Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vol. 1, No. 3, July 2015 Publish Date: Jun. 2, 2015 Pages: 197-207

Why Ukrainians are Ready to Give Their Lives for Democratic Future of Their Country (History of Ukrainian Democracy)

Olena Babinova*

Charles University in Prague, Department of Political Science, Visiting Researcher, Prague, Czech Republic


Current situation in Ukraine raises many questions about Ukraine and Ukrainians. Who are the Ukrainians? What are the differences between Ukrainians and Russians? Why Ukrainians are ready to give their lives for democracy? And why they have so strong desire to live in democratic society in general? The history of Ukraine and Ukrainians is giving the answers on these questions. All countries on the territory of current Ukraine had strong democratic approaches in governance. Wide public participation in decision-making was the basis on which was built Ukrainian mentality and the state formation in general. Democracy was the main form of government on the territory of current Ukraine from many millenniums B.C. Historical analysis is showing that the striving of Ukrainians for freedom and democracy is the basis of their mentality. History shows that as soon as the state began to pressure on Ukrainian freedoms, the mass citizens’ discontents and struggle for democracy and in some cases for independence immediately started. Historical analysis resulted that Ukrainians cannot live in nondemocratic state, without protected human rights and democracy.


Democracy, Public Participation, Public Meetings, Ukraine

1. Introduction

This paper intends toanalyze the history of formation of Ukrainian democracy on the basis of an analysis of democratic elements in the countries which existed on the territory of current Ukraine.

The goal of this paper is to make a brief historical analysis of Ukrainian statehood and the main approaches of governance in the states which existed on the territory of Ukraine many centuries ago.

In the period of last 10 years, in Ukraine two revolutions for democracy and human rights have taken place. Why Ukrainian so active in their desire to live in democratic society? For answer on this question I decided to analyze the history of the statehood of Ukraine. And the main research question in this context: Is democracy a something new for Ukrainians or they have some democratic traditions in governmental approaches? The answer on this question will help to understand the nature of Ukrainian democracy and Ukrainian mentality in general. It will give some very important knowledge about Ukrainians, their aspirations and reasons for so strong struggle for democracy in their country.

2. Democratic Processes in the First State Formations on the Territory of Current Ukraine

For consideration of democracy on the territory of current Ukraine we have to start from many millenniums B.C., from the first state formations. These formations appeared in IV - V millenniums B.C., and by the opinion of many historians the first state on the territory of current Ukraine was the Cimmerian reign. First time it was mentioned in the works of Homer and Herodotus in about the VIII BC. Despite that a tsar of Cimmerian reign stood as a head of the reign, his power was restricted by the people’s will – public meetings (veche). It is like public hearings today, but more power, significant and influential. Why? Because now on the public hearings the citizens have a possibility to discuss some local problems, to give their ideas, proposals to the power authorities or to their representative, but these authorities and their representatives do not have any obligations to realize these proposals, ideas and recommendations. However, the situation in the first state formations on the territory of current Ukraine was quite different. The tsar was obliged to implement the desire of the citizens. If the tsar decided to make some decisions, he was obliged to discuss it with the citizens on public meetings, who were giving their agreement or disagreement by cry, shouts, and by giving the signals by their hands – yes or no. If we will follow the opinion of the great philosopher Aristotle  (Aristotle, 350 B.C.) that democracy it is a possibility for all citizens to take active part in the process of governance, decision-making, the Cimmerian reign was an example of a real democracy in that period of time.

Figure 1. Territory of Cimmerian reign on the map.

Figure 2. Territory ofScythian state on the map.

In VII century B.C. on the territory of current Ukraine the second oldest state - Scythia was formed. Power was concentrated in the hands of a tsar, but at the same time, it was limited due to existence of public meetings - Scythian’s council. It was a supreme legislative body at the Scythian state, which was playing a key role in the process of an acceptance of all state decisions. Special role in Scythian’s council belonged to the soldiery leaders which were the leaders of the Scythian army. They participated in consideration of all major questions and were advisers of a tsar. He also had to co-ordinate and to discuss all his decisions with the Council of Elders which had significant impact as well. Some researchers noted that it was a form of military democracy, with significant elements of public self-government (Rogozin, A., 1996: 7).

Some centuries later on the place of Scythia was created a new state – Sarmatia. Sarmatians mainly lived by wars. It was their day-to-day life, but all questions the solved jointly, like the Scythians on public meetings. By this reason many scientists argued that it was a democratic form of state governance (Kirichuk V.V., Tymtsunyk V.I., 2001: 29). Actually, in Cimmerian, Scythian and Sarmatian states it was a combination of monarchist power with strong elements of democracy.

