Poletyka, Hryhorii A.

Image - A drawing of Hryhorii A Poletyka.

Poletyka, Hryhorii A., b 1725 in Romny, Lubny regiment, d 8 December 1784 in Saint Petersburg. Civic leader and writer; brother of Ivan Poletyka. He completed his studies at the Kyivan Mohyla Academy (1745) and then worked in Saint Petersburg as a translator of Latin and German works.

Poletyka entered Ukrainian public life as the replacement for the Lubny regimental representative to Catherine II's Legislative Commission of 1767–9. He emerged as a leading proponent of Ukrainian interests at the landmark gathering following the sudden resignation of Kyrylo Rozumovsky. Poletyka articulated a view of Ukraine ruled as a gentry democracy in the manner of the Polish Commonwealth. His views differed markedly from those of Rozumovsky regarding the restoration of the Cossack institutions that had been abolished in 1764 and the role of the hetman in Ukrainian society. The viability of his arguments and the passion of his defence of Ukrainian autonomy won him the support of Ukrainian delegates to the commission. Catherine's administrative changes in Ukraine disregarded the positions of Poletyka and the petitions of hundreds of Ukrainians. Nevertheless the exercise had brought forth a clear articulation of perceived rights, and it played an important role in the development of a Ukrainian historical consciousness in modern times.

In addition to items submitted to the Legislative Commission Poletyka prepared works regarding the origins of the Kyivan Mohyla Academy and the development of education in Russia, as well as Russian translations of Aristotle and a six-language dictionary (Russian, Greek, Latin, French, German, and English). Some historians credit him (or him and his son, Vasyl Poletyka) with writing Istoriia Rusov (History of the Rus’ People).

Kohut, Zenon. Russian Centralism and Ukrainian Autonomy: Imperial Absorption of the Hetmanate, 1760s–1830s (Cambridge, Mass 1988)

Vasyl Omelchenko

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

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