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The time has come . . . to cross our Rubicon and say openly so that everyone can hear it: We cannot be separated by a Chinese wall from our brothers and cannot stand apart from the linguistic, ecclesiastical, and national connection with the entire Russian world!

—from Ivan Naumovich’s Glimpse into the future, considered the most important manifesto of Galician Russophilism [1]

Russophiles (Ukrainian: Pусофіли, Rusofily), also referred to in some contexts as Moscophiles, were participants in a cultural and political movement in Western Ukraine known as Russophilia. This ideology proposed that the people of Western Ukraine were either a branch of the Russian people or, at least, a brotherly ethnicity united by common ancestry and the legacy of Kievan Rus' and Eastern Christianity. The stated goal of the movement was to eventually expand the cultural links with Russia until complete assimilation with the Russian culture and a political union with Russia were achieved. Russophilia was largely a reaction against Polish (in Galicia) and Hungarian (in Transcarpathia) cultural suppression. It flourished among the Western Ukrainians in Galicia in the nineteenth century, but largely died out there after World War I, having been eclipsed by a feeling of Ukrainian patriotism and suppressed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Russophilia has survived longer among the Transcarpathian Rusyns and among the Lemko people in modern Poland, as well as in other Western Ukrainian regions such as parts of Bukovina.

The focus of this article is the specific political movement in Western Ukraine of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.


Russophiles, Moscophiles or Russians?

The "Russophiles" did not apply the term to themselves, and called themselves Russians or Ruthenians (Rusyny). Some Russophiles coined such terms as Obshche-rossy (Common Russians) or Starorusyny (Old Ruthenians) to stress either the differences within their faction, referring to commonness with all Russias, or their unique stand within the whole of the Russian nation.

Their counterparts, the Ukrainophiles, often used the term Moscophilia (moskofil’stvo) in describing the Russophiles. This term has been in use by some Ukrainian writers and is standard in modern Ukrainian historiography.

The ethnonym Ruthenians for Ukrainian people had been accepted by both the Russophiles and the Ukrainophiles for quite a long period of time. The new name Ukrainians began to be accepted by Galician Ukrainophiles around the 1890s, under the influence of Mykola Kostomarov and the Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius in central Ukraine.[2]


After the fall of the westernmost East Slavic state in 1349, most of the area of what is now Western Ukraine came under the control of Poland and Hungary, with Poland ruling Galicia and Hungary controlling Transcarpathia. The loss of independence began a period of gradual, centuries-long assimilation of much of the native elite into Polish and Hungarian culture. These elite adopted a national orientation in which they saw the native Rus population of Galicia as a branch of the Polish nation who happened to be of the Eastern Christian faith. They believed that the native language was merely a dialect of Polish, comparable to Mazovian, and that assimilation would be inevitable.

This process of Polonization was, however, resented by the peasants, the clergy, and small minority of nobles who retained their East Slavic culture, religion or both. The latter two groups would form the nucleus of native national movements that would emerge with the loosening of Polish and Hungarian control in western Ukraine, which occurred when the entire region came under the control of the Austrian Habsburgs in the course of the Partitions of Poland. The Austrian Emperor emancipated the serfs, introduced compulsory education, and raised the status of the Ruthenian priests to that of their Polish and Hungarian counterparts. Furthermore, they mandated that Ukrainian Catholic seminarians receive a formal higher education (previously, priests had been educated informally by their fathers), and organized institutions in Vienna and Lviv that would serve this function. This led to the appearance, for the first time, of a large educated social class within the Ukrainian population in Galicia. [3] Austrian reforms led to a gradual social mobilization of the native inhabitants of Western Ukraine and the emergence of several national ideologies that reflected the natives' East Slavic culture and were opposed to that of Roman Catholic Poland and Hungary. This development was encouraged by the Austrian authorities because it served to undermine Polish or Hungarian control of the area. The cultural movements included: Russophilia, the idea that Galicia was the westernmost part of Russia and that the natives of Western Ukraine were, like all of the Russian Empire's East Slavic inhabitants, members of one Russian nation; Ruthenianism, the idea that the people of Western Ukraine were a unique East Slavic nation; and Ukrainophilia, the idea that the people of western Ukraine were the same as those of neighboring lands in the Russian Empire but that both were a people different from Russians — Ukrainians.