Almost at the same time with functioning of these first state formations on the territory of current Ukraine, on the South were appeared Greek cities-colonies – Olivia, Chersonese and some others. Their bloom was in V – IV millennium BC. All questions of external and internal policy, trade, financial system were discussed and solved only on the public meetings. As defined by V. Shevchiuk and M. Taranenko, the decisions of these meeting had to be implemented obligatory (Shevchiuk, V. and Taranenko, M., 1999:13).On these meetings the council of the city was elected. This Council was leaded by two main persons – Head of the Council and a Secretary. These persons also were elected on the public meetings.

3. First Ukrainian State and Its Further Development (Kievan Rus’)

Some centuries later, in 4th century, on these territories a new state was created –Antian reign. By opinion of famous Ukrainian philosopher and politician of XIX century M. Grushevskyj, it was a first Ukrainian state (M. Grushevskyj, 1917).The Antian reign was an example of democracy in that period of time. Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesarea noted: "Slavs and antians are governed not by one person, all questions - good or bad – they solve jointly"(Kirichuk V.V., Tymtsunyk V.I., 2001: 35). Power of a tsar was influential, but public meetings and council of Elders had almost the same power and played an important role in all processes of decision-making. A tsar was not inherited - he was elected by all population (on the public meetings) on the period of some danger and was also a war-lord or military leader. This form of governance often defined as a military democracy (F. Shulgenko, M. Naum, 1997; V. Shevchiuk, M. Taranenko, 1999). Very interesting that, the leader of the country was elected for solution of concrete problems. Actually he was employed by the citizens as a manager. Principles of the state administration of the Antian reign became the basis for forming of the state administration in a country that was created on this territory after it –Kievan Rus'. This country united the territories of current Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and South-West of Russia together with Moscow.

Kiev was a capital of this country. KievanRus' existed about 450 years (from IX century to the mid XIII century). The head of this state was the Grand Duke (Prince) of Kiev. All power was concentrated in his hands, but as in previous states, this power was restricted by public meetings (veche) and boyars’ council (M. Grushevskyj, 1918:103).

Figure 3. Territory of Kievan Rus’ (980-1054) on the map.

On the first stages of the functioning of this state the post of the Grand Duke was elected. The public meetings (veche) had the power not only invite the Grand Duke (as it was with famous Grand Duke from the Rurik dynasty and Grand Duke Vladimir Monomakh) but also to take off, dismiss the Dukes from their position for their ineffective work. In that period of time it was really the bloom of this territory. This country had developed system of local government. As in previous states, its main body was rural territorial community - verve. As a rule, the verve combined several villages, which had common property and solved all problems together. It was a form of common social life. Some period later, the Duke decided to make his post inherited. It was successful and as a result the power of Duke was significantly forced. The citizens as well as the Dukes of other small principalities were not very glad, because they couldn’t participate actively in the process of decision-making as it was before. Particularly this situation was the main reason for collapse of Kievan Rus’ on small principalities. However, they didn’t take into account that it is much easy to capture small state than big. As a result, many of these principalities were captured by Tatar-Mongols’ invasion. As it was noted by some scientists: Mongol - Tatars’ invasion led to the decline of Kievan Rus. Unfortunately, the most painful it reflected on local government. It lost its role as a tool of broad public democracy and has become as a tightly controlled organ harvesting taxes. Mongol-Tatars destroyed the bases on which Slavic communities were formed - representative power, and stopped the formation of Ukrainian state in the form of civil representation. The local government has come under double oppression - from the Tatar khans and from own dukes, who increasingly took the example from the Tatars and stopped to consult with public meetings (A. Kolodij, 2002: 69).

In the middle of the XII century Kievan Rus was finally disintegrated into separate principalities. On its territory more than a dozen feudal principalities and lands were formed. In each principality the levels of a power of dukes and boyars could vary and depended on many factors, but from the period of Kievan Rus the boyars’ councils and public meetings in big cities existed as before.

At that time, the modern Russian Federation was only a small principality on the east of Finland (from Moscow and further on the north). But some period later, less than one century, the territory of this principality has more than doubled through the relevant public policy –joining of the neighboring territories.

