On March 9, Ukrainian nation commemorates its great writer, poet and painter Taras Shevchenko. One of the most prominent figures in the 19th-century Ukraine, he is often treated as a true symbol of struggle for the national identity, statehood and independence of Ukraine. His very biography showed the tough nature of this struggle at the time.
Taras Shevchenko was born on March 9, 1814 in Moryntsi village, Cherkasy region, central Ukraine. Born in the family of peasants, he became an orphan in the age of eleven. Since childhood, he grew very fond of painting, so thanks to help from a patron, he found himself in Petersburg, Russia, where he studied for 4 years. Shevchenko met there famous painter and professor Karl Briullov, who donated his portrait of the Russian poet Vasily Zhukovsky as a lottery prize, whose proceeds were used to buy Shevchenko's freedom on May 5, 1838.
As a free man, Shevchenko joined the Academy of Arts in Petersburg. In 1840, he released his first collection of poems called “Kobzar”. The book quickly gained popularity and later became classics of the Ukrainian literature of the period. However, in 1847, when the poet dared to mock the-then Russian monarchs in his poem “Dream”, he was detained, judged and imprisoned. Despite the ban to write or draw, Shevchenko continued to create poems and even wrote several novels – in Russian. The poet was released in 1857, due to an amnesty that followed the death of Emperor Nicholas I.
After years of exile and tough service in the army, Shevchenko’s health failed him. Throughout his life, he managed to return to Ukraine several times; however, he wasn’t happy far from his motherland and didn’t live long enough to see the end of serfdom in 1861. The poet died on March 10, 1861, aged only 47; he passed away shortly before the respective Emperor’s decree was released.
At first, he was buried in Petersburg, but later his remains were brought to Kaniv, central Ukraine; that’s where they rest up to date.
In many Ukrainian cities, on March 9, people lay flowers to monuments of Shevchenko that are erected across the country. Solemn meetings and other events are planned in a number of cities and towns.
Previously, Crimea's pro-Russian "government" banned Ukrainian activists from marking the poet's anniversary at the peninsula.