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Слава Україні! Glory to Ukraine! What’s behind Ukraine’s most popular slogan

Слава Україні! Glory to Ukraine! What’s behind Ukraine’s most popular slogan

The slogan “Glory to Ukraine” has become louder with the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. But not everyone knows where it came from and what message it carries. The Russian propaganda machine has been actively trying to villify it, so let’s unpack why exactly does it bother them so much.

The origin of the slogan “Glory to Ukraine!” is linked to the Ukrainian anthem (based on the first line). It is also related to the works of Shevchenko. 

At the end of the nineteenth century, it was already in circulation among the Ukrainian student community in Kharkiv.

Later, after the suppression of armed resistance by the OUN-UPA, it was banned in the USSR for many years.

The slogan resurfaced in the 1990s, when Ukraine gained relative freedom of speech. It was then used at rallies and demonstrations.

In modern Ukrainian history, the slogan owes a new wave of popularity to the Orange Revolution, the Revolution of Dignity and, of course, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

And now it is associated with freedom and resilience of Ukrainians.

One of the most widespread theses of Russian historical propaganda is that this is a Nazi slogan and all Ukrainian nationalists of the 1930s and 1940s were Hitler’s “servants”. It is claimed that the slogan “Glory to Ukraine” is derived from the Nazi “Heil Hitler”. However, the slogan “Glory to Ukraine” appeared long before the Nazis came to power in Germany, and its roots go back to the 19th century, to the works of Shevchenko, decades before Hitler’s birth.

The slogan “Glory to Ukraine!” was already in use among Kharkiv’s Ukrainian student community at the end of the 19th century. It was later used as a slogan for the Ukrainian revolution and in the Ukrainian War of Independence. There were different variations of the response to the greeting — among them, “Forever Glory!”, and “Faith! Glory!”

The slogan “Glory to Ukraine” and the response “Glory to the Heroes” – was first used as an official greeting in the founding organization of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, whose aim was to establish, preserve, and develop a Ukrainian sovereign independent state.

Because the slogan communicated a yearning for an independent Ukraine, it was strictly forbidden by the Soviet regime for many years. Russians could never accept the fact that Ukrainians were a different nation with its own history and identity.

“Glory to Ukraine” renewed its popularity during the Revolution of Dignity and more so with the beginning of the war in Donbas, unleashed by Russia in 2014. In 2018, the slogan became an official greeting in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Ukrainian police, replacing the Soviet salute.

With the start of the full-scale invasion, the slogan “Glory to Ukraine” has gained mass appeal. Echoing its 19th-century use, many Ukrainians started using it as a greeting. The slogan has become popular not only in Ukraine but also abroad. It is now associated with the freedom and resilience of Ukrainians.

Slava Ukraini! Glory to Ukraine!


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