Andriy Melnyk. Closely Watched by the KGB of the USSR
Among the declassified documents concerning the Head of the Provid (leadership- transl.) of Ukrainian Nationalists Andriy Melnyk, which are in the Branch State Archive of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine, there are previously unknown materials about the preparation of 4th (Intelligence and Subversive Operations) Directorate of the KGB of the Ukrainian SSR’s operation to liquidate him. These and other documents, photos, and letters make it possible to supplement the history of A. Melnyk's life and activity, which reflects all the drama and specificity of the past epoch and the difficult, often bloody struggle for Ukraine's independence.
After the assassination of Yevhen Konovalets by Pavel Sudoplatov in May 1938, the NKVD immediately turned to Andriy Melnyk, who became the Head of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. The archives of the Intelligence Service contain a special message signed by the Chief of the 4th Branch of the 5th Department of the Main Directorate of State Security of the NKVD of the USSR, Captain of State Security P. Sudoplatov, which characterizes the new leader of the OUN. This special report shows that the NKVD already had enough information about A. Melnyk, which, despite some inaccuracies, quite objectively reflected his life.
The document states:
“Melnyk was born in the village of Volya Yakubova, Drohobych povit (district- transl.) in Western Ukraine (Galicia), Poland. Got higher education in Vienna with a degree in engineering. In 1914 he voluntarily joined the Corps of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen (USS), created by the Austro-German Command to fight during the imperialist war against Russia.
In October 1916 he was taken prisoner of war by the Russians. He escaped from captivity in 1917 to Kyiv, where Konovalets was at the time, and together they took an active part in strengthening the Central Rada. They organized the Siege Corps of the Sich Riflemen (SS).
Melnyk was a personal aide to Konovalets, who commanded the SS Corps, then was Chief of Staff.
Melnyk participated in the Sich Riflemen’s negotiations with Germans and Skoropadskyi. Under the Directory, he was Chief of the Ukrainian General Staff. In 1919 he was Assistant Commander of the (Konovalets’) SS Corps. In 1920 he left for Western Europe, Austria and Czechoslovakia, where he worked as a Military Attaché for the Petliura government in Prague. In 1921 he returned to Galicia and together with Konovalets organized the UVO-OUN.
Melnyk has always been Konovalets’ colleague, his closest assistant and friend. Both are married to sisters — daughters of lawyer Fedak from Lviv. Until Konovalets' death, Melnyk lived in Galicia all the time and was the de facto leader of the OUN underground in Western Ukraine.
This fact was undoubtedly known to the Polish authorities. And the fact that Melnyk was not touched by the Poles testifies to his cooperation with them.
According to the charged from the UVO liquidated in the Ukrainian SSR in 1933, Melnyk is one of the organizers of the counter-revolutionary underground in Ukraine.
Lately, Melnyk was the manager of the estates of the Galician Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytskyi.
Having become the leader of the OUN, Melnyk visited all European countries, instructing the OUN members to intensify their activities against the USSR. Not long ago he was in Khust - the capital of Transcarpathian Ukraine, in Vienna, and now he has left for Switzerland.
Melnyk's election as the “leader” of the OUN is allegedly due to the fact that Konovalets mentioned him as his successor in his will” (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F. 1. - Case 11332.– Vol. 2. - P. 16–17).
In addition to some inaccuracies in dates, geographical names and positions, P. Sudoplatov in this special message also misinterpreted A. Melnyk's relations with Polish authorities, which allegedly “Did not touch” him. In fact, it was the other way around. In 1924, he was arrested by Polish police along with other members of the UVO in the case of Olha Basarab and was soon sentenced to five years in prison. He went through solitary confinement, abuse, torture, during which his ribs were broken.
These and other details from A. Melnyk's life appeared in the case file later. The case-form was opened on February 12, 1941 under the name “Sprut” (“Octopus”). At the same time, all materials collected in previous years were added to it. In particular, about A. Melnyk’s work as the manager of the estates of Andrei Sheptytskyi or, as noted in other sources, the inspector of forests of the Greek Catholic Metropolitanate in Lviv in 1929–1938. Detailed reports on inspections of various farms, yields, profits, etc. have been preserved.