Initially there existed a fluidity between all three national orientations, with people changing their allegiance throughout their lives, and until approximately the turn of the twentieth century members of all three groups frequently identified themselves by the ethnonym Ruthenians (Rusyny). Initially the most prominent ideology was Ruthenianism, or Rutenstvo. Its proponents, referred to as "Old Ruthenians", were mainly wealthier or more influential priests and the remnants of the nobility who had not been Polonized, and were quite loyal to the Habsburgs to whom they owed their higher social standing. While emphasizing their separateness from the Poles in terms of religion and background, these people nevertheless maintained an elitist attitude towards the peasantry. They frequently spoke the Polish language among themselves, and tried to promote a version of Church Slavonic with elements of the local Ukrainian vernacular as well as the Russian language as a literary language for western Ukraine This language was never standardized, however. The language actually spoken by the common people was viewed with contempt. Old Ruthenians rejected both Ukrainiphilism and Russophilism. The Ukrainian thinker Mykhailo Drahomanov wrote ironically of them, that "you Galician intellectuals really do think of creating some kind of Uniate Paraguay, with some kind of hierarchical bureacratic aristocracy, just like you have created an Austro-Ruthenian literary language!" [4] Old Ruthenianism dominated Galicia's cultural scene until the mid-nineteenth century, when it was supplanted by Russophilia (many of the proponents of old Ruthenianism eventually became Russophiles).


The early Galician Russophile Nikolay Kmicykevich wrote an article in 1834 stating that the Russians were the same people from Western Ukraine to Kamchatka, from the White Sea to the Black Sea, and the language they spoke was the same Russian language. He wrote that the standard Russian language was more acceptable for modern writing and that the popular dialects in Ukraine were corrupted by Polish influence. These ideas were stimulated by the Russian pan-Slavist Mikhail Pogodin, who stayed in Lviv (Lemberg) in 1835 and 1839–40 and who during this time influenced the local Ruthenian intelligentsia. No longer seeing themselves as representatives of a small Ruthenian nation of under three million people, weak in comparison to its neighbors, the Russophiles now saw themselves as the westernmost branch of the Great Russian people. A Russian orientation also played into the Russophile's elitist tendencies, because the Russian literary language which they tried to adopt (many continued to use the Polish language in their daily lives) set the Russophile priests and nobles apart from the Ukrainian-speaking peasants. Politically, the Russophiles came to advocate the idea of a union between a Galician Ruthenia and Russia.

One of the most active of the Galician Russophiles was the prominent historian, nobleman Denis Zubrytsky, who helped convert many of the Galician elite to his cause. He was also the first to begin writing in standard Russian: as early as 1849 he started his main work, The History of the ancient Galician-Russian Principality. In a letter to his friend Mikhail Pogodin, Zubrytsky claimed that his stated purpose was to acquaint his Galician people with Russian history and the Russian language. Indeed, the historiography of the medieval Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia was largely begun by Galician Russophiles and served as the basis for their nation-building project (in contrast, the Ukrainophiles at that time focused on the history of the Cossacks).[5]

Western Ukrainian Russophiles felt that the people of Ukraine played a special role within the larger Russian nation. The priest Ivan Naumovich declared that the Russian language was derived from "Little Russian" and was only being readopted in Galicia. Indeed, Galician Russophiles wrote that one of the reasons for all East Slavs to adopt the Russian language was that the modern Russian language had been created in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by scholars from Ukraine. [6] Galician Russophiles were politically and culturally quite conservative, maintained relations with reactionary and conservative groups within Russia and thus were anti-Bolshevik.

