Saint Petersburg

Image - Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts (late 19th-century photo). Image - A monument of Tsar Peter I in Saint Petersburg.

Saint Petersburg (Russian: Санкт-Петербург; Sankt-Peterburg). A city (2018 pop 5,356,755) in the delta of the Neva River in northwestern Russia. From 1712 to 1918 it was the capital of the Russian Empire. Its name was changed to Petrograd in 1914, to Leningrad in January 1924, and back to Saint Petersburg on 6 September 1991. Today Saint Petersburg is Russia’s second-largest and second-most important city, with a seaport, a large industrial base, and extensive cultural, scientific, and educational facilities.

The city was founded in 1703 with the construction of the Peter and Paul Fortress and the admiralty shipyards (1704). In the 1710s regiments of the Ukrainian Cossacks under the command of Cols Pavlo Polubotok, Andrii Markovych, and Ivan Charnysh took part in draining the marshes and digging the canals for ships. The development of the city was costly in human lives: the labor was backbreaking, the treatment of laborers was brutal, and the climate was harsh. In Ukraine it became common knowledge that ‘Saint Petersburg was built on Cossack bones.’ Further large-scale projects were undertaken with the labor not only of army units but also of Swedish war prisoners, Cossack convicts, and conscripted workers from all the gubernias. In Kyiv gubernia alone, labor conscriptions for the Saint Petersburg work force raised 2,125 men in 1710, 1,365 in 1712, 1,790 in 1713, and 1,435 in 1714 and in 1715. Hired workers and skilled tradesmen were also used. Later, labor conscription was replaced by special tax levies on the gubernias.

Saint Petersburg was proclaimed capital of the Russian Empire in 1712, and soon became an important center of culture, learning, science, art, and education. Ukrainians summoned to the capital by Peter I and his successors or attracted there by career opportunities played a prominent and sometimes a leading role in the political and cultural life of the city and empire. The city’s Western atmosphere appealed to Ukrainian cultural figures. As the empire’s ‘window on Europe’ it offered opportunities for direct contacts with the West, for foreign travel and study at foreign universities. Conditions for Ukrainian cultural and even political work were more favorable in Saint Petersburg than in Ukraine.

It is unknown how many Ukrainians lived in Saint Petersburg in different periods. Besides state officials and intellectuals there were many petty civil servants, workers, serfs, and domestic servants. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians served in military units stationed in Saint Petersburg and its vicinity. According to the 1897 census there were 1,500 Ukrainians in the city, but according to the estate breakdown over 11,000 peasants and over 3,000 burghers in the city came from Ukrainian gubernias. According to the 1926 census there were 10,781 Ukrainians in Leningrad, 7,392 of whom were men. In 1959 there were 68,300 Ukrainian residents, accounting for 2 percent of the total population, and 30.2 percent of them spoke Ukrainian. In 1989 there were 97,100 (2.46 percent), 31.5 percent of whom spoke Ukrainian.

