Ukraine’s story is in many ways a chronicle of occupation by neighbouring countries, but the current independent state is also heir to a rich Slavic legacy. Humans began inhabiting present-day Ukraine 150,000 years ago.4-2 thousands years BC The emergence and development of The Trypillian Culture: settlements grow and the population reaches 15-20,000 people. The area of a large settlement exceeds 400 hectares. Large houses are more than one story high - nothing similar is found anywhere else in Europe. The Trypillians discover the wheel, learn to ride horses and develop pictography. By the end of the second millennium BC, the Trypillian Culture ceases to exist, but some of its traditions continue to live on.
Nomadic herders, such as the hostile Cimmerians, occupy the region. Scythians conquer the Cimmerians and set themselves up as rulers of an empire. They are feared and admired for their prowess in war and, in particular, for their horsemanship. The Scythians develop a class of wealthy aristocrats who construct elaborate graves filled with richly worked articles of gold and others precious materials. Their power is sufficient enough to repel an invasion by Persian King Darius I in about 513 BC.
Greek colonies appear on the Black Sea coast. One of the first cities constructed is Kafa (now Feodosia). Chersonesus, the second major Greek city, is established on the south-west coast of Crimea. At its height, it is the centre of a Greek city state, but is totally destroyed in the 15th Century by the Tatar invasions. Germanic tribes invade the region in 270, followed by the Huns in 375.
According to legend, Kyiv’s first settlement is founded in 482 by three brothers, Prince Kyi (the oldest), Scheck and Khoryv, and their sister, Lybid. They supposedly sail down the Dnipro River and establish a settlement at the top of four hills on the grounds of what is today known as Schekavytsia and Khoryvytsia.
8th - 9th Centuries
Kyiv becomes the centre of the first Eastern Slavic State, known as Kyivan Rus.
candinavian merchant warriors called Varangians, or Vikings, help in organising the state. Oleg, a Varangian, becomes Kyivan Rus’ first ruler in 882. Kyiv becomes one of the most important points on the route “from the Varangians to the Greeks”. Oleg’s words about Kyiv became proverbial: “Here will be the mother of the Russian cities”.
After the death of Igor, son of Oleg, his wife Olga rules Kyivan Rus. She is known for her wit and devoted soul. She visits Constantinopol (Byzantium) and is christened there. Her grandson, Volodymyr the Great, converts Rus to Christianity. Both Olga and Volodymyr are canonized.
Volodymyr the Great, the ruler of the Russian city of Novgorod, becomes prince of Kyivan Rus in 980. The state flourishes under his leadership, turning into a political, economic and cultural power in Europe. In 988 Volodymyr resolves to abandon paganism in favour of monotheism. He summons representatives from the main monotheistic religions to his court and questions each of them about their faith. Volodymyr is pleased to know that Islam allows polygamy, but he cannot accept the prohibition on alcohol. Therefore, the exhortation of the Orthodox priest is most convincing. Prince Volodymyr carries out his decision to be christened in a peculiar way. He takes his fleet to the Byzantine city of Chersonesus in Crimea. Threatening a long siege, he forces the city to surrender. Then he announces to the Byzantine Emperors Constantine and Basil that he has decided to be christened and that he requires their sister Anna to become his wife. After his christening in Chersonesus, he builds a cathedral there. On his return to Kyiv he christens his 12 sons. He casts out all idols and orders all his subjects to be christened.
Andrew of Suzdal declares Kyiv sacred in 1169. Ukraine, meaning ‘borderland’ or simply ‘country’, receives first historical mention in 1187. 13th Century Batu Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan leads Mongol tribes known as Tatars across the Ukrainian plains from the east and conquers Kyivan Rus in 1240.
The history of Lviv starts in 1256 when King Danylo Halytskyi establishes a fortress and a castle on Prince Hill. The city is an elaborate gift. Danylo builds a house for his son Leo at the base of a volcano.
Halychyna is seized first by Hungary and then Poland, which will maintain its rule for almost 400 years.
Kyiv is a part of Lithuania, while the Crimean Tatars dominate Ukraine’s vast southern expanses. They carry out devastating raids on Ukrainian territory and annihilate Kyiv in 1482. Gradually a force is formed to protect the southern frontier. These daring troops are the Cossacks. The Cossack movement developes and spreads throughout the whole of Ukraine. The Cossack chiefs are called hetmans. In the 15th Century the Lithuanian authorities grant Kyiv the old European code of municipal self-government. The residents of the city - the burgers - are granted a certain degree of independence from the central government in resolving property and judicial issues. Formally, according to the “Magdeburg Right”, the citizens of Kyiv are not subject to the authority of hetmans, but the most prominent hetmans - such as Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachnyi, Bohdan Khmelnyts’kyi and Ivan Mazepa - exercise enormous influence over city life. Sahaidachnyi supports the Kyiv community’s “Bratchiki” and school, and helps to restore the city’s Orthodox metropolitanate.
In 1648, a new Ukrainian state arises as Cossack leader Bohdan Khmelnyts’kyi leads a successful uprising against Polish rule. However, treaties with Poland do not bring peace.
Khmelnyts’kyi signs a protection agreement with the Russian tsar in 1654 - the Treaty of Pereyaslav - marking the beginning of Russian influence in Ukraine. Poland and Russia divide Ukraine in 1667: the western side of the Dnipro River belongs to Poland, while the eastern side comes under Russian protection.
Cossack leader Ivan Mazepa joins Sweden in fighting Russia, but hopes for independence are crushed by a Russian victory in Poltava in 1709. The first order from the tsar outlawing the Ukrainian language is issued in 1720. Ukrainian self-rule is abolished in 1764 by Russia, which takes control of nearly all of Ukraine in the 1790s. The Austrian Empire assumes power in the western regions of Halychyna and Bucovyna.
