24.3 Arrests in the Ukraine

No 24 : 5 March 1972

In Kiev and Lvov between 11 and 14 January a number of searches were carried out and nineteen persons arrested, eleven in Kiev and eight in Lvov. Those arrested in Kiev were:

  1. Ivan Svitlychny, a literary scholar [aged 42]. The search was in connection with the case of Jaroslav Dobosch, a Belgian citizen, about whom the newspaper Evening Kiev [17] published an article on 11 February (see below). Samizdat literature was confiscated. Immediately after the search Svitlychny was taken away, and three days later his wife was officially informed of his arrest. The investigation is being conducted by KGB investigator Major Goryachyov. The writer Ivan Dzyuba (for his expulsion from the Writers’ Union see this issue, CCE 24), who was visiting Svitlychny at the time, was taken to his home, which was also searched. On each of the following three days Dzyuba was questioned.
  2. Vasyl Stus, aged 32, a poet and critic, who has had a book of poetry published abroad. In 1965 he took part in protests, for which he was expelled from graduate school.
  3. Yevhen Sverstyuk, aged 32, a literary scholar; for signing protest letters he was dismissed from his job and not allowed to defend his Master’s dissertation. He is the author of many critical articles which have been published in samizdat, one of them on O. Honchar’s novel The Cathedral. At the time of the search on 14 January he was ill, and he was arrested a few days later in the village of Boyarka. During the search literary articles were confiscated.
  4. Zynoviy Antonyuk, a philologist. A copy of the Chronicle and other materials were confiscated.
  5. Fedir Kovalenko, a teacher from the village of Boyarka.
  6. Leonid Seleznenko, a chemist.
  7. Lyubov Serednyak, aged nineteen, a typist. During the search novels by Solzhenitsyn and [Vasily] Grossman were confiscated.
  8. Vasyl Heorhiyenko.
  9. Mykola Plakhotnyuk [a young doctor],
  10. Danylo Shumuk [spent 27 years in prisons prior to 1967],
  11. Leonid Plyushch, a mathematician and a member of the Action Group for the Defence of Human Rights [see Reddaway, p. 157]. His home was searched on 14 January in connection with case No. 24. Samizdat materials and his own manuscripts were confiscated. On 17 January his wife was told that he was being indicted under Article 62 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 70 of the Russian Code).

A Statement on the arrest of Plyushch issued by the Action Group says:

“On 14 January 1972 Leonid Ivanovich Plyushch, who has been a member of the Action Group for the Defence of Human Rights since its formation, was arrested in Kiev. The search which culminated in his arrest was carried out by KGB officers under the command of Lt-Col. Tolkach . . .

“. . . L. Plyushch was born in 1939. At the beginning of the war he lost his father, who was killed at the front. After contracting osseous tuberculosis he was bed-ridden for five years, and will be an invalid for the rest of his life. He graduated from secondary school with distinction and then entered Odessa University to study physics and mathematics. For a year he worked as a village teacher. In 1962 he completed his education at the Mechanics and Mathematics Faculty of Kiev University. Until 1968 he was employed at the Cybernetics Institute of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Plyushch has published three works on his speciality (bio- and psychocybernetics).

“For signing a collective letter in defence of Galanskov and Ginzburg he was dismissed. Academician Glushkov, the Director of the Institute, said at the time of Plyushch: ‘He is behaving like Dubcek!’

“In search of a livelihood Plyushch, the father of two children, applied to more than twenty enterprises and institutions of various sorts and was ready to accept practically any work, but everywhere he was turned away.

“The Employment Commission attached to the Executive Committee assigned Plyushch to the post of boilerman in a military establishment, but there too he was rejected on the grounds that he was an invalid. Eventually he found a job as a book-binder, but was dismissed for signing an Appeal to the UN as a member of the Action Group. He remained without work until the day of his arrest.

“The investigation of his case is veiled in secrecy. One of the people who were summoned as witnesses in the case was told by the investigator: ‘Plyushch is just as crazy as Grigorenko’.

“We declare that the arrest of Plyushch is a continuation of the lawless persecution of the Action Group. His public activities in the cause of the defence of human rights in our country have never involved anything criminal.

“FREEDOM FOR LEONID PLYUSHCH!”

