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January 22 in our history – Day of Unification of Ukraine

January 22 in our history – Day of Unification of Ukraine

Today Ukraine celebrates the Day of Unification. 97 years ago the declaration of Unification of two Ukrainian People’s Republics was announced in Kiev.

This day officially became a holiday in 1999. In 2011 the former president Victor Yanukovich canceled Day of Unification and in late 2014 Petro Poroshenko made this day a state holiday again.

What happened on January 22, 1919

On that day representatives of Ukrainian People’s Republic and West Ukrainian People’s Republic proclaimed the Declaration of Unification. The ceremony took place in Kiev at Sofiyivska Ploshcha.

This declaration was deeply determined historically and was based on long-time dream of Ukrainian people about independent and unified Ukrainian state. For the first time in 600 years this declaration became the act of expression of will of the people to unite territories that lie on different banks of Dnipro River.

January 22 in our history – Day of Unification of Ukraine
The document stating Unification of Ukraine

West Ukrainian People’s Republic was officially renamed into Western oblast of Ukrainian People’s Republic. In addition, it adopted trident as their coat of arms (instead of a golden lion on the blue background).

Ukrainian people, who had been separated for ages, were liberated. Naddnipryanska Ukraine was no longer part of Russian Empire and Western Ukraine liberated itself from Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Day of Unififcation of Ukraine
The territories that Ukrainian People’s Republic controlled as of 1919 (bigger than modern Uraine)

However, the Act of Unification was mostly symbolic for Ukraine because the two states that signed it didn’t exist for long time. They were pressed between two powerful enemies and couldn’t oppose them for too long.

This day is also a celebration of event which had taken place one year before Act of Unification. On January 22, 1918 there was signed the IV Universal of Central Council of Ukraine which proclaimed independence of Ukrainian People’s Republic.

Day of Unification today

The first official celebration of Declaration of Unification was held 20 years after it was signed. In 1939, when Transcarpathia was part of Chechoslivakia, about 30 000 of Ukrainian gathered in the town of Hust to march under blue and yellow flags.

January 22 in our history – Day of Unification of Ukraine
Human chain in 1990

Another meaningful celebration of Unification took place many ears later – on January 21, 1990 patriotic movement organized a human chain between Kiev, Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk. It was a symbol of spiritual unity of East and West of Ukraine. According to different estimations, from 0.5 million to3 million of people participated in this human chain.

January 22 in our history – Day of Unification of Ukraine
Human chain in 1990

Since Day of Unification was adopted as official state holiday in 1999 different patriotic organizations organized human chains every year in 20 twenty cities. For example, in Kiev activists organized a chain on a Bridge across Dnipro River, thus symbolically uniting East and West of the country.

January 22 in our history – Day of Unification of Ukraine
Human chain across the bridge in 2011

This day in modern history of the country

Two years ago this day was part of an active phase of Revolution of Dignity and it was marked with a death of Sehiy Nigoyan.

January 22 in our history
Serhiy Nigoyan at barricades during Euromaidan. The text on his his poster says: ‘God speaks in the voice of people’

Serhiy was an active Armenian-Ukrainian activist, born in 1993 in a family of Armenians who had moved to Ukraine few years earlier.

Nigoyan was the first Euromaidan activist killed with a shot and the third in general calculation (the first was beaten savagely and died in reanimation, the second was tortured to death in Kiev outskirts).

The bullet hit Serhiy in the early morning and doctors who registered the death of 20 years old boy initially said he was about 40 because Nigoyan had a beard that made him look older.

As a member of Heavenly Hundred, Serhiy Nigoyan was awarded with a medal of Hero of Ukraine posthumously.

See also – Serhiy Nigoyan reading a part of ‘Caucasus’ poem by Taras Shevchenko. This video was made within filming the project named ‘There are people’ by director Serhiy Proskurnia. The project was dedicated to the 200th anniversary of birth of Ukrainian Kobzar.

The lines that Serhiy reads are the following.

In Ukrainian:

‘І вам слава, сині гори,
Кригою окуті.
І вам, лицарі великі,
Богом не забуті.
Борітеся — поборете!
Вам бог помагає!
За вас правда, за вас слава
І воля святая!’ (Sourse)

In English:

‘Glory to you, the blue mountains constrained by ice and to you great knights by God not forgotten. Fight and overcome, God is helping you! Truth is behind you, strength is behind you, and liberty sacred!’ (Source)


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