Union for the Freedom of Ukraine process
The process of the Union for Liberation of Ukraine was a court trial that is classified in the history as one of the show trial
Show trial
The term show trial is a pejorative description of a type of highly public trial in which there is a strong connotation that the judicial authorities have already determined the guilt of the defendant. The actual trial has as its only goal to present the accusation and the verdict to the public as...

s of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....


The event took place in the Opera Theatre in Kharkiv
Kharkiv or Kharkov is the second-largest city in Ukraine.The city was founded in 1654 and was a major centre of Ukrainian culture in the Russian Empire. Kharkiv became the first city in Ukraine where the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed in December 1917 and Soviet government was...

 (at that time the Ukrainian State Central Opera) from March 9 to April 19, 1930. Forty-five (45) Ukrainian intellectuals, theologists, writers, and a librarian were accused in anti-state activities (counter-revolutionary classification was present there as well). Fifteen of who were blamed worked in the system of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Science, about thirty of them were members of former Ukrainian political parties, one person was a prime-minister, two others were the ministers of the Ukrainian People's Republic
Ukrainian People's Republic
The Ukrainian People's Republic or Ukrainian National Republic was a republic that was declared in part of the territory of modern Ukraine after the Russian Revolution, eventually headed by Symon Petliura.-Revolutionary Wave:...

, other six - members of the Central Rada. Amongst those 45 two were of Jewish background and three others were females.

According to the Museum of Soviet Occupation this proceeding became some sort of a political slogan to charge against such Ukrainian forces which were represented in face of the older and foremost academical intelligentsia
The intelligentsia is a social class of people engaged in complex, mental and creative labor directed to the development and dissemination of culture, encompassing intellectuals and social groups close to them...

 as well as the representative of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC). One of the defendants was recalling that the Senior attorney of the secret department of Kiev okrug department of GPU Solomon Bruk during the interrogations was repeating: "We must put the Ukrainian intelligentsia on its knees, it is our duty and it will be executed; of whom we would not be able, we're going to shoot!" Soon after that 700 other people were arrested in connections with the process. The exact number is not know, but some estimation run around 30 thousands that were either arrested, exiled, and/or liquidated during and after the process.


In Soviet sources the SVU was an underground organization which supposedly existed in Ukraine from June 1926 to July 1929, when it was exposed by the DPI. The SVU allegedly existed in the Ukrainian diaspora (it should not be confused with the Union of Liberation of Ukraine, which operated during World War II abroad).

According to the indictment, the SVU put the task of liberation of the Ukrainian people in all ethnographic Ukrainian territory and the establishment of an independent Ukrainian Republic, which had to be parliamentary and democratic, with a broad right of citizens to private property. The indictment alleges that the SVU was preparing popular uprisings, in close agreement with leaders of Ukrainian diaspora. In addition, the Union of Ukrainian Youth (SUM) was to organize terrorist acts against the Soviet Union, and Soviet Ukrainian leaders.

List of the accused

Among others in the dock were:
  • Serhiy Yefremov
    Serhiy Yefremov
    Serhiy Yefremov was a Ukrainian literary journalist, historian, critic, political activist, statesman, and academician. He was a member of the Ukrainian Academy of Science and Shevchenko Scientific Society in Lviv...

    , an academician of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, former deputy chairman of the Central Rada, and a member UPSF.
  • Volodymyr Chekhivsky, former member of the Central Committee of USDRP
    Ukrainian Social Democratic Labour Party
    The Ukrainian Social Democratic Labour Party was the leading party of the Ukrainian People's Republic and was also known as SDPists or Esdeky. The party was reformed in 1905 at the Second Congress of the RUP and was pursuing the Marxist ideology...

    , the Prime Minister of Ukraine
    Ukrainian People's Republic
    The Ukrainian People's Republic or Ukrainian National Republic was a republic that was declared in part of the territory of modern Ukraine after the Russian Revolution, eventually headed by Symon Petliura.-Revolutionary Wave:...

    , theologian, founder and administrator of the UAOC.
  • V. Durdukivsky, a teacher, former member of UPSF.
  • Yosyp Germaize, a historian, professor of Kiev Institute of People's Education, former member USDRP.
  • Andriy Nikovsky, a literary critic and writer, former member UPSF, and Foreign Minister UPR.
  • Liudmyla Starytska-Chernyakhivska, a writer (former member UPSF) and a wife of the renowned scientist histology and the professor of the Kiev Medical Institute, Oleksandr Chernyakhivsky.
  • Mykhailo Slabchenko, academician, historian, professor of the Odessa Institute of People's Education, former member USDRP.
  • A. Hrebenetsky, teacher.
  • Vsevolod Hantsov, philologist, the former member UPSF.
  • H. Holoskevych, linguist, the associate of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences.
  • Mykola Pavlushkov, student of the Kiev Institute of People's Education, which Soviet authorities considered the founder of the Ukrainian Youth Association (CYM).

The Chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Court who heard the case was Anton Prykhodko
Anton Prykhodko
Anton Terentiovych Prykhodko, born in the Poltava Governorate in 1891, was the Chief Judge of the Council of People's Commissars of Ukrainian SSR until December 31, 1933...

, the chief prosecutor M. Mykhailyk (Attorney-General of the Republic and Deputy Narkom). Among the public prosecutors were Panas Lіubchenko, academician A. Sokolovsky, writer O. Slisarenko.

On the side of the defendants were Ratner, Vilensky, Puhtynsky.

Among the defendants were three females: Liudmyla Starytska-Chernyakhivska, Liudmyla Bidnova, A. Tokarivska; two doctors - members UNAS, 15 professors of higher schools, two students, a director of a middle school, 10 teachers, a theologian and a priest of UAOC, three writers, five editors, two cooperators, two lawyers and a librarian; 15 defendants were employees of UNAS. Many defendants were united through political activities during the struggle for freedom (1917–1920): 31 of them were once members of the Ukrainian political parties (15 - UPSF, 12 - USDRP, 4 - UPSR), one was a prime minister, two - Ministers of the Ukrainian government, six - members of the Ukrainian Central Rada. According to the indictment act, 33 of the accused belonged to the Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

 group of SVU, three represented Dnipropetrovsk
Dnipropetrovsk or Dnepropetrovsk formerly Yekaterinoslav is Ukraine's third largest city with one million inhabitants. It is located southeast of Ukraine's capital Kiev on the Dnieper River, in the south-central region of the country...

 and Odessa
Odessa or Odesa is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast located in southern Ukraine. The city is a major seaport located on the northwest shore of the Black Sea and the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,029,000 .The predecessor of Odessa, a small Tatar settlement,...

, two - Poltava
Poltava is a city in located on the Vorskla River in central Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Poltava Oblast , as well as the surrounding Poltava Raion of the oblast. Poltava's estimated population is 298,652 ....

 and Mykolaiv
Mykolaiv , also known as Nikolayev , is a city in southern Ukraine, administrative center of the Mykolaiv Oblast. Mykolaiv is the main ship building center of the Black Sea, and, arguably, the whole Eastern Europe.-Name of city:...

, and a single representation was from Chernihiv
Chernihiv or Chernigov is a historic city in northern Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Chernihiv Oblast , as well as of the surrounding Chernihivskyi Raion within the oblast...

 and Vinnytsia
Vinnytsia is a city located on the banks of the Southern Bug, in central Ukraine. It is the administrative center of Vinnytsia Oblast.-Names:...

. Among the defendants were two Ukrainians of Jewish ethnicity: a historian Yosyp Germaize and a lawyer Morhulis.

Process and verdict

The process had numerous inconsistencies. Leaders of the Ukrainian emigration strongly denied allegations from the investigation, that the emigration gave instructions. In particular, L. Chykalenko denied that he ever sent a letter of instruction to Yefremov. The existence of such a letter was also denied by J. Hermayze. N. Pavlushkova (sister of the defendant) argues that "SVU as an organization was the centre for a very narrow circle of people, not more than 12 - 15, without a strong organized periphery" and it recognized that the confessions at the trial of the defendants was forced.

Despite the Soviet SVU publicity process, the sentence was considered too moderate. According to K. Turkalo defendant, the prosecutor threatened 13 of the defendants with the Highest Degree of Penalty (VMN), but did not demand it. 4 convicted 45 defendants to 10 years imprisonment, in strict isolation, 6 - 8, 3 - 6, 10 - 5, 21 - 3 and 1 to 2 years, 10 of them received a suspended sentence and was immediately released 5 more were pardoned a few months. Some prisoners had been sent to the Solovetsky islands
Solovetsky Islands
The Solovetsky Islands , or Solovki , are an archipelago located in the Onega Bay of the White Sea, Russia. The islands are served by the Solovki Airport. Area: ....

. In 1930 and during the first months of WWII many participants of the SVU were again arrested and disappeared. Most of the accused died in prison or in exile, only a few emigrated (K. Turkalo), and some were rehabilitated after World War II (V. Hantsov, V. Atamanovskyy).

In modern Ukrainian opinion, the dominant thought is that SVU and SUM did not exist as an organization, and were provocations of the DPI (V. Holubnychyy, V. Hryshko, M. Kowalewsky, G. Kostyuk, Yu. Lavrinenko, R. Sallivant, K. Turkalo, P. Fedak), however some sources recognize the existence of SVU (N. Pavlushkova, W. Ivy).

The hypothesis that SVU - SUM was a fictitious organization of the DPI is supported by the creation of other All-Union demonstration court processes (Shakhtinski process in 1928 or so-called Prompartia (Industrial Party) in December 1930), which were purely political.

It is more probable that the defendants in the SVU process were Ukrainian patriots, who actively worked for the Ukrainian national cultural renaissance in the 1920s, but they did so spontaneously, without creating any anti-Soviet political organization, with no directive from the Ukrainian emigration.
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