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Task 8. Read the text and discuss with your partner its main items as well as the differences of the contemporary Constitution of Ukraine and the Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk.





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The Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk or Pacts and Constitutions of Rights and Freedoms of the Zaporizhian Host was a 1710 constitutional document written by Hetman Pylyp Orlyk. It established a democratic standard for the separation of powers in government between the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches. The Constitution also limited the executive authority of the hetman, and established a democratically elected Cossack parliament called the General Council. Pylyp Orlyk's Constitution was unique for its historic period, and was one of the first state constitutions in Europe.

After the Battle of Poltava when Charles XII of Sweden and Hetman Ivan Mazepa armies were defeated by Peter I of Russia, Pylyp Orlyk remained on the side of Mazepa. Together, Orlyk and Mazepa retreated to the city of Bendery, at the time part of the Ottoman Empire. Zaporizhian Cossack Army also settled in this area.

When Ivan Mazepa died on 5 April 1710, Pylyp Orlyk was elected Hetman. On the same day, "Pacts and Constitutions of Rights and Freedoms of the Zaporizhian Host" was declared. Hence, Orlyk's Constitution is sometimes referred to by the city of its proclamation - Bendery.

The document is made up of a preamble and 16 articles.

The preamble briefly discusses cossack history, the rise and fall of the Zaporizhian Sich after under Bohdan Khmelnytsky it rebelled against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to serve the Imperial Russia. Using all available means, Moscow limited and nullified rights and freedoms of the Zaporizhian Host going as far as subjugating the free cossack nation, states the introduction. Ivan Mazepa's politics and alliance with Charles XII of Sweden are explained as logical and inevitable, mandated by the need to free the homeland. The independence of the new state from Russia was the primary goal of the Bendery Constitution.

Articles 1-3 dealt with general Ukrainian affairs. They proclaimed the Orthodox faith to be the faith of Ukraine, and independent of the patriarch of Moscow. The Sluch River was designated as the boundary between Ukraine and Poland. The articles also recognized the need for an anti-Russian alliance between Ukraine and the Crimean Khanate.

Articles 4-5 reflected the interests of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, who constituted the overwhelming majority of the Bendery emigration. The Hetman was obligated:

to expel, with the help of Charles XII, the Russians from Zaporozhian territories

to grant the town of Trakhtymyriv to the Zaporozhians to serve as a hospital, and

to keep non-Zaporozhians away from Zaporozhian territories

Articles 6-10 limited the powers of the hetman and established a unique Cossack parliament, similar to an extended council of officers, which met three times a year. The General Council was to consist not only of the general staff and the regimental colonels, but also of "an outstanding and worthy individual from each regiment."

Articles 11-16 protected the rights of towns, limited the taxation of peasants and poor Cossacks, and restricted the innkeepers.

 

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