BATURYN, Ukraine—With cooperation from the Ukrainian government, archeologists are trying to reconstruct a Ukrainian town destroyed by the Russian army during the 18th century.
At present Baturyn is a small town, but in the 18th century it was home for Ivan Mazepa, a legendary commander or “ghetman” in Ukrainian.
"Under the patronage of President Victor Yuschenko the revival of ghetman’s capital is happening in the city of Baturyn,” said Vladimir Prihodko, a local administrator.
During the Nothern War with Sweden, Mazepa turned on his Russian Rulers, and fought with the Swedish against the Tsar.
Experts say Mazepa was trying to use the war to gain independence for Ukraine from Russia, but Russia won the war, and the Tsar ordered Mazepa's hometown of Baturyn to be destroyed.
"We can say that for residents of Baturyn [the destruction] was a tragedy,” said Anna Todorova, an archeologist from Moscow. “The cruelty of Menshikov throws a shadow over the Russian Army of that time, in any case this is our history and we should not reject it.”
Since the war, all historical monuments disappeared, according to Professor Vladimir Mezentsev from the University of Toronto. “In the Soviet Union all relics from 17th to 18th centuries that had been unearthed by archeologists were destroyed, they were considered unnecessary," Mezentsev said.
The Ukrainian President wants the reconstruction of Baturyn finished by this October. Oct. 2 will mark 300 years since Baturyn was destroyed. Local authorities are planning to make this archeological expedition permanent and international.