According to legend, the swamplands of Polesia - the Pripet Marshes - were first settled long ago - as far back as the 9th Century. Once largely part of the Kievan Rus, authority of the region fell apart in its collapse in 1240 or so, when much of the area was sacked by the Mongol hordes of Batu Khan. Afterwards, it came under the influence of the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia, though remained independent.
In 1320 the eastern portions of the region were captured by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the western parts were occupied by Poland. After the Union of Lublin, the area was incorporated into the Crown of the Polish Kingdom. With the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, much of it passed to Imperial Russia. During a brief period of Ukrainian independence the city was for a few weeks in 1918 the national capital. From 1920 onwards the region was under Soviet rule.
During most of the year, the marshes in eastern Polesia are virtually impassable to major military forces, thus influencing strategic planning of all military operations in the region. The few roads that traverse the region are narrow and largely unimproved, to boot. Extensive fighting occurred here during the First World War between Austria-Hungary and Russia.
During World War II the territory came for three years under Nazi German occupation and held Heinrich Himmler's Ukrainian headquarters - the area became a laboratory for Himmler's resettlement activists. The marshes in the area divided the central and southern theaters of operation on the Eastern Front during World War II, and served as a hideout for Soviet and Polish partisans, who were such a thorn in the side of Germany that plans were made to drain them.
The area - the eastern parts of the Polesian region - occupied by Polesia, while escaping fallout, suffered several strikes:
Belaya Tserkov, for its military bases and industry.
Berdychiv, for its army base.
Kiev, hit by several strikes in its vicinity for varied reasons. Confirmed to be an ocean of glass on both sides of the Dnieper River, which now flows through the remains of the city largely underground.
Ovruch, for its air base.
Novohrad-Volynskyi, for its army base.
Uzyn, for its air base.
Vasylkiv, for its air base.
Zhytomyr, for its industry and air base.
In the weeks after Doomsday, the nuclear plant at Chernobyl, for unknown reasons suffered some sort of partial meltdown, devastating parts of the Priypet Marches.
The region around Kiev was hit by multiple strikes on Doomsday - more than the local officials had expected, which cost the higher officials in the government their lives. What few managed to escape the destruction of the area were only low-level flunkies, and they fled outwards in all directions, though the majority did go into a general westward direction, since in was believed - truthfully, as things turned out - that much of the east would become a death trap.
Of these officials, two separate groups managed to survive the chaos. One, fleeing southwest with refugees, eventually stopped in the city of Fastiv, where an island of stability had arose. The other, also loaded with refugees, fled northwards, eventually arriving at the city of Chernobyl, where they took control of the abandoned nuclear plant, which had been shut down after Doomsday, as well.
At both sites, order was barely maintained. However, the worst of their problems was not over. The communists in charge at Chernobyl, desperate to do something, sent what scientists they could round up into the plant to try and make it functional again.
In a turn of events that surprised no officials at Fastiv when they finally heard about it from the few survivors, who themselves died of radiation poisoning shortly afterwards, something - to this day the area remains too radiated to find out - horrible had apparently happened at the plant, and some sort of meltdown had occurred. The net result was many deaths, and the irradiation of much of the Pripet marshes.
By 1989, the government forming in Fastiv had managed to stabilize the local area, and had shown the ability to keep bandits and the like well away from the city. Having not heard from, or even heard reliable rumors of, any sort of outside authority, it was eventually decided to declare independence. After much debate, it was decided that the declared republic would be called the Polesian Republic, after the old Ukrainian region it was part of. Independence was then declared on July 11th of 1989.
The new government would send out scouts throughout much of the nearby region. In doing so, they found several towns - and even an intact city to their north, Marariv. The majority of these discoveries joined their state, and the crooks and bandits in control of the rest were overcome.
In March of 1991, scouting parties from the Republic encountered a party of soldiers northwest from Makariv near the old oblast borders. These soldiers opened fire on the scouts, who high-tailed it back to Makariv as soon as possible.
The Polesian government sent out a large body of troops in the general direction that the soldiers had been encountered, with orders to eradicate the problem - and if they did not find them near the area where the encounter had occurred, they were to continue in that direction into the next oblast.
On arrival, the Polesian soldiers found nothing other than evidence that the enemy soldiers had been there. They did, however, leave an obvious trail behind them - the smoldering collective farms were fairly easy to see - so after sending a messenger back to Makariv, they pressed onward.