Among those arrested in Lvov were: Vyacheslav Chornovil, who has served a three-year sentence under Article 187-1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 190-1 of the Russian Code); Iryna Stasiv, a poetess [aged 31, wife of the poet Ihor Kalynets]; Ivan Hel, who has previously served a sentence under Article 62 of the Ukrainian Code (equivalent to Article 70); Mykhaylo Osadchy, formerly an official of the Lvov Regional Committee of the Komsomol, who has also served a term of imprisonment under Article 62 of the Ukrainian Code. (The Chronicle has no information on the other persons arrested.)

Many of those arrested are well-known for their statements in defence of human rights and of the national culture. [18]

On 11 February the newspaper Evening Kiev published an article claiming that the Belgian subject Jaroslav Dobosch [aged 24], who had been arrested by the KGB [on 4 January], had come to the USSR to carry out an assignment for the foreign anti-Soviet centre of the Banderites [19] of the OUN [Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists], and that in connection with his case criminal proceedings had been started against I. O. Svitlychny, V. M. Chornovil, Ye. O. Sverstyuk and others. [20]

In February further searches were carried out, at the homes of Z. Antonyuk, I. Dzyuba, Zynoviya Franko (grand-daughter of [the writer] Ivan Franko), N. Svitlychna, I. Svitlychny and Ye. Sverstyuk. [21]

In the middle of February, after several days’ detention and interrogation, Zynoviya Franko was released. On 2 March Z. Franko published an open letter to the editors of the [Kiev] newspaper Radyanska Ukraina [22] from which the following excerpts are taken:

“The foreign press and radio stations have recently been strenuously fanning the flames of the subject – which they themselves invented – of the persecution in the Soviet Ukraine of cultural figures. But recent events (I have in mind the arrest of the Belgian subject J. Dobosch) have opened my eyes . . . My guilt resulted from an incorrect and distorted understanding of the shortcomings and difficulties of our life . . .

Through my friends and relations abroad I established contact with wealthy foreigners of Ukrainian descent who visited the Ukraine as tourists. I gave certain of them such information of a political nature as I had … In my political blindness I failed to notice that I had begun to hand over information to disguised representatives of hostile foreign nationalist centres, which are connected with the intelligence services of the imperialist powers. Such a man was Jaroslav Dobosch, who was caught red-handed … I fully realise my guilt and utterly condemn all my actions which have caused harm to my fatherland … I understand everything now. May they also understand who hold dear the Soviet motherland, who have not lost the sense of pride of Soviet man and who wish no place in the camp of internal émigrés.”

[Commentary No 24]

24.3    Arrests in the Ukraine

  1. Pravda Ukrainy of the same date also wrote about Jaroslav Dobosch.
  2. See the writings and photographs of many of them, and information about them, in: Reddaway, Chap. 14; V. Chornovil, The Chornovil Papers; M. Browne, Ferment in the Ukraine; the quarterly journal The Ukrainian Review, London; the booklet The January 1972 Arrests in the Ukraine, Committee for the Defence of Soviet Political Prisoners, P.O. Box 1294, Woodhaven Sta., Woodhaven, N.Y. 11421, U.S.A.; and Ukrainsky visnyk (Ukrainian Herald) Nos. 1-4, published jointly, as books, by P.I.U.F, (3, rue du Sabot, Paris 6) and Smoloskyp (P.O. Box 6066, Patterson Sta., Baltimore, Md. 21231, U.S.A.)

 

  1. Stepan Bandera (1909-1959) was a Ukrainian nationalist leader, assassinated by the KGB in Munich.
  2. On 2 June Dobosch gave a press-conference in Kiev, attended only by Soviet journalists. On 3 June all the Ukrainian papers carried an identical account of it (by TASS), which was summarized in the western press on 8 June. Dobosch took the same line as Evening Kiev of 11 February and incriminated Svitlychny, Franko, Seleznenko, Anna Kocurova and Stefaniya Hulyk. A few hours later he was expelled from the USSR and flown out.
  3. Later, on 18 April, Dzyuba, who suffers from tuberculosis, was arrested, as was Svitlychna (Svitlychny’s sister) on 19 May.
  4. Z. Franko later made a broadcast of similar content in Ukrainian on Kiev Radio. Both this and her open letter were published in Visti z Ukrainy (News from Ukraine), a weekly published in Kiev for circulation almost exclusively to Ukrainians living abroad, on 4 May and 9 March respectively.