President of Ukraine

"Ukraine. Kyivan Rus’. 1033” Address by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the occasion of the Day of Christianization of Kyivan Rus’ - Ukraine

28 July 2021 - 10:35

Fellow citizens!

Today we celebrate the Day of Christianization of Kyivan Rus’ - Ukraine.

This is the official, and most importantly - historically fair name of the holiday, which emphasizes the inseparability of the two states. There is a thousand years and one mark between Kyivan Rus’ and Ukraine. There is a dash between them in the text of the relevant decree of the President of Ukraine. And it's not just a punctuation mark. This is a sign that Ukraine is the successor of one of the most powerful states in medieval Europe. In its capital, which is the capital of modern Ukraine, the history of Christianity in Eastern Europe began, when 1033 years ago Grand Prince Volodymyr of Kyiv christened Kyivan Rus’. Kyivan Rus’ - Ukraine.

This is not part of our history, this is our history itself. We do not need to prove it with historical treatises, works, or articles. Because our evidence is not on paper, it is in metal and stone. Not in myths and legends, but in our cities and on our streets.

It is easy for us to overcome the path to the treasures of the past thanks to the trends of the present. Taking an electric scooter, you can get and see the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, St. Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral, Askold's Grave.

Going out of the "Arsenalna" metro station, taking coffee and walking a few hundred meters, we see the Church of the Saviour at Berestove, which was first mentioned in 1072 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Volodymyr Monomakh's son and Volodymyr's great-grandson Yury Dolgoruky is buried in it. The Grand Prince of Kyiv. The Founder of Moscow.

To immerse yourself in the world of the history of your own statehood, a few subway trips are also enough. And only on one "green" branch of the subway you can touch the history, so to speak, without transfers. These are Vydubychi and Vydubychi monastery. This is the main gate of ancient Kyiv built by Yaroslav the Wise - the Golden Gate.

And St. Cyril's Church, built by another great-grandson of Volodymyr - Vsevolod Olgovich. Founded in 1140 in Dorohozhychi, it became a symbolic place that connected Kyiv with other possessions and branches of state roots.

And not only the capital, but also the whole of great Ukraine is rich in millennial monuments about him. These are the Transfiguration Cathedral, the Piatnytska Church in Chernihiv, St. Basil’s Cathedral in Ovruch, Yurieva Bozhnytsia in Oster, the slopes of Vytachiv.

This is the Volodymyr’s Cathedral in the Ukrainian Crimea, in the Ukrainian Chersonesos, where the Ukrainian ruler, Grand Prince Volodymyr of Kyiv, according to one version, was baptized.

These are Pereiaslav, Lutsk, Volodymyr-Volynskyi, Halych, Novhorod-Siverskyi, Bakhmach and many other cities of Ukraine built during the times of Kyivan Rus’.

And this, in my opinion, is one of the things that testifies to the main thing - the historical unity of all Ukrainians. One of the things that proves that all Ukrainians, from any corner of Ukraine, is one great nation. Ukrainian nation. These words are not a tribute to the state of affairs, but a tribute to the truth and justice.

Kyivan Rus’ is the mother of our history. 24 regions of Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula are her own children. And they are rightfully her heirs. And cousins and very distant relatives should not encroach on her legacy. They should not try to prove their involvement in the history of thousands of years and thousands of events, being from the places where they took place thousands of kilometers away.

It is no secret that the Grand Prince of Kyiv enjoys significant respect among all churches and denominations. Volodymyr the Baptist was canonized by both the Orthodox and the Catholic Church as a saint equal to apostles. We can say that it is thanks to him that all churches and denominations are present in modern Ukraine.

Nowhere in the world are there analogues of the Ukrainian Council of Churches, which includes all Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical churches, Jewish and Muslim religious associations.

And all of them repeatedly hold joint prayers for Ukraine in the very place where I am now. This is St. Sophia’s Cathedral. The majestic guardian of the history of Ukrainian statehood - the history of Kyivan Rus’.

It was the historical foundation for the creation of the Cossack Hetmanate. It was the historical basis at a time when in the Pedagogical Museum on the street named after Grand Prince Volodymyr, the Central Council of Ukraine announced the creation of the Ukrainian People's Republic, chose the Volodymyr’s symbol - trident - as its emblem, and called the currency hryvnia - in memory of the first currency of Kyivan Rus’.

And together all these three epochs were the basis when in 1991 Ukraine declared its independence. This year we will celebrate only the 30th anniversary of its obtaining. But our national currency is the hryvnia, like a hundred years ago and a thousand years ago. It is symbolic that its recent history was started by the Grand Prince, who is depicted on one hryvnia.

Our modern currency will be only 25 years old. At the same time, it will be 1025 years since Volodymyr has built the Tithe Church.

A trident was embossed on each of its plinth bricks, and Volodymyr donated a tenth of gold and silver coins, which also had a trident, for its construction. And, as a hundred years ago, as a thousand years ago, the trident is our State Emblem.

In 1240 the Tithe Church was destroyed by Batu Khan. And after the restoration, in 1928, it was destroyed for the second time by the Soviet authorities.

The Church of the Saviour at Berestove was also destroyed by Batu Khan in 1240.

All additions to the Piatnytska Church were destroyed by a Nazi bomb in 1941.

It is also part of our history. We can say "regretfully", but it is important to draw the right conclusion.

We are always building something. Sometimes someone is fascinated by it, sometimes someone captures it. But we always come back and always get it back.

And today we must jointly strive for one thing: not to lose what is built, to restore what is destroyed, to return what is captured. And to save all this forever together.

And therefore - to save ourselves and the state.

Let’s remember the past, act today and think about the future.

Happy Day of Christianization of Kyivan Rus’ - Ukraine!