Serhii Plokhii
Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University, Head of Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. Author of more than ten books on the history of Ukraine and Eastern Europe: 'The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine', 'Unmaking Imperial Russia: Mykhailo Hrushevsky and the Writing of Ukrainian History', 'Chornobyl: History of a Tragedy' and others. His research interests include early modern and modern history of Ukraine and Eastern Europe, political and cultural history of the Cold War.
Patriotism is a notion that is further-reaching than love for one's nation, language, culture and so on
2014 showed that Ukraine is a country for which people are prepared to risk their life in defending its integrity. The Ukrainian nation, which had until this point been undergoing the process of formation, became notably more mature, having appreciated the value of its sovereignty.

This is a large historical change, inasmuch as Ukrainians as a society did not have their own state for centuries. For such a re-interpretation a change of generations is needed, and therefore this process could not have begun earlier. In this sense, the worldview of a Ukrainian today and of a Ukrainian in the 90s are fundamentally different.

With the events of the Orange Revolution (protests against ballot-rigging in the 2004 presidential election) and Maidan (mass protest movement in 2013-2014 against corruption and in support of the European direction in Ukraine's foreign policy) the world saw Ukrainians as brave and freedom-loving people. They rose up against injustice, against authoritarianism, fighting for the future of their country. Of course, other stereotypes and opinions exist in parallel. However, my impression is that this image of the heroic nation fighting for its rights prevails for now.
Over 30 years of independence, Ukraine's cultural code has changed dramatically. This has happened to the greatest extent in the period after 2014
The impact of Chornobyl on Ukraine, in terms of social and political factors, remains the largest in comparison with other countries. For example, with Belarus, although Belarus proportionally suffered much more than Ukraine.

'Chornobyl: History of a Tragedy' is a book about the beginning of Ukrainian independence. And it is probably exactly this that is my most successful attempt to integrate Ukraine into the context of global history.
Ukrainian politics started to form after Chornobyl. The first political party which was not communist was created after Ch–ĺrnobyl
Over 30 years of independence, Ukraine's cultural code has changed dramatically. This has happened to the greatest extent in the period after 2014
It is respect for and loyalty to one's country. It is a category of civil society, the civil nation. A residence permit or living in a certain territory is not an intrinsic part of patriotism, one can love at a distance.

However, in terms of the engagement of the history of Ukraine in the global context, it is not only referendums and patriotic protests that play a significant role. One of the most important events in this process for me is the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

Chornobyl is, in the consciousness of Western society, still associated above all else with the Soviet Union and Russia. I wrote a book dedicated to the specifically Ukrainian part of this story.

There is, for example, an important story of the mobilisation of Ukrainians after the disaster, which also played a not-insignificant role in the realisation of the decision in the referendum of 1 December 1991 (Ukrainian-wide referendum on the Act of Declaration of Independence). For a long time it remained unknown in the wider world and almost forgotten even in Ukraine.
I came to Ukrainian historiography in the 1970s, when it found itself in a very difficult situation. We were essentially working on questions that were semi-forbidden at the time: early Ukrainian history, the history of the Cossacks. Today there is already no need to demonstrate their importance inside Ukraine. However, the question of the development of Ukrainian history in the West and its integration in the global context takes the foreground. And this is one of the main directions in my research.

For example, the world underappreciates the fact that it was specifically Ukraine that, with its election on the 1 December 1991, brought to a close the existence of the Soviet Union. After these events, it did not survive even a week longer. We voted not only for our own independence, but also for the independence of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and other countries.
I see it as my mission to deliver to society a knowledge and understanding of Ukrainian history, both inside Ukraine and for the global community
From childhood I looked at history like a collection of unsolved mysteries. The character of the historian-detective, the historian-researcher attracted me.

I got lucky with my lecturers, with my tutors at Dnipro University. After five years of education I no longer had any doubt that history is my work for life.

Later I understood that the most interesting historical breakthroughs are not connected with the unveiling of a secret or a mystery. Rather, they involve finding the cultural code of a certain time, a certain generation.

However, I also had to work on solving mysteries in the traditional sense of the term. For example, in one of my works on the history of the Rus' people it was a challenge finding the creator of a historical artifact from the early 19th century. I had to research the attitude and thoughts of Ukrainian society at the time to do this.

There are almost always two layers of secrecy: the traditional enigma of authorship and the more complicated enigma of the mentality of people from a certain time. What did they insert in their work, what were their horizons and hopes?
UNIA 'Ukrinform'