Repression in Ukraine, 1972 (27.1)

<<No 27 : 15 October 1972>>

From June to September 1972 trials took place of participants in the national and democratic movement in Ukraine. The prosecution’s case was based chiefly on samizdat and occasionally on verbal utterances. The article of indictment was Article 62 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 70 of the Russian Code). The investigation commenced in January-March 1972 (see “Arrests in Ukraine”, CCE 24.3 and CCE 25.2).


Two of the arrested persons [note 1], engineer L. Seleznenko and poet Mykola Kholodny, were released before trial after they had published statements of repentance in the press. Kholodny’s letter to the editor of Literary Ukraine (7 July 1972) contains not merely his repentance but also the names of the people through whom he fell under the pernicious influence of bourgeois propaganda and the writings of “so-called samizdat”.

After the publication of his statement in the paper Robitnycha hazeta on 8 July 1972 L. Seleznenko was immediately released and reinstated in his job at the Institute of Oil Chemistry [in Kiev].

1. Trials in Kiev

1.1 — In June 1972 the trial took place of the 40-year-old Alexander Sergiyenko [Ukr. Oleksandr Serhiyenko] (see CCE 24.3). a teacher of drawing in a school; after his dismissal from the school he had worked as an artist and restorer. The judge was Yu.I. Matsko [note 2]. By court decree the trial was held in dosed session: not even Serhiyenko’s mother [Olga Meshko] or wife were admitted to the courtroom. During the first two months of Serhiyenko’s detention in an investigation cell attempts were made to extort a public repentance from him, but to no avail.

Oleksandr Serhiyenko, 1932-2016

At the trial of Serhiyenko three counts were held against him:

  • Proof-correction of 33 pages of text from the book Internationalism or Russification? by Ivan Dzyuba (the book is 500 pages long). Serhiyenko was not acquainted with the author of the book. He had found the work interesting and made notes for his own use ‘ds he read it. The court classified his markings as editorial corrections and Serhiyenko was charged with complicity in the creation of an anti-Soviet book. The court regarded this episode as the main point of the indictment.
  • Oral statements critical of the “international assistance given to Czechoslovakia”; these were not confirmed by the testimony of witnesses.
  • Statements regarding the right of the Ukraine to self-determination.

The defence demonstrated the groundlessness of all the points of the indictment (the absence of any agitation and propaganda”, the contradictory nature of the witnesses testimony in some cases and the complete absence of testimony in others) and requested that the accused be released, or the classification of the offence altered from Article 62 to Article 187 [-1] of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 190-1 of the Russian Code).

The sentence was 7 years of strict-regime camps and 3 years’ exile. An appeal court upheld the verdict of the regional court.

1.2 — The trial of Ivan Yermilovich Kovalenko, a 54-year- old teacher arrested in January (see CCE 24.3), took place on 10-13 July. The judge was Yu.I. Matsko. A charge was brought under Article 62 para. 1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code.

The court held the following episodes against Kovalenko:

  • The confiscation from him on 12 January of the works: Internationalism or Russification? by Ivan Dzyuba; “Woe from Wit” by V. Chornovil (a document concerning the trials of 1965);*’ and publicist writings by V. Moroz’ —all of these were regarded as anti-Soviet.
  • Statements criticizing the “international assistance’’ rendered to Czechoslovakia (uttered in the staffroom at the school where he worked).

The trial was held in camera, Kovalenko’s wife, who was summoned as a witness on the second or third day of the trial, was not allowed to remain in the courtroom after giving evidence.

The sentence: 5 years of strict-regime camps.

1.3 — The trial of Zinovy Antonyuk (b. 1933), was held on 8-15 August. The judge was Dyshel, the Procurator Popchenko; the charge was one under Article 62 pt 1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code. The trial was officially open: 10-15 employees from the establishment where Antonyuk worked were brought to it by car. However, hardly any of Antonyuk’s friends managed to gain entrance to the courtroom.

