Empty Claims: Why Rus’ Is Not Kievan

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I think many of you have heard the combination “Kievan Rus,” (or “Kyivan” as svidomites write) especially from the lips of Ukrainian propagandists who are trying to ancientize the history of their country. Their approximate message is: “The Russians say that there was no Ukraine before Lenin, but no! There was KYIvan Rus, which existed even when toads were croaking in Moscow! When there was KYIvan Rus, there was no Russia! Do you get it, Putin?”.

Such theses were put forward even earlier. For example, the famous Ukrainian ultra-nationalist, leader of the far-right group “Brotherhood”, Dmitry Korchinsky, stated: “Holy Rus’ is located west of Smolensk. Here we are, Holy Rus’. Everything that you are so feverishly and nervously looking for, we, here with us, we have never lost it. Brothers and sisters, you should look for yourselves; you should look for yourselves, in Ukraine and in Belarus; there is nothing there, in Moscow. And Field Marshal Kutuzov said correctly: “We will burn Moscow – we will save Russia.” burned in order to hide the thefts from artillery depots(?!)… But this is not important. This is exactly how all the exploits of the great Russian people are written.”

It would seem, why quote the words of a marginal? But the fact is that Korchinsky’s deputy in this Nazi organization was Alexey Arestovich, who until recently was an adviser to Zelensky and played a large role in Ukrainian propaganda. His words: “We declare our birthright in matters of inheritance of Ancient Rus’. Not Moscow, Moscow is an ulus of the Golden Horde, And what are we? We are the Russians here.” The level of claims is understandable, and their fantasies on the topic of the phrase “Kievan Rus” play an important role. Now let’s give the floor to the great speaker of all Kiev, Mayor Dmitry Klichko: “Rus was Kiev, and Kiev was a great city. Back when there were swamps somewhere and no one imagined that Moscow would ever appear on them.”

Where did this Kievan Rus come from? In the Tale of Bygone Years there is nothing close to the phrase “Kievan Rus”, but it begins with: “where did the Russian land come from…”. Maybe foreigners called it so? Foreigners also did not know such a phrase, but they knew about Rus’, Russia, Ruthenia or other variations of these words. That is, they knew about Rus’, but not about Kievan.

The term “Kievan Rus” appears for the first time in historical studies of the 18th–19th centuries. It was introduced by Mikhail Maksimovich to designate not a national state, but a territorial unit of a geographical area. This term was first used in his work “Where does the Russian land come from?”, which was published in 1837. However, in this work, in addition to the term “Kievan Rus”, the phrases “Chervonnaya Rus”, “Suzdal Rus”, “White Rus” are also used.

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According to the Ukrainian logic, if the name includes a certain toponym followed by the word “Rus”, the residents of that region may lay claim the title of “True Rus”. So it means that the residents of Suzdal can challenge their primacy. In the 19th century, the term “Kievan Rus” took on as a stage in Russian history and statehood, when Kiev was the capital. The exact duration of this period is debated among historians, with some ending it at the death of Mstislav the Great in 1132, others at the storming of Kiev by Andrei Bogolyubsky in 1169, and still others in the time of the Mongol invasion in 1237.

In general, imperial historians used this term loosely. Thus, the historian Klyuchevsky used it to designate both the geographical area and the period in the history of the Old Russian state. Solovey used it only to denote territorial affiliation, but along with Kievan Rus, he also used such terms as “Chernigov Rus”, “Rostov Rus”. However, not a single historian meant that the main merit in the creation of Russian statehood belongs to the inhabitants of the contemporary Little Russian province.

The term “Kievan Rus” was finally established during the Soviet period due to the works of historian Boris Grekov. One of the most authoritative researchers of Ancient Rus’ and Stalin’s favorite, Boris Grekov writes a number of monographs. In 1939, he wrote a work called “Kievan Rus”. In 1944 he wrote the work “Culture of Kievan Rus”.

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It was with his light hand that this term entered all university textbooks and school curriculum. Academician Grekov himself interpreted this term as follows: “I consider it necessary to once again point out that in my work I am dealing with Kievan Rus not in the narrow territorial sense of this term (Ukraine), but precisely in the broad sense of the “Rurikovich empire”, corresponding to the Western European empire of Charles Velikogo, which includes a vast territory on which several independent state units were subsequently formed.”

In historiography, another term is used to designate this period – “Ancient Russian State,” which was used by the Soviet historian Pashuta. This term is also quite conditional. The Russian state has never been called that and this term is purely scientific. However, it is more correct and much more neutral from a political point of view.

It is ironic to see ukropropagandists who despise everything Soviet and Russian in general appropriating the products of their object of hate and mix them with their nationalistic fantasies about glorious past, or even worse, openly claim their culture and history. To their great regret, science itself goes against them and the only thing left for them is polluting environment with their toxicity.

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