Rise and development

Yakov Golovatsky, a prominent Russophile, as a president of the Lviv University, 1864

Western Ukrainian Russophilia appeared in Carpathian Ruthenia at the end of the eighteenth century. At this time, several people from the region settled in St. Petersburg, Russia, and obtained high academic positions. The best known of these was Vasilly Kukolnik (father of Russian playwright Nestor Kukolnik), a member of an old noble family who had studied in Vienna before coming to Russia. Vasilly's pupils included Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich of Russia and Grand Duke Nikolai Pavlovich of Russia, the future emperor Nicholas I of Russia. These émigrés, while adopting a sense of Russian patriotism, also maintained their ties to their homeland and tried to use their wealth to introduce Russian literature and culture to their region. When the Hungarians revolted against the Austrians in 1848, the local East Slavs, antagonistic toward the Hungarians who had dominated them, were deeply moved by the presence of the seemingly invincible Russian troops sent by Nicholas to help crush the rebellion. At this time, Austria supported the Russophile movement as a counterbalance to Polish and Hungarian interests, and under the leadership of the Russophile nobleman Adolf Dobriansky, the people of Transcarpathia were granted limited autonomy, although the region reverted to Hungarian control after a few years.

In Galicia, Russophilia emerged as early as the 1830s, when "Society of scholars" was organized in Peremyshl and was stimulated in part by the presence in Lviv (Lemberg) in 1835 and from 1839-1840 of Russian pan-Slavist Mikhail Pogodin who became acquainted with the local Ruthenian intelligentsia and became an influence on them. However, the movement did not come to dominate western Ukrainian society until the 1850s–60s. After the reforms of 1868, despite western Ukrainian loyalty to the Habsburgs the Austrian authorities made political concessions to the Polish aristocrats, who proceeded to roll back some of the earlier Austrian reforms. Many proponents of Ruthenianism became disenchanted with Austria and linked themselves with the giant and powerful Russian state. The relative rise of Russia's power in comparison to that of Austria during the nineteenth century also played a role in such feelings.

During this time, the poet and scholar Yakiv Holovatsky, a member of "The Ruthenian Trinity", joined the Russophile movement. Soon thereafter, the Russophile priests of the St George Cathedral Circle came to dominate the local hierarchy of the Greek Catholic Church, thereby transforming that Church into an instrument of their cause. Russophiles took over Ruthenian academic institutions (such as the Stavropigian) and the venerable Ruthenian newspaper Slovo (‘The Word’), and under their leadership it became the most widely circulated newspaper among Western Ukrainians. In 1870, the Russophiles formed a political organization, the Ruthenian Council (Ruska Rada) which represented the population of Western Ukraine. From the 1860s until the 1880s Western Ukrainian political, religious, and cultural life came to be dominated by the Russophiles.

Pre-war decline and fall

Within a generation of achieving dominance of Western Ukrainian life, however, the Russophiles were eclipsed by the Ukrainophiles, or so-called Populists (Narodovtsi). Originally coming from the same social stratum as the Russophiles (priests and nobles), but joined by the emerging secular intelligentsia, the Ukrainophiles were from a younger generation who unlike their fathers found ethusiasm for Taras Shevchenko rather than the Tsars, and embraced the peasantry rather than rejecting it. This dedication to the people (the "bottom-up" approach) would prove successful against the Russophiles' elitist "top-down" orientation.

