Viacheslav Chornovil

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Viacheslav Chornovil
Chornovil Vyacheslav.jpg
Chairman of the Lviv Oblast Council
In office
April 1990 – April 1992
Succeeded by Mykola Horyn
People's Deputy of Ukraine
1st convocation
In office
May 15, 1990 – May 10, 1994
Constituency People's Movement of Ukraine, Lviv Oblast, Shevchenko electoral district N.264[1]
2nd convocation
In office
May 11, 1994 – May 12, 1998
Constituency People's Movement of Ukraine, Ternopil Oblast, Podillia electoral district N.357[2]
3rd convocation
In office
May 12, 1998 – March 26, 1999
Constituency People's Movement of Ukraine, No.1[3]
Personal details
Born December 24, 1937
Soviet Union Yerky, Kiev Oblast, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Died March 25, 1999(1999-03-25) (aged 61)
Ukraine Boryspil, Kiev Oblast, Ukraine
Nationality Ukrainian
Political party People's Movement of Ukraine
Spouse(s) Olena Antoniv[4]
Atena-Svyatomyra Pashko (died 20 March 2012, 81 years of age)[5]
Children Andriy Chornovil, Taras Chornovil
Alma mater University of Kiev (journalist)
Occupation Politician and Soviet dissident
Awards Order of State
Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise
Shevchenko Prize (1996)

Viacheslav Chornovil (Ukrainian: В'ячесла́в Макси́мович Чорнові́л) (December 24, 1937 in Yerky, Katerynopil Raion, Kiev Oblast – March 25, 1999, near Boryspil, Kiev Oblast) was a Ukrainian politician. A prominent Ukrainian dissident in the Soviet Union, he was arrested multiple times in the 1960s and 1970s for his political views.[6] A long-time advocate of Ukrainian independence, he was one of the most prominent political figures of the late 1980s and early 1990s who paved the path of the contemporary Ukraine to its independence.


Chornovil enrolled into the University of Kiev initially at the College of Philology (faculty), but after the first semester transferred to the College of Journalism. In 1958 due to conflict in the university he took a break from studying and went for construction project in Zhdanov of a blast furnace and later worked for the "Kiev Komsomolets". Chornovil was a member of the Komsomol of Ukraine. He graduated in 1960 with honors and defended his diploma with a thesis "Publicistic work of Borys Hrinchenko".


Chornovil worked for various newspapers and in television in Lviv and Kyiv between 1960 and 1964.

In 1964 he moved to Vyshhorod and participated in the construction of the Kyiv Hydro-electric Station[clarification needed] (see Kyiv Reservoir). During the same year, Chornovil also enrolled as a postgraduate student (see Candidate of Sciences) of the Drahomov National Pedagogical University, but was not allowed to study.

On 5 September 1965, with Ivan Dzyuba and Vasyl Stus, Chornovil protested at the premier of Sergei Paradjanov's "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" outside the Ukraina movie theater[clarification needed]. This led to him being sacked from his job and searched by the police. For refusing to be a witness and testify at the trials of the Horyn brothers,[clarification needed] Chornovil was given three months of forced labor.

He acquired the reputation of a dissident after documenting the illegal imprisonment of certain Ukrainian intellectuals. Later, he covered a similar story about twenty Ukrainians ("Woe from Wit").[7] Charged with libel[failed verification] and sentenced to three years in a maximum security prison,[8] Chornovil was released after 18 months under a general amnesty in 1967, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution. The Times awarded him the Nicholas Tomalin Prize for the documentation of the trials.


During his exile in 1969 Chornovil married to Atena Pashko. In 1970 he managed to find a job at the meteorological station in Zakarpattia, provided a manual labor for an archaeological expedition to the Odessa Region, and at the railroad station "Sknyliv" in Lviv. At the same time Chornovil created an underground magazine Ukraine Herald.[9] From 1971 onwards, he worked for the Lviv department of the Ukraine Nature Conservation Society.