Some principalities from Kievan Rus’ successfully repulsed Tatar-Mongols’ raids and continued their development. The most big and successful from them was the Galychina-Volyn principality. It had developed and effective system of local self-government. At the beginning of XIV century the Magdeburg rights – legal possibilities for self-government, for independent solution of all important local problems - were entered in some cities of Galychina-Volyn principality (A.Kolodij, 2002: 101). It was significant step in further development of local self-government and revival of democracy. The principality was divided into cities, counties-provinces, townships and villages. Cities were managed by chief captains and mayors appointed by the duke. The counties-provinces were managed by governors, who had very wide powers. The townships had the heads, which also were appointed by duke. In villages the territorial community elected their heads - village headmen.

Figure 4. Territory of Russia after Kievan Rus.

4. Zaporizhian Sichand Ukrainian Cossaks’ Republic

Some years later, in 1340, on the row of circumstances, particularly with significant threat of Tatar-Mongols, Galychina-Volyn principality decided to join the more powerful and big states with purpose to be more defended from Tatar-Mongols invasion. As a result, some part of this principality was joined the young state - Great Duchy Lithuanian that appeared in XIII century, Galychina and some other parts – joined the Polish kingdom. As argued by V. Shevchiuk and M. Taranenko, in the Grand Duchy Lithuanian on the basis of political and spiritual cooperation have took place some becoming of Belarusian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian and Polish cultures, all these people - the historical heirs of this state in which the classical European power institutions have formed, and forms of representative monarchy and noble democracy were developed (V. Shevchiuk, M. Taranenko, 1999: 63). And really, for the basis of Lithuanian legislation was taken a "Rus’ Truth" - a collection of laws of KievanRus, and the language of KievanRus (old slavonic) received the status of state language. Ukrainian lands in the Duchy of Lithuania continued to enjoy the broad autonomy.

In 16 century, as a result of association of Lithuania and Poland was created a new state – Rzeczpospolita. The Duke of Lithuania became a king of Poland simultaneously. All the territory of the Rzeczpospolita was divided into 3 parts - Large Poland, Lithuania and Small Poland (Ukrainian land). The main purpose of this association was as before necessity to defend these territories from Tatar invasion. As it was noted in some historical documents, the Ukrainians were not satisfied that all privileges were for polish population, that they don’t have the same rights as polish people, etc. And they decided to create again their own state. In the middle of the XVI century a "state in the state" Zaporizhian Sich was created. It was an independent territory which existed between the 16th and 18th centuries. It was a territory of independent people, in most cases only men. Their main task also was a protection of the territory of whole Rzeczpospolita from Crimean Tatars. The system of government in this state was a military democracy. Actually it was a self-organised army as a permanent settlement. The people in this settlement called Cossacks. All Cossacks were equal, all governmental bodies were elected, and all questions were solved jointly on the public meetings. For this reason, many scientists call Zaporizhian Sich as "cossack democratic republic" (A. Rogozin, 1996; A. Kolodij, 2002; V. Shevchiuk, M. Taranenko, 1999).

ZaporizhzhyaSich had all features of an independent state formation (only nominally subordinate to Rzeczpospolita, which gives reason to call it a republic) and democracy, which manifested itself in the formal equality of all Cossacks, elections of all administrative bodies, a joint solution of all problems and issues, free entry to the Sich and leaving it. Some researchers claim that it provided the integrity of Sich and its success that through the relative internal stability and social harmony Sich could survive and ensure its functioning (V. Shevchiuk, M. Taranenko, 1999: 82- 83). The famous French writer Prosper Mérimée in his work about Ukrainian cossaks noted the following: The ZaporizhianSich was an absolute equality of the Cossacks; only old Cossacks had some more wide power, including the right to decide some controversial issues, moot points. All important questions were solved by majority of voices. Gathering in a military campaign, they chose the commander, who was called ataman or hetman, whose power was absolute as it should be in the period of military action. But after the campaign he was again equal to the Cossacks, and in addition, reported on his actions - explained his mistakes in the period of military action and his decisions.(Prosper Mérimée, 1865).

The supreme body of ZaporizhianSich was a Council of Sich. The head of the Sich – Hetman or Ataman was elected by this Council. Also this Council solved all important political, military and administrative questions (M.Grushevskyj, 1918). The development of ZaporizhianSich was until the situation when the Hetman was elected person and the system of administration based on democratic principles. The last Hetman of ZaporizhianSich Bogdan Khmelnitsky decided that this post should be inherited. He wanted that next hetman was his sun. And in general he wanted to receive more strong power. As a result, ZaporizhianSich was transformed into Ukrainian cossack’ state – country which was officially recognized by many other countries and Bogdan Khmelnitsky was a leader of this state(figure 5).