Many factors accounted for the collapse of the Russophile movement. The principal one was likely the Ukrainophiles' incredible capacity for organization. The Populists fanned out throughout the countryside in order to mobilize the masses to their cause. In 1868, the Lviv student Anatole Vakhnianyn organized and became the first head of the Prosvita organization, whose goal was to organize reading rooms and community theaters which became extremely popular among the peasants. In order to help the impoverished peasants, Ukrainophile activists set up co-operatives that would buy supplies in large quantities, eliminate middlemen, and pass the savings onto the villagers. Credit unions were created, providing inexpensive loans to farmers and eliminating the reliance on non-Ukrainian moneylenders. Russophiles belatedly tried to imitate such strategies but could not catch up. By 1914, Prosvita had 3,000 reading rooms while the Russophile version, the Kachkovsky Society (founded in 1874), had only 300. The Ukrainian co-operative union had 900 members, while the rival Russophile one had only 106. Prevented from publishing in the mainstream western Ukrainian newspapers by the Russophiles who controlled them, the Populists created their own. In 1880, Dilo (‘Deed’) was founded as a rival to the Russophile Slovo, and due to the rising literacy of the Ukrainian population its circulation surpassed that of its older rival.

A second important factor for the Ukrainophiles' success was the exile from Dnieper Ukraine of a large number of well-educated and talented eastern Ukrainian writers and scholars, such as the writer Panteleimon Kulish, the former professor of Kiev's University of St. Vladimir, economist and philosopher Mykhailo Drahomanov, and especially the historian Mykhailo Hrushevsky, who headed a newly-established department at the University of Lviv. Many of these figures settled or lived for a time in Lviv. In contrast, no prominent Russian intellectuals came to Galicia in order to help the local Russophile cause. This phenomenon led to the ironic observation of Drahomanov that the Ukrainianophiles were actually more in touch with contemporary Russian cultural and intellectual trends than were the Russophiles despite the latter group's love for Russia. [7] From among the local intelligentsia, Ivan Franko showed the literary potential of the vernacular Ukrainian language. The local Russophiles could not compete with the talent of these Ukrainophile cultural figures and scholars.

The Austrian government also contributed significantly to the Ukrainophiles' victory. During the latter part of the nineteenth century, as Austria-Hungary and Russia became rivals, the Austrian authorities became alarmed by the Russophiles' activities. To maintain the loyalty of the Ukrainian population, the Austrian authorities expanded the Ukrainian educational system, and in 1893 made the Ukrainophile version of the vernacular Ukrainian language the language of instruction. Doing so effectively shut the Russophiles out of the educational system. During the 1880s the Austrians put many Russophiles on trial for treason or espionage. These trials were widely publicized, and served to discredit the Russophiles among the Ukrainian people, most of whom continued to be loyal to the Austrian Emperor. The Austrians also deported an editor of the Russophile newspaper Slovo and deposed the Russophile head of the Greek Catholic Church, Metropolitan Joseph Sembratovich.

In 1899, Count Andrey Sheptytsky became new head of the Greek Catholic Church. A Polonized nobleman from an old Ukrainian family, he adopted the Ukrainian language and a Ukrainophile orientation. Although Sheptytsky did not interfere in priests' personal activities and writings, he slowly purged the Church's hierarchy of Russophiles. Despite drawing some Ukrainophiles' criticism for the slow progression of his changes, under Sheptytsky's leadership the Church gradually ceased being a bastion of Russophilism and instead became a staunchly Ukrainophile one.

Lacking support within their community and from the Austrian government, the remaining Russophiles turned to outsiders for support. They largely depended on financing from the Russian government and Russian private sponsors (the Galician-Russian Benevolent Society was established in St. Petersburg in 1908) and from Galician Polish aristocrats, who had become alarmed by the social mobilization of the Ukrainian peasants and who sought to use the Russophile movement as a way of dividing the Ukrainian community.

Those efforts largely failed. By the early twentieth century, the Russophiles became a minority in Galicia. In the 1907 elections to the Viennese parliament, the Ukrainophiles won 22 seats while the Russophiles won five. But the Russophiles, due to Polish interference, won elections to the Galician parliament the same year by taking 11 seats, the Ukrainophiles 10. In 1913, 30 Ukrainophile and only 1 Russophile delegate were sent to the Galician Diet.

