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Dissident movement in Ukraine
Ukrainian National Movement

CHORNOMAZ Bohdan Danylovych

29.07.2019 | Vasyl Ovsiyenko

(b. 9.02.1948, Village of Stehnikivka, Ternopil Region, Ternopil Oblast)

Historian, public and political figure.

 

He was born into a nationally-minded family in Halychyna. His father, Danylo Chornomaz, was a member of Prosvita and participant of the struggle for national liberation; he was jailed by Poles, Germans and twice by Bolsheviks in 1949-56 and 1972-75. His mother, Mariya Malychok, headed the rural women’s organization Berehynia in the late 30’s.

In 1955, Bohdan went to school in his native village. He took a keen interest in history. He graduated from the 11th grade in Zbarazh in 1966 and went to Uman to enter an agricultural institute. Having failed at entrance exams, he went to preparatory courses. He worked as an odd-job man in the research sector at the institute. He met young writers and literary workshop members who introduced him to former Central Rada member and political prisoner Nadiya SUROVTSOVA. He was well received at her home and could borrow books from her library.

On 21.06.1967 he was drafted into the Soviet Army. He served in Sovietskaya Gavan in the Soviet Far East, in the radio engineering units. Due to the manifestations of national consciousness he was under special department observation.

Late in 1969, he returned to Uman and in early 1970 he entered the correspondence department Uman Agricultural Institute, fruit-and-vegetable department, and went back to his former job working as a loader at the inter-region trade base, accountant and librarian at research-and-training farm of the institute, and was elected there the Secretary of Komsomol organization. He frequented the N.SUROVTSOVA salon, where he met Kuzma MATVIYUK, teacher at Uman Technical College of Agricultural Mechanization, met with Danylo Shumuk, Ivan Svitlychnyi, and Leonid Pliushch. They provided him with the access to samvydav and samizdat literature: "Chronicle of Current Events," The Cathedral in Scaffolding by Yevhen Sverstiuk, Internationalism or Russification? by Ivan Dziuba, "On Pohruzhalskyi Trial”, Ukrayinskyi Visnyk Magazine and others. The books of the "Executed Renaissance" period and History of Ukraine-Rus by Michael Hrushevskyi were all taken out. He attended Uman literary and poetic club "Solar clarinets." The young lecturers from Uman institutes, colleges, school teachers, and students on pretext of "restoring Leninist national policy" tried to defend the national culture. There were lectures on the history of the national liberation movement, seminars and soirees.

In the fall of 1971, K.MATVIYUK and he rented a room on 15, Inzhenerna St., conducted a discussion evening on the national question having invited the secretaries of the Komsomol organization of courses and departments of Uman institutes. His future wife Tetiana Lytvynenko, Secretary of the Komsomol organization of Physics-and-Mathematics Department of Uman Pedagogical Institute, used this opportunity to attend the evening. They managed to conduct several discussions. But the room was tapped by the KGB.

In late 1971, Chornomaz filmed a carbon copy of Dzyuba’s book Internationalism or Russification? and together with K.MATVIYUK began making photographic prints. In order not to endanger his landlady, they moved the lab to the apartment of the museum staff member Olga Didenko. The photographic prints were widely distributed across Ukraine.

The Uman branch of the KGB summoned discussants and required avowal of guilt in writing, threatening the expulsion from the institute. After this conversation T.Lytvynenko promised to stop communicating with Chornomaz; instead KGB officer Viktor Baida advised to inform on Chornomaz, and the girl was completely confused. She made a clean breast of it to Bohdan, after which their relationship became more trusting and they decided to get married on 15.07.1972. But two days earlier Chornomaz was arrested at work in the field. On the same day they arrested K.MATVIYUK; the agents searched their apartment in Uman and in the house of his father Danylo Chornomaz in Ternopil Oblast. In the apartment of Chornomaz they found typeface and in the estate of his father they confiscated carbine cartridges and electric fuses.

The bride turned to the KGB, where KGB officer Viktor Baida told her to tell the wedding guests that Chornomaz had a traffic accident and was hospitalized. The wedding took place in his absence.

