Ukraińcy na Podlasiu – geneza, kontrowersje, współczesność
Ukrainian population is connected with Polish history from the earliest times. Most of its presence is associated with such a historical and geographical regions as Podolia, Volyn, Outer Carpathian or – during the partitions – Galicia. Much less it is said about the Ukrainians in the context of Podlasie, despite the fact that their history in this region reaches Middle Ages. It is caused by many factors, mainly smaller number of people and the total difference of otherness of the Ukrainian population in Podlasie compare to "Galician Ukrainians”, especially during the partitions of Poland and in the 20 th century. In the series of historical studies concerning the history of settlement in Podlasie region, commonly emphasized is the fact that the North-Ukrainian ethnic population settled in the southeastern part of Podlasie in the Middle Ages. Based on the Russian census from 1897, the number of Ukrainian population in the Bialystok district was estimated for more than 60 thousand, mainly in the Bielsko region. Completely different were the results of censuses which took place 20–30 years later, in the independent Poland. According to them, between 1897 and 1931, Podlasie experienced a very rapid increase in the number of Belarusians and even more rapid decline in the number of Ukrainians. Between rivers, Narew and Bug in a very short time, there has been a complete reversal of the Ukrainian-Belarusian ethnic structure. In autumn of 1939 Podlasie was incorporated into the USSR. The Soviet government considered the whole population of Orthodox Church as Belarusians. In the postwar period, adopted the principle of automatic classification of population by religious criteria, considering all the Orthodox in Podlasie as Belarusians. In this simple schematic division of religious and ethnic structure, there was no room for Ukrainians. Only after a few decades later, at the turn of the 80s and 90s, began the process of rebirth of the Ukrainian national identity among the Orthodox community of Podlasie. This process took place mainly on the ground of a distinct ethnicity and language. It also took place in the institutional and organizational level, and in the awareness of the population, what confirm the results of sociological studies and censuses. It is hard to predict now how to continue the process of rerutenization specific parts of the population living between Narew and Bug rivers. One can only hope that in a democratic society it will be determined only by the individual sense of national identity, rather than arbitrary political and administrative guidelines.
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