17.7 Trials of Recent Years – the UNF case

No 17 : 31 December 1970

Perhaps the Ukrainian KGB’s most important case in 1967 [1] was that of the “Ukrainian National Front” (UNF).

In July 1966 the Ivano-Frankovsk Region KGB arrested the Donetsk [SE Ukraine] miner Nikolai Kachur on a charge of circulating the illegal journal Liberty and the Motherland (the journal of the UNF).

In March 1967 the following were arrested:

  • Dmitry Nikolayevich Kvetsko (b. 1935), a graduate of the History Faculty of Lvov University, he was a school-teacher of history;
  • Zinovy Mikhailovich Krasivsky (b. 1930), a writer, author of Baida, a historical novel about Dmitry Vishnevetsky, the founder [in the 16th century] of the Zaporozhskaya Sech [a fortress Cossack community on the Dnieper]. The novel was prepared for the press under the editorship of [the well-known Ukrainian writer] M. Stelmakh, but did not appear owing to the arrest of its author. In 1947, in one of the deportations, Krasivsky and his family were exiled from the Western Ukraine, but he escaped on his way to exile and then spent five years in a camp, after which he lived in Karaganda, where a subsidence in a mine made him a second-category invalid. Before his arrest he was living in Morshin [in the Lvov Region];
  • Mikhail Dmitriyevich Dyak (b. 1935), a lieutenant of police and divisional police-chief of the Dolinsky district of the Ivano-Frankovsk Region;
  • Vasily Ivanovich Kulynin (b. 1943), after army service worked as a lathe operator in a factory in the town of Stary in the Lvov Region;
  • Yaroslav Vasilevich Lesiv (b. 1945), a school-teacher of physical culture in the Kirovograd Region [140 m. SE of Kiev];
  • Grigory Prokopovich, a history teacher;
  • Ivan Gubka, a Lvov engineer;
  • Miroslav Melen, a choir-director in Morshin – the last three, as well as Kachur, are about 40. All four had been previously convicted for aiding the nationalist resistance movement.

The investigation was conducted by the head of the investigation division of the Ivano-Frankovsk KGB, Lieutenant-Colonel Dolgikh.

In September 1967 the Lvov Region Court sentenced Prokopovich, Gubka and Melen to six years of corrective-labour camps plus five years’ exile under Article 62-1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 70 of the Russian Code). In October 1967 the Ivano-Frankovsk Region Court sentenced Kachur to five years of corrective-labour camps. In 1969, for his assistance in the investigation, he was released before the expiry of his sentence. All the accused were charged with the circulating of the journal Liberty and the Motherland and other UNF material.

In the second half of November 1967 an assize session of the Ukrainian Supreme Court, under the chairmanship of Stolyarchuk, tried the five ring-leaders in Ivano-Frankovsk. Chumak, Deputy Procurator of the Ivano-Frankovsk Region, led the prosecution on charges under Articles 56 (betrayal of the fatherland, equivalent to Article 64 of the Russian Code) and 64 (creation of an organisation, equivalent to Article 72 of the Russian Code).

The defence counsels, who had been selected by the investigating authorities, hardly differed from the Procurator. The accused were charged in connection with the journal Liberty and the Motherland (of which about fifteen issues appeared between 1964 and 1966, though not all of them figured in the investigation). The first issue of the journal included the programme-document “The demands of the UNF”, the second – “The tactics of the UNF”, in which all possible emphasis is laid on propaganda – there is not a word about terrorism or about any seizure of power, armed or otherwise. Three issues include verses by Krasivsky. The principle publicist and theoretician of the journal and the group was Kvetsko. Besides the journal the charges also involved Open Letters, a “Memorandum from the UNF to the 23rd Party Congress” (sent in March 1966 to the Party leaders and to central press organs), and a “Statement by the UNF” regarding the press-conference of summer or autumn 1966 [2] given in Kiev by S. Dzhugalo, a former member of the OUN [Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists] (sent to [Ukrainian Party leaders] Shelest, Kirichenko and others). The accused were also charged with circulating OUN pamphlets and leaflets dating from 1947-1949, about 7,000 copies of which Krasivsky had found in three crates in the Carpathians. The most active and imaginative circulator was Dyak.

The court found three of them deserving of the “supreme penalty” [death], but, considering various circumstances, sentenced Kvetsko to fifteen years (of which five in prison) and five years’ exile, Krasivsky and Dyak to twelve years (of which five in prison) and five years’ exile, and Kulynin and Lesiv to six years of corrective-labour camps.

Kvetsko and Krasivsky are in Vladimir Prison; Dyak [3], Lesiv, Kulynin and Melen are in Dubrovlag [Mordovia] camp No. 19, Prokopovich and Gubka are in Dubrovlag camp No. 3.