Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council

Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council (Українська головна визвольна рада, or УГВР; Ukrainska holovna vyzvolna rada, or UHVR). A body formed toward the end of the Second World War by members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) to provide political leadership for Ukrainian independentist forces. It proclaimed itself the ‘supreme organ of the Ukrainian people in its war of revolutionary liberation.’ The council's organizers hoped to establish a broader political and social base for armed resistance to both the German and the Bolshevik occupational forces and sought to attract support from outside the OUN, although the OUN would continue to serve as the UHVR's ideological and organizational foundation.

In January 1944 Lev Shankovsky, as a leader of UPA forces, headed the initiating commission that established contacts with representatives of former Ukrainian political parties as well as nonpartisan activists. Representatives of the OUN (Melnyk faction) declined to participate in the undertaking. The founding meetings of the UHVR were held on 11–15 July 1944 near Nedilna, in the Sambir region, under the protection of UPA forces. There were 20 participants; another 5 people had agreed to accept mandates but were unable to attend. The majority at the founding meeting were not OUN members, and 10 of them were from the northwestern Ukrainian lands and central Ukraine. The proceedings, chaired by Rostyslav Voloshyn, resulted in the election of a provisional executive (presidium), the formulation of a social and political platform, and the proclamation of a universal to the Ukrainian people. The UHVR resolved to adopt democratic principles of state and political life and outlined the social and economic policies it believed a future Ukrainian administration would institute. The presidium included the president, K. Osmak, of Kyiv; the vice-president, Vasyl Mudry; the director of the general secretariat, Roman Shukhevych; Ivan Hrynokh; and Ivan Vovchuk.

In Soviet-occupied Ukraine the UHVR co-ordinated armed resistance through the UPA and waged a political and propaganda campaign against the Soviet authorities through the OUN. It also aimed its propaganda at Red Army detachments in Western Ukraine. Its official publications were Visnyk UHVR (1944–5), Biuro informatsiï UHVR (9 issues, 1948–51), and Samostiinist’ (1 issue, 1946). Petro Poltava headed the information bureau. In 1946 the UHVR organized a boycott of the Soviet-sponsored elections. It also opposed the forced liquidation of the Ukrainian Catholic church.

In October 1949 the UHVR, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists issued a joint communiqué, Zvernennia voiuiuchoï Ukraïny do vsieï ukraïns’koï emigratsiï (An Appeal of Fighting Ukraine to the Entire Ukrainian Emigration), as a call for people to mobilize around the independence issue beyond Ukraine's borders. After Roman Shukhevych's death in 1950, Vasyl Kuk headed the general secretariat. According to Soviet sources, Kuk was captured in the mid-1950s. Likewise, most other members of the UHVR in Ukraine were either killed or arrested, and the organization was effectively eliminated there.

A number of UHVR members had left Ukraine in late 1944 and formed its External Representation (Zakordonne predstavnytstvo, or ZP UHVR), which was headed by Ivan Hrynokh. The general secretary was Mykola Lebed, who served as the UHVR's external liaison officer and director of its information bureau. Lebed established contact with the Western Allied leadership in Italy in 1945. In the emigration the ZP UHVR issued a number of memorandums concerning the situation in Ukraine, including a submission (jointly with the Government-in-exile of the Ukrainian National Republic) to the peace conference in Paris. A Ukrainian press service was established, assistance was organized for UPA expeditionary forces that had worked their way to the West, and contacts were maintained (as far as possible) with the underground in Ukraine. A separate UPA mission was attached to the ZP UHVR.

The OUN (Bandera faction) supported the ZP UHVR until 1948. A number of tactical, ideological, and personal differences had emerged by 1954, and a splinter group of the Bandera OUN was formed, the OUN (Abroad); the new group became the main supporter of the ZP UHVR.

Attempts by the ZP UHVR to attract other organizations and parties to a popular front under its leadership were unsuccessful. After the establishment of the broadly based Ukrainian National Council in 1947, the ZP UHVR formally renounced any intention of leading Ukrainian émigré political life; its focus was to serve as a representative of the revolutionary movement in Ukraine. The group co-opted a number of new members, formed a council, and established representative bodies in various countries.

From the mid-1960s the ZP UHVR held periodic conferences, at which new members were brought in and new executives were elected. In 1980 the group had over 20 members, of whom 10 were founding members. Original members of the UHVR who had died as émigrés included P. Chuiko, Oleksander Malynovsky, Vasyl Mudry, Zynovii Pelensky, Myroslav Prokop, I. Simianchuk, Ivan Vovchuk, and Yevhen Vretsona.

The ZP UHVR began publishing the biweekly Suchasna Ukraïna and the monthly Ukraïns’ka literaturna hazeta in Munich in 1951. Those later provided the basis for the establishment of the journal Suchasnist’. In 1952, members of the ZP UHVR formed the Prolog Research Corporation, which issued the English-language journal Prologue (1957–61) and the monthly Digest of the Soviet Ukrainian Press (1957–77). The Suchasnist and Prolog publishing houses have issued more than 100 titles in history, political science, literature, and fine art. In the 1960s the ZP UHVR press bureau began publishing samvydav materials and popularizing the efforts of the Ukrainian dissident movement.

UHVR u svitli postanov Velykoho Zboru ta inshykh dokumentiv (Munich 1956)
Prokop, M. ‘Geneza, ustrii, i pliatforma UHVR,’ Suchasnist’, 1978, no. 7–8
Rebet, D. ‘Do pochatkiv UHVR (spohady, komentari, reflektsiï),’ Suchasnist’, 1986, no. 7–8

Vasyl Markus

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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