For achievement of a greater safety, he decided to sign an agreement with Russia, because his new country had difficult relations with Poland and also the danger of Crimean Tatars’ invasion always was possible. This agreement was signed in 1654. It was a big mistake, because Ukrainians always were striking for democracy, but Russia had quite different mentality. Russia, unlike Ukraine, always was a totalitarian state with strong centralized power.

Figure 5. Territory of Ukrainian Cossack Republic (in lilac) on the map.

As a result, some very short period later, the rights and freedoms of Ukrainians in the framework of Russia were restricted. During the reign of Peter 1 cossacks were used for the construction of fortification lines in the northern Russia. An estimated 20–30 thousands were sent each year and only 35-40% of cossacks returned home alive. By assistance of cossaks, Russia received a victory in Russian-Turkish war and Crimea became a territory of Russia.

5. Ukrainians in the framework of Russian Empire

Totalitarian Russia couldn’t allow functioning so independent territory as ZaporizhianSich in its framework. Thus, in 1764 the Cossack Hetmanate was abolished, and in 1775 ZaporizhianSich was destroyed by Russian military forces. So, after the colonization of Sich by the Russian Empire the Sich was liquidated. And Ukrainian language was forbidden. It was not possible to speak or write Ukrainian. In 1781 the autonomy of Ukrainians lands was abolished. This territory became a province of Russian Empire.

On the map (figure 5) it is possible to see how big the Russian Empire became from the period of KievanRus’. With the liquidation of ZaporizhianSichand capture of the Crimea it was need to give a name of this new Russian territory.

Figure 6. Territory ofNew Russia or Novorossia on the map.

In Russia they decided to call this territory Novorossiya or New Russia. Here is the territory of Novorossiya on the map with the years when some territories were joined Russian Empire (figure 6).

Before this, some very important event for consideration and comprehension of Ukrainian character was taking place. In 1710 by hetman of Zaporizhian Sich Philip ORLIK was created a first in Europe (V.Kirichuk, V.Tymtsunyk) and in the world (A.Rogozin) democratic constitution. It was called "Constitutional Rights and Freedoms of Ukrainians". However, this constitution is not defined as first democratic constitution in the world. Officially, the first democratic constitution in the world is the Constitution of USA as the first Constitution of the real state. As argued Ukrainian researchers: The Constitution of P. Orlik was the most democratic constitution in Europe and the world in that time, it provided democratic structure of the state and democratic governance in Ukraine. However, it has not been implemented, because hetman P. Orlik in the battle with the Russian Empire was defeated and was unable to recover Ukrainian independent state (Kirichuk, V.V. and Tymtsunyk, V.I. 2001: 80).

According to this constitution Ukraine was proclaimed as an independent state. Public authorities were divided into three branches: legislative, executive and judicial. Legislative branch, by the constitution, belonged to the General Council, consisting of colonels, sergeant-majors and the deputies from the amount of the Cossacks. Executive power belonged to the hetman, but it was limited by existence of a general foreman. The hetman had to decide all important issues together with this person, in particular, the issues of court, elections, finance and international relations. All government positions in this Ukrainian independent state, by the constitution were elected. However, this constitution was not realized, because Ukraine was in the framework of Russian Empire and tsar Peter 1 couldn’t allow create this state. The fight of hetman Philip Orlik with totalitarian Russia was not successful. Thus, historical analysis is showing that the striving of Ukrainians for freedom and democracy is the basis of their mentality. They couldn’t live without freedom, human rights and democratic values and principles in their country. History shows that as soon as the state government began to pressure on Ukrainian freedoms, the mass citizens’ discontents and struggle for independence and liberation immediately started. Once a Russian regime began to suppress the Ukrainian people, impose its will, on the territory of Ukraine began to grow the citizens’ dissatisfaction and, consequently, relevant social activity.

In the framework of totalitarian Russian Empire Ukrainians created several secret groups. The members of these groups were very famous Ukrainian writers, poets, active citizens, etc.

The ideas of this social activity were reflected in the "Book of the life of Ukrainian people", written by M.Kostomarov. He was a supporter of the ideas of equality, freedom and democracy of Ukraine. In his view, the ultimate goal and the main task for Ukrainians was to build of independent Ukraine on the basis of Ortodox religion and democracy. Kostomarov emphasized that the Ukrainian people have always sought to democratic forms of government (M. Kostomarov, 1921). Very active member of the group of Kosomarov was the famous Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko. Like Kostomarov he also dreamed of Ukrainian independent state built on the democratic principles.

The end XIX - beginning of XX century was a period of appearance of citizens’ associations, groups of active defenders of the interests of Ukrainian people on the basis of the general rise of Ukrainian national identity, increasing their social activity. It is prepared by the end of XIX century the emergence of the first Ukrainian political parties. Before revolution in 1917 in Ukraine were about 20 political parties and organizations with political orientation (O.Diomin, 2003: 117-119).

