Volhynia is a Ukrainian survivor state in what was once the northwestern Ukraine, named for both the area and the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
The ancient city of Halych first appears in history in 981 when taken over by Vladimir the Great of the Kievan Rus'. Volhynia's early history coincides with that of the duchies or principalities of Halych and Volodymyr-Volynsky. These two successor states of the Kievan Rus formed Halych-Volhynia between the 12th and the 14th centuries. Pochayiv Lavra, the spiritual heart of the Orthodox in Volhynia.
After the disintegration of the Grand Duchy of Halych-Volhynia circa 1340, the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania divided up the region between them, Poland taking Western Volhynia and Lithuania Eastern Volhynia. After 1569 Volhynia formed a province of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. After the Third Partition of Poland in 1795, Volhynia became the Volhynian Governorate of the Russian Empire.
In 1921, after the end of the Polish-Soviet war, the treaty known as the Peace of Riga divided Volhynia between Poland and the Soviet Union. Poland took the larger part and established a Volhynian Voivodeship. Most of eastern Volhynia became part of the Zhytomyr Oblast. From 1935-38 Joseph Stalin had the Poles of Eastern Volhynia deported — the first ethnic deportation in the history of the Soviet Union.
Following the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939, and the subsequent invasion and division of Polish territories between the Reich and the USSR, Volhynia was occupied by the Soviet Union. In the course of the Nazi-Soviet population transfers which followed this German-Soviet reconciliation, most of the German minority population of Volhynia were transferred to Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany. During the war the Ukrainians exterminated a large part of the local Polish population. Volhynia was annexed to Soviet Ukraine after the end of World War II. Most of the remaining ethnic Polish population were expelled to Poland in 1945.
The southern reaches of the region of Volhynia was hit by several strikes on Doomsday, though the northern areas escaped largely unscathed. These were hit:
Berdychiv, for its army base.
Dubno, for its air base.
Lutsk, for its air base and heavy industry.
Novohrad-Volynskyi, for its army base.
Ovruch, for its air base.
Rivne, for its industry and large army base.
Volodymyr-Volynskyi, for its air and army bases.
Zhytomyr, for its industry and air base.
The eastern reaches of the area were also affected when the nuclear plant at Chernobyl suffered a partial meltdown in the weeks after Doomsday.
In the Northwestern Ukraine, the rapid loss of centers of authority on Doomsday eliminated the majority of government officials in the area.
What few were able to flee the blasts fled north, having seen strikes in all other directions. Eventually, these officials, from the regional governmental centers of Lutsk and Rivne, arrived at the city of Kuznetsovsk, inside Rivne Oblast near the border between the two. Here, they joined forces with the local government and the managers of the power plant there, establishing a provisional government for the area. Soon after, hearing of the semblance of authority there, refugees began to arrive - largely Ukrainian, but even including Belorussians and Poles fleeing strikes in southeastern Poland and southwestern Belarus - and take up residence in the area.
It quickly became apparent to the government that even with a power supply - though only in small amounts, due to rationing the fuel - they could not possibly feed the population with the resources available in their area for long. As a result, they had to send out the small amount of forces they had in the area out to capture as much supplies as possible before winter set in. By late December, they had managed to find enough food in the area to keep the people alive through the winter, though the rations meant it was barely enough food to survive on - some deaths from starvation are believed to have occurred.
As spring began to arrive in late March, forces were sent out once again into the same areas, but now with the goal of taking possession so that the fields could be farmed and used to feed the people, so they would not go hungry like the winter before. Heading east and west along the main roads in the area, they encountered similar parties, obviously hungry, who were from the fairly intact cities of Sarny and Kovel, in June and July, respectively. These cities had suffered much more through the winter than Kuznetsovsk, especially so in the case of Sarny, which had been closer and likely lost some of its potential supplies to the government at Kuznetsovsk.
After discussion with the civic leaders of both states, it was agreed that they would join the provisional government. In Kovel, this went over fairly well. However, in Sarny, there was a perception that they had gone hungry because of the provisional government - and some resistance did appear. In fact, it was bad enough that the other two cities had to send troops there to put down the uprising.