Eventually, they caught up with the "soldiers," who, being outnumbered, were soundly trounced - the "off" state of the enemy did not help their cause, of course. Most were killed, but the remainder, while heavily wounded and not expected to live, gave up much-needed information under "duress."
The essence of the information was that some sort of rogue state had set itself up in the city of Malyn, in the eastern reaches of what had been Zhytomyr Oblast. As per their orders, another batch of messengers was sent back, and then pressed onwards towards the city.
Malyn had been occupied by a gang in late 1983. They had taken an iron hand to the people of the city after Doomsday, and instituting starvation rations and horrid labor conditions, all to "keep the people alive" - effectively, as slaves. Obviously, this state could not be allowed to continue to exist. An attack would be lodged as soon as the soldiers arrived - even in the event that they could be outnumbered, the surprise should carry them through.
Upon arrival in late July, an attack was immediately mounted. With the element of surprise, the assault took most of the city before the leaders of Malyn knew what had hit them. Of course, resistance eventually stiffened - and the discovered equality in numbers, when coupled with the lengthy supply lines that the Polesian soldiers were relying on, meant that they would likely lose in the end. But, the citizens of the town - now largely free of the dictatorship - soon joined the fighting, rushing their captors defenses. Many of them would perish, but it created the opening the soldiers needed - and when backed up by the soldiers, the citizens sacrifice paid off. The gang members and their cronies - not one of whom made it out alive - soon found their heads mounted on posts at the edge of town.
By the time winter arrived, the citizens of the city had very willingly joined the republic - their saviors.
In 1993, exploration teams operating out of the rebuilding city of Malyn saw another organized group of people inside the ruins of Zhytomyr. Given the events of the last encounter, they quickly set up defensive positions. As things turned out, this was unneeded. The other group was a party of scouts from the survivor state of Volhynia, a fair ways to their west.
Embassies were quickly exchanged between the two nations, and the Polesians were told of the existence of other survivor states - specifically, in eastern Poland and Belarus.
Through this relationship, the would be informed of other survivor states over the next few years - eventually leading to the joyous news in 1995 of the Volhynian discovery of another Ukrainian survivor state, in the region of Galicia.
While exploration had tapered off after the discovery of the Volhynians, their discovery of the Galicians emboldened the Republic to further their exploration of new territory, and its settlement of new areas.
With expansion to the north and east essentially blocked by the radiated marshes and ruins of Kiev, and preferring to avoid any arguing with their neighbors to the west, the only real avenue to expand into was to the south. Slowly, exploratory parties would move southward, carefully avoiding areas of intense radiation, or those controlled by bandits, which would eventually be put down by the following army units.
By the summer of 1997, expansion was temporarily brought to a halt by the government, which felt it had annexed enough territory for the time being and could not manage any more of it for a few years. However, the forces would try and continue to explore southward, hoping to find other survivors or materials that they could use.
In May of 1998, exploratory parties poking around the outskirts of the former Uzyn air base encountered a force from the south. Unlike their uniforms, or those from Galicia or Volhynia, this group still wore what were, at a glace, Soviet uniforms. Of course, up close differences would be pretty obvious, but at a distance, the Polesian scouts could not be blamed for this at all - they genuinely believed themselves under attack by some sort of Soviet state, though they knew the actual Soviets were far and gone.
A fire-fight between the two groups erupted, with the Polesians likely firing the first shots. Either way, the Polesians ended up being encircled by the Podolians, and a demand for them to surrender was made, in Ukrainian of all things. Somewhat surprised, the Polesians answered in the same language. That reaction surprised the Podolians almost as equally.
Since both knew no Soviet force would have answered or demanded anything in that language, an impromptu truce occurred. A parlay was agreed to, and they discovered that neither was what had been thought - the Soviets were a long ways away, and not liable to be for a long time to come.
Both parties sent word back to their leaders of the encounter, and arranged for a meeting between them, near the remains of the town of Volodarka. This went well, and relations were established between the two. The Polesians also informed the Podolians of the outside world.
By the end of 2000, the various nations in the Western Ukraine had established contact with each other, and independently determined that outside of small villages, no more large concentrations of survivors were likely to be found in the area besides each other.
However, armed disputes between explorers had begun to occur over what territory belonged to which nation. After a particularly bloody and alarming encounter between Volhynian and Podolian scouts, it became painfully obvious to the governments of the four powers that some sort of solution was needed - with the knowledge that the Soviet Union still existed in some form in Siberia, they knew that they needed to be strong enough to resist when it eventually worked its way back to them. The presence of the Russian confederacy between the two did little to help matters, either, given its actions in the eastern Ukraine - which the four states were not likely to ever get returned to them.
