ALL-UKRAINIAN ASSOCIATION FOR POLITICAL PRISONERS AND VICTIMS OF REPRESSION
A civic organization entitled “The All-Ukrainian Association for Victims of Repression” was founded at meeting attended by more than 100 people on 3 June 1989 on Lvivska Square in Kyiv (The Artists’ Union, under pressure from the KGB, on the scheduled day refused to allow the meeting to take place in the House of the Artist). The purpose of the Association was to join forces, using the experience of former political prisoners, those deported, prisoners of conscience imprisoned for their convictions, and to build a united and independent democratic Ukrainian state, and also to provide material assistance to members. Yevhen PRONYUK was elected Chair of the Association
On 2 November 1992 at a joint meeting of the Coordination Council of the All-Ukrainian Association for Victims of Repression and the Great Council of the Union for Political Prisoners of Ukraine (created on 30 August 1992 in Lviv, its Chair Ivan HUBKA) a resolution was passed on merging the two organizations. On 19 December 1992 the All-Ukrainian Association for Political Prisoners and Victims of Repression adopted a single Charter and new name, and introduced a system of co-Chairs.
During the first years of its existence, the Association organized political rallies, demonstrations and other actions in support of Ukraine’s independence. A memorial procession of political prisoners was held along Khreschatyk St. in prisoners’ uniform. After Ukraine declared independence, the objectives of the Association became the restoration of the rights of victims of repression, material and moral support for them, the national and spiritual renewal of Ukraine and the building of a democratic state and civic society. Since 1998 the meetings of the Association have been held in regional centres, the last taking place in Odessa.
The Association organized the transporting from the Urals and reburial in Kyiv of the earthly remains of Vasyl STUS, Yury LYTVYN and Oleksa TYKHY on 19 November 1989. Later it organized the return and reburial of the M. SOROKA from Mordovia to Lviv on 28 September 1991; of Marta Bandera from the Krasnoyarsk area to her home village Stary Uhryniv; of Stepan Mamchur from the Urals to Boyarka in 2002 and of Kyrylo Osmak from Vladimir to Kyiv on 11.12.2004. It undertook an expedition to the North (Inta, Pechora, Vorkuta), placing crosses there with plaques and also took part in an expedition to Halats in Rumania in search of the burial place of the Hetman Mazepa.
On 22 and 23 June 1991, together with the World League of the Ukrainian Political Prisoners (Winnipeg, Canada), the Association held a World Congress of Ukrainian Political Prisoners which was attended by former prisoners of communist and fascist labour camps from 12 countries, and from 7-8 November 1995 an International Congress of Political Prisoners.
The Association has attempted to have court trials of the Communist Parties of the USSR and of Ukraine “Nuremburg – 2”, to have the Ukrainian Resistance Army (UPA) recognized as having fought for Ukraine in World War II, and to get compensation from Russia for forced labour by Ukrainian Political Prisoners on Russian territory. It has created a political prisoners’ archive and museum, and is aiming at an ideological reorientation of the state publication in several volumes “Rehabilitated by history” into an “Encyclopaedia of struggle and repression”.
The scientific and methodological council (chaired for a long time by corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Mykola Shcherbak, and now by academician Nina Virchenko) carries out research work. The Association prepared the new version of the Law “On the rehabilitation of victims of political repression in Ukraine”, achieved the fixing of a Remembrance Day for the Victims of Holodomor [the artificially induced Famine of 1932-33] and the other famines, and for the Victims of Political Repression on the fourth Saturday in November. Since 1992 it has published 19 issues of the journal “Zona” [“Penal Zone”] which is edited by Yury Khorunzhy.. There are branches of the Association in all regions, and it is linked with the Kyiv Association for Political Prisoners and Victims of Repression, and the Ukrainian Committee “Helsinki-90”. There are also organizations within the Association of children of political prisoners.
There are more than 40 thousand members of the Association which is headed by Yevhen PRONYUK.