Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lviv Declares Autonomy

The Ukrainian oblast of Lviv has declared autonomy from the pro-Russian government in Kyiv.  The oblast's legislature, known as the "People's Rada", unilaterally voted for autonomy  in protest against the pro-Russian national government's crackdown against protesters.

It is unknown if this declaration of autonomy will survive the post-crisis fallout.  If it does then Lviv's move would elevate the oblast to the same level of independence from Kyiv that the majority-Russian, more Russia-friendly than the national government Autonomous Republic of Crimea.  Like the Crimea, which was part of the Russian soviet republic and not the Ukrainian until 1954, Lviv has a unique background separate from much of the rest of Ukraine.  Lviv was not under Russian rule until the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939.  Unlike Germany which was punished by loses of traditional lands at the end of World War II, the Soviet Union's 1939 alliance with Nazi Germany was blessed by the Allies which recognized the annexation of Lviv and other parts of Poland to the Soviet Union.  Before that the region was ruled by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1340 to 1772), the Hapsburg/Austro-Hungarian Empire (1772 to 1918), and Poland (1918 to 1939).

An autonomous Lviv would also be the first self-ruling Eastern Catholic-majority state since pre-civil war Lebanon.  The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church are the largest religious bodies in the oblast.  The Kyiv-based and Moscow-based Orthodox churches are the weaker in Lviv than anywhere else in Ukraine due to Lviv's separate history.    


Dina said...

This is news! Thanks for the update and the background info.
I just hope the killing stops soon.

Unknown said...

Much of western Ukraine - namely East Galicia, Podolia, and Volhynia - was in Poland between the two World Wars); beforehand, East Galicia was under Austrian control, and Podolia and Volhynia were under Russian control. Subcarpathian Ruthenia (in the southwest corner of present-day Ukraine on the other side of the Carpathians) was always under the control of another country - in this case, Hungary before WWI and Czechoslovakia in the interwar period. And Bukovina (whose northern half was in present-day Ukraine) was under Austrian control before WWI - just like East Galicia - and under Romanian control in the interwar period.