DZIUBA, Ivan Mykhailovych


(b. 26.07.1931, village of Mykolayivka, Volnovask district of the Donetsk region)

One of the most significant figures of contemporary Ukrainian culture, a critic and literary specialist, and the most well-known author of Ukrainian samizdat

Dziuba’s father, a worker in a mining quarry, was killed at the Front in 1943. His mother was a hospital attendant. In 1949 Dziuba entered the Donetsk Teachers’ Training Institute where he specialized in Russian Language and Literature, graduating in 1953.  From 1953-1957 he did his post-graduate studies at the Institute of Literature of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR.

From 1957 he worked as editor of the department of literary studies and criticism of the journal “Vitchyzna” [“Homeland”]. He became a member of the Union of Writers of Ukraine in 1959.

In 1962 Dziuba was dismissed from the journal “Vitchyzna” “on account of ideological errors”.

He played an active role in the work of “Klub tvorchoyi molodi” [“Club for Creative Young People”] (CCY), created in Kyiv in 1960 under the auspices of the city committee of the Komsomol.  Young members of the creative intelligentsia gradually became involved in the work of this club under the spiritual leadership of I. SVITLYCHNY. The intellectual leaders of the club were Dziuba himself and Y. SVERSTYUK.

On 31 July 1963 Dziuba organized an evening in memory of the poet Lesya Ukrainka which was planned for the Central Park of Culture and Recreation but had to be held in park avenues after the authorities effectively prohibited the event. Dziuba’s “Poyasnyuvalna zapyska” [“Explanatory note”] describing what happened was circulated in samizdat.

From 1964 - 1965 Dziuba worked as a literary consultant for the publishing company ‘Molod’ (‘Youth’), but was dismissed for taking part in protests against the political arrests of members of the Ukrainian intelligentsia in 1965 (the first wave of arrests). The most famous of the protest actions of this period took place on 4 September 1965 after the preview showing of the film “Tini zabutykh predkiv” [“Shadows of forgotten ancestors”] in the cinema “Ukraina” in Kyiv. Dziuba took the floor, but instead of making comments about the film, he spoke about the secret arrests of younger representatives of the intelligentsia. This caused a furore among the “official figures” present and general confusion among the audience. Dziuba was supported by V. CHORNOVIL, V. STUS, M. KOTSYUBYNSKA, and others.

As early as 1963 Dziuba had considered writing a work on national policy in Ukraine since, in his words, it was already clear that there was an urgent need for such an analysis.

At the end of 1965 he sent a letter of protest about the arrests of members of the intelligentsia to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU) in which he stated that this would not resolve the problems at the root of the intelligentsia’s criticism of the authorities. He enclosed with the letter a manuscript which was soon to become very well-known under the title: “Internatsionalism ili rusifikatsiya?” [“Internationalism or Russification?”]. While remaining within the framework of the Soviet system and not moving away from the basic tenets of the dominant ideology, Dziuba attempted to draw the attention of the authorities to the position of the Ukrainian nation within the USSR. The strongest moments in the book are where he addresses the issues of Russification and cites examples of anti-Ukrainian sentiments, as well as those dedicated to the history of Russian expansion and Great-State chauvinism.

The book spread swiftly through samizdat channels and was read throughout Ukraine.  Dziuba became a true cult figure among members of the Ukrainian intelligentsia. The author himself, an extremely modest and tactful man, had not wanted this and did not feel ready for such popularity and the role he was being given.