He was imprisoned a second time in 1972 for being involved in Ukrainian independence movements and affiliated publications. This time Chornovil was given six years of imprisonment and three more years of exile.[10] He served this term of imprisonment in Mordva camps for political prisoners in the villages of Ozernoye and Barashevo, where he frequently took part in protests, demonstrations and hunger strikes.[11] Chornovil spent half of his term at Camp 17 in the punishment cell or in solitary confinement in the camp prison.

Chornovil renounced his Soviet citizenship and decided to move to Canada in 1975, but was not permitted to do so. In 1976, he joined the newly-formed Ukrainian Helsinki Group,[12] set up to monitor the USSR's compliance with the 1975 Helsinki Accords. In 1978 Chornovil was exiled to the Soviet Far East, travelling the thousands of miles by train, and on foot to the village of Chappandu (Yakutia). There he worked as a laborer at a local state farm (sovkhoz), later as a supplier in Nyurba. In 1978 he was admitted to the International PEN society.

Chornovil was arrested yet again in April 1981, on charges of "attempted rape" and sentenced to five years imprisonment.[13] In protest he went on a 120-day-long hunger strike. He was released in 1983, but following an objection by the Prosecutor of the Yakut ASSR he was not to allow return to Ukraine. Finally back in West Ukraine, Chornovil could only find work in May 1985 as a stoker, at both the Lviv Miskrembudtrest (City Maintenance Construction Trust) and a specialized school in the city.


In the late 1980s he actively participated in the Ukrainian national movement becoming the first leader of the People's Movement of Ukraine (better known as Rukh). In 1988 there was a first attempt to create the "Democratic Front in support of Perestroika" in Lviv only to be dispersed by the Soviet OMON canine unit. Later he promoted several nationally oriented actions, one of them was the Human chain that took place on January 21, 1990 and commemorated the act of unification of the Ukrainian lands in 1919 (see Act Zluky).

Chornovil ran for President of Ukraine in 1991 but was defeated, winning only in western Ukraine. He was one of the most important members of the People's Movement of Ukraine. He was elected to the Verkhovna Rada for the People's Movement of Ukraine in 1994 and 1998 and was the head of that party. In 1999 his party was almost dissolved due to disagreements within. There are speculations that the failure to liquidate the party led to the road accident that took Chornovil's life. That fact is mentioned in the documentary movie of Volodymyr Onyshchenko He who awoke the Stone state.[14]

Chornovil was expected to be the main opposition candidate to incumbent president Leonid Kuchma in the 1999 presidential election. Chornovil's presidential campaign was brought to an abrupt end, however, on 25 March 1999 when he and his assistant Yevgen Pavlov both died in a suspicious automobile crash.[15]

Death and remembrance

Commemorative 2-hryvnia coin depicting Chornovil

The official investigation carried by the Ministry of Internal Affairs concluded that the crash was purely accidental and discovered no evidence of the foul play. However, some of Chornovil's supporters called his death a political murder and called on bringing those responsible for it to justice. The theory of murder is stated on the website dedicated to Vyacheslav Chornovil and created by his son Taras Chornovil, a deputy of Verkhovna Rada formerly from the Party of Regions.[16]

In 2003, the National Bank of Ukraine issued a commemorative coin with the nominal of 2 Hryvnias dedicated to Chornovil.

On August 23, 2006, President Viktor Yushchenko unveiled a monument to Chornovil and ordered a new investigation into his death. On September 6, 2006, Yuri Lutsenko, the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, announced that based on the information he saw, he personally believes that Chornovil was a victim of murder rather than a car accident.[17][18] Lutsenko stated further that the investigation is now carried by the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine and the Security Service of Ukraine, the law enforcement authorities not under Lutsenko's control. He went further, alluding that "certain circles" in the Prosecutor's Office and Security Service are stonewalling the investigation.[19] However, on August 9, Oleksandr Medvedko, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, commented at the news conference that Lutsenko's statement is "unprofessional" as his conclusions are based on unreliable information.[20]

