The Ukraine's history is long and proud. Kyivan Rus was the most powerful state in Medieval Europe. While this state fell prey to Mongol conquest, the western part of Ukraine became part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from the 14th until the 18th century, and even the modern Ukraine owes it a debt of sorts. In the face of pressure from the ascendant Muscovy, the Ukraine was able to remain autonomous for more than a century, but the Russian Empire absorbed much of Ukraine in the 18th century, to the detriment of their culture and identity. The post-Soviet era initially held severe economic difficulties, hyperinflation and oligarchal rule. The issues of cronyism, corruption and alleged voting irregularities came to a head during a heavily-disputed 2004 presidential election. The beautiful Ukrainian capital Kiev is home to leafy hills and world-famous Orthodox and Baroque architecture.