18th century. During the period of the Hetman state hetmans and their plenipotentiaries or delegations came to Saint Petersburg for talks with the tsar or his representatives. The first hetman to visit the capital was Ivan Skoropadsky. Acting hetman Pavlo Polubotok and his officers were summoned in 1723 to Saint Petersburg, arrested, and imprisoned in the Peter and Paul Fortress for demanding the restoration of their former rights. Polubotok died in prison. Some of his officers, including Danylo Apostol, Yakiv Yu. Lyzohub, Vasyl Zhurakovsky, and Mykola Khanenko, were released at the beginning of 1725 after the death of Peter I but were detained in Saint Petersburg for several years. Ukraine’s last hetman, Kyrylo Rozumovsky, often visited the capital. In 1764 his accompanying chancellery was headed by O. Tumansky, and his personal secretary was Ivan R. Martos, who stayed in Saint Petersburg and later became a department head at the Ministry of Justice. M. Khanenko’s son, Vasyl, and S. Karnovych were personal adjutants of Grand Prince Petr Fedorovich (later Peter III), and A. Hudovych was his adjutant general. In 1775 Oleksander Bezborodko was appointed secretary to Catherine II, and rose steadily through the bureaucracy to become chancellor of the Russian Empire in 1797 and obtain a princely title. His circle of friends and collaborators in Saint Petersburg included Petro Zavadovsky, Catherine’s secretary, senator, and education minister (1802–10); Dmytro Troshchynsky, Catherine’s and Paul I’s state secretary and then minister of appanages and minister of justice; S. Shyrai, a general and then marshal of the nobility of Chernihiv gubernia; Mykhailo P. Myklashevsky, eventually governor of Volhynia gubernia, Little Russia gubernia, and New Russia gubernia; O. Sudiienko, secret counsel and member of the postal authority; and Count Oleksii Rozumovsky, senator and minister of public education. Toward the end of the 18th century the Collegium of Foreign Affairs and other state bodies were staffed by Ukrainians, such as Yakiv M. Markovych, O. Kotlubytsky, O. Khanenko (later secretary of the Russian embassy in Great Britain), and I. Tumansky. V. Tomara, A. Italynsky, and, later, Petro Poletyka made a career in the diplomatic service. Ukrainians such as Field Marshal I. Hudovych and Gen P. Kaptsevych attained high military rank in the imperial service.

Ukrainian scholars and educators, most of them professors or graduates of the Kyivan Mohyla Academy, played a leading role in the development of Russian learning and education as well as the emergence of Ukrainian studies. Archbishop Teofan Prokopovych, who supported Peter I’s reforms, was summoned in 1716 to Saint Petersburg, where he headed the Learned Council and set up an eparchial seminary. Besides Prokopovych its faculty included Vasyl Stefanovych, V. Dmytrashko-Raicha, and I. Obydovsky. Its graduates, including Hryhorii Kozytsky and M. Motonys, became associates of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences (est 1724) and lecturers at the academy’s university and gymnasium. The two schools were attended by many Ukrainians who later distinguished themselves as scholars, such as the brothers P. and Ya. Myrovych, Yakiv Kozelsky, Opanas Lobysevych, I. Tumansky, and S. Divovych. Kyrylo Rozumovsky was president of the academy (1746–65), and Hryhorii A. Poletyka worked there as a translator. T. Yanovsky founded the Aleksandr Nevsky Seminary (1721) in Saint Petersburg; and many of its lecturers, including A. Zertys-Kamensky, O. Kalynovsky, and Havryil Kremianetsky, were Ukrainians. Besides Prokopovych some eminent leaders of the Russian Orthodox church were Ukrainians. A whole line of Saint Petersburg archbishops—N. Stebnytsky (1742–5), T. Yankovsky (1745–50), Sylvester Kuliabka (1750–61), and V. Putsek-Hryhorovych (1761–2)—came from Ukraine.

Ukrainians were among the first organizers of medical research and training in Saint Petersburg, among them Ivan Poletyka, Nestor Ambodyk-Maksymovych, M. Terekhovsky, N. Karpynsky, Khoma Tykhorsky, S. Andriievsky, Yakiv Sapolovych, and Y. Kamenetsky. Some of the original professors of the Saint Petersburg Medical-Surgical Academy (est 1799) were Ukrainians, such as the brothers Ivan Smilivsky and T. Smilivsky and Petro Zahorsky. Ivan Orlai, from Transcarpathia, practiced medicine in Saint Petersburg. Ukrainians also taught in other schools in the capital; Hryhorii A. Poletyka, for example, was inspector, and L. Sichkarev a lecturer, at the Naval Cadet School. The philosophers Ivan Khmelnytsky and Volodymyr Zolotnytsky worked in Saint Petersburg.