The investigation of Chornomaz and K.MATVIYUK charged with anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda (part 1 art. 62 of the CC of the UkrSSR) was conducted by the Cherkasy KGB department. Father of Chornomaz, D.CHORNOMAZ, in August of that year, was charged with possession of anti-Soviet literature and sentenced under art. 187-I of the CC of the UkrSSR to 3 years of imprisonment and his elder brother Yarilav, b. 1947, correspondent student of the Moscow Polytechnic Oil Chemistry Institute was in a cynical way charged on faked-up grounds with a theft and also sentenced to three years. His case was pleaded and investigated by the KGB.

Head of the Oblast KGB Department Diachenko and investigators tried to persuade Chornomaz to publish in the public media his repentance statement in exchange for permission to go on with his studies in the institute followed by the post-graduate course, but he chose the imprisonment.

On 16.11.1972, the Cherkasy Oblast Court sentenced Chornomaz to 3 years in high security camps and K.MATVIYUK to 4 years. This was a closed trial and relatives were admitted only when the verdict was pronounced.

The jailers did not give Chornomaz winter clothes his bride had brought him. He was transported under guard to the Vsesviatskaya Station, Perm Oblast, where in shoes and light nylon raincoat he was escorted 2km withering frost. With frostbitten hands and feet he stayed two weeks in the camp medical unit VS-389/35, and then was sent to the camp VS-389/36 in Kuchino Settlement, Chusovaya Region where he did his time to the very end.

In the Permian camps he communicated with Yevhen SVERSTIUK, Levko LUKYANENKO, Oles SERHIENKO, Olexa RIZNYKIV (pen name Riznychenko), but his best friend was Hryts HERCHAK, rebel, artist and musician, who did his 25-year term. He was on friendly terms with the Lithuanians and Jews. He took part in the strike, which erupted in connection with the beating of Stepan Sapeliak on 23.06.1974. He kept in hiding and later took away the bookplates and drawings of H.HERCHAK.

In order to support Chornomaz and retain the permissions for visits, T.Lytvynenko, who had endured much humiliation and threats, in 18 months gained her end and their marriage was registered during Christmas in 1974. The guards were their best men.

In June 1975, Chornomaz returned to Uman, where six weeks earlier the hurricane had ruined his wife’s home. The state provided the victims with apartments, except for the Chornomazes. It took almost two years to attain their object. Chornomaz refused to participate in elections and threatened to appeal to the UN. The apartment was on the 5th floor overlooking the Uman jail. Chornomaz worked as a stoker 15 years.

In 1977, the Chornomazes mailed to H.HERCHAK in the Kuchino camp the official invitation to stay with them; otherwise he wouldn’t be allowed to go to Ukraine as he had no relatives in Ukraine. He lived with them eight months and then moved to Kyiv, and in 1988 he left for Canada.

Chornomaz often visited Kyiv and conversed with members of the opposition. Since 1987 he participated in the Ukrainian Culturologic Club. In the fall of 1987 Chornomaz went to Lviv where he met leaders of the Lev Association, brought its status on the basis of which the Uman Berehynia Association was founded; the latter was headed by Tetiana Chornomaz. The sang carols, shchedrivkas, handcrafted blue and yellow ribbons, and flags.

In 1988, the Chornomazes set up a branch of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union in Uman and surrounding areas, and then throughout the Cherkasy Oblast.

Having heard that there emerged a group of the Popular Front (Volodymyr Muliava, Simyachko) in Vinnytsia the Uman activists sent on a mission T.Chornomaz, and in Uman in November 1988 they created a supporting point that in early 1989 became the primary cell of the People’s Movement of Ukraine. Formally, during the first (inaugural) congress Chornomaz did not head the primary cell not to provide the opponents with the trump cards (born in Halychyna, political prisoner), but when the government attempted to press the newly created organization having backed (during the next meeting) the adoption of the new Regional Charter with the changed name of the organization, the situation had to be saved and Chornomaz initiated the new constituent assembly and the PMU was established and Chornomaz headed the Uman territorial organization composed of 6 regions.

