Viit (Polish wójt, from Old German Voit, from Latin [ad]vocatus). The head of a town self-governed by Magdeburg law in 14th- to 18th-century Ukraine. The position was initially a hereditary one. The viit was responsible to the town's owner (usually the monarch or a magnate) and was appointed by him, usually from among the rich burghers. He presided over the town's administration, treasury, lands, properties, police, and lava court, and shared his powers with the town council (see Magistrat), whose members were elected by agreement of the viit with the burghers. For his services he received part of the town's taxes and court payments. The viit could pass on or sell his position to someone else. If the town purchased it, the viit was thenceforth elected by the burghers. In the 17th- and 18th-century Hetman state the viit was elected, but the election was subject to ratification by the hetman or his representative. Under tsarist rule the position was abolished together with Magdeburg law in 1831. In Western Ukraine, under Austrian rule the viit was the head of a village hromada, and under interwar Polish rule he was the chief administrator of a gmina. A study of Kyiv's viity is found in Volodymyr Shcherbyna's collection on Kyiv's history (1926).
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]