On March 25, 2009 a funeral service was held near the memorial sign in Boryspil, and admirers (including the Mayor of Kiev (then Leonid Chernovetskyi)) laid flowers on his monument in Kiev to mark the 10-year anniversary of Chornovil's death.[21]

In 2009, a Ukrainian stamp devoted to Chornovil was issued.[22]

See also


  • Father – Maksym Yosypovych Chornovil (1909-1987), a teacher of Ukrainian language and literature
  • Mother – Kylyna Kharitonivna Tereshchenko (1909-1985), a teacher in elementary school
  • Sister – Valentyna Maksymivna Chronovil (1948–present)
  • First wife – Iryna Mykolayivna Brunets
    • Son – Andriy Chornovil (1962–present), a doctor and professor of the Lviv Medical University
  • Second wife – Olena Tymofiyivna Antoniv (1937-1986), a dissident (perished in an auto accident)
    • Son – Taras Chornovil (1964–present), a member of parliament of Ukraine (2000-2012)
  • Third wife – Atena Vasylivna Pashko (1931-2012), a Ukrainian poet
    • Stepdaughter – Iryna Vasylivna Volytska-Zubko, a theatrical director at the "Teatr v Korzyni" (Theater in a basket)

References and footnotes

  1. ^ "People's Deputy of Ukraine of the I convocation". Official portal (in Ukrainian). Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  2. ^ "People's Deputy of Ukraine of the II convocation". Official portal (in Ukrainian). Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  3. ^ "People's Deputy of Ukraine of the III convocation". Official portal (in Ukrainian). Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  4. ^ Арештована коляда, або Погром 12 січня 1972-го (Arrested Kolyada or the Pogrom of January 12, 1972). Ukrayinska Pravda. January 12, 2011
  5. ^ Події за темами:На 81-му році життя померла Атена Пашко, UNIAN (20 March 2012)
  6. ^ Marusenko, By Peter (1999-04-16). "Vyacheslav Chornovil obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-11-10.
  7. ^ Applebaum, Anne. Gulag: A History. New York: Doubleday, 2003. p. 552
  8. ^ "Ukraine | History, Geography, People, & Language". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  9. ^ "Ukraine Herald, issue 1, January 1970", A Chronicle of Current Events (13.9, item 17), 30 April 1970.
  10. ^ "Arrests in the Ukraine, March 1972", A Chronicle of Current Events (24.3), 5 March 1972.
  11. ^ "In the Mordovian Camps, December 1974", A Chronicle of Current Events (33.4), 10 December 1974.
  12. ^ "The Helsinki Groups, December 1976", A Chronicle of Current Events (43.6), 31 December 1976.
  13. ^ Killing the Spirit of Helsinki, TIME Magazine, December 1, 1980
  14. ^ «Той, що пробудив Кам’яну державу». У Дніпропетровську презентували фільм про В’ячеслава Чорновола. Радіо Свобода (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  15. ^ People's Rukh Of Ukraine Calls On Law Enforcement Agencies To Complete Investigation Into Death Of Its Former Leader Viacheslav Chornovil Until 2010, Ukrainian News Agency (March 25, 2009)
  16. ^ Archived July 14, 2002, at Bibliotheca Alexandrina (in Ukrainian)
  17. ^ National Radio Company of Ukraine News Report Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "Ukrainian Government Archives". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  19. ^ Буковина Інфо – Політика, Економіка, Культура, Спорт, Аналітика, Інтерв'ю, Персоналії (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  20. ^ The Day Weekly Digest Archived May 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Events by themes: Anniversary of Viacheslav Chornovil death, UNIAN-photo services (25 March 2009)
  22. ^ Ukraine issues stamp devoted to politician, rights advocate Vyacheslav Chornovil Archived May 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Ukrinform (27 December 2008)

External links

  • "Vyacheslav Chornovil biography". People's Movement of Ukraine (Rukh) website (in Ukrainian). Archived from the original on 2006-09-07.
  • Ukrainian Weekly newspaper biography
  • Vyacheslav Chornovil's Death
  • Pictures of the Monument
  • Obituary, The Times
  • "He who awake the Stone state" (DVD) in the library of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
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