Ukrainians in Saint Petersburg contributed to the development of Russian journalism. Teofan Prokopovych took part in publishing one of the first Russian newspapers, Sankt-Peterburgskie vedomosti. P. Bohdanovych edited that paper and published the journals Nevinnoe uprazhnenie (1763) and Sobranie novostei (1775). Editors or publishers such as Mykhailo Antonovsky, Vasyl H. Ruban, Fedir Tumansky, and Hryhorii Kozytsky were of Ukrainian origin. In their journals they devoted some space to Ukrainian history, to which Hryhorii A. Poletyka, Oleksander Bezborodko, S. Divovych, Yakiv M. Markovych, and Aleksandr Rigelman devoted attention. The first work in Ukrainian ethnography, Hryhorii Kalynovsky’s description of marriage rituals (1777), came out in Saint Petersburg, and Ivan Kotliarevsky’s Eneïda (Aeneid, 1798), the first literary work in the Ukrainian vernacular, was published there.

Many Ukrainian artists studied and worked in the capital, including the architect Ivan Zarudny, the painters K. Holovachevsky, Antin Losenko, Dmytro H. Levytsky, and Volodymyr Borovykovsky, who were also professors of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts (est 1757), the engravers I. Liubetsky and Hryhorii Srebrenytsky, and the sculptor M. Kozlovsky. Ukrainian music and musicians were in great demand in Saint Petersburg. The court kapelle included singers and conductors such as Hryhorii Skovoroda (1741–4), Marko Poltoratsky (1763–96), and Dmytro Bortniansky (1796–1825). Of the many singers and bandurysts employed in the capital the better known were Tymofii Bilohradsky and Oleksii Rozumovsky (later husband of Elizabeth I). The composer Maksym Berezovsky worked in Saint Petersburg.

19th and early 20th centuries. After the abolition of the Hetman state Ukraine lost all attributes of autonomy and was reduced to a mere province within the Russian Empire. Individual Ukrainians continued to play a role in the imperial administration; Prince Vasyl Kochubei, for example, was vice-chancellor, minister for internal affairs (1802–12, 1819–25), and president of the State Council and the Committee of Ministers (1827–34), and Count M. Myloradovych was general governor of Saint Petersburg (1818–25). Some of the members of the clandestine revolutionary circles in Saint Petersburg, from which the Decembrist movement arose, were Ukrainians. O. Myklashevsky, O. Yakubovych, S. and O. Kapnist, and P. Horlenko belonged to the Union of Welfare (est 1818), and O. Myklashevsky and D. Iskrytsky were among the founders of the Northern Society. After the Decembrist uprising was suppressed, the Little Russian Secret Society was investigated, and its leader, Vasyl Lukashevych, was held in the Peter and Paul Fortress.

As in the previous century Ukrainians played an important part in the development of science, scholarship, and education in the Russian Empire. The first rector of Saint Petersburg University (1819–21) was a Ukrainian from Transcarpathia, Mykhailo Baluhiansky, who drafted its statute. Petro Lodii and Vasyl Kukolnyk taught at the Pedagogical Institute and then at the university. In medicine Danylo Vellansky, Ya. Kaidanov, Illia Buialsky, and O. Kalynsky, the founder of the Russian Medical Association, left their mark as researchers and educators. Pavlo Naranovych and Petro Pelekhin served on the faculty of the Medical-Surgical Academy, and Fedir Yavorsky was chief physician at the Admiralty Hospital (1813–21). Viktor Buniakovsky taught mathematics, and Mykhailo V. Ostrohradsky founded the Saint Petersburg school of mathematics. Izmail Sreznevsky was a professor of Slavic philology (1847–80), and M. Lazarevsky was a professor of international law at the university. The director of the Mining Engineering School was Yevhraf Kovalevsky, who became education minister (1858–61) and permitted the printing of Taras Shevchenko’s Kobzar (1860).

