Tchaikovsky A-Z: Letter U
Lying on the border between East and West, Ukraine was a nation with little say in its own destiny during Tchaikovsky's lifetime. The Western part, under Austrian rule since the partition of Poland, struggled for self-determination against several powers following the wave of uprisings in 1848 that shook the stranglehold of the Hapsburgs. The Eastern part, under Russian control, suffered more serious attempts to extinguish its ethnic identity: as part of his 'russification' policies across the Empire, Tsar Alexander II passed a law prohibiting Ukrainians from using their own language in public (1863), hoping to undermine any moves towards independence.
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