Ukrainian cooperative movement

The Ukrainian Cooperative Movement was a movement based primarily in Western Ukraine that addressed the economic plight of the western Ukrainian people through the creation of financial, agricultural and trade cooperatives that enabled western Ukrainians (primarily peasants) to pool their resources, to obtain less expensive loans and insurance, and to pay less for products such as farm equipment. The cooperatives played a major role in the social and economic mobilization of the western Ukrainian people, most of whom were peasants. First begun in 1883, by 1939 cooperatives had 700,000 members in western Ukraine, employing 15,000 Ukrainians. The cooperatives were shut down by the Soviet authorities when western Ukraine was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939. However, they continue to exist and flourish among Ukrainian emigrants and their descendants in North and South America, Europe and Australia.


  • History 1
    • Under Austrian Rule 1.1
    • Under Polish Rule 1.2
    • Outside Ukraine 1.3
  • See also 2
  • References 3


Under Austrian Rule

The Ukrainian cooperative movement originated in [1]

Many other cooperatives followed. In 1899, Silsky Hospodar, whose aim was to teach the peasants modern farming methods, was founded. By 1913 it had 32,000 members. Dnister, an insurance company, was established in Lviv and by 1907 had 213,000 policyholders. Most important, however, was the rise of Ukrainian Credit unions. Although some existed as early as 1874, the Vira credit union was the first to be stable and well-regulated. Typically charging approximately 10% interest for loans, hundreds of credit unions sprung up throughout Austrian-ruled Ukraine. They helped put traditional moneylenders out of business. In 1904, a central association of Ukrainian cooperatives was formed, which had 550 institutional affiliates and 180,000 individual members.[1]

The Andrei Sheptytsky, taught that the poor needed more than merely money and that the educated or well off had a duty to help the poor learn how to raise themselves from their circumstances - "teach them, show them how to improve their lot."[2]

The rise of the cooperative movement in late 19th century Ukraine had several effects. It helped to bring about a close and harmonious relationship between the intelligentsia of western Ukraine and the peasantry, something that the intelligentsia in Russian-ruled Ukraine was not able to accomplish. Because the cooperative movement was largely the project of Ukrainophiles (those western Ukrainians with a patriotic Ukrainian national orientation), its practical help to the Ukrainian population contributed to its allegiance to the Ukrainian national movement rather than to the competing pro-Russian orientation.[1] Indeed, improvement in economic standards developed concurrently with the increase in Ukrainian national consciousness.[3] Because the professions of moneylending and shopkeeping had traditionally been Jewish vocations in western Ukraine, the cooperative movement also created financial hardship for the local Jewish community, by eliminating many Jewish jobs. The financial hardship caused antagonism between the two communities and was a cause for Jewish emigration from Galicia.[1]

Under Polish Rule

After Narodnia Torhivlia (People's Trade") brought together urban retailers. Dairy cooperatives united to form Maslosoyuz, which included dairies supplied by over 200,000 farms. It dominated the western Ukrainian and even much of the central Polish market, and exported to Austria and Czechoslovakia.[3] Women had their own cooperative, which by 1936 included 36,000 members. It taught women how to operate cooperatives and nursing schools, and established a cooperative that helped to popularize and sell folk art made at home.[3]

All of these organizations were further subordinated into an umbrella organization called the Audit Union of Ukrainian Cooperatives (RUSK). The number of Ukrainian cooperatives in Galicia grew from 580 in 1921 to 2,500 in 1928 and approximately 4,000 by 1939. Membership on the eve of the second world war was estimated at 700,000 people, and the cooperatives employed over 15,000 Ukrainians.[1]

The Polish government was alarmed by the growth of Ukrainian cooperatives and attempted to limit them by supporting Polish cooperatives and creating problems through allegations of hygiene code violations or incorrect filing of reports. In 1934, the Polish government passed a law forcing Ukrainian cooperatives outside Galicia to unite with Polish ones.[3] Despite such tactics, Ukrainians had twice as many cooperatives per capita than did Poles.[1]

When the Soviet Union annexed western Ukraine in 1939, the Soviet authorities liquidated most Ukrainian community institutions, including Ukrainian cooperatives.

Outside Ukraine

Western Ukrainians brought cooperatives[4] with them as they emigrated to North and South America, western Europe and Australia. Credit unions served the purpose of offering personal and business loans that Ukrainian immigrants would have otherwise have had difficulty obtaining from other financial institutions. The success of the Ukrainian credit unions is reflected in the fact that by the late 1990s, Ukrainian credit unions in the United States alone had assets of 1.1 billion dollars.[5] Ten years later, this had grown to 2.146 billion dollars in assets held by 17 Ukrainian American Credit Unions.[6] In 2006, 10 Ukrainian credit unions in Canada reported assetts of 1.2 billion dollars CDN.[7] These credit unions continue the Ukrainian cooperative movement's mission of service to the Ukrainian community. In 2007, Ukrainian American credit unions donated over 3 million dollars in support of Ukrainian community organizations.[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Orest Subtelny. (1988). Ukraine: a History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 324-325 and pp.437-438.
  2. ^ Andrii Krawchuk. (1989). "Andriy Sheptytsky and the Ethics of Christian Social Action." In Paul Robert Magocsi (Ed.). Morality and Reality: the Life and Times of Andrei Sheptytsky. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta. pg. 250 and pg. 264
  3. ^ a b c d Paul Robert Magocsi. (1996). A History of Ukraine. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pg. 442 and pg. 589
  4. ^ Ukraine: The agricultural sector continues to hold its leading position in the domestic economyAgriculture in the Black Sea Region
  5. ^ Leadership Conference focuses on Ukrainian Americans' expanding horizons.Ukrainian Weekly. by Yaro Bihun. October 19, 1997
  6. ^ a b Official website of the Ukrainian National Credit Union Association Annual Meeting 2008
  7. ^ Canadian Credit Union Report
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