The next winter, for all three cities and the nearby communities under their banner, would go much smoother. No deaths were reported, and all were happier by the end, though had still been on rations, as some areas had been too irradiated to plant crops.
Over the next couple of years, life in the area would slowly return to normal, as fields were allowed to be returned to use from drops in radiation.
Slowly, scouts from the state would begin to explore outward. In 1988, they discovered the still-intact city of Slavuta, in the northern stretches of what had been Khmelnytskyi Oblast, southeast of the ruins of Rivne. Ecstatic to see some semblance of authority, they quickly joined the state.
For a period after 1988, explorers concentrated on exploring eastward, finding lower concentrations of radiation there than to the south, along with a lack of the horror stories heard from the west. Troops going northwards had taken ill upon encountering the Pripet Marshes, and later discovered them to be severely irradiated for some reason, causing a cession of exploration there, even if parts of the region were likely to be passable. Exploration in these other directions would continue once radiation had died down somewhat.
By 1991, the government had gotten over its fears of the stories told by refugees from Poland and Belarus, and began to send teams westward, into what had once been Poland. During early 1992, forces operating out of Kovel happened upon what maps told them was the town of Wlodawa, near the old Polish border. Here, they encountered forces from a declared republic in Eastern Poland, finally making contact with the outside world. However, the priority of the Poles, worried about a communist nation to the west encountered the year prior, as well as the distance between the two, meant that little contact would be held between them until the late 1990s. That they both, in part, blamed the other for what had occurred did not help the matter any. Through the Poles, contact would also be made with the state of Belarus in 1994.
In 1993, scouts exploring eastward came into site of the ruins of Zhytomyr. A strike had obviously occurred there, but radiation seemed to have died off faster than would be expected, allowing them into the outskirts of what remained. Soon, the scouts set off into the outskirts of the city, hoping to pick up any survivors who remained in the area, and to scavenge for anything salvageable. Not encountering any life, and assuming themselves to be alone, they began to noisily dig through rubble at what they believed to be a factory on the northern outskirts of the city.
Attracted by the noise, another group of explorers coming from the east cam into sight. These people set up defensive positions in a building on the next street after sighting the Volhynian scouts. Eventually, they held a parlay under a white flag, making peace between themselves, and working together to clear out several factories there. As it turned out, the other group was from a state called Polesia, west of what remained of Kiev. Happy to see another survivor state, the Volhynian government sent an embassy eastward as soon as they received word of the event.
From the Polesians, they learned of the extensive destruction of Kiev, as well as the cause of the extensively radiated marshes. Apparently, some communists had taken hold of the Chernobyl Power Plant, and the nearby towns, after fleeing Kiev just ahead of the blasts, and had forced scientists in the region that had not fled to restart the reactors that had been shut down on Doomsday. The scientists, largely having no idea what they were doing, somehow caused a meltdown to happen, which contaminated the marshes.
To the South
With a knowledge of what there was in three of the compass points, the next area for exploration parties was obviously the south. By 1995, the radiation that had prevented any south of Slavuta had largely died down, allowing parties to begin to travel in the region again, and hopefully find something of use.
These groups quickly picked their way through the formerly radioactive zone, avoiding the still-deadly blast zones themselves. Any towns, or the like, were looked through, but little of consequence was found.
The first large city that they were to encounter was the city of Lviv. Upon arrival, however, they were not surprised to find that it had been hit on that fateful day. They spent much of the next few months in the northern outskirts of the city, excavating the ruins. Yet, in early winter, forces west of the ruins encountered a similar party from another survivor state, the Galician Confederation. The two nations exchanged embassies over the next year, and through the contact Volhynia also gained knowledge of the Romanian nation of Transylvania the next year.
Following an encounter with Polesian explorers, contact was also made with the nation of Podolia in 1998.
By the end of 2000, the various nations in the Western Ukraine had established lines of 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 areas they occupied. However, armed disputes between explorers began to occur over what territory belonged to which nation.
After a particularly bloody and alarming encounter between Volhynian and Podolian scouts in late 1999 near the former town of Khmelnik, it became painfully obvious to the governments of the four nations 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 semi-aggressive Russian Confederacy between the two did little to help matters, either.
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 and to keep the peace.