The victory of the Revolution in 1917 allowed the Ukrainian people hope that they will receive their so desirable independence and build their own independent state on democratic principles. Unfortunately, these ideas were not supported by temporary Russian government.

6. Soviet Period in Ukrainian History

In 1917 in Kiev a Ukrainian National Congress was conducted. On this Congress was elected a new composition of the governing body of Ukrainian state - Central Council. On the post of a Head of this Council was elected M. Grushevskiy. He developed the Concept of government of Ukraine in which proposed to establish a democratic electoral system. It was expected that all social groups will be involved in the elections. At local level had to be several types of local self-governmental bodies: self-governed local communities; elected councils of districts and elected volost’ councils; regional parliament. On the Congress was taken a decision about Ukrainian autonomy in the framework of Russia. The special delegation was sent to Petrograd. Understandable that Russia didn’t allow creation of this autonomy. However, the Head of above-mentioned Council M. Grushevskiy decided in any case to create independent Ukrainian state. Several Congress were organised after it and on the 3rd Congress was taken a decision to create Independent Ukrainian State without Russia. This country existed 3 years. In 1918 the leaders of Russia decided to send military forces and destroy this country. This war was 2 years. It was very difficult period of fighting for democracy for Ukrainians. Many people were killed. A red army defeated in this battle. From 1920 it was a territory of Soviet power.The motto of it: "All power to the Councils, to the citizens" was only on the paper and only words. It is not possible to say about real democracy or self-government in that period. They were absent. However, it was not the main problems than. The process of collectivization was started. The people were obliged to give their lands, all their property including horses and cows, their food including flour and wheat to soviet power. Understandable that people didn’t want to make it. The representatives of soviet power said that "we will collect all what you have and create the farms and factories, and you will receive from it according to your needs".

For fighting with significant opposition of Ukrainians the soviet power decided to use a force, to take the property of Ukrainians forcibly. All people who didn’t want to give their property were shot. Despite of it, Ukrainians as before didn’t want to unit into soviet collective farms. And soviet regime found a new mean of fighting with Ukrainians. For this territory were discontinued all food supplies. In 30th years of 20 century it was a very strong starvation. The people died from famine just on the streets. As a result, the soviet power received an agreement from Ukrainians for their unit into collective farms and to give all their property to these farms. It was really very difficult period for Ukraine and its people.

When the 2nd world war was started and the German army was on the territory of Ukraine some of Ukrainians were very glad. They hoped that they will receive so desirable independence of their country. And on the first stages they were trying to have some negotiations with the representatives of German army. Ukrainians decided to fight with the communist regime together. But when they saw that the fascists can kill any person without any reason they started to fight with the fascists as well. So, they were fighting both with communist’s Russia and German army. Understandable that so small country couldn’t receive a victory in this battle. The leader of this struggle was Stepan Bandera.He was fighting both with the communist regime and with the fascists. His struggle was not successful and as a result, he was put at the German concentration camp. Particularly for this reason, that just after arrival of German army, Ukrainians and their leader Stepan Bandera were trying to combine their forces in fighting with the communist totalitarian regime,the representatives of Soviet Union said that Stepan Bandera was a fascist. It was in all textbooks in soviet schools throughout all communist’s period.By opinion of soviet power, and current Russian power, if Ukrainians were fighting for democracy and their independent state with the communist regime, they are the fascists.

In the period of Soviet Union Ukraine was a republic in the framework of this state. Only in 1990 Ukraine received so desirable independence. However, it was independence only on the paper. As before Ukraine was like a province of Soviet Union and the communists were the leaders of the country. As a result, the level of corruption was very high, and citizens’ rights and freedoms were not protected.

7. Contemporary Struggle of Ukrainians for Democracy and Human Rights

The mass protests started from 2002. And in 2004 they were finishing by Orange Revolution. The elections in 2002 become the beginning of the manifestation of public activity. Those elections have had a lot of infringements and did not express, in full measure, the public will. From this period of time in the country were started the mass actions of public protests. A lot of political forces have taken part in it. They were political parties with different ideas and political views.The events of "orange revolution" in Ukraine have proved that citizens are very active and they are ready to take active part in the life of their country, that civil society in Ukraine not only formed, but active functioning - it can assert own rights, interests and even form a power and its structures.

