Serene Highness” Prince Aleksandr Menshikov, an embezzler, intriguer, hater of Ukraine, early 18th-century “oligarch,” and Tsar Peter I’s closest aide. The Russian soldiers cut out the entire population of Baturyn—up to 15,000 people, according to certain estimates. They had no pity on newborn babies, women, or the elderly. This was a deadly blow to Baturyn, Hetman Mazepa’s favorite capital, as well as to his plans to get free from Muscovy’s “heavy hand” and win state sovereignty for Ukraine.

Well before Ivan Mazepa’s reign Baturyn served as the place of residence for such well-known Ukrainian hetmans as Demian Mnohohrishnyand Ivan Samoilovych. Later, following the demise of the hetman state, the tradition was maintained by Kyrylo Rozumovsky and Danylo Apostol.

Thus it is not accidental that these historical leaders are immortalized in the new sculptural composition that has been solemnly unveiled by President Viktor Yushchenko in Baturyn. Historical traditions of Ukraine’s Independence, in particular those cherished in the Hetman State, are a bridge linking state building in the distant past with the present day.

Historical memory is an absolutely indispensable component of a politically mature nation, although it is not sufficient because there is also the specific state responsibility for today’s realities. That is why it is didactic and necessary to think about Baturyn today — otherwise we may have to exert as much effort to restore the glorious landmarks of our history in another 300 years.

Source: The Day
Tuesday, 27 January 2008