“What do heroes need? Only our memory. And who are we then if we cannot keep this memory?” reflects Serhii Kovalenko, author of the documentary book Black Zaporozhian Cossacks: the History of a Regiment. He personally presented his historical study on January 22 in Kharkiv.
Present-day Black Cossacks also arrived in the city from various corners of Ukraine and Poland to take part in Unity Day celebrations and the book presentation. “Three historical events link the Black Cossacks with Kharkiv. Firstly, they liberated the city from the Bolsheviks. Secondly, it is from Kharkiv that the regiment launched a march on the Crimea in the vanguard of Bolbochan’s army to liberate the peninsula. Thirdly, they stirred up an uprising there. The regiment was disbanded in 1924 near Przemysl, the birthplace of the regiment’s current commander Roman Borovyk,” says Vasyl Ilchyshyn, one of the present-day Cossacks.
A new revival of the Black Zaporozhian Cossacks Regiment began in 2006 after the Orange Revolution. And, although there are not so many, perhaps two dozens, people who call themselves Black Cossacks today, the number of their followers has already reached thousands. The Cossack Vasyl lives in the village of Voronkiv, Kyiv oblast. He says the present-day Cossacks are mainly involved in educational activities.
The Black Zaporozhian Cossacks purpose to rally non-governmental organizations and patriotic forces around the idea of statehood. “We must stop quarreling, clear up our relationships, and elect otamans and hetmans among ourselves,” Vasyl asserts. “We should make use of the broad experience of our ancestors, follow their ideas, and raise our national identity.” Ilchyshyn thinks that the new historical study, full of documented facts and reminiscences of event participants and true heroes, such as Petro Diachenko, will promote the development of these ideas. For if you know the real destinies of the Ukrainians who took up arms to fight for the Ukrainian state, you will certainly strive to be worthy of and continue their quest.