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About the Program

The Program started in the early 1990s and was partly responsible for a series of seminars on Ukrainian-Russian relations that took place in various centres in North America and Europe, and resulted in some book publications. From the outset it also served as an archive of materials from Ukraine, many of which appeared during the Perestroika era of the late 1980s and sometimes ran to just one or two issues. Gradually it built up an important collection. About a decade later it received also the collections of Roman Solchanyk, the chief Ukrainian researcher at Radio Liberty between 1973 and the mid-1990s. This was a straightforward donation and is known as the Solchanyk Archive. Several researchers have used it, including one PhD candidate at the University of Alberta.

Marples meet with RiabchukThe projects of the Program have been partially linked to the research priorities of the director. They include the publications of books (outside the CIUS Press series) on Chernobyl (Nuclear Power and Security in the Former USSR, edited by David R. Marples and Marilyn J. Young, Westview Press, 1997); David R. Marples, Holodomor: Causes of the Famine of 1932–1933 in Ukraine (Heritage Press, Saskatoon, 2011); and Mykola Riabchuk,Gleichschaltung: Authoritarian Consolidation in Ukraine, 2010–2012 (K.S. Publishing, Kyiv, 2012). The Program has also served as a consultation base on current events in Ukraine for government and nongovernmental institutions. The director has spoken regularly and widely on radio, television, high schools, and at Ukrainian community events in Canada, USA, Western and Eastern Europe, Australia, and Japan. Occasionally the Program invites visiting speakers, though this occurs about once per year because of the limited budget. It has also co-sponsored round-tables on events of current concern in Ukraine such as presidential and parliamentary elections.

For the past five and a half years, the Program has also run a blog site called “Current Politics in Ukraine” with regular analyses published twice monthly.

The main scholarly priorities and goals are the dissemination of clear and accurate information about the political, economic, and social situation in Ukraine, with focus on some key areas on which we have ready expertise. The main priority for the coming year is a more in-depth focus on Eastern Ukraine — historical memory, collective identity, and borders.

Another major interest of the Program is energy — this began with the ramifications of Chornobyl — and in particularly the complex relationship between Ukraine and Russia concerning the prices and transport of gas. This summer I hired Eduard Baidaus, a PhD candidate in History, to undertake a study of this issue by combing Ukrainian and Russian-language sources. He has gathered hundreds of pages of material that will form the basis of a series of articles on the blog site, and likely a couple of major research papers as well. This topic will continue to be of interest to the national and international community. Not only does it represent a critical concern for Ukraine’s economy, but it has also become the centre of a fractious and protracted dispute among Ukrainian oligarchs, including members of both the current and previous governments in Kyiv. Already the blog site contains several articles on gas, all of which have been written by the director.

Since 2002, the Program has maintained close links with Ukrainian Studies at the University of Cambridge. From 2002 to 2009 it sponsored an annual lecture on Ukraine, the speaker for which was selected by the director in consultation with the members of the Centre for Russian and East European Studies. Alternately we appointed a speaker from outside Ukraine followed by a Ukrainian. Speakers have included the major figures in Ukrainian studies (Roman Szporluk, Yaroslav Hrytsak, Dominique Arel, Serhy Yekelchyk, Andrew Wilson, etc.). In December 2011, the Program co-sponsored a workshop on Ukraine after 20 years, along with the University of Western Ontario (Marta Dyczok), and Cambridge (Rory Finnin). The goal of the connection was to convince one of the world’s major universities to offer a programme on Ukrainian studies. Happily it has now done so, hence this is a case of “mission completed.” (That the sponsor is a major and controversial Ukrainian oligarch is another issue — and not one I would wish to pursue.)

About the Director

The Director of the Program is David R. Marples, Distinguished University Professor in the Department of History & Classics, University of Alberta. He is the author of fourteen single-authored and two edited books and has received the following awards from the University of Alberta:  J. Gordin Kaplin Award for Excellence in Research, the Killam Annual Professorship, the Faculty of Arts Research Award for Full Professors, the McCalla Professorship, and the University Cup.