1834 The liquidation of the Magdeburg Right for Kyiv takes place. The Ukrainian national movement experiences a cultural and political rebirth.
1840 National hero Taras Shevchenko’s first collection of poems, Kobzar, is published.
1853 Opening of the first permanent bridge over the Dnipro and the monument to Saint Volodymyr.
1860 The tsar imprisons Shevchenko and other intellectuals.
1863 The Russian Empire bans publications in Ukrainian.
1870 Railway communication and transportation begins in Kyiv.
1888 The 900th anniversary of the christening of Rus is celebrated and the Bohdan Khmelnyts’kyi monument erected.
1892 The city’s first tram system opens.
1908 A union of national intellectuals headed by composer N. Lysenkom, named the “Ukrainian Club”, is created.1910The first flight by aviator Sergey Utochkin over Kyiv is made.1911 Russian Prime Minister Piotr Stolypin is murdered in a Kyiv opera house by a Socialist Revolutionary.1913 The All-Russian Industry Exhibition and the first All-Russian Olympiada are held in Kyiv.1917 The confusion caused in Russia by WWI and the Bolshevik Revolution allow for the formation of The Ukrainian People’s Republic in Kyiv on November 20.
On December 1, The Ukrainian Soviet Republic is established in Kharkiv. 1918 The Western Ukraine People’s Republic declares itself an independent state in L’viv after the Austrian-Hungarian Empire collapses in November.1919 A union of the two Ukrainian states is announced on January 22, but is quickly defeated by the Russian White and then Red Armies in the East, and by Poland in the West. Western Ukraine is annexed by Poland.1922 In December, the Soviet Union is formed and includes the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The collective farm system is introduced. Millions of Ukrainians are deported to Siberia, and the artificially-engineered famines of 1921-1922 and 1932-1933 kill up to 10 million more. 1934 The Ukrainian Republic’s capital is moved from Kharkiv to Kyiv.1937-1938 Ukrainians suffer mass repression, exile and execution during Stalin’s Great Purge. Meanwhile, the Polish government denies autonomous rights to Western Ukrainians.1939 In September, the Nazis attack Poland and Soviet occupy Western Ukraine.1941 June 22 The Nazis invade the USSR, and Kyiv is seized in September. Western Ukrainian nationalists form an underground army to protect the local population and eventually help to regain independence.1943 Kyiv is liberated in November.1944 The Soviets liberate all of Ukraine in October, and then annex the western region of Transcarpathia. It is estimated that around 8 million Ukrainian soldiers and citizens were killed during WWII, and Ukraine suffers greater material losses than Russia, Germany, France or Poland. 1954 Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev generously returns the summer vacation spot and naval stronghold of Crimea to Ukraine. 1986 April 26 Chernobyl nuclear reactor #4 melts down and causes the world’s worst nuclear accident.
1990 July 16 The Supreme Soviet of Ukraine proclaims sovereignty.1991 August 24 Following the failed Soviet coup, The Supreme Soviet declares Ukraine independent. December 1 A referendum makes independence official, and voters choose Leonid Kravchuk to be the nation’s first democratically elected President.
December 7-8 The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Treaty is signed by Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, consigning the USSR to the history books.1992 May 23 Ukraine signs the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the USA, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. August 3 Kravchuk and Russian President Yeltsin reach an agreement to end raging debate over control of the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet in Crimea.1993 Ukraine receives its own internet domain (.ua).1994 Figure skater Oksana Bayul wins independent Ukraine’s first Olympic Gold Medal in Lillehammer, Norway.July 10 Leonid Kuchma wins the presidential election against Leonid Kravchuk. 1996 June 28 The Constitution of Ukraine is adopted. September 2 The hryvnia is introduced as the new monetary unit.1999 November 14 President Leonid Kuchma defeats Communist candidate Petro Symonenko to win re-elections. 2000 December 15 The last Chernobyl reactor is shut down. 2001 March 9 Anti-Kuchma demonstrations in Kyiv culminate in violent confrontations between protesters and police.2002 March 31 Nasha Ukraina (Our Ukraine) becomes the first non-Communist party to win the most votes in a parliamentary election. 2003 May 28 AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko becomes the first Ukrainian to appear in a Champions’ League Final, and scores the winning penalty. July 11 The Verkhovna Rada passes an amendment that prohibits any language other than Ukrainian to be used in advertising.2004Ukrainian singer Ruslana wins the Eurovision 2004 Song Contest in May.In November, official presidential election results put Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych ahead, a result which is supported by President Leonid Kuchma. Protestors supporting Viktor Yuschenko arrive from all over the country and camp for weeks in front of Verkhovna Rada and Maidan Nezalezhnosti in tents, prompting the Ukrainian Parliament to put the results on hold pending review. December 3
The Election Committee orders a re-vote. December 26 Viktor Yuschenko declares victory, while the Prime Minister submits his resignation, but appeals against the results of the re-vote.2005 January 23 Viktor Yuschenko is inaugurated as President. May 19–23 The Eurovision Song Contest is hosted in Kyiv. September 5 The Ukrainian national football team becomes the first European team to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.2006 March 26 The Regions party wins parliamentary elections, getting more than 30% of votes. June the Ukrainian football team reaches the quarter final stage at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.2007 April 2 President Yuschenko signs an act dissolving Parliament. Parliamentary elections take place on September 30. April 18 Ukraine and Poland are selected to host the Euro 2012 football competition. June 16 Elton John plays on Maidan in front of more than 200,000 spectators December 18 The new government, led by prime minister Yulia Timoshenko, is formed.2008 June 14 Under torrential rains, Paul McCartney plays for more that 250,000 on Maidan. July 26 Celebrations are held for the 1020 anniversary of the Christening of Kyiv Rus.