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Kyiv should remain the Capital

By Cyprian Chmielewski

I cannot agree with Matthew Parish, our Editor-in-Chief, that moving the capital from Kyiv to Lviv is a good idea. Such a scenario could be considered only if Russian forces made so much progress that Kyiv could no longer play its role as the capital city and Ukraine would be turned into a rump state. This scenario would be bad for all of us.

Obviously cities like Lviv, Odesa or Kharkiv play significant roles in Ukrainian history and culture. Lviv is full of magnificent architecture, including public buildings. In the past it was the capital of medieval Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia, the Ruthenian Voivodeship and the Kingdom of Galicia-Lodomeria which was part of the Habsburg Empire. Today, apart from its administrative role Lviv is the undisputed center of cultural life of western Ukraine. Despite all of this it's not a good enough candidate for the capital of Ukraine, because Kyiv is special for all Ukrainians as a unifying symbol. It is the first capital of Kyivan Rus', the place of the baptism of Rus' and contains the most important religious monuments like the Pechersk Lavra and the Saint Sophia Cathedral. In my opinion, Kyiv means as much to Ukrainians as Trondheim, Bergen and Oslo combined means to Norwegians or Gniezno, Cracow and Warsaw combined to Poles.

Another issue is the language, I fully agree that freedom of speech, the fight against corruption and the defence of institutions are crucial for development, but it's also important how we communicate our concerns to our partner about its internal policy or the condition of its democracy, especially at a time when thousands of Ukrainian soldiers are giving their lives for freedom and democracy. 

I also know the feeling of receiving harsh criticism from foreigners for the actions of a government which I disagree with. So due to this experience I prefer to express myself more tactfully.


Comment from Matthew Parish, Editor-in-Chief: I am extremely grateful to Cyprian Chmielewski for his counterpoint perspective and for providing differing views to the article I previously published and to which his essay above is a response. I consider this sort of civilised debate to stand at heart of contemporary European democratic traditions, in which people who respect one-another can debate and disagree with courtesy and propriety. Cyprian and I, without doubt, agree upon the dangers of contemporary Russian military imperialism to Europe, and while we may have different ways of describing the challenges facing contemporary Ukraine I believe we are of one mind in the nature and danger of the menace posed to Europe by the Russian Federation in its contemporary political format.


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