After World War I, Ukraine was no longer divided between the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires. In 1917, Russia underwent two revolutions. Because of these changes, in 1917-1921 Ukraine went through its own revolution (Lecture Notes). After a short-lived unification of both Eastern and Western Ukrainian lands, Western Ukrainian lands were annexed by Poland while the rest of Ukraine became part of the newly formed Soviet Union as the Ukrainian SSR.
During the early years of the Soviet Union under Lenin, Ukrainian culture flourished. The policy of indigenization or korenizatsia caused the improvement in Ukrainian education, science, religious life, and literature (Lecture Notes). However, these improvements were short-lived once Stalin came to power. Ukrainian intelligentsia were targeted. In addition, Stalin's policy of collectivization of agriculture caused a famine Ukraine. The famine took about 10 million peasants' lives during this time.
In Poland, Ukrainians did not have many freedoms either. As a result, integral nationalism appeared and lead to the formation of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).
As a result of World War II, Ukraine lost about 10 million people. However, it also resulted in Western Ukraine becoming incorporated into the Soviet Union. This was the first time in centuries that Ukrainians were all part of one state.
After Stalin died in 1953, the terror and fear that Ukraine experienced was over. For the next few decades, Ukraine experienced a "thawing" and relaxation of the government policies under Khrushchev, and a period of more conservative policies and "stagnation" under Brezhnev.
Once Gorbachev was in power, he attempted to restructure the Soviet Union. His most famous policies were "glasnost" (openness in government actions) and "perestroika" (the restructuring of the economy). However, it wouldn't be long before the USSR would be dissolved.
Both the disillusionment caused by the Chornobyl disaster in 1986 and the rise of the Rukh in 1989 contributed to the recognition of Ukraine as an independent country after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Viktor A. Yushchenko was born in 1954 in Khoruzhivka, Ukraine. He was an accountant and economist for some of his life, and was appointed head of Ukraine's national bank in 1993. In 1999, Yushchenko became prime minister by president Leonid Kuchma. In 2001, after he was no longer prime minister, he became a leader of a liberal opposition organization called Our Ukraine. It was not long before his following grew.
Yushchenko ran in the presidential elections of 2004 against incumbent prime minister Viktor Yanukovych. In these elections, Yushchenko was considered the pro-western candidate. Yanukovych, on the other hand, was supported by Kuchma and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. After Yanukovych was declared the winner, Yushchenko's supporters demanded a re-vote while gathered peacefully in Kyiv. It was found out that the elections had been fixed for Yanukovych. The events after the the first election became known as the "Orange Revolution," named after Yushchenko's campaign color. After the second election, Yushchenko won and was inaugurated as president in January 2005.
During his years as president, many Ukrainians became disillusioned over Yushchenko's "failure to tackle corruption...and to push forward links with the EU" (BBC News). As a result, Viktor Yanukovych, Yushchenko's rival from just five years earlier, won the 2010 presidential elections.
Image. Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko. 2005. 10 April 2011. <http://www.jfklibrary.org/~/media/assets/Foundation/Profile%20in%20Courage%20Award/PICA_2005_03.jpg>
Digital Image. Stolen Election. 10 April 2011. <http://www.theorangerevolution.com/maydan.jpg>
"Viktor Yushchenko Biography." Who2?. 10 April 2011.
Gorbachev and Perestroika
In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary of the Community Party of the Soviet Union. After years of stagnation under Brezhnev, Gorbachev recognized that the economy was in need of drastic reform. To do this, he chose the policy of "perestroika" or restructuring. Coupled with his policy of "glasnost" or openness in the country's governing, Gorbachev's perestroika policy attempted to democratize the political system and decentralize the economy (Encyclopedia Britannica).
Under perestroika, Gorbachev attempted to establish a market economy by "...encouraging limited private ownership and profitability in Soviet industry and agriculture" (ibiblio). However, after years of his reforms, there was little change for the better. Instead, lines built up for goods in the stores and civic unrest increased (ibiblio). Nationalist movements grew in all of the Soviet republics, and Communist Party leaders knew things were unraveling. To save the Soviet Union from further democratizing, a group of "Communist hard-liners" confined Gorbachev in the Crimea and formed an Emergency Committee to run the U.S.S.R (Lecture Notes). In the end, the coup failed.
After the failed coup on Gorbachev to restore the Communist Party's power, Ukraine and other republics took this opportunity to gained their independence from the Soviet Union. Although Gorbachev's policy of perestroika and glasnost were meant to strengthen and conserve the Soviet Union, they lead to its downfall and breakup, and Ukraine's independence.
Image. Fireworks on Independence Day 2006. 2007. 10 April 2011. <http://blog.kievukraine.info/uploaded_images/5110-768475.jpg>
Digital Image. Mikhail Gorbachev. 2010. 10 April 2011.<http://top-people.starmedia.com/politics/mikhail-gorbachev_17875.html>
"Mikhail Gorbachev." Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 10 April 2011.
"Perestroika." ibiblio. Web. 10 April 2011.