Academic journal article Comparative Civilizations Review

Does Belarusian-Ukrainian Civilization Belong to the Western or the Latin Civilization?

Academic journal article Comparative Civilizations Review

Does Belarusian-Ukrainian Civilization Belong to the Western or the Latin Civilization?

Article excerpt


The designation of a modern country or group of countries to one or another civilization bears two aspects. If we keep in mind the example of Belarus, the first one means that such a definition built on a thorough analysis of the historical development of the Belarusian nation will contribute to the natural selection of the country's geopolitical position in the universe. On the other hand, Belarus' rich civilization heritage helps her to sort out the developmental trends of modern global civilization / cultures and harmoniously integrate them.

For a long time, namely from the 18th century, thanks to historical mythology compiled by Russian politicians and scientists promulgated around the world, Belarus, like Ukraine, has been viewed and considered as part of Russian / Eurasian / Orthodox civilization (hereafter the Eurasian civilization). Most Western scholars also take for granted such Russian historical myths as:

- a trinity of three Eastern Slavic peoples: Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian;

- belonging and continuity of the historical heritage of Kievan Rus' to Russia; and

- the Slavic character of the Muscovy, the Russian state.

Obviously, these three main Russian myths preclude a vision of free and independent Belarusian and Ukrainian nations, and moreover, the existence of a unique Western-Ruthenian civilization that protected Belarusians and Ukrainians for centuries and continues to do so today. The notion of a Western-Ruthenian civilization, in our opinion, corresponds to the greatest extent to the historical memory and the content of this modern civilization.

Eastern Slavs form two civilizations - Western-Ruthenian and Eurasian

Detailed evidence to support the idea of the existence of the Belarusian-Ukrainian/ Western-Ruthenian civilization can be found in recently published articles (P. Murzionak, 2013; 2015). Delineation of Eastern Slavs to form two civilizations began in the 9th century and was determined by various factors including the distinctive features of their tribes; the natural conditions of the East-European Plain and the Eurasian steppe; assimilation of the local tribes; internecine wars between the lands and principalities; the influence of the Mongol Empire and the advent of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL). GDL saved a substantial part of the Eastern Slavs who lived on the territory of modern Belarus and Ukraine from "strong Eurasian influence."

According to A. Shakhmatov (1919), Slavic tribes from the Elbe and Vistula regions moved from West to East in two groups. One group, gradually moving to the North, North-East and East, occupied the territory of modern Belarus and the regions of Pskov, Novgorod and Smolensk. The other group, moving to the South and South-East, populated in a gradual way the territory of modern Valyn, Ukraine and the Carpathians. Thus, the Slavs, more precisely the Eastern Slavs, occupied the territory which historians later called Kievan Rus.

Slowly but surely, a division arose between the Slavs who lived in what are now Ukraine and Belarus, and the Slavs who migrated to the North-Eastern lands (the territory of the future Muscovy). One reason for this division was the assimilation of the "Great Russian Slavs" with Finno-Ugric peoples living in the North-East (Mordvinians, Mari, Vepsians, Meshchera, and Murom) (the first wave of assimilation). The fact that the first principality in the North-East principality (Suzdal) emerged only in 1157, nearly two centuries after the emergence of Kiev and Polatsk principalities, points to a slow migration and assimilation of the Eastern Slavs with the local Finno-Ugric population. It is possible to assume that one of the reasons for this slow migration was a progressive feudal fragmentation of Kievan Rus. Slavs' migration and their assimilation with the Finno-Ugric and Turkic peoples is proved by a significant difference in the distribution of the genetic material and the presence of its gradient from North to South and from West to East in the North-East region, from which a modern Russia started to develop (B. …

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