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My ancestry can be traced back to the 18th century. On my mother’s side, there are Zaporizhian Cossacks and peasants who had lived in the region for generations. On the other side, my father’s family traces its history from Old Believers who settled the region in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Some later became successful merchants; some devoted their lives to the Russian Orthodox church as clergymen; and some became successful civil servants and even gained nobility status in the Russian Empire. My family history is a reflection of the history of southern Ukraine. But this region’s past was purposefully misrepresented or mystified by the neo-imperialist post-Soviet Russia to justify its invasion of Ukraine in 2014.
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Editor’s Note: Dr. Oleksandr Pankieiev is the Research Coordinator and Editor-in-Chief of the Forum for Ukrainian Studies at the Contemporary Ukraine Studies Program, the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta. His main research interests include the history of Stepp (Southern) Ukraine, Russia-Ukraine relations. He is also pursuing research in the Ukrainian Canadian diaspora studies, ethnography and digital humanities.