Vasylenko, Onoprii

Vasylenko, Onoprii [Василенко, Онопрій; pseudonyms: Okhrim Varnak, Onysko Vasiuta], b 15 June 1861 in Kovrai, Zolotonosha county, Poltava gubernia, d 20 December 1921 in Zolotonosha. Writer and community figure. A career officer-bureaucrat in the tsarist engineering corps, he was posted in Sevastopol (1890–4), Simferopol (1894–1900), Warsaw (1900–2), Brest (1902–14), and Babruisk (1914–17). He began publishing poems, short stories, and correspondence in Zoria (Lviv) and other Lviv periodicals in 1890. He dedicated a few poems to Taras Shevchenko and wrote articles about him. In 1892 his accounts of his trip from Sevastopol to Zolotonosha appeared in the Chernivtsi newspaper Bukovyna. In 1893 he published Musii Krynytsia, a story about Kovrai peasants struggling to open a school. His story about the oppression of military service, ‘Z pryntsypa’ (Out of Principle, Literaturno-naukovyi vistnyk, 1901), was well received by literary critics. During the Revolution of 1905 he disseminated antitsarist literature among the troops in Brest. There in 1907–8 he directed a soldiers’ choir and actors’ troupe, which staged Ukrainian plays. From 1904 to 1914 he played a key role in finding and restoring Oleksa Storozhenko’s grave. He organized illegal commemorations of Shevchenko’s centenary in Brest in 1914. In 1918 he returned home, and in 1920–1 he edited the Zolotonosha newspaper.

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

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