After much debate, it was decided to generally follow the old boundaries between oblasts, with a few small adjustments - Volhynia joined with Galicia in giving up some of one oblast in a particular instance so that Podolia could eventually possess the historic capital of the region of Podolia, and Polesia also gained some territory at the expense of Volhynia in the marshes near Belarus.
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, an 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 an incredibly obvious reason as well. The headquarters of the Coalition was established in Halych, as a concession to the Duke.
In 2008, with the realization that they were by far each others biggest trading partners, given the situation in East Poland, Transylvania, and Belarus, another conference was held, this time in the Polesian capital of 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 the Volhynians are working at settling the safe areas between the blast zones to their south, as well as expanding westwards towards Poland. Currently, the plan is to annex small areas over the Polish border near the ruins of Chelm, with the logic that it is part of old Volhynia, despite the presence of Polish forces at Wlodawa and the issues it will cause with them. The URC, given the ambitions of Galicia to the south of Volhynian ones, is slightly supportive of this.
Government and Politics
Volhynia is governed by a Legislature, like many nations, headed by a Prime Minister. The executive, whose title is named the Hetman after the old military title used by Poland and Cossacks in the area, is a position elected by the Legislature, and is for life, though any holders of the office have their children thus banned from the position as a result. They must also be over forty years old, and carry roughly the same powers as Presidents do in most republics, though with more of a role in actually governing the nation than such positions.
The nation itself has been divided into four voivodeships, based in the cities of Kuznetsovsk, Slavuta, Kovel, and Sarny.
A Parliament, under an elected Prime Minister, holds a fair share of power. However, they are subject to the Hetman in many things, since every single part of the Constitution which gives the position power is taken literally, not figuratively like in many places.
With the most recent elections on December 28th, 2011, the makeup of Parliament is: two seats held by the left-wing Socialist Party of Volhynia, five seats held by the conservative Volhynian People's Party, and the center-nationalist Fatherland Union Party of Prime Minister Vladimir Korovkin with fourteen, a slightly decreased majority for Korovkin.
In recognition of the Polish minority long present in the area, as well as the large numbers of refugees from Poland that arrived after doomsday, Polish has been declared a second official language of the Commonwealth.
Volhynia has the second-largest military of the URC, after Galicia, though it is markedly more efficient than its Galician counterparts, as the military is completely unified.
The Volhynia Army is largely composed of infantry forces, along with a few pieces of semi-modern artillery purchased from East Poland and Belarus in 2008. These troops are backed up by a dozen or so armored vehicles, largely excavated from around of the army bases at Novograd-Volynsky, though they are used very sparingly due to a lack of fuel.
Primarily, the Army is involved with establishing no-go zones around strike zones to the south of Volhynia, and with securing the areas between them and former Poland, in light of their goal for Chelm.
As with the other Ukrainian states, Volhynia is slowly recovering from 1983 even today. Using the power plant as a starting point, they have begun to repair and refurbish industries outward from the capital. However, it has been forced to operate on its lowest settings, as uranium can only be obtained from mines in Poland and Transylvania in small amounts, and known mines just east of Podolian territory have only begun to be excavated, though it is hoped these will enable a better use of the plant sometime in the next few years.
Primarily, efforts, with aid from German engineers, are being directed towards repairing the small automotive factories and railyards in the area, though little is to be expected of this for some time.
Otherwise, the area is well known for its baked goods, especially goods produced by the Volhen bakeries in Kovel, named for the historical capital of the area, destroyed in 1983. Most popular are their Volyn Cakes, similar to Kiev cakes made in Kiev before Doomsday, made with three layers of meringue, hazelnuts and a buttercream-like filling, but with the addition of fruit and honey to the mixture.
As with the rest of the URC, Volhynia has declined to even apply to the LoN, since they know any attempts to join will be blocked by Siberia. They are, however, the member of the URC most in favor of some sort of dialogue with the ADC.
Relations with East Poland and Belarus are generally frosty, in light of Volhynian ambitions, but are nothing compared to relations with West Poland and the various Czech and Slovak successor states, which are horrific for much the same reason.
They are also cooperating with Belorussian and Polesian efforts to try and do something about the marshes, though they themselves do little in that regard.