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Ukrainian history expert visits OSU

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Ukranian Talk

Historian Johannes Remy visited OSU and talked about Ukrainian and Russian history on Tuesday night.

Johannes Remy, an expert on Ukrainian and Russian history, visited OSU on Tuesday.

Jason Lavery, an occupation regents professor in the history department, organized the visit.

Lavery said he organized Remy’s visit because Ukraine is an important topic in world affairs and its history is not well known.

“A lot of the current conflict has long historical roots,” Lavery said. “So I thought it would be good to bring an expert like Dr. Remy.”

Remy has published three books centered on Eastern Europe. His first was a doctoral dissertation focused on nationalism in Eastern Europe and how this relates to Russia. His third, titled “Brothers or Enemies: The Ukrainian National Movement in Russia from the 1840s to the 1870s” has won two awards. 

“History of Ukraine," his second book, was the focus of Tuesday’s talk. The book covers the entirety of Ukrainian history. It was originally written in Finnish and because of its popularity in Finland, now has a second edition. This edition was published months after Russia attacked Ukraine and includes comments about these events, making it an extremely up to date account of Ukranian history. 

Remy began his lecture of Ukrainian history in the 14th century. At this time, what is now more than half of Northern Ukraine was part of Lithuania and later Poland. Crimea is now Southern Ukraine. 

The Ukrainian language formed in the 16th century. Royal power was substantial, but a king could not enact new laws or introduce taxes without the consent of parliament. Members of parliament were elected and after 1569, even the king had to be elected. 

“The decision was made by shouting,” Remy said. “So the arrangement hardly matches our standards of democracy.”

Remy said women at this time theoretically had equal rights politically. This political and social system reiterates the freeness of the country and makes it distinct from most other European countries, which had strong royal power.

“The local democracy was especially perceived as antithetical to Russia,” Remy said.

Remy went through the rest of Ukrainian history leading up to current times and its relationship with surrounding European countries. He discussed different elements of Ukraine’s history that impact its present state, such as the factors that influenced its estrangement with Poland, the abolition of Cossack autonomy and the suppression of Ukrainian literature in the Russian empire.

Abigail Lavery, a freshman zoology student, attended the lecture after the opportunity was presented in her class. Lavery said she learned about how current events relate to numerous factors, such as religion, and how Ukraine’s historical culture is still present.

“He was talking about the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and how people still think that they weren’t really part of the Holocaust,” Lavery said. “But those kinds of people are the ones that continue antisemitic views. I thought that was interesting.”