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EXTERNAL REPRESENTATION OF THE UKRAINIAN HELSINKI GROUP

13.11.2006

In a telephone conversation in January 1977 the Head of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, Mykola RUDENKO asked Leonid PLYUSHCH, who had emigrated to France in January 1976, to become the UHG representative abroad. In October 1978 written authorization from the Group to represent the Group was received by UHG founding member Petro GRIGORENKO who had left for the USA in November 1977.  When in October 1978 Nadiya SVITLYCHNA arrived in the West, she created the External Representation of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group with its headquarters in New York. It was headed by Petro GRIGORENKO. In November 1979 the External Representation was joined by Nina STROKATA, and in January 1980 by Volodymyr MALYNKOVYCH.

The work of the External Representation developed in two key directions: publishing in Ukrainian and English press releases about arrests and repression in Ukraine, trips speaking to the Ukrainian community in western countries, meetings with diplomats, the press and giving evidence to the US Congress.

The most successful address given by members of the UHG External Representation in the West could be considered their participation in the International Helsinki Conference in November 1980, held in Madrid. The UHG and the External Representation were represented by P. GRIGORENKO, L. PLYUSHCH, N. STROKATA and V. MALYNKOVYCH.  The representatives of the Washington Helsinki Guaranties for Ukraine Committee and Information Service of “Smoloskyp” Andriy Fedynsky (chair of the organizing committee) and Andriy Karkots organized all meetings with western diplomats in Madrid, as well as press conferences receptions, and acted as English language interpreters, while Oles Kham from Argentina translated from and to Spanish.  .The activities of the members of the External Representation in Madrid, together with the representatives of the Human Rights Committee of the World Congress of Free Ukrainians, Senator of the Canadian Parliament Pavlo Yuzyk and Krystyna Isayiv, and representative of the Philadelphian Ukrainian community Orysa Hevko, were to have an extremely positive results for the Ukrainian cause: the western press talked about Ukraine once again, and world diplomats taking part in the Helsinki Process learned of a Ukraine which was fighting.

After the Madrid Conference the External Representation increased its publishing activities. In 1980 the Secretary of the Representation Nadiya SVITLYCHNA began publishing the monthly Visnyk represiy v Ukraini  [Bulletin of repression in Ukraine]. In Ukrainian and English (this came out until the end of 1985). Under SVITLYCHNA’s charge, several issues of the UHG information bulletin were published, and during perestroika, also the journals “Kafedra” [“Rostrum”] and “Ukrainsky visnyk” [“Ukrainian Herald”], as well as information sheets from the Lviv branch of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union.

The External Representation played an active role in the marking of the fifth anniversary of the founding of the UHG in Washington in November 1981. On this occasion evidence was presented to the Helsinki Commission of the USA Congress by P. GRIGORENKO, N. STROKATA and V. MALYNKOVYCH, and Nadiya SVITLYCHNA took part, together with Andriy Karkots from “Smoloskyp” and the Helsinki Guaranties for Ukraine Committee.

The Head of the UHG External Representation Petro GRIGORENKO died on 11 February 1987  Shortly afterwards, in January 1988, the Head of the UHG Mykola RUDENKO, and his wife Raisa RUDENKO, arrived in the USA, and Mykola RUDENKO immediately headed the External Representation. When, at the initiative of Viacheslav CHORNOVIL, on 7 July 1988 the UHG became the Ukrainian Helsinki Union, the External Representation became its representative abroad. During that short period the Representation was joined by new members arriving in the West: Raisa Moroz, Petro RUBAN, Ludmila Lytovenko, Mykola Movchan, Father Vasyl ROMANYUK and Taras Romanyuk.  By 4 December 1988 the first joint appeal with their signatures had been made to the Ukrainian community of the Western Diaspora.

With the declaration of Ukrainian independence, the External Representation of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group completed its foreign mission, and its head Mykola RUDENKO returned to Ukraine.

Osyp Zinkevych

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