World War I and Afterwards

Immediately before the outbreak of World War I, the Austrian and Hungarian governments held numerous treason trials of those suspected of Russophile subversion. When the Austrians were driven from Galicia in August 1914, they avenged themselves upon suspected Russophiles and their families. Russophiles were punished for allegedly seeking to separate Galicia, Bukovyna and parts of northern Hungary from Austria-Hungary and attaching them to Russia, of seeking volunteers for the Russian army, and of organizing a pro-Russian paramilitary group known as the Russkie Druzhiny - a Russophile counterpart to the Ukrainophile pro-Austrian Ukrainian Sich Riflemen.[8] Hundreds of suspected Russophiles were shot, and thirty thousand were sent to the Talerhof concentration camp, where approximately three thousand died of exposure.

Talerhof Concentration Camp, where 30,000 alleged Russophiles were interred by Austria during World War I

The Russian administration of Galicia lasted from August 1914 until June 1915. Russian Grand Duke Nicholas issued a manifesto proclaiming that the people of Galicia were brothers who had "languished for centuries under a foreign yoke" and urged them to "raise the banner of United Russia." [9] During this time, with the help of local Russophiles, the Russian administration, aware that the Ukrainophiles were loyal to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and that they had organized the Ukrainian legion of the Austro-Hungarian army, engaged in a harsh persecution of the Ukrainophile leaders and their ideology. Ukrainian schools were forcibly converted to Russian-language instruction,[10] reading rooms, newspapers, co-operatives and credit unions were closed, and hundreds of community leaders were arrested and exiled under suspicion of collaboration. The popular head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky was arrested and exiled to Russia. Although Nicholas II issued a decree forbidding forceful conversion from Uniatism to Orthodoxy, except in cases where 75% of the parishioners approved,[11] the ultimate goal was the liquidation of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.[10] In addition to its head, hundreds of priests were exiled to Russia and replaced by Orthodox priests, who urged the parishioners to convert to Orthodoxy. The behavior of the Russian authorities was so heavy-handed that it was denounced as a "European scandal" in the Russian Duma by the Russian statesman Pavel Milyukov.[12] The Russians were aided in their suppression of Ukrainian culture by Polish anti-Ukrainian figures such as Lviv professor Stanisław Grabski. Such actions angered most of the local Ukrainian population.

When Austria regained Galicia in June 1915, most of the remaining Russophiles and their families retreated alongside the Russian army in fear of reprisals. Approximately 25,000[10] of them were resettled near Rostov-on-Don. Among those that did not leave, the Austrians arrested and sentenced to death approximately thirty noted Russophiles, including two members of parliament, Dmytro Markov and Volodymyr Kurylovich (their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment and they were released in 1917).[13], as well as Metodyj Trochanovskij. Kost Levitsky, a prominent Ukrainophile leader and the future president of the West Ukrainian National Republic, appeared as a prosecutor during the trials against the Russophiles. [14]

After the collapse of Austria-Hungary the Ukrainians of Galicia proclaimed the West Ukrainian National Republic. Between 70 and 75 thousand men fought in its Ukrainian Galician Army. They lost their war and the territory was annexed by Poland. However, the experience of proclaiming a Ukrainian state and fighting for it significantly intensified and deepened the Ukrainian orientation within Galicia. Galicia became the center of Ukrainian nationalism during the interwar era and continues to be the center of Ukrainian nationalism today. [15]

The Russophile tradition persisted in the portions of Galicia west of the Dukla Pass, resulting in the formation of the Lemko-Rusyn Republic. Metodyj Trochanovskij continued to espouse the Rusyn national identity, up to the start of World War II.[16]