The work “Internationalism or Russification?” was soon to find its way to the West, where in 1968 it was first published as a book by the publishing company “Suchasnist” in Munich.  It was later to be translated into a number of languages and published in many countries.
The appearance of the work in samizdat and subsequent publication abroad resulted in Dziuba’s being subjected to persecution. In summer 1966 he was summoned to the Central Committee of the CPU and asked to make a public recantation in the press of the “defamatory” information in the West about the national problems in the USSR. Dziuba however refused to comply after which an article appeared accusing him of “bourgeois nationalism”. The Union of Writers of Ukraine (UWU) was also told to draw their conclusions with regard to Dziuba, however a “friendly conversation” in the UWU failed to provide the authorities with the desired result. On the contrary, a brilliant address was to reach the West which had been given by Dziuba at a memorial evening to mark what would have been the poet Vasyl SYMONENKO’s thirtieth birthday

In 1967 Dziuba attended the trial of V. CHORNOVIL, after which he, I. SVITLYCHNY, N. SVITLYCHNA and L. KOSTENKO sent a letter of protest to Shelest, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPU in which they described the trial as a total violation of procedural norms and as a means of retribution against a person who had his own ideas and was also daring enough to criticize particular actions of specific State bodies.

In 1968 Dziuba was one of 139 members of the Ukrainian intelligentsia who signed a letter of protest in connection with the political trials taking place in Ukraine and Moscow. The official press began a real witch hunt of Dziuba.

In December 1969 the UWU considered the question of whether to expel Dziuba from the Union. In fact only two out of the many who spoke at the meeting of writers demanded Dziuba’s expulsion, accusing him of divulging State secrets. In response to Dziuba’s incredulous question what kind of secrets he could disclose when he had no access to State secrets, one of those replied indignantly: “Isn’t divulging the national policy of our party a disclosure of a State secret?”  At this meeting the effort to expel Dziuba from the UWU failed.

On 26 December 1969 Dziuba sent a letter to the Presidium of the Union of Writers in which he dissociated himself from his foreign publishers and commentators and condemned them. He was sharply criticized for this by V. MOROZ in his essay “Sered snihiv” [“Amid the snow”] which L. PLYUSHCH compared to the letter written by V. Belinsky to Nikolai Gogol. MOROZ accused Dziuba of having delivered a blow to both his own ideas and to the Ukrainian resistance movement.

The Presidium took the letter into consideration and allowed Dziuba to remain a member of the UWU, however warned him that he would have to play an active role in the literary process on the basis of Marxist-Leninist ideology and of the uncompromising struggle against bourgeois ideology.

On 26 – 27 Mar 1970 leaflets protesting against the expulsion of A. Solzhenitsyn from the Union of Writers of the USSR and the persecution of Dziuba were scattered in the Polytechnic and Structural Engineering Institutes in Kyiv.

In the journal ”Ukrainsky visnyk” [“Ukrainian Herald”], issue No. 2, Dziuba’s letter in defence of V. MOROZ were published. In November 1970, together with V. CHORNOVIL, B. ANTONENKO-DAVYDOVYCH, and Boblyak, Dziuba refused to give testimony in a trial behind closed doors of V. MOROZ.

On 12 January 1972 Dziuba was present at the home of Ivan SVITLYCHNY when a search was carried out and SVITLYCHNY arrested.  Dziuba himself was taken home where a search was then made of his flat. A copy of the complete works of Lenin with notes in the margin and underlining was removed, and then over the following weeks he was repeatedly summoned for questioning.

In February a new wave of searches and interrogations began. On 2 March 1973 a meeting of the Presidium of the Union of Writers considered Dziuba’s case. On this occasion he was expelled from the Union “for violating the Charter of the UWU and preparing and distributing material which are of an anti-Soviet and anti-Communist nature, which express nationalist sentiments and slander the Soviet system and the national policy of the Party and the Soviet State”. The decision was adopted unanimously.  The issue in question mainly involved the work published in 1965 “Internationalism or Russification?”, on the grounds of which an unsuccessful attempt had been made to expel him from the UWU in 1969.

On 18 April 1972 Dziuba was arrested with the only charge relating to the work “Internationalism or Russification?”

From 11 – 16 March 1973 Dziuba was tried in the Kyiv Regional Court and sentenced under Article 62 of the Criminal Code of the UkrSSR (“anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda”) to 5 years labour camp and 5 years exile.

