Farewell to Europe, by Aleksander A Sochaczewski. The painting depicts participants of the January 1863 Uprising on their forced march to serve their sentences in Siberia. The obelisk marks the geographic border line between Europe and Asia. The artist himself is among the exiled here, near the obelisk, on the right.
Drawing on Richard Pipes’ argument that the 1863 Polish revolt was viewed by many Russians as an illegitimate European attack on Russia and led them to conclude that “only the autocracy could preserve the integrity of the country,” Irina Glebova argues that the Ukrainian revolution of 2013-2014 (Euromaidan) has had “approximately the same influence on Russia.”
Paralleling what happened in Poland 150 years ago, the INION historian says, “the attempt of Ukraine to finally assert its European identity (in opposition to the Soviet-Russian) by completing the process of building independent statehood and an equal nation offended Russian national feelings.”
The uprising began as a spontaneous protest by young Poles against conscription into the Imperial Russian Army. It was soon joined by high-ranking Polish-Lithuanian officers and various politicians. The insurrectionists, severely outnumbered and lacking serious outside support, were forced to resort to guerrilla warfare tactics.
Reprisals against insurgents included the Tsar’s abolition of serfdom that granted land at low value (namely, the market price) and was designed to draw support of peasants away from the Polish nation and disrupt the national economy. Public executions and deportations to Siberia led many Poles to abandon armed struggle and turn instead to the idea of “organic work”: economic and cultural self-improvement.