So I have a video on my YouTube channel of an elderly West Ukrainian gentleman that says there weren’t any Ukrainians around before the break up of the Austrian Empire in 1918. I titled it in Russian: Ukrainians did not exist under Kaiser. Here is a translated transcript:
Interviewer: Tell me! Under Austrian rule, did your parents consider themselves to be Ukrainians?
Interviewee: We Ukrainians did not exist under the Austrian rule. Back then, the official nomenclature was Ruthenians, however colloquially the name was Rusyns. And we called ourselves Rusyns. And only when Austria broke up in 1918, we began calling ourselves Ukrainians. But until then, we considered ourselves to be Rusyns.
Every Ukrainian is also either a Rusyn or Maloross (Little Russian). He shares kinship with Greater Russians, that is people of the Russian Federation. However, due to centuries of foreign rule, a creole culture has developed there, which gave to some the idea that they are different. Without going much into how the ethnonym Ukrainian appeared, the term Ukrainian has stuck. I personally do not mind defining myself as part Ukrainian. My Ukrainian grandad was one of the best people I met in my life, we went fishing together, and he was very crafty.
But every Ukrainian has an ancestor that shared a connection to Rus through his ancestors. What is Rus? It is an antiquated name for Russia. Russia or Rusiya first appeared in Arabic texts, from there it was adopted by the by the Byzantines, and other European nations. It entered the Russian language through Byzantium, and Rus became the old designation, whereas Russia was the new. Today if anyone wants to sound antiquated he uses the term Rus for Russia.
That said, I do not want the Ukrainian creole culture to perish and be replaced by the Greater Russian variant. Out of the Slavic languages I enjoy Slovak and Ukrainian the most. My mother says they sound so rural but that is the beauty of them. They are better because they are melodic and smooth, unlike Czech, or Russian. The Czechs and Russians had a statehood from the Middle Ages, and the Ukrainians and Slovaks are modern nations based off peasant cultures, that’s why their songs are something…
Ukrainians should feel kinship with the rest of Russia, not meaning the Russian Federation but historical Russia, Holy Russia.
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