In general, the main reasons of "Orange revolution" were the following:

a big scale of corruption;

isolation power from citizens;

absence of understanding in power that they work for people, but not for themselves;

significant pressure on the democracy and freedom of speech;

absence of real and effective partnership between power and public as well as any public control.

The results of these reasons:

raising the democratic spirits in the civil society;

understanding of necessity of the changes in society;

realizing the citizens themselves as the creators of their own life.

In that new political situation, the issues of co-operation and partnership between power and public were very important. New democratic power, which received a big trust and support from citizens, have had to more collaborate with them, to rush be as more as possible responsible and responsive to the citizen’s needs. And the most important task for new Ukrainian power was not only to support the public activity, but create all conditions (technological, legislative etc.) for real development of democracy in the country as well as effective system of administration, particularly the development and reinforcement the system of local self-government as the main manifestation and expression of local democracy.

All these points were in pre-elective promises of candidates from democratic forces. Unfortunately, technological and legal aspects of democracy were not radically improved; citizens didn’t receive additional possibilities to take active part in the process of decision-making. However, such form of democracy as freedom of speech was developed in the country and all citizens have had the possibility to be really free in their opinions, ideas and thoughts. A lot of Ukrainians were disappointed by the activity of political forces after orange revolution, but they had all possibilities to give their points of view about it.

As announced the leading informational agency of Ukraine "INTERFAX-UKRAINE" in December 25, 2008, by opinion of the Head of analytical agency "Open Policy" Igor Zhdanov "Loss of trust in Ukrainian society to the central power bodies and to the political elite of country became the main result of 2008 year… loss of trust not only to the institutes of power but also to the political elite on the whole." - he said at the press-conference in the agency "INTERFAX-UKRAINE" in Kyiv (I.Zhdanov, 2009).

The big level of disappointment of Ukrainians by the activity of leaders of "orange revolution" have shown the results of public opinion polls which were conducted by Foundation "Democratic Initiatives" and non-governmental organization "Ukrainian Sociological Service" by support of the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine and Swedish Agency of International Development (SIDA) in 2008 which were announced in January 12, 2009. These opinion polls have shown the next situation in the country:As never before, the percent of citizens, who consider that Ukraine moves in erroneous direction is so high – more than 84%, and in the rightness of way is sure only 4%.

In comparing to 2007 year, the dissatisfaction of citizens about functioning of democracy in Ukraine is significant grown (from 61% to 70%). If in 2007 year in functioning the democracy were satisfied about 25% of citizens, at the end of 2008 year – only 16%. Was diminished an amount of those, who considers that "democracy is the most desired form of the political system in Ukraine" (from 45% in December, 2007 to 38% in December, 2008). At the same time is grown the amount of those, who considers that „under certain circumstances the authoritarian regime can be better, than democratic" (from 21% to 24%) and those, for whom "not important is democratic regime in the country or not" (from 15% to 19%) (Report of Foundation "Democratic initiatives", 2009).

Figure 7. Level of satisfaction of Ukrainians by functioning of democracyin the country in 2007-2008.

At the same time, the state of transparency of power and its cooperation with citizens were not radically improved after orange revolution. It is impossible to say that Ukrainian power after "orange revolution" was much more transparent then previous. The mechanisms of public involvement were not improved as it was intended.

In 2007, in Ukraine was conducted the conference "Strategy of reformation the system of public administration on the democratic basis". Already then, its participants have spoken the disturbance about state of transparency of power and public participation in the country. They emphasized the increasing activity and role in society of Ukrainian citizens and absence of concrete steps form central power in the direction of openness and transparency of their activity. As underlined some participants of the conference: Last years, Ukrainian civil society more frequent declares itself as influential public force which has a right and possibilities to decide the own fate. The events which received the name of "orange revolution" have taken place in the country under pressure of public and with its active participation. Expected, that efforts of new power would be directed on mobilization of public activity for solution of actual socio-economic and political problems. Unfortunately, it was not achieved. The citizens of Ukraine were not engaged in the process of decision-making, to the administration of state affairs on the whole. The policy of new power did not become in a sufficient degree more transparent and openly, than its predecessors. In it, by our opinion, was created the contradiction between power and civil society, activity of which during «orange revolution» showed up to a full degree. The forms and methods of cooperation between power authorities and public also were not improved and developed (L.Ysachenko, 2007).

The election of the President of Ukraine in 2010 has shown the great disappointed of Ukrainians by the leaders of "orange revolution". As a result, political power was received by their opponent.

