The Trial of Lisovoi, Pronyuk & Semanyuk, November 1973 (30.6)

<< No 30 : 31 December 1973 >>

In November 1973, LISOVOI and PRONYUK (see CCE 27.1, pt 2; and CCE 28.7), together with SEMANYUK, faced trial in Kiev, charged under Article 62 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (= Article 70 of the RSFSR code). The case was examined by the Kiev Regional Court.

Vasyl Lisovoi, a Master of Philosophical Sciences, was a research associate at the Institute of Philosophy of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences and a member of the Party. He is married and has two children (one an infant).

Yevgeny Pronyuk was also a researcher of the Institute of Philosophy. He was denied the right to defend his dissertation because some samizdat material had been confiscated from his office; subsequently, he was transferred to a job as a bibliographer. Nothing is known about I. Semanyuk except that he attended a series of lectures given by V. Lisovoi.


Pronyuk, the first to be arrested, was detained on the street. His briefcase was found to contain numerous typed copies of a letter to the Central Committee and to “prominent people in the Soviet Union” — Academicians, writers, state officials, etc. V. Lisovoi and E. Pronyuk, the authors of the letter, pointed out to the officials of the Central Committee that a great number of people in the Ukraine had recently been tried unlawfully for their political convictions.

After Pronyuk’s arrest, V. Lisovoi wrote a statement acknowledging his share of responsibility for the letter that had been confiscated. After this he was dismissed from the institute and shortly thereafter arrested. His pregnant wife was also dismissed from her job. When Semanyuk learned of the arrests of V. Lisovoi and E. Pronyuk, he wrote a letter of protest to official bodies. In turn, his flat was searched and he himself was arrested.


At the trial, the case of V. Lisovoi, E. Pronyuk and I. Semanyuk was treated as that of a group, charged with the preparation, possession, and circulation of “A Letter to the Central Committee”, described as an “anti-Soviet” document “intended to undermine the Soviet Government”. They were also charged with taking part in the preparation of two issues of The Ukrainian Herald.

I. Semanyuk pleaded guilty at the trial and promised to “devote all his efforts and knowledge to the service of the Motherland, which had reared him, provided him with an education”, etc.

V. Lisovoi and E. Pronyuk pleaded not guilty. E. Pronyuk concluded his final statement to the court by citing the Latin maxim: “Better the world perish, than see justice die.”

V. Lisovoi was sentenced to 7 years in strict-regime camps and 3 years of exile; E. Pronyuk, to 7 years in strict-regime camps and 5 years of exile; and I. Semanyuk to 4 years in strict-regime camps.