At the beginning of the 19th century Saint Petersburg became a center for Ukrainian studies: Oleksii Pavlovsky published a grammar of the Ukrainian vernacular (1818), and Nikolai Tsertelev compiled a collection of old Ukrainian folk songs (1819). The Saint Petersburg Archeographic Commission, founded in 1834 under the Ministry of Public Education, published many volumes of historical documents and materials on Ukraine. An impressive circle of specialists in Ukrainian studies formed around the journal Osnova (Saint Petersburg) (1861–2). It included Vasyl Bilozersky, Panteleimon Kulish, Mykola Kostomarov, and Opanas Markovych. At the same time the city was one of the main centers of Ukrainian literary life. Taras Shevchenko spent his most creative years and wrote his Kobzar (1840) and Haidamaky (1841) there. Mykola Markevych studied there, and from 1834 Yevhen Hrebinka lectured in the city’s military schools. Kulish founded the first Ukrainian printing house, which was managed by Danylo Kamenetsky, in Saint Petersburg. It printed the works of Ukrainian writers, such as Marko Vovchok. Some of the Ukrainian writers or publicists who worked in the capital were V. Maslovych, B. Markovych, V. Lazarevsky, and M. Makarov. The almanacs Molodyk (2nd issue 1844) and Khata (Saint Petersburg) (1860) came out in Saint Petersburg.

Some noted Ukrainian artists studied or worked in Saint Petersburg in the first half of the century. Ivan P. Martos taught sculpture and served as rector (1814) of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts. Dmytro Bezperchy, Ivan Buhaievsky-Blahodarny, Ivan Soshenko, Apollon Mokrytsky, Hryhorii Chestakhivsky, Taras Shevchenko, and Oleksander Lytovchenko were established painters. Semen Hulak-Artemovsky was a leading soloist at the Mariinskii Theater in Italian opera, and Yosyp Petrov excelled in Russian opera.

In the second half of the century Ukrainians in Saint Petersburg began various organizations to meet their own needs as well as to promote larger national purposes. By staging concerts of Ukrainian music, holding commemorative services and meetings, and inviting theatrical groups from Ukraine those organizations cultivated a sense of Ukrainian identity and maintained communal unity among the inhabitants of the foreign capital. The first Ukrainian hromada was established there and was active by the autumn of 1858. In the 1880s a large student hromada and a small populist circle arose around Mykola Kostomarov. Toward the end of the 1890s a clandestine hromada consisting mostly of civil servants was organized by activists such as Oleksander Lototsky, Petro Stebnytsky, Yevhen Chykalenko, O. Borodai, Volodymyr M. Leontovych, and Maksym Slavinsky. It became known as the Old Hromada. With its support Gen Mykola Fedorovsky set up in 1898 the Philanthropic Society for Publishing Generally Useful and Inexpensive Books, which devoted itself to popular education and enlightenment. In the same year the charitable Shevchenko Society in Saint Petersburg was founded to give financial assistance to students from Ukraine pursuing higher education in Saint Petersburg. The underground Ukrainian Student Hromada in Saint Petersburg (1898–1916) included students from most of the higher schools in the city. In 1903 the clandestine Northern Committee of the Revolutionary Ukrainian party (RUP) was created in Saint Petersburg. Its membership included Serhii Tymoshenko, Dmytro Doroshenko, Petro Diatliv, and N. Shlykevych. In 1904 some of its members broke away to form the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party (USDRP), and others in 1905 joined the Ukrainian Democratic Radical party, which organized the Ukrainian caucus in the Russian State Duma. In 1908 two branches of the Society of Ukrainian Progressives (TUP) were set up in Saint Petersburg: the first consisted of the members of the Old Hromada, which had been active in the different parties during the brief liberalization period, and the second, of young members headed by Mykhailo Korchynsky. Until the Revolution of 1917 those two groups played a dominant role in the capital’s Ukrainian community.

