Pereiaslav Rada of 1654

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pereiaslav Rada of 1654


a council of representatives of the Ukrainian people at which reunification of the Ukraine with Russia was decided upon. The rada was convened on January 8 (18) by Hetman B. Khmel’nitskii in the city of Pereiaslavl’ (present-day Pereiaslav-Khmel’nitskii). Its decision marked the final step in the movement for reunification with Russia, a movement that had gained considerable strength during the wars of liberation waged by the Ukrainian and Byelorussian peoples between 1648 and 1654.

Reunification was prompted by linguistic and cultural similarities between the Ukrainian and Russian peoples, a common religion, and economic, political, and cultural ties. Certain features in Russia’s governmental structure played an important role in the rada’s decision, as did Russia’s Ukrainian policy. There were a number of cossack territories on the Don and Iaik rivers in which serfdom did not exist and which enjoyed some degree of political autonomy. The Russian authorities granted asylum to fleeing Ukrainian peasants and cossacks and permitted them to settle as freemen. An area called Slobodskaia Ukraina, which was on Russian territory bordering the Ukraine, was set aside for Ukrainian settlers, and a cossack registry was instituted. The Ukrainian peasantry hoped to maintain personal freedom under Russian rule and rid itself of national and religious oppression. The Ukrainian elders and the nobility, on the other hand, sought to retain their class privileges with the support of the tsarist authorities and to become the ruling class of the Ukraine by maintaining political autonomy within the framework of the Russian state.

On the eve of the meeting, B. Khmel’nitskii conferred with V. V. Buturlin, the boyar who headed the Russian delegation. On the morning of January 8 (18), Khmel’nitskii convened the rada of the elders, which voted unanimously for reunification. At midday the open rada convened, attended by representatives of the regiments occupying the areas liberated from Poland, the townspeople of Pereiaslav, and peasants from surrounding villages. Khmel’nitskii spoke of the sacrifices of the Ukrainian people in the struggle for liberation and stressed that only by accepting Russian sovereignty could the gains the nation made be preserved. The proposal was adopted unanimously by acclamation, and the elders, cossacks, and townspeople pledged allegiance to the tsar.

The reunification of the Ukraine with Russia played a progressive role in the economic, political, and cultural development of the Ukrainian people. It strengthened the union and friendship of two brotherly nations in their joint struggle against foreign aggression and for social and national liberation.


Golobutskii, V. A. Diplomaticheskaia istoriia osvoboditel’noi voiny ukrainskogo naroda 1648–1654 gg. Kiev, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.