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In the 7th century BC people called the Scythians lived in what is now Ukraine. Later the Greeks settled on the north coast of the Black Sea and they founded city states there. Slavs settled Ukraine in the 5th and 6th centuries AD.In the 9th century Swedish Vikings sailed along rivers into the heart of Eastern Europe. Some of them settled in Ukraine.

In  the 15th century Ukraine came under the domination of the Turkish Empire. In the 15th and 16th centuries some serfs (halfway between slaves and freemen) ran away from Polish landlords and settled on the steppes of Ukraine. They were called Kozaky (Cossacks), which means freemen. The Cossacks formed self governing communities. Eventually they united to form the Cossack Hetmanate led by a hetman (general). However in the late 17th century Poland came to dominate western Ukraine while Russia dominated eastern Ukraine. Then in the 18th century Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia was determined to absorb eastern Ukraine into Russia.

The Cossack Hetmanate was abolished in 1764. Meanwhile in the 18th century Poland was declining and in 1772-1795 Russia and Austria decided to help themselves to Polish territory. Most of western Ukraine was taken by Russia (except for a small strip in the far west, which went to Austria). Finally in 1783 Russia conquered Crimea. Catherine the Great also founded Odessa.

In the 19th century Ukraine was firmly under Russian control. However from the mid-19th century nationalism spread. In 1918 while Russia was engaged in civil war Ukraine became independent for a short time. However in 1921 the Russians forced Ukraine to become part of the Soviet Union.

Stalin decided that farms in the Ukraine should be collectivised. Not surprisingly many Ukrainian peasants bitterly resisted even slaughtering their own livestock rather than hand it over to the state. However Stalin was determined to crush the Ukrainian peasants and he caused a terrible famine in 1932-33 that took the lives of millions of innocent people.

During 1937-39 Stalin unleashed purges in which many Ukrainians were executed or sent to prison camps. Then in 1941 the Germans invaded. However by 1943 the Germans were losing the war and the Red Army recaptured Kiev on 6 November 1943.

In 1986 there was a disaster at the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl. The authorities tried to cover up the disaster and it caused much resentment. In the late 1980s Ukrainians became increasingly dissatisfied with rule from Moscow and in 1989 the RUKH (Ukrainian People's Movement for Restructuring) was formed and in 1990 demonstrations were held.

With the collapse of Communism and the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991 Ukraine once more became independent. Ukraine suffered high inflation and economic decline for some years. However economic growth eventually began again.

In late 2004 Viktor Yanukovych won a presidential election. However many people believed the election was rigged and supporters of the other candidate Viktor Yushchenko held demonstrations for 10 days. Eventually a rerun was held and Yushchenko was elected. He became president early in 2005. This was called the Orange Revolution.