SEMENIUK Klym Vasyliovych


автор: Vasyl Ovsiyenko

(b. 4.12.1929, according to documents, on 20.10.1931, Village of Zolotolyn, Kostopil Region, Rivne Oblast)

Participant of national liberation fight and human rights movement of 40s to 90s.

He was born into a peasant’s family. In 1944 his father was imprisoned on Kolyma for collaboration with UPA.

In 1951 S. was called up for the Soviet military service, but he was written-off six months later because of bronchial tubes disease. On 7.03.1952 through the military registration and enlistment office he was sent to oblast policlinic and arrested there for distribution of OUN literature under art. 54, paragraph 10, part 2, "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda". During Interrogation he was boxed, beaten with a hose, handgun handle, put into a box where S. went on hunger strike. The investigator interrogated 9 fellow villagers, but failed to obtain evidence and bursting into a rage he tore the protocols. The Rivne Oblast Court at a closed session on 23.04.1952 sentenced S. to 10 years with confiscation of property and deprived him of civil rights for 5 years. They took away the last cow from family’s ownership. To intimidate S. they put him into a condemned cell.

On 10.05.1952, they transported S. via Lviv, Moscow, Kotlas, Arkhangelsk Oblast, to Pechorlag punitive administration. In camp No. 11 (Vichegodsk) he worked at a car-repair depot. He developed jaundice and underwent treatment in camp No. 12 and later worked in camp No. 14 at a woodworking plant, at a joiner’s shop, and at blacksmith’s shop.

In 1955 S. made a complaint about actions of investigation. The Central Committee commission reduced his term of imprisonment for five years and having still five years to go he fell under amnesty 1953 and six months later, on 9.11.1955, he was discharged in Yelets.

S. got his transfer list to Kyiv though he intended to go underground. Having made sure that there was no underground at home he got a job at a Komsomol Project in Kyiv, house-building combine in Telychka district and lived in the working dormitory. He got very low wages: went to work in a prisoner’s quilted coat and had no everyday outfit of clothes. So he quitted and earned living by joiner’s works, although officially he was paid off and cleared out only through the prosecutor. He got a job of vulcanizer at a rubber plant. This work was beyond his strength; therefore he learned to become a master repairman, and got an occupational job at Darnytsia silk mill.

In February 1958, S. married Mariya Dudko. Their daughter Liudmyla was born in 1959 and their son Yaroslav in 1964.

On 19.06.1958, the search was conducted at S.’s apartment and a pistol and light caliber gun which he had purchased just to be safe were found. The case was handled by deputy chief of investigation department of the oblast KGB lieutenant colonel Kasyanenko. The investigation failed  proving "terrorist intentions”; therefore S. was sentenced under art. 196 of the CC of the UkrRSR "illegal possession of weapons". On 29.08.1958, the Kyiv Oblast Court sentenced S. to 5 years of imprisonment in high security camps with further five-year ban to settle in oblast centers of the USSR.

S. was taken to the Mordovia political camp No. 8 (Sosnovka) by mistake (as his case was handled by the KGB) where he met his Pechorlag acquaintances. In a week he was transferred to camp point No. 11/2 (Yavas) and then to No. 6 (Molochnitsa), where he was on the service staff and then to camp No. 5 (Liplai). There they tried to make him unload the cars with timber. He refused on the grounds of his 3rd degree of invalidity (bronchitis). He spent seven days in a punishment cell and was sent to a varnishing shop; later he worked at a joiner’s shop.

Due to disability (already the second group) and in connection with the reduction under the Criminal Code of 1961 of the maximum punishment under art. 196 the Kyiv Oblast Court on 10.10.1961 reduced the term to 2 years, which he had already served. S. was discharged on 11/11/1961, right on the day his wife and daughter arrived to visit him.