  1. ^ John Paul Himka. (1999). Religion and Nationality in Western Ukraine, p 26. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press.
  2. ^ Magocsi 1996, p 440.
  3. ^ Himka, John Paul. (1999). Religion and Nationality in Western Ukraine. McGill-Queen's University Press: Montreal and Kingston. Pg. 6.
  4. ^ Paul Robert Magocsi. (2002). The Roots of Ukrainian Nationalism: Galicia as Ukraine's Piedmont. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  5. ^ Serhiy Plokhy. (2005). Unmaking Imperial Russia." Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 161-162.
  6. ^ Timothy Snyder. (2003). The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999 New Haven: Yale University Press pg. 124
  7. ^ Ronald Grigor Suny, Michael D. Kennedy. (2001)Intellectuals and the Articulation of the Nation." Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. pg. 136
  8. ^ Mark von Hagen. (2007). War in a European Borderland. University of Washington Press. pg. 10
  9. ^ Ukraine on the Road to Freedom, published by the Ukrainian National Committee of the United States, 1919. pp.41-42
  10. ^ a b c Magosci 1996, p 465.
  11. ^ Lviv Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. History: "Pod Russkoy vlastyu (1914–1915 gg.)" ("Under Russian Rule (1914–1915)"), retrieved on April 22, 2007.
  12. ^ Subtelny 1986.
  13. ^ Magosci 1996, p 466.
  14. ^ Vavrik, Vasilij Romanowicz (2001) (in Russian). Terezin i Talergof : k 50-letnej godovščine tragedii galic.-rus. naroda. Moscow: Soft-izdat. Retrieved 2009-06-21.  
  15. ^ Ronald Grigor Suny, Michael D. Kennedy. (2001)Intellectuals and the Articulation of the Nation." Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. pg. 131
  16. ^ Horbal, Bohdan. "Metodyj Trochanovskij (1885-1947)". Retrieved 2008-01-19.  

See also


  • Wendland, Anna Veronika (2001) Die Russophilen in Galizien. Ukrainische Konservative zwischen Österreich und Russland, 1848-1915. Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (VÖAW), Wien, 2001. 624 Seiten. ISBN 978-3-7001-2938-7 (Revised version of author's dissertation — Universität zu Köln, 1997)
  • Magocsi, Paul Robert (1996). A History of Ukraine. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-0830-5.
  • Subtelny, Orest (1988). Ukraine: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-5808-6.
  • Wilson, Andrew (2000). The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-08355-6.
  • Ф.Ф. Аристов, Карпато-русскiе писатели. Изслѣдованiе по неизданнымъ источникамъ. Томъ первый. Москва, 1916. 304 с.
  • Ф.Ф. Аристов, Литературное развитие Подкарпатской (Угорской) Руси. Москва, 1928 (репринт, 1995). 49 с.
  • Василий Р. Ваврик, Краткий очерк Галицко-Русской письменности. Лувен, 1973. 80 с.
  • Богдан Дедицкий, Антонiй Добрянскiй - его жизнь и дѣятельность въ Галицкой Руси. Львов, 1881. 126 с.
  • Богдан Дедицкий, Михаилъ Качковскiй и современная Галицко-русская литература. Львов, 1876. 123 с.
  • Михайло Лозинський, Українство i москвофiльство серед українсько-руского народу в Галичинi. Репринт - Стрий, 1994. 93 с.
  • О.А. Мончаловский, Житье и дѣятельность Ивана Наумовича. Львов, 1899. 112 с.
  • О.А. Мончаловский, Литературное и политическое Украинофильство. Львов, 1898. 190 с.
  • Москвофільство: документи і матеріали / Львів. нац. ун-т ім. І.Франка; Вступ. ст., комент. О.Сухого; За заг. ред. С.А.Макарчука. -Львів, 2001. - 235 с.
  • Нина М. Пашаева, Очерки истории Русского Движения в Галичине XIX-XX вв. Москва, 2001. 201 с.
  • Прикарпатская Русь въ XIX-мъ вѣцѣ въ бiографiях и портретахъ еи дѣятелей. Львов, 1898. 57 с.
  • Остап Терлецький, Москвофiли й Народовцi в 70-их рр. Львів, 1902. 63 с.


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