Viacheslav Chornovil

Viacheslav Chornovil
Вячесла́в Чорнові́л
Chairman of the Lviv Regional 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
Yerky, Kiev Oblast, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Died March 25, 1999(1999-03-25) (aged 61)
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: Вячесла́в 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. 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".

Political career

Soviet Union

Chornovil worked for various newspapers and in television in Lviv and Kyiv between 1960-64. In 1964 he moved to Vyshhorod and participated in the construction of the Kyiv HES (see Kyiv Reservoir). During the same year Chornovil also enrolled into the aspirantura (see Candidate of Sciences) of the Kyiv Pedagogical Institute, but was not allowed to study. On September 4, 1965 together with Ivan Dzyuba and Vasyl Stus, Chornovil conducted protest in the movie theater "Ukraina" at the premier of the film "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors". After that he was fired out of his job, searched by authorities. For refusing to stand witness and testify at the trials of the Horyn brothers, Chornovil was given three months of forced labor.

He became known as a dissident after documenting the illegal imprisonment of some Ukrainian intellectuals. Later, he covered a similar story about twenty Ukrainians ("Woe from Wit").[6] He was charged with slander and sentenced to three years in the prison of maximum security,[7] but was released in half the time under a general amnesty in 1967 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the October Revolution. The Times awarded him the 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 "Ukrainian informer". Since 1971 he worked in the Lviv department of the Ukraine Nature Conservation Society.

He was imprisoned another time for being involved in Ukrainian independence movements and affiliated publications in 1972. This time Chornovil was given six years of imprisonment and three more years of exile. His term he spent in Mordva camps for political prisoners in the villages of Ozernoye and Barashevo. Half of his term Chornovil spent in a penalized isolation cell and a room of cell type (PKT). Chornovil renounced his Soviet citizenship and decided to move to Canada in 1975, but was not permitted to do so. He joined the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, which helped to monitor and enforce the 1975 Helsinki Accords. In 1978 by train Chornovil was exiled to the village of Chappandu (Yakutia) where 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.

He was arrested yet again for "attempted rape" in April 1980 and was sentenced to five years in prison,[8] after which he carried out a 120-day-long hunger strike. He was released in 1983 following the protest of the Prosecutor of Yakutia not to allow return to Ukraine. In May 1985 Chornovil found job as a stoker at the Lviv Miskrembudtrest (City Maintenance Construction Trust) and at a specialized school. 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).

After Ukrainian independence

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.[9]

Death and remembrance

Chornovil was expected to become the main opposition candidate against the incumbent president Leonid Kuchma for the 1999 presidential election, but Chornovil's presidential campaign was interrupted in its early stages by his suspicious death in an automobile crash on March 25, 1999, his assistant Yevhen Pavlov was also killed in the crash .[10] 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[11]

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.[12][13] 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.[14] 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.[15]

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.[16]

In 2009, a Ukrainian stamp devoted to Chornovil was issued.[17]


  • 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. Applebaum, Anne. Gulag: A History. New York: Doubleday, 2003. p. 552
  7. Encyclopædia Britannica - Ukraine under Shelest
  8. Killing the Spirit of Helsinki, TIME Magazine, December 1, 1980
  9. (July 26, 2006)
  10. 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)
  11. Archived July 14, 2002, at Bibliotheca Alexandrina (in Ukrainian)
  12. National Radio Company of Ukraine News Report Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. Ukrainian Government Archives
  14. БукІнфо - Головна | Політика, Економіка, Культура, Спорт, Аналітика, Інтерв'ю, Персоналії |
  15. The Day Weekly Digest Archived May 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. Events by themes: Anniversary of Viacheslav Chornovil death, UNIAN-photo services (25 March 2009)
  17. Ukraine issues stamp devoted to politician, rights advocate Vyacheslav Chornovil Archived May 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., Ukrinform (27 December 2008)
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