Dziuba was seriously ill with an open form of tuberculosis and cirrhosis of the lungs.

In October 1973 he appealed to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the UkrSSR for a pardon.

On 9 November that year “Literaturna Ukraina” [“Literary Ukraine”] published a statement by Dziuba in which he acknowledged his “errors”.  Back during the investigation into his case, he had begun writing a critical analysis of “Internationalism or Russification?” which was to appear later as a brochure entitled “Grani kristalla” [“The Facets of a crystal”].  Dziuba’s recantation was a painful blow for his admirers and for dissidents not only in Ukraine. The attitude of most Ukrainian dissidents was perhaps best reflected in the response of Ivan SVITLYCHNY, who heard about Dziuba’s recantation while himself in the camp: “I feel sorry for him, it’s a terrible shame. What’s he going to do now?  He won’t be able to write, and his life will be miserable and lonely”.

In the West an explanation was given credence according to which Dziuba had been supported by Shelest, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPU from 1963-1972.  The removal from his position of Shelest had been the cause of the failure of opposition within the framework of the system, and led to Dziuba’s recantation.

Taking Dziuba’s partial acceptance of guilt into consideration, the Presidium of the Verkhovna Rada of the UkrSSR pardoned him and Dziuba was released.

From 1974-1982 Dziuba worked as a copy editor and the literary correspondent of the newspaper of the Kyiv aviation plant.

From 1982 he returned to creative work and wrote many works on literature.

From 1992 to 1994 he was Minister of Culture for Ukraine.

D. was awarded the Beletsky Prize in 1987 and the Taras Shevchenko State Award in 1991.

At present he is academician-secretary of the literature, language and art studies section of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, the Editor of the journal ‘Suchasnist’ [“Modern times”], the president of the National Association of Ukrainian Studies, and the Co-chairperson of the main editorial board of the Encyclopaedia of Modern Ukraine. Dziuba is one of the most respected and authoritative figures of Ukrainian culture.

He lives in Kyiv.


I. Dziuba, “Internatsionalism ili rusifikatsiya?”, Munich, Suchasnist 1968, 262 p.
Alekseeva. История инакомыслия в СССР. /  The History of the Dissident Movement in the USSR. – Vilnius – Moscow: Vest, 1992,  pp. 13, 14, 15-17, 20-25.
Г.Касьянов. Незгодні: українська інтелігенція в русі опору 1960-1980-х років.  / G. Kasyanov.  Dissenting voices: the Ukrainian intelligentsia in the resistance movement of the 1960s to 1980s — Kyiv:  Lybid, 1995.— pp. 23-27, 96-109, 129-132.
I. Lysyak-Rudnytsky.  Istirychny esse [Historical essays]. V.2 – Kyiv: Osnovy 1994, pp. 478-479.
А.Русначенко. Національно-визвольний рух в Україні. / A. Rusnachenko. The National Liberation Movement in Ukraine.  – Kyiv: The O. Teliha Publishing house, 1998, pp. 32, 51, 61, 120-122, 142, 146, 147, 149, 152-155, 166-168, 186-188.

B. Stenchuk, Kak i chto otstaivaet I. Dziuba  [What I. Dziuba is standing up for and how] – Kyiv: Society for cultural ties with Ukrainians abroad 1969.

Ukrainsky Visnyk [‘The Ukrainian Herald’], Paris — Baltimore, Smoloskyp 1971, No. IV,  pp. 18, 35, 37, 38, 43, 44, 54, 55, 56, 72, 74, 112, 123, 125, 158, 182.
”Khronika tekushchykh sobytiy” [“Chronicle of Current Events”] [CCE]. - New York: Khronika, 1974, issues No. 28-31, pp. 35, 45, 46, 82, 84, 109.
Sobraniye dokumentov samizdata [The collected documents of samizdat]. V. 18, ACN902.

  I. Rapp