Ukrainians though that maybe so strong totalitarian person as V.Yanukovych will be better than weak and inactive V.Yushchenko. And another motivation to vote for this person was his promises to develop the country in democratic direction and achieve real and effective European integration of Ukraine as well. However, from the first days of his presidency the situation was quite different. And the events from November 2013 were a citizens’ reaction on it.However, it was very difficult for Ukrainians to go on the actions of mass protests. They were not sure that another leader who will receive power as a result of these protests will execute his or her promises and be really democratic leader,  that he or she will not deceive. But the country was in situation when citizens couldn’t suffer more. Situation in the country in the period of the presidency of V.Yanukovych was the following: From the first days of the Presidency of Yanukovych, the members of his political party – "Party of the Regions" began to divide among themselves the property of the country. In all regions were the representatives of this party- member of the Parliament, and all enterprises and companies had to pay him a tribute. The country's budget was completely plundered, and when it was not anything to steal from it, was found a new way - through the public sector. Medical and educational reforms were conducted. The main direction of these reforms was reduction of amount of schools and hospitals. As a result: only in 2012 400 schools were closed, and in 2013 – 300 schools. Total amount 700 schools for 2 years, together with the teachers. Many schools were reduces in villages. The idea was to leave 1 school for 3 villages. And children had to go walk about 20-30 km to another village, because the school buses also were abolished. In medical sphere, many hospitals were closed also. Before this reform each even small village had at least one doctor. These doctors also were reduced. As a result, many people died because it was not possible for them to receive a medical assistance. The problem is that there is no good road connection between the villages and even paved roads. Usually it is need to go through forest several kilometres, because in most Ukrainian villages the bus runs only once or twice a day. And many of local people don’t have their own cars. The pensions were significantly reduced. Such important categories of citizens as people who fought in Afghanistan and who took part in the liquidation of the accident on Chernobyl station have been deprived of all privileges. However, many of them are the disabled people and every day they need in very expensive drugs without which they can die. All the posts in the country from top to bottom were occupied only by representatives of this party, their relatives and friends. The same approach was in the law-enforcement system. Courts, prosecutors, police worked only on the basis of bribes. It was not possible for ordinary people to apply for the courts or even to police without money. In these circumstances, all decent officers were resigned and left those for whom it was good, to whom it suited.New people came into these bodies, who wanted to work particularly in these conditions. These bodies, in particular policy, have become the head of crime. Thus, the drug trade was supervised by the special police department to combat drug trafficking. It was possible to sell drugs, but by bribing the police. There were clearly defined rates. In the conditions of so full impunity, police officers robbed, raped and even killed. It was not possible to appeal with complain, because any complains were not successful. On all positions only trusted people were put - from judges to prosecutors. By official statistic, in 2013 every week in police stations one person was killed. The policemen said that it was occasionally, that this men or women had some health problems, etc. In 2013 was terrible example of illegal or even criminal activity of the representatives of Ukrainian police. One man was invited to police station by policeman because he was drinking beer in the park just after the special prohibiting law was adopted. In this police station this man was raped by these policemen by truncheon. He underwent many operations and became disabled. So, the European integration for Ukrainians was not a question of an improvement the economic situation, their economic well-being. It was a question of their personal security and life. The Ukrainians hoped on realization of 2 important things: human rights and personal security, and strong system of control.

So, how the mass protest action was started? Why? What were its leading forces?

The last 2 years of the reign of Yanukovych, in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities took place the protests of different categories of citizens. They were teachers, representatives of medical sphere, parents of the children who had to go walk 20-30 km to schools, people who have suffered from the actions of the police, etc. The members of the Party of the Regions have taken into account all components, all possibilities to keep power, but they didn’t take into account only one – the ordinary people, the citizens of this country. And it was clear that if these people combine their protests, their forces, it will be very powerful and strong action. For their unit it was need only one impetus. And this impetus was very sudden and bloody crackdown of students protesting for not signing the agreement with EU. The students were sitting near with the monument of Independence of Ukraine on the main square in Kiev which called a Maidan of Independence. They decided to be on this square not only during the day but at night. And in 4 a.m. hundreds of policemen attacked several dozen of students. They not only dispersed students, but were herding them into the yards and beaten by truncheons. They chased after them through the streets of several hundred meters and beat. It was terrible cry on the streets. This cry heard the monks of the monastery, which located near with the Maidan. And they decided to open the gate. And only it saved people. Many of them were with broken heads, arms and legs. For policemen it was not important is it boy or girl. When Ukrainians saw it in the morning news they began to gather and go to the monastery. A lot of students, their parents gathered near with the main Kiev University – Taras Shevchenko University.It was only first days of the protests. After it, 3 months Ukrainians were on the Square (Maidan) of Independence days and nights. However, at the national legislation there is no any possibility for citizens to dismiss the government. If in developed democratic European countries, even for a small fault, the government or its members should resign, in Ukraine the governmental officials, civil servants can do whatever they want without any responsibility before citizens. So, now Ukraine has a situation in which the governmental or elected officials, members of the Parliament if they want, they can work for this country, for its citizens, but if they don’t want to do it, there are no any legal measures to force them realize their duties and responsibilities.  In Ukrainian legislation there are defined responsibilities for civil servants, elected officials, but the system of control doesn’t work. There are no any possibilities to withdraw the elected officials from their posts if they don’t want to work for the citizens, for the country. In future, this situation may lead to desire of some people to use power for their personal purposes and interests as previous Ukrainian power, and as before, citizens will not have any legal instruments to have any impact, to fight with this situation in legal way.

