A monument to Volodymyr The Great, the king of Kyivan Rus from 980 to 1015 who baptized it in 988 and became a Christian saint, stands above the Dnieper River in Kyiv. (Photo: social media)
Even though Russian officials and commentators have felt free to call Ukraine and Ukrainians other names, the suggestion by Ukrainian writer Larysa Nitsoi that Russia should be called Muscovy has sparked outrage among Russians – even though Muscovy is a more historical term for what is now Russia than many terms Russians now use for Ukraine.
Residents of Ukraine should “apply to the Russian Federation the historical name ‘Muscovy since the term ‘Rus’ was stolen from the Ukrainians by the Russians,” Ukrainian writer Larysa Nitsoi says. Moreover, she continues, the tsars had to impose the name Russia on reluctant Muscovites.
“Do you know how they became Russians?” she asks rhetorically. The Russian tsars first stole the name ‘Rus’ from us. They were at the time Muscovites. Rus is ours. It’s as if someone stole the house of your parents and then you say that the owners are those who did the stealing,” Nitsoi continues.
People in Ukraine are in fact “’Russians,’” she tells an interviewer. “You and I are Russians; they are Muscovites. The Muscovite tsardom by order of Peter I called itself Rus. Just imagine if Germany woke up today, and France had issued an order specifying that we now are Germany. This is the same nonsense!”
Indeed, Nitsoi recalls, “the Muscovites continued to call themselves Muscovites,” forcing Catherine II to issue a decree – all Muscovites who call themselves Muscovites will be piteously beaten. This is a historic fact; it can be confirmed in museums! As a result, the Muscovites were called and forced to call themselves Russians.”
Few things anger those who call themselves Russians now than anyone who calls attention to some of the problematic aspects of their history, their names or the name of their language. And not surprisingly, Nitsoi’s remarks sparked an immediate and universally negative response in the Russian Federation.
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