Because censorship was milder than in Ukraine, Saint Petersburg became the chief center for Ukrainian publishing. Over 700 titles were published there before the Revolution of 1917, including the almanacs Skladka (The Contribution, 4th issue, 1897) and Z nevoli (From Captivity, 1908), a Taras Shevchenko collection (1914), the classics of Ukrainian literature (Ivan Nechui-Levytsky and Vasyl Stefanyk), the full edition of Shevchenko’s Kobzar edited by Vasyl Domanytsky (1907, 1908, 1910; the last one was confiscated by the censor), Oleksander Lototsky’s children's anthology Vinok (The Wreath, 1911), and the series Mal'ovani kazochky (Colored Stories). Two encyclopedic volumes of Ukrainskii narod v ego proshlom i nastoiashchem (The Ukrainian People in Its Past and Present, 1914–15) came out in Saint Petersburg. Several Ukrainian writers worked there in the late 19th century, among them Ivan Rudchenko, Andrii Kashchenko, Trokhym Zinkivsky, Stefan Opatovych, Danylo Mordovets, and Oles Dosvitny. As soon as the prohibition was lifted, the Ukrainian press began to appear there, including the journal Ukraïns’ke bdzhil’nytstvo (1906–9), edited by Yevhen Arkhypenko, and the official organ of the Saint Petersburg Committee of the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party Nashe zhyttia (1915–17). In the early 1910s P. Balytsky founded a Ukrainian bookshop. In 1917 the Drukar publishing house was founded there. When it moved to Kyiv, it left a branch behind.

Many Ukrainian scholars who worked in Saint Petersburg were active in the Ukrainian civic and cultural organizations. The historian and sociologist Maksym Kovalevsky headed the Shevchenko Society in Saint Petersburg for a time. The anthropologist Fedir Vovk was curator of the Ukrainian section of the Ethnographic Department in the Alexander III Museum. Other scholars, such as Oleksander Rusov and his wife, Sofiia Rusova, Aleksandra Yefymenko, Hnat Zhytetsky, Irodion Zhytetsky, Pavlo Pelekhin, Oleksander Hrushevsky, Kostiantyn Shyrotsky, Vladimir Timoshenko, Oleksander Kysil, and Pavlo Zaitsev, played an important role in the capital’s Ukrainian community. In its scholarly and publishing activities the Ukrainian community found support among some eminent Russian linguists, such as Aleksandr Pypin, Fedor Korsh, and Aleksei Shakhmatov, who in 1905 drafted a memorandum from the Imperial Academy of Sciences urging the lifting of all government restrictions on the Ukrainian language. Some established Ukrainian and Russian scholars and many young scholars, such as Hryhorii Holoskevych, Volodymyr H. Yaroshenko, Vsevolod Hantsov, Levko Chykalenko, and O. Alesho, were active in the Student Circle of Ukrainian Studies, which was formed in 1906 at Saint Petersburg University. At the demand of the Ukrainian Student Hromada in Saint Petersburg, lectures on the history of Ukrainian literature (Hrushevsky) and the history of Ukraine (Yefymenko) were introduced in the 1910s at the Bestuzhev Higher Courses for Women. In 1914–17 a clandestine Ukrainian university was operated by the Hromada Ukrainian Club and the Chief Student Council. The faculty of Saint Petersburg University included some professors of Ukrainian origin, such as Serhii Bershadsky (law), I. Andriievsky (law professor and rector in 1883–7), Volodymyr Liubymenko (botany), and Petro Liashchenko (economics). There were Ukrainian scholars who worked in other institutions, such as Andrii Markevych (law and ethnography), Volodymyr Kistiakovsky (physics and chemistry), V. Kovalevsky (economics and finance), Mykola I. Maksymovych (hydrology), Borys Sreznevsky (meteorology), Oleksander Nikolsky (zoology), and Apolinarii Marshynsky (finance). Some eminent Russian scholars, including Vladimir Ikonnikov (history), Volodymyr Peretts (literary history), and the aforementioned linguists, specialized in Ukrainian studies.

Some members of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts were Ukrainians by descent or by place of birth, among them Arkhyp Kuindzhi, Ilia Repin, Mykola Pymonenko, Kyriiak Kostandi, and Mykola Bodarevsky. Among the many Ukrainian graduates of the academy were Mykola I. Murashko, Serhii Vasylkivsky, Petro Levchenko, Vladimir Beklemishev, Mykola Samokysh, Ivan Izhakevych, Karpo Trokhymenko, Yuliian Bershadsky, Fotii Krasytsky, Oleksander Murashko, Oleksii Shovkunenko, Georgii Lukomsky, Oleksa Hryshchenko, Serhii Zhuk, Ivan Mozalevsky, and Mykhailo Andriienko-Nechytailo. The Ukrainian graphic artists Vasyl Masiutyn and Heorhii Narbut (1907–8 and 1910–17) worked in Saint Petersburg. Ukrainians also played a prominent role in the capital’s musical life. The composers Mykola Leontovych, Yakiv Stepovy, and Mykola Lysenko worked there. Ivan Alchevsky was a star of the Imperial Opera, where another Ukrainian, Mykola Malko, was chief conductor until 1914. The musical scholar Yosyp Myklashevsky was director of the Saint Petersburg Institute of Music (1913–18) and editor of the journal V mire iskusstva. During the First World War some of the Ukrainian writers and artists in Petrograd belonged to the Ukrainian Literary and Artistic Society, founded by Zhuk.

