Yuriy Shukhevych
Hero of Ukraine

                          Source: www.upa.com.ua
                          February 20, 2004

                           Since October 2002, Ukrainian politicians have been considering the
                           issue of awarding Yurii Shukhevych the title of "Hero of Ukraine" for his
                           life-long heroism.The citizens of Ukraine now demand that Yurii
                           Shukhevych, the longest-serving former Soviet Ukrainian political
                           prisoner, prominent civic activist, and statesman, be awarded the title of
                           "Hero of Ukraine" on the occasion of his 70th birthday (March 28,
                           2003). After decades of Soviet totalitarianism Ukraine demands
                           immediate and decisive actions aimed at the comprehensive
                           democratization of Ukrainian governmental bodies.

                           Genocide by starvation in Ukraine [Holodomor], massacres, mass
                           arrests and exile to Siberia, and imprisonment of citizens for their political
                           and national affiliation during the entire existence of the Soviet regime
                           were organized by various state structures of the USSR and the
                           Ukrainian SSR. People who did not agree with the system and
                           demanded political changes were imprisoned for long years, kept in
                           awful conditions, and tortured. Frequently, terror took the form of
                           revenge aimed at prisoners' families, even young children, such as Yuriy

                           Soviet terror was state terror. The bloody crimes of the GPU, NKVD
                           (People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs), MVD (Ministry of Internal
                           Affairs) and other bodies, which were committed against the peaceful
                           population of the USSR, have no match for their cruelty and inhumanity.

                           The impunity of criminals who are responsible for millions of deaths has
                           had a negative impact on the development and functioning of the state
                           bodies of Ukraine, where the worst murderers have received protection.
                           The terrible legacy of the past--all those state employees of the former
                           USSR who were directly involved in numerous crimes--is impeding the
                           further democratic development of Ukraine and the reorganization of
                           various governmental bodies and other structures, and is blocking the
                           process to recognize veteran reformers and to respect fundamental laws
                           and civic freedoms in Ukraine.

                           In 1944, when he was only 11 years old, Yurii Romanovych
                           Shukhevych was jailed solely because of his parents' political views, and
                           for many decades was kept as a virtual hostage of the state. Altogether
                           Shukhevych was subjected to 46 years of incarceration in children's
                           homes, prisons, camps, and exile simply for refusing to denounce his
                           father Roman Shukyvych, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian
                           Insurgent Army (UPA), and the Ukrainian liberation movement. Despite
                           his decades-long imprisonment, during which he was constantly
                           subjected to physical and moral tortures, Yurii Shukhevych continued to
                           take active part in the Ukrainian liberation movement. Sacrificing his own
                           life, he categorically rejected numerous offers to repent, to renounce the
                           Ukrainian national idea, and to betray the struggle for Ukraine's

                           While imprisoned, Shukhevych demanded reviews of his case,
                           participated in campaigns for the official recognition of political-prisoner
                           status, and sought the right to leave the USSR. In 1979 he renounced his
                           Soviet citizenship and joined the Ukrainian Helsinki Group. In March
                           1982 he was exiled to Tomsk oblast, in Siberia.

                           As a result he was often seriously ill; in 1982 he completely lost his sight.
                           In 1981 the US Congress passed a resolution calling for his release and
                           for permission for him to emigrate, and about 200 Canadian mayors and
                           members of Parliament also spoke out on his behalf. In February 1982
                           he was declared "prisoner of the month" by Amnesty International, and
                           in August 1986, 40 U.S. senators signed a petition to Mikhail
                           Gorbachev calling for his release.

                           Sacrificing his own life, Yurii Shukhevych displayed heroism, high
                           personal moral values, strength of spirit, will, selflessness, and fidelity to
                           the idea of democracy all over the world. At the age of 57 he was freed
                           and received permission to return to Ukraine. Since his release, he has
                           been actively engaged in the movement to democratize Ukraine and to
                           reform its political system, and legislative and executive bodies. He
                           demands observance of human rights by all state structures. Despite his
                           poor health (he is an invalid of the 1st category), he has continued to be
                           an active political figure and reformist.

                           Awarding the title of "Hero of Ukraine" to Yurii Shukhevych will
                           demonstrate that the citizens of Ukraine enjoy citizens' rights and
                           freedoms and will prove that relations between the state and the people
                           are undergoing qualitative changes.

                           In today's independent Ukraine, Yurii Shukhevych remains an
                           outstanding founder of the Ukrainian state, a renowned public figure, and
                           an example of ethical and moral standards of behaviour for future
                           generations in Ukraine.

                           Ihor Ostrozhynskyy,
                           Head of an initiative group of citizens
                           Ternopil, Ukraine
                           E-mail:  ihor@upa.com.ua or