Amongst the witnesses who appeared in court were Z. Franko, L. Seleznenko, M. Kholodny, Lobko and Anna Povodid. According to the evidence of Seleznenko and Kholodny, Z. Antonyuk had obtained and passed on to others (sometimes the witnesses themselves had been involved in these incidents) the journal Ukrainian Herald (No. 6),” the articles “Bolshevism and the Spirituality of the People” by Dmitry Dontsov, “Instead of a Final Speech” by V. Moroz,’*’ and others. According to evidence given by Z. Franko, Antonyuk had photographed issue No. 3 of the Ukraine Herald and had the film conveyed to Czechoslovakia via A. Kocurova. Antonyuk denied having transmitted the film.

Regarding witness Lobko, who gave evidence in favour of Antonyuk, the court made a separate decision that proceedings be instituted against him for his sharply-worded speech which it considered “contempt of court”.

Witness Anna Povodid, a staff-member of the institute where Z. Antonyuk worked, refused to confirm that Z. Antonyuk had given her samizdat literature to read. She stated that he had merely given her some unimportant scrap of paper to read in the corridor and that she had returned it to him there and then.

Z. Antonyuk wrote a letter asking the court to take into account the fact that he had acted without conscious malice, had not indulged in the circulation of material, and did not regard the literature confiscated from him as anti-Soviet.

The court ignored Antonyuk’s letter and passed a sentence of 7 years of strict-regime camps and 3 years’ exile.

1.4 — The trial of Vasyl Stus (arrested in January 1972, see CCE 24.3) took place from 31 August to 7 September in the Kiev Regional Court. The judge was Dyshel. It was reported in CCE 26 that the investigation was initially carried out under Article 187-1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code.

V. Stus is 34 and a poet and literary critic. He graduated from a teachers’ training college and served in the army. Until 1965 he worked in the [Shevchenko] Institute of Literature, He was preparing to defend his thesis but after speaking out against arrests in the Ukraine in the autumn of 1965 he was expelled. In recent years he had been working outside his professional field as an engineer in an information department and as a labourer on the construction of the [Kiev] underground railway. From 1965 his articles and poems ceased to be published.

The prosecution’s case relied to a large extent on the testimony of L. Seleznenko and M. Kholodny.

At his trial the following points were held against Stus:

  • The rough draft of an article about the poet P. Tychyna [1891-1967], which had been neither published nor circulated (during a search of Stus’s home a letter from Stanislav Telnyuk,^’^ a specialist on Tychyna whom Stus had consulted while working on his article, was confiscated. Telnyuk had been summoned as a witness in Stus’s case. In court he commented favourably on Stus’s work). A staff-member at the Institute of Linguistics, Nasiruk, was called upon to assess Stus’s article (although as a specialist on I. Franko he had never studied Tychyna); his review was unfavourable. The court ignored Telnyuk’s opinion. A book by Telnyuk about Tychyna is lying unpublished in a Moscow publishing-house; Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian Writers’ Union Vasyl Kozachenko declared, “Let S. Telnyuk first settle his accounts with the KGB, then we’ll publish him”. Telnyuk is also being interrogated as a witness in the in the cases of Nadiya Svitlychna [Ru. Svetlichnaya], Ivan Dzyuba, Yevhen Sverstyuk and Ivan Svitlychny.
  • A letter which Stus had sent to the government criticizing the state of affairs in which young writers of the Ukraine are not being published.“ This letter, which was confiscated during a search, was held against Stus as being anti-Soviet.
  • The fact that while staying in the “Morshino” sanatorium Stus had told two jokes judged to be anti-Soviet (confirmed by the evidence of witnesses).
  • The fact that an anthology of poetry by Stus had appeared in Belgium.’^’ Witness L. Seleznenko testified that he had been the one who transmitted the anthology abroad, moreover without the author’s consent. However, even this episode was held against Stus.

The court’s verdict: 5 years of strict-regime camps and 3 years’ exile.

1-5 — Volodymyr Raketsky (age 25). Expelled from Kiev University in his third year because when he submitted some application it transpired that he had concealed the fact that he was the son of a man who had been suppressed [under Stalin], and moreover because he had been accused of having nationalist sympathies.

Prior to his arrest he had worked as a staff correspondent on the paper Molodu gvardiya [Young Guard]. The judge was Matsko. Among other things the court held against Raketsky stories and poems (by himself and other writers) confiscated during a search and classified as anti-Soviet.

The sentence: 5 years of strict-regime camps.

