Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

John Nelson (University of Helsinki)

Putin, the Crimea and the Ukraine - so what's new?

Today there is a focus on Russian actions in the Crimea and the Ukraine but is this unique. The Council of Pereiaslav resulted in the Ukraine becoming an integral part of Russia and the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca left the Crimea independent but gave Russia control of the key ports. Irrespective of offers of European mediation Catherine 2nd pursued her territorial ambitions and annexed the Crimea. The Ukraine was culturally, linguistically and socially different to Russia. Ukraine's universities had been established before those in Russia. Many Ukrainian's rose to significant positions and Russians began to resent them labelling them 'Little Russian infestation'. Following fears of separatist inclinations Valuev wrote, 'No separate Little Russian language has [ever] existed, does exist [now], and can [ever] exist, [...]'. Reports that a dangerous state existed in the Ukraine resulted in the Ems Ukaz banning all elements of Ukrainian culture. At this time Rimsky-Korsakov's stand on the Ukraine is clear composing both May Night and Christmas Eve at that time based on Gogol's pointed Dikanka stories.

These developments are mirrored in events in the Ukraine since the 1980's. In 1971 Volodymir Ivasiuk became a figurehead for Ukrainian nationalism through his song Chervona Ruta. The Ukraine was then a part of the Soviet Union and the official language, Russian. As elsewhere in the Eastern Bloc rock became an important feature of the counter-culture. In 1989 Stretsenko wrote, 'The power of popular songs lies in the fact that they can bring back those who have lost their nationality.' And it was this 'power' that drove the Orange Revolution. As Roman Kalyn related: The only way to get the message out was for us to speak directly to the people during our concerts...Music was everywhere! People sang our songs "Spring will come" and "Political rock" on the barricades, they were dubbing this Orange Revolution a musical revolution. This message was distributed via the internet and mobile phones. Rock and pop united the nation. Russia is aware of the power of literature, music and art. Politically the aims of Putin are no different to his predecessors but in a new IT-dominated society it is being used it to distort and confuse.