S. received the job placement order for Brovary near Kiev, but for months he could neither to register nor get a job. The family lived on the wife’s salary of 85 karbovanetses, 20 of which went for the room in the dormitory. Lieutenant-Colonel Zakharov said directly to his wife, "He has no future, why do you need him? You will suffer all your life”. S. addressed a sharp letter to Khrushchev. Finally, on March 9, 1962, the Kyiv Regional Court on the grounds that under the new code article 196 does not provide for additional punishment in the form of ban to reside in oblast centers removed this prohibition for S. and through the prosecutor he found a job at the Darnytsia silk factory as a fitter for weaving equipment, where he worked for eight years. The low earnings forced him along with his brothers to resort to seasonal work in the Kirovohrad Oblast. He mastered the profession of a crane operator and started working at the construction management department no. 57 on alternate days and had free time. He communicated with some of the Sixtiers, with the activists of the human rights movement, had access to the samvydav literature, in particular, lawyer Volodymyr Yurchenko gave him M. Braychevskyi’s book Annexation or Unification?

In 1976 S. heard on the radio "Freedom" about the establishment of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group and that its address was the apartment of O. Y. MESHKO on 16, Verbolozna St., as well that arrests of the members of the Group had begun. He decided that he had no right to sit idly by and enjoy freedom when his like-minded persons were behind bars. In the fall 1978 he went to O. MESHKO, who, after the arrest of the head of the UHG Mykola RUDENKO, became its actual leader. O. MESHKO trusted S., which he extremely treasured. He carried out her assignments: transferred assistance to former political prisoners, collected and hid information, and documents. At the time entering the room O. MESHKO meant to be in danger: her house was under constant surveillance. In the house opposite hers there was an observation post with night vision equipment. The visitors were grabbed on the way, beaten, searched or robbed on the road. Many times S. was detained and searched. He was under surveillance for six consecutive years from the late 1978. On March 29, 1979 S. came out from O. MESHKO with a sealed letter to O. Honchar. The militiamen detained him, led him to a militia room and threatened that if he proceeded going "to the Verbolozna Hill," he would be given 15 days for hooliganism. "I’m not a hooligan." “You will be now, I will draw up a protocol." They threatened to beat him. The letter was not taken away: the KGB already had it.

Nonetheless S. visited Pavlo KAMPOV in Uzhhorod, Vasyl Ruban, O. BERDNYK’s wife Valentyna Sokorynska near Kyiv, Borys Kovhar in Kyiv, accompanied O. MESHKO to the trial of V. OVSIYENKO in Radomyshl on 7.02.1979.

On 14.05.1980, S. came to O. MESHKO and ran into the search which was carried out by Major Pluzhnyk, Lieutenant Colonel Petrunia, and captain Lukyanenko. They called on support crew which drove S. home and carried out a search there as well. The next search at his place was conducted on 17.12.1980 in the matter of Vasyl Rozlutskyi from Chervonohrad. Then they took away three UHG documents, including hand-written texts of the "The Newsletter No. 1, January 1980", "The Newsletter, September 1980", "Judicial Reprisal over the member of the Ukrainian public group “Helsinki” Yuriy Lytvyn”. 

When in 1981 O.MESHKO was sent to Siberia, S. corresponded with her.

Early in the 80s S. began to write "Thew appeal to all workers of the world". The author warned that if in their countries the communist parties won they would experience the same that had befallen Ukrainians: repressions, poverty, and collective farms. The text had five sections and 99 pages; it was dated 12.06.1984.

For the third time S. was arrested on 26.10.1984. Colonel Slobozheniuk detained him on 14.05.1980; the same officer had arrested V. STUS; Major Lukyanenko and investigator Seliuk who had administered the case of V. STUS administered this case as well. In two weeks, on 12.11, S.’s “Appeal” was confiscated from Olena Leliukh at her dacha in Sychivka. She had been long under surveillance as a friend of O. MESHKO; they bugged her car and heard the name of S. On 6.12, the officers conducted a search at S.’s home and took out a radio as "the instrument of commission crime". 

S. took no part in investigation: all protocols at their end carried an inscription “refused to sign". The prosecution witnesses included law students M. Lagniuk and O. Moroziuk whom S. had lend L. KOSTENKO’S novel Marusia Churai to read, workers Vasyl Kostrytskyi (secret KGB agent), Leonid Sankovskyi, doctors Borys Mysiuk and Volodymyr Dolia with whom S. was in oblast hospital in Kyiv. 