1.6 — Yury Shukhevych (b. 1933) spent over 20 years in confinement as the son of General Roman Shukhevych (head of UPA, the Ukrainian Insurrectionist Army), who committed suicide in 194.5 [in fact 1950]. After his release Yu. Shukhevych lived in exile in the [north Caucasian] town of Nalchik. Married with two children (aged 2 years and 9 months), he worked as an electrician. In February 1972 he was arrested in Nalchik (see CCE 25). From Nalchik he was sent to the KGB in Kiev and then back to Nalchik. Charged under Article 62 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code.” Sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment (5 in prison and 5 in special-regime camps) and 5 years’ exile.

The arrest of Yu. Shukhevych followed that of Nina Strokata [Ru. Strokatova], who had just exchanged her flat in Odessa for one in Nalchik and given rooms there to Shukhevych and his family (his family are still living there). It is believed that Yu. Shukhevych’s memoirs of his 20-year imprisonment [see Reddaway, Uncensored Russia] have been confiscated from him.

2. Trials in Lvov

2.1 — Danilo Lavrentevich Shumuk (b. 1914; see CCE 25). The trial took place on 5-7 July. Charged under Article 62 para. 2 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (for his memoirs, the first part of which was confiscated from him at the time of his previous imprisonment [see Browne, op. cit.], and the second discovered during a search of Svitlychny’s home). Shumuk was also charged with having circulated articles by Djilas and Dzyuba and made anti-Soviet statements (both charges brought on the evidence of witnesses), and with having written a letter to Svitlychny, which had been confiscated from the addressee and judged to be a ‘‘programmatic document”.

Sentenced to 10 years’ special-regime camps and 5 years’ exile.

2.2 — Also tried; Stefania Shabatura, sentenced under Article 62 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code to 5 years m camps and 3 years’ exile, and the poetess Iryna Stasiv (Kalynets] (6 years in camps and 3 years’ exile. The husband of Stasiv, poet Ihor Kalynets, had obtained [permission for] a meeting with her, but a few days later he was also arrested.

2.3 –In mid-August Ivan Hel [Ru. Gel] was sentenced under Article 62 para, 2 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code to 5 years in special-regime camps, 5 years of strict-regime and 5 years exile.


3. — The trial of [Mykhaylo] Osadchy (see CCE 24) was held on 4-5 September. C barged under Article 62 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code. The trial was a closed one, Osadchy was accused of having transmitted his manuscripts abroad [note 5].

Sentenced to 7 years in strict-regime camps and 3 years’ exile.


4. — In April a military tribunal in Lutsk examined the case of Ihor Holts (b. 1946), a graduate of Kiev Institute and a lieutenant in the Medical Corps. He was charged under Article 187-1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 190-1 of the Russian Code). The indictment mentioned statements and conversations, in particular a toast proposed in honour of Israel’s victory in the [Six-Day] War. Sentenced to 3 years in ordinary- regime camps. Summoned as a witness in the case was [Dr.] Semyon Gluzman, who was arrested on 12 May 1972 in Kiev m connection with the case of Lyubov Serednyak.

Repression in Ukraine, pt 2 …



Notable among Western reactions to repressions in the Ukraine was a long letter of protest in The Times (London), 3 February 1972, from 11 prominent writers, artists and intellectuals, including Y. Menuhin, J.B. Priestley and A.J. Ayer.

[1] On Seleznenko and Kholodny, see CCE 26 (note 34) and CCE 25.2 (note 6), respectively.

[2] Matsko presided at two other Ukrainian political trials, See CCEs 8 and 23.

[3] See, in English, his brilliant essay in Michael Browne, Ferment in the Ukraine, London, 1971, and other writings and materials in V. Moroz, Among the Snows (Ukrainian Information Service, London, 1971).

[4] Issues 1-4 and 6 of the Ukrainian Herald have been published in Ukrainian as books, with names indexes, by, jointly, P.I.U.F. (Paris) and Smoloskyp (Baltimore).

[5] See Index on Censorship, No. 3-4, 1972, where details of the career of this 36-year-old poet and prose-writer are given to introduce an extract from his vivid memoir The Mote (Ritmo). This concerns his arrest, trial and life in prison in 1965-1967.