Revolutionary and postrevolutionary period. At the outbreak of the February Revolution of 1917 the Provisional Ukrainian Revolutionary Committee of Petrograd and the Petrograd branch of the Society of Ukrainian Progressives issued their proclamations and organized a Ukrainian demonstration, on 12 March, in which over 30,000 people, mostly soldiers, took part. A memorandum on the Ukrainian language, Ukrainian education, and the Ukrainian church was submitted to Prince G. Lvov, the head of the Provisional Government. The Ukrainian National Council in Petrograd, which represented 16 local organizations, was founded on 19 March 1917. Its executive committee consisted of Oleksander Lototsky, Mykhailo Korchynsky, Petro Stebnytsky, F. Sliusarenko, and Pavlo Zaitsev. In May 1917 the functions of the council were assumed by the Ukrainian commissioner in the Provisional Government, Stebnytsky. The organizations that continued to operate set up the Council of Ukrainian Organizations in Petrograd, which was active until mid-1918. At the end of May 1917 the Central Rada sent a delegation to Petrograd for talks with the Provisional Government.

As the Ukrainian state was rebuilt, Ukrainian activists, soldiers, scholars, and artists returned in large numbers to Ukraine, and Ukrainian organizations in Petrograd were discontinued. Under the Soviet regime Ukrainian organizations were banned and dissolved. The Leningrad Society of Researchers of Ukrainian History, Literature, and Language did some valuable work in the 1920s and was abolished in 1933. Later some Ukrainian scholars, such as Yurii Mezhenko, Yarema Aizenshtok, Kostiantyn Koperzhynsky, Varvara Adriianova-Peretts, Volodymyr Parkhomenko, Fedir Pryima, M. Morenets, P. Zhur, and Yu. Margolis, found refuge and work in Leningrad. A Ukrainian drama theater operated in the city in the 1920s and was revived briefly in 1930–2 (see Zhovten Theater in Petrograd-Leningrad). Thereafter Leningrad theaters occasionally staged Russian translations of Ukrainian prerevolutionary and Soviet plays. In the early years of Soviet rule a statue of Taras Shevchenko was erected, and his apartment-workshop at the Academy of Arts was set aside as a memorial museum.

Some signs of organized Ukrainian activity in Leningrad appeared in the 1960s. Under the auspices of the Leningrad Writers' Union P. Zhur began to stage annual concerts in honor of Taras Shevchenko. At the end of the 1970s a circle of Ukrainian students formed around the painter V. Kalnenko, and at the beginning of the 1980s the composer I. Matsiievsky organized a folk-song ensemble, which took part in Shevchenko concerts at the Leningrad Institute of Theater, Music, and Cinema. The Ukrainian Cultural Society, which sprang up in 1988, was registered officially at the beginning of 1989 (membership, 120). It organized concerts dedicated to Semen Hulak-Artemovsky, folk-art festivals at the Leningrad Museum of the Ethnography of the Peoples of the USSR, and commemorative evenings honoring Shevchenko, and it collected funds to construct a monument to Shevchenko. In the last 1970s and 1980s a number of Ukrainian artists, such as Volodymyr Makarenko, V. Antonenko, L. Kolybaba, Feodosii Humeniuk, M. Kovalenko, N. Pavlenko, and A. Druchylo, worked in Saint Petersburg.

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Bohdan Kravtsiv, Nataliia Pavlenko

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]




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