The Kyiv Oblast Court presided over by Judge Zubets H.І. with participation of lawyer V. V. Medvedchuk (both S. and V. STUS declined his services) on 4.02.1985 accused S. that he from 1975 and until his arrest "distributed slanderous inventions discrediting the Soviet political and social order among his environment and also produced, stored and distributed with the same purpose works of the same contents" and imposed on S. the maximum sentence under art. 62, p. 1 ("anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda") of 7 years of imprisonment in the high security camps and 5 years of exile. These "inventions" were about the human rights violations, electoral system, forcible Russification. In his last word C. admitted the facts incriminated to him, but did not recognize the actions as criminal and told, "I may live or not, but even dead I will come as witness to the court of justice!”

It took them fifty days to transport S. under guard: Kharkiv, Sverdlovsk, Perm, Solikamsk, Kizil, and again Sverdlovsk. During a week he was carried across the Urals in the triangle Perm—Solikamsk--Sverdlovsk. At last they stopped at the high security camp VS-389/3b: Settlement of Kuchino, Chusovaia Region, Perm Oblast, where he first did 15 days of quarantine in a punishment cell. Here the prisoners manufactured details of irons. S. failed to fulfill the norm that threatened with additional punishment. Lithuanian priest Alfonsis Svarinskas helped him. In the same camp there were Stepan KHMARA, Zorian POPADIUK, Rostislav Evdokimov from Leningrad, Alexey Smirnov from Moscow, and Georgian Deribadze. S. suffered from blood pressure caused by the Urals climate, cardiac pain, and bronchitis. He was twice hospitalized in the 35th zone (settlement of Centralnyi). However, he participated in protest actions. In particular, when S. Khmara was punished and put to a punishment cell for being unbuttoned; he went on dry hunger strike and cellmates supported him with a strike for which S. was put in a punishment cell where he endured cold. Smirnov gave him his towel to cover himself; this towel was confiscated as a result of the search. The political prisoners of different nationalities helped each other with food from a lousy "kiosk", especially after hunger strike, after exit from a punishment cell where the prisoners were kept on lowered ration. The cost of ration of a working prisoner made 46 kopeks a day.

In January 1987 the political prisoners of the Perm camps were transported in groups to Perm and pressed for renunciation of further activities in exchange for their discharge. S. was taken there for a talk in mid-January. He refused to write anything. Then the special escort brought him to Kyiv. KGB officers Honchar, Ilkiv and a MIA representative carried out talks with him for two months. To exert psychological pressure they brought his family, brother and sisters to meet him. Then S. wrote: “I will not make anything which could harm Ukraine”.

On 17.03.1987, S. was released under the Decree of PSC of the USSR of 12.03 about pardon. His wife brought her infirm husband to the village in Chernihiv Oblast. When he came back to Kyiv in the fall the militia insisted on his going to work, but once again nobody wanted to hire him. Through the district executive committee he got a job of the crane operator at the Kyivprodmash Plant, Kurenivka District, where S. worked and retired on a scanty pension in 1995.

S. participated in the work of the Ukrainian Culturologic Club, was a member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union, then the Ukrainian Republican Party. In 1992, he went over to the OUN (Bandera followers) (CUN of Yaroslava Stetsko). He became a participant of the constituent assembly of Society of Political Prisoners and Repressed on Lviv Square in Kyiv on 3.06.1989.

Under the Law “On Rehabilitation of the Victims of Political Repressions in Ukraine” from 17:04.1991 S. was rehabilitated concerning the cases of 1952 and 1984. By the way, he was exonerated by the same judge Zubets H. I. who had sentenced him (the same judged sentenced V. MARCHENKO to capital punishment and then rehabilitated him posthumously). He is not still exonerated concerning the case of 1958.

S. lives in Kyiv. He is a pensioner, has a daughter, son, and four grandsons.



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