Now, after a year of the presidency of new leader of the country P.Poroshenko, it is not possible to say that the forms and methods of public participation, particularly public consultations were improved, that he really consults with the citizens as it was the main requirements of the Maidan. On the basis of historical analysis, which was made above, it is possible to predict that this tendency in the nearest future can have very negative results. New President of Ukraine repeats the main mistake of their predecessors. The possible results of it described in this historical analysis. In general, in Ukraine, as in some other post-soviet countries, we can see the recurring situation – each new political forces, which received power under the motto of democracy do not intend to execute their campaign promises and make the relevant reformation, to fight with corruption, to involve citizen in the process of decision-making. They do not want or cannot make any conclusions from the mistakes of their predecessors.

8. Conclusions

Thus, the historical experience of the state formation and functioning on Ukrainian lands demonstrates not only the presence of certain elements of democracy, but their millennial existence on this territory. In any governmental system, at any time, democracy on the territory of current Ukraine always taken place and even had very developed forms. Wide public participation in decision-making was the basis, on which was built Ukrainian mentality and the state formation in general. The system of local government that began to develop in VIII - IX century as well as an administrative division can be a good example even for current reforms.

Understanding of the naturalness of democracy in Ukraine is extremely important at this stage of its development and formation as a really democratic state. On this basis it is possible to build a stable foundation for democratic functioning and transparency of government, which now is the priority for Ukraine.

From the history of Ukrainian statehood it is need to make two very important conclusions and lessons: 1. Strong aspiration of Ukrainians for freedom and democracy, free life and free will - the basis of their mentality. History shows that as soon as the state government began to pressure on Ukrainian freedoms and democracy, stopped completely or partially interact, communicate and cooperate with public, to give people possibility to express free their opinions – the mass citizens discontent and disagreement were starting, and very often it was a beginning of struggle for human rights and freedom, in some cases for independence. Particularly this feature is the most important thing which distinguishes Russia from Ukraine - Ukraine always has aspired to freedom and democracy, while Russia in opposite historically has mental traits of monarchy and totalitarianism.

2. The development of all countries on the territory of current Ukraine took place only as long as the power belonged to the people. However, almost every head of these countries tried to concentrate power in his hands, which led to the decline or even to the disappearance of this state. For example, a large state KievanRus developed only as long as all problems and issues were solved at the public meetings (veche) together with the citizens, and the position of the post of Grand Duke of Kiev was not hereditary. Particularly attempts of the Grand Duke to receive whole power led to the desire of many small principalities in the framework of this state to be independent and as a result, to collapse of Rus. Also, ZaporizhyanSich and its continuation Ukrainian Cossack state was known all over the world and was an example of democracy till Hetman Bogdan Khmelnitsky not decided to concentrate all power in his hands and make this post  inherited. After receiving this power he has not consulted with citizens as before and made the decision personally. One of his decisions – signing by him treaty with Russia, has led to destruction of the Sich by Russian Empire. All current political forces in Ukraine should remember this conclusion.

A large number of modern Ukrainian scholars speak about the necessity to develop and formulate a national idea of Ukraine, but its precise definition still does not exist. In my opinion, the idea of naturalness of democracy and self-government for Ukraine has to be a national idea of Ukraine.

Further development of Ukrainian state should be achieved particularly on the basis of understanding of Ukrainian historical roots and millennial experience of democratic principles of governance that will help to complete the stage of a creation of the effective system of government, public administration and local self-government, which would meet contemporary requirements of democratic society.


This article was prepared in the framework of the project "Improvement of Democracy on Post-Soviet Space" which financed by Visegrad Foundation. The author thanks to this Foundation and Charles University in Prague for possibility to conduct this research and realize this project.


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