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Treaty of Pereyaslav

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The Treaty of Pereyaslav was concluded in 1654 in the Ukrainian city of Pereyaslav during the meeting, between the Cossacks of the Zaporizhian Host and Tsar Alexey I of Muscovy, following the Khmelnytsky rebellion. Known as the Pereyaslav Council (Pereyaslavs'ka Rada in Ukrainian), the treaty provided for the protection of the Ukrainian Cossack state by the tsar. Participants in the preparation of the treaty at Pereyaslav included the Cossack Hetman, Bohdan Khmelnytsky, numerous Cossacks, and a large visiting contingent from Russia and their translators. The original copies of the treaty have perished, and the exact nature of the relationship stipulated by this treaty between Ukraine and Russia is a matter of scholarly controversy. The treaty led to the establishment of the Cossack Hetmanate in left-bank Ukraine, under the Russian Empire.

The second Treaty of Pereyaslav was concluded on 27 October 1659 between son of Chemielnicki, Jerzy Chmielnicki and Russian tsar and drastically limited the Ukranianian (Cossack) autonomy. This second treaty was an aftermath of the Treaty of Hadiach (ugoda hadziacka in Polish) from 16 September 1658 between Cossacks and Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which granted many priviliges to Cossacks and thus threatened Muscovy influence over Cossacks.

Historical consequences

Whatever the nature of the treaty, the consequences were more clear over time. Major consequences of the treaty included the separation of Ukraine from formerly dominant Catholic Poland, the strengthening of Orthodoxy in the historic center of Ukraine, and the eventual domination of Ukraine by neighboring Orthodox Russia.

In the long run, the consequences for Ukraine were pivotal. Polish colonization and Polonization of the upper class soon became replaced by a systematic process of Russification, culminating in the Ems Ukaz, which banned the Ukrainian language. Also suppressed was the distinct identity of the Kievan Church of Rus': both branches of the Ukrainian Church resulting from the Union of Brest were suppressed.

For Poland, the treaty marked a beginning of sorts of a process of dismemberment leading to complete loss of independence (1795).

For Russia, the treaty eventually led to the acquisition of Ukraine, providing a justification for the ambitious title of the Muscovite, and later Russian tsars and emperors, The Ruler of All Rus’.

This treaty is seen by Ukrainian nationalists as a sad occasion of the lost chance for Ukrainian independence. Pro-Russian Ukrainian parties celebrate the date of this event calling for the re-unification of three Eastern Slavic nations: Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

In 2004, after the celebration of the 350th anniversary of the event, the administration of president Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine established January 18 as the official date to commemorate the event, a move which created controversy. Previously, in 1954, the anniversary celebrations included the controversial transfer of Crimea from the Russian Republic to the Ukrainian Republic of the USSR.

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