Ukraine Commemorates Baturyn Tragedy
310 years ago, Moscow troops captured and destroyed Baturyn, the Hetman Capital, and massacred all its defenders and residents
Photo from UATV
On Nov. 2, Ukraine honor the victims of massacre in Baturyn, the Hetman Capital of that time.
The tragic events took place 310 years ago. During the Soviet Union times this tragedy was swept under the carpet.
In 1708, Moscow troops led by Aleksander Menshikov executed a punitive operation: they captured Baturyn and massacred all its defenders and residents, not only men but women and children, with extreme brutality. More than seven thousand civilians were killed. All buildings and even temples were destroyed.
This act was committed as a revenge. In autumn of 1708, Peter I led battles with the King of Sweden Charles XII and ordered the Ukrainian Hetman Ivan Mazepa to send his troops for help.
Mazepa refused and took the side of the Charles XII. Wishing to take revenge, Peter I ordered General Menshikov to seize the hetman’s capital Baturyn and destroy it. He sent 20 thousand men to burn Baturyn down with specific orders not to spare anyone.
Mazepa was not in the town at that point. The towns residents hid in the fortress and for a day cossacks managed to hold back Moscow troops, even while being outnumbered three to one. Eventually, Russian forces managed to take the fortress.
Traitors saved themselves by assisting in the Russian victory.
“The colonel of the Pryluky regiment Ivan Nos and a translator Stephan Zertis persuaded their Cossack friend Solomakha. He escaped the city through an underground passage. He then went to Aleksandr Menshykov and told him about the underground passages. That is how the fortress was taken by the enemy,” said Karyna Soldatova, senior scientific researcher at ‘Hetman’s Capital’ park.
Whether anyone managed to survive is unknown. The archaeological excavations in Baturyn are still underway. The remains of 500 people will be reburied.
Even the newspapers of the times wrote about the massacre.
“British newspapers were published with headlines reading Ukraine is drowning in blood. This refered to the Baturyn tragedy of 1708,” Karyna Soldatova said.
The fortress was rebuilt in the early 2000s. In 2004, a cross was placed to commemorate the victims of the tragedy.