The idea of separate and competing government powers may have found its first expression in a constitution composed in 1710, in Ukraine.
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Some will recognize here the last name of one of Russian literatureâ's most famous heroes: Ostap Bender, from Ilf and Petrov's The Twelve Chairs and The Little Golden Calf. Bender came into being as a Moldavian fort, then was conquered by the Turks in the sixteenth century, then was conquered by the Russians in the early nineteenth century, but it became part of Romania in 1918, and was Romanian when The Little Golden Calf was written. Notably, it is to Romania, at the end of the second novel, that Bender attempts to escape.
Mazepa’s decision led to ostracism and excommunication by the Orthodox Church and, during the Soviet era, designation as a symbol of â€œUkrainian bourgeois nationalism.â€ In post-Soviet Ukraine, his star has risen and he has begun to be seen as one of the first Ukrainian leaders to stand up to the tsar. In the West, meanwhile, aided in large part by a romantic-heroic poem by Byron, Mazepa has been seen as a symbol of resilience and independence. At least three towns in the US (in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Pennsylvania) are named for him.
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