The OUUS originated with a handful of Ukrainian students supported by prominent politicians, and public figures including President Leonid Kravchuk, university scholars, and the Ukrainian Embassy in London. The Society was formally accepted by the proctors in 2004.
Over the past few years it has provided a detailed insight into the long and turbulent history of the Ukrainian people, their struggle to achieve freedom and then to defend it, to preserve its independent statehood, and to portray the formative years of its national identity. With a series of debates exploring significant current issues and major historical events, besides traditional and folk celebrations of Ukraine’s rich heritage, well-known speakers and prominent activists have fascinated our members.
The inauguration of the Society was in November 2004. At the first event, the winner of that year’s Eurovision Song Contest Ruslana Lyzhychko, performed live in Oxford, at a dynamic concert which captivated the audience. Other highlights have included a tenth anniversary lecture delivered by the prominent singer, composer, scholar and politician, Svyatoslav Vakarchuk. In June 2018 we were addressed by President Vikor Yushkenko and the talented sportsman and Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klischko. In March 2017 we held a panel discussion on the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Among the speakers were the signatories of Belovezh Agreement Leonid Kravchuk, Stanislav Shushkevich, Gennadiy Burbulis. In a wide-ranging debate topical issues were discussed by Ukrainian MPs, ambassadors, journalists and Oxford scholars.
We have also held many cultural events: Ukrainian food fairs with varenyky, poetry readings – on with the prominent poet and translator, Vera Rich – numerous film screenings with Q&A with film directors. On several occasions committee members united with their Cambridge counterparts and members of Ukrainian societies in London universities to form a choir which delighted Oxonians with recitals of Ukrainian folk songs and lyrical ballads, as well as some exuberant performances of folk dances which were taught to unsuspecting British and international students present.