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Dissident movement in Ukraine
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UKRAINSKY KULTUROLOHYCHNY KLUB [THE UKRAINIAN CULTURAL STUDIES CLUB]

17.11.2006

The Ukrainsky kulturolohychny klub [The Ukrainian Cultural Studies Club]  was the first independent civic organization in Soviet Ukraine during perestroika. The first meeting of the Club took place on 6 August 1987 in the Kyiv café “Lyubava” in the Obolon district under the auspices of the local district committee of the Komsomol. The founding meeting was held 10 days later (16 August) at the dacha of Andriy Kyryeev, the first Chair of the Club’s council. From 1987 – 88 the Club united people with democratic views. A leading role in it was played by former political prisoners Yevhen SVERSTYUK, Serhiy NABOKA (the Chair of the council), Oles SHEVCHENKO, Olha HEIKO-MATUSEVYCH, Vitaly SHEVCHENKO, Leonid Milyavsky, Inna Chernyavska, Larisa Lokhvytska and others.

The club held meetings almost every week (there were six different sections) and the themes for the meetings were current issues: forced Russification in Ukraine, the concealment of the genocide of the Ukrainian people from 1932-1933, the secrecy over the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, the protection of historical monuments, the problems of “unexplained gaps” in the history of Ukraine and others).

Meetings of the Club attracted up to 400 participants Having not been able to bring the Club to heel, the authorities refused to give it premises and attempted to discredit it in the media. However the Club continued active work, gathering in its separate sections in private flats and holding events in the open air. People came in secret for meetings of the Club from Lviv, Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk and Chernihiv.

The topics of the Club’s meetings received coverage on the pages of Viacheslav CHORNOVIL’s revived “Ukrainsky visnyk” [“Ukrainian Herald”]. The activities of the Club also received wide publicity abroad. All the Club’s activists were kept under KGB surveillance. In 1988 the Council of the Ukrainsky kulturolohychny klub decided to merge into the Ukrainian Helsinki Union  - the first political opposition. Many of the Club’s activists belong to the present-day political elite in Ukraine. In 2005 the O. Teliha Publishing house published a fundamental documentary and publicist edition about the Ukrainsky kulturolohychny klub entitled “Kyiv Spring” [576 pages, compiled by Oles SHEVCHENKO]

Oles Shevchenko

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