The Chornomazes were co-opted to the organizing committee of the Constituent Congress of the People’s Movement of Ukraine for Perestroika and took part in the founding meeting of the Association of Ukrainian Language, Memorial, Green World, and URP.

In 1989, Chornomaz organized the publication of one of the first independent newspapers “Chervona Kalyna” printed in Lithuania. With the creation of the URP cell PSA the newspaper Tryzub began going out (editor T.Chornomaz). Chornomaz played the leading role. The newspapers were printed regularly and were in great demand. Chornomaz invested all their savings in this undertaking.

After the Constituent Congress of the Ukrainian Republican Party (29.04.1990) the Chornomazes created its organization in Uman and elsewhere.

During the celebration of 500th anniversary of Kozaks (summer 1990), in Uman, there operated a secret gas station for the buses from Halychyna organized by Vasyl Kulynych. On the initiative of Chornomaz hundreds of Halychyna activists traveling with the purpose of agitation in East Ukraine stayed in Uman and promoted mutual understanding between Halychyna Ukrainians and Easterners.

On 11.02.1990, in Uman, the first rally in memory of victims of repression and Holodomor in Ukraine (over 6000 participants) was held at the City Stadium. Chornomaz invited the Japanese TV, Popular Front leader Volodymyr Muliava, Holodomor researcher Volodymyr Maniak and American scholar James Mace. The government wanted to gobble up the rally and to fraudulently carry its resolution, but Chornomaz managed to vote for his variant.

For convening unauthorized rallies, only in 1992 Chornomaz seven times was kept in the remand center, he was fined many times, each time the city community pooled its resources and paid those fines. There were rallies near the militia station demanding to release the detainees. On the fence of uncompleted construction project, also known as Hyde Fence, the activists glued slogans and protesters clustered there. The column of demonstrators was headed by Roman and Sofiya Chornomaz, brought up in the spirit of Ukrainian idea, who carried Ukrainian flags. Tetiana covered the Cherkasy Oblast events for the radio "Freedom", where later she became a correspondent. During the election of the Ukraine’s first president Chornomaz was an accredited representative of presidential contender V. CHORNOVIL and was responsible for the referendum and presidential elections in Cherkasy Oblast.

In 1992, Chornomaz was elected to the Central Committee of NRU, headed the Cherkasy Oblast organization of the NRU, and stayed right in the office in Cherkasy. An attempt was carried out on the car driven by Chornomaz. In 1993 Chornomaz addressed the session of the Regional Rada and exposed the corruption of Cherkasy meat processing and packing factory Director Babak, Presidential Representative Yastreb, and opposed the appointment of corrupt individual Savchenko chief of militia. On 09.04.1993, in the evening, he was hit on the head on the street and for twelve hours he was lying unconscious on the sidewalk. His nose was a broken, several teeth knocked out, suffered brain hemorrhage, and concussion. He was treated for several months. His sight weakened.

In 1993-97 Chornomaz worked in Kyiv as deputy head and later head of the secretariat of the OUN (y).

Since 1997 Chornomaz has been out of work. In 1996 he graduated from the history department of the Ivan Franko Lviv University, defended his diploma thesis on "Activities of national-patriotic underground in Uman Region in 1941 - 1945". Next year, he was registered as a graduate student at the University "Lviv Polytechnic". In 1996-1998 he was the Chairman of the Regional Youth Centre for Historical Research. In 2002, he published a monograph "The activities of national-patriotic underground in Uman Region in 1941-1945". In 2005 he defended his Candidate-of-History thesis: "The national-patriotic underground in Uman Region in WWII (military-political aspect)." He is the Associate Professor of History of Ukraine at the Pavlo Tychyna Uman State Pedagogical University.

His son Roman, b. 1977, and daughter Sofiya, b. 1980, graduated from the Department of Philology and Ethnology of the Uman Pedagogical University.

On 03.09.1991, Chornomaz was rehabilitated under the Law of the UkrSSR "On Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repressions" from 17.04. 1991. Lives in Uman.

 

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