As such, representatives from the four nations agreed to meet over the winter of 2000-2001 in the city of Halych, an old capital city inside Galician territory, since all could agree it was the strongest of the four nations. At this conference, they would decide how to divide up the region fairly, in order to prevent outbursts of violence from occurring between them, like what had occurred at first contact between Polesia and Podolia.
After much debate, it was decided to generally follow the old boundaries between oblasts, with a few small adjustments - Polesia gave up the southernmost reaches of Kiev Oblast, west of the river, to Podolia, in return for parts of former Cherkasy Oblast on the eastern bank, as an example.
Given how successful the Halych conference went, it was agreed to meet there again over the next winter, to discuss some sort of military alliance. At this conference, a agreement was made to establish an alliance - which they called the Ukraine Republican Coalition, despite the protests of the Duke of Halych - with the primary goal of rebuilding the Western Ukraine and policing the uninhabited regions between them, though with the message that the Siberians were not welcome there being incredibly obvious. The headquarters of the Coalition was established in Halych, as a concession to the Duke in return for the name.
In 2008, with the realization that they were by far each others biggest trading partners, another conference was held, this time in Fastiv. The goal was to further the trading, and to make it easier. The eventual end result was the addition to the military alliance of an economic alliance, with a common currency - the Ukrainian Grivna - to be established by the fall of 2009. It was launched on October 12, 2009, to much fanfare.
Currently, a temporary stop has occurred on expansion, with primary efforts being directed towards exploring the ruins of Kiev, where a no-go zone is being established around contaminated areas, like what had been set up in the past in the swamps. It is hoped that parts of the area will be free enough of radiation to re-settle, or that they will find some sort of usable equipment in the ruins.
Government and Politics
Polesia is a unitary republic, having no lesser units of government other than municipal governments. A president is elected by the Legislature every five years, only serves one term, and must not have ever held the position, or been a Prime Minister, in the past. Elections to the legislature must occur every five years as well, though three to four has been the norm.
The Polesian Legislature is largely composed of delegates from the governing People's Party, under centrist Prime Minister Andrei Nikolaenko, and the Fatherland Party, a group that split from the People's Party in 2007 over establishment of a federal structure, under Alexander Nikityuk. Small socialist and conservative parties each hold a small number of seats as well, though remain politically insignificant.
Nikolaenko's bloc controls 45 out of the seventy seats in the Legislature following elections on August 10th, 2012, trailed by Nikityuk's followers with 16, twelve of which were lost by the People's Party in the last election. The remaining nine are evenly split between socialist, conservatives, and independent members. The next elections are expected sometime in 2016.
Currently, the President is Roman Bezsmertnyi, the former mayor of Makariv, who was elected to his post in 2009.
Major political issues in the republic today largely involve whether or not a federal structure should be established, largely championed by the citizens of Makariv, and what should be done about the radiated swamps.
Polesia maintains the smallest military out of all the survivor nations in the former Ukraine. They are, however, the only one in control of any intact aircraft, though they are not flown at all because of the lack of fuel.
Largely, the military is concentrated, given the impassable territory to the north and the fairly safe areas to the south and west, along the river to the east and in the ruins of Kiev, which they have been given by the URA and hope to one day rebuild.
The military maintains outposts at the edges of safe territory along the radiated zones around blast zones, the northern swamps, and Chernobyl. Currently they are concentrated around Kiev, however.
Most of the trade and economy of Polesia depends on its partners in the URA, but they also have begun to work with the Belorussians.
The largest industry in the area today is the brewing and sale of beer and other alcoholic beverages. The industry is dominated by Maliff, based in the city of Malyn, whose specialty is vodka and a line of honey beers.
The fastest growing industries, however, are the railroads, which are now being repaired outwards from Fastiv, and industries associated with the work are beginning to grow quickly.
Polesia is a member of the Ukrainian Republican Alliance. Like the other Ukrainian nation-states, they feel little use in attempting to join the LoN at the present time, as the Siberians will just block the application anyway, like they have done with almost all the other nationalist states in the former USSR.
Currently, they are working with the Belorussians to investigate the remains of the marshes, and are attempting to work with them in finding a solution to the radiation there.