The "German Intrigue" as an Element of the Anti-Ukrainian Campaign: A Case Study of Kyiv's Russian Language Press, 1914-18

Ivan Basenko


World War I proved to be a powerful catalyst for latent national movements on non‑Russian frontiers of the multi-ethnic Romanov Empire. Based on original sources in Kyiv’s Russian language press, this article uncovers the attitude of the Russian media toward Ukrainian national self‑determination in Southwestern Krai, the Empire’s borderland. Particularly, the study investigates the anti-Ukrainian campaign of the alleged “German intrigue.” Prejudice against the Ukrainian “foreign intrigue” originated in the media as a response to Russia’s pre-war controversy with neighbouring Austria‑Hungarian and German empires. During World War I, such prejudice developed into a prominent defamatory technique. This research illustrates how a pre-war concern about a separate Ukrainian identity evolved into full‑scale Russian hostility toward the newly established Ukrainian state by the end of 1918. In essence, the anti-Ukrainian campaign reflected the press’s worldview. Regardless of political affiliations, Russian newspapers unanimously professed state patriotism. Despite the emergence of a mass Ukrainian national movement in 1917, newspapers continued to assert the paradigm of the single all‑Russian nation. In general, this attitude should be evaluated as a historic example of a clash between Russian and Ukrainian national projects.

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© 2014 East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies. Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

ISSN 2292-7956