8.6 Second attempted self-immolation in the Ukraine

No 8 : 30 June 1969

The Chronicle has already reported  the self-immolation of Vasily Ye. Makukha [see No 6.9, item 2], who died in hospital from his burns .

On 10 February 1969 Nikolai Berislavsky, a 45-year-old teacher from Berdyansk, father of three children and ex-inmate of Stalin’s camps, attempted to burn himself to death outside the Kiev University building. Holding up placards protesting against Russification, he set himself alight, but at this point was arrested and put in a prison cell of the Ukrainian KGB. A charge was entered against him under article 62 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (equivalent to article 70 of the Russian Criminal Code).

On 19 March the Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian KGB, General Shulzhenko, delivered a lecture to students and staff of Kiev University on the subject of “Some problems of the Ideological Struggle”. At one point he said roughly this: “Some madman or other took it into his head to burn himself to a frizzle, and came to Kiev University to do it. ‘Why didn’t you go to the bazaar?’, we asked him, and he answered:  ‘I wanted to be with the young people. I mean, there’s a University here, isn’t there?” Shulzhenko lectured in Ukrainian. Admission was unrestricted. His ironical remarks about Berislavsky, whom he did not mention by name, were greeted with laughter in the hall.

The republican KGB organs are conducting an investigation into the Berislavsky case. In March a search was made of the Dnepropetrovsk flat of his schoolfriend, the journalist Vladimir Sihenko. Then Sihenko was summoned to Kiev for interrogation, where the authorities tried to force him to sign a deposition in which the investigator imputed to Sihenko a testimony against Berislavsky: Berislavsky, according to the investigator, had uttered anti-Soviet statements. Sihenko refused to sign the deposition.

On Berislavsky’s trial, See end of this number.