There are reviews of how people treated him at this job, such as an extract from an intelligence report: “Melnyk as a manager, was respected, had sophisticated look, was gifted and honest. He was especially loved by Metropolitan Sheptytskyi, whom Melnyk treated with respect and was happy with the trust shown by Sheptytskyi. While abroad, Melnyk continued to maintain contacts with the Metropolitan through correspondence”(BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F. 1. - Case11332. - Vol. 3. - P. 270).
Among the archival documents there are 8 original letters of A. Melnyk to A. Sheptytsky, seized at one time by the State Security Committee of the Ukrainian SSR in the archives of the Lviv Metropolitan of the Greek Catholic Church. Correspondence dates back to 1941-1943. In them, the head of the OUN Provid, along with congratulations on major religious holidays, appealed to the Metropolitan for support and blessing in ending the confrontation within the Ukrainian national liberation movement and the need to unite around a common idea of fighting for a free Ukrainian state.
For example, in one of his letters of July 7, 1942, he points out: “As always before, I am now ready to meet as far as possible in carrying out the initiatives of Your Excellency to eliminate disagreements within our people, which especially at this time needs the greatest possible unity to achieve the ideal of the Nation under the single current political factor in Ukraine - the OUN…
In my experience so far, when I have given so much evidence of my best will and understanding for both human weaknesses and ambitions, and for the peculiar situations and demands of the wave, including the disposition of my own person, I have an unshakable conviction of the right path: not to indulge the disaster, but to fight the disaster. My only regret is that all our citizens did not follow this path at once” (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F. 1. - Case 11332. - Vol. 3. - P. 220).
A. Melnyk wrote these letters from Berlin. He was under house arrest and under constant Gestapo’s surveillance. At the end of July 1941, on the orders of Gestapo Chief Heinrich Müller, he was arrested along with his wife and forcibly sent to the German capital. And this despite the fact that before he had been trying to maintain various contacts with representatives of government, business circles of Germany, Abwehr and other agencies, hoping for their assistance in restoring the independence of Ukraine. It is these contacts that he will soon be blamed for by the NKVD-MGB of the USSR, which accused him of collaborating with German secret services. Interrogation protocols of the arrested former Abwehr employees who had contacts with A. Melnyk, will be used for propaganda purposes for a long time to discredit the leader of the OUN and the entire Ukrainian national liberation movement.
And before his arrest, on June 30, 1941, A. Melnyk called on Ukrainians “to unite under one flag, under one leadership for the sake of an Independent United Ukrainian State”. July 28, 1941, in his letter to Heinrich Himmler he protested against including Eastern Galicia in the Governorate-General. On January 15, 1942, he sent a memorandum to Adolf Hitler demanding to put an end to Germany’s destructive policy in Ukraine. The document was also signed by the Head of the All-Ukrainian National Council, Professor Mykola Velychkivskyi, Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytskyi, Deputy Chief Otaman of the UPR in exile Andriy Livytskyi, General Omelyanovych-Pavlenko, and separately (due to political factors) by Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskyi.
Besides, A. Melnyk repeatedly sent various memoranda, letters, statements and protests to high-ranking officials of the Third Reich, in which he insisted on changing their attitude to the issue of independence of the Ukrainian state within its ethnic lands.
This is also stated in the materials of cases, which in those years were conducted by various bodies of the NKVD of the USSR. But in those reports and memoranda, the Chekists first of all emphasized where, when, under what circumstances, and in what form A. Melnyk's contacts with representatives of German circles took place.
Representatives of the Soviet secret services were also very concerned about the ideas and intentions of understanding expressed by A. Melnyk in Ukrainian figures’ letters, in appeals and addresses to the Ukrainian people. After all, the plan approved by Joseph Stalin to assassinate Yevhen Konovalets provided for a split in the OUN, which was eventually achieved. That split not only weakened the entire national liberation movement, but also cost the lives of many Ukrainian patriots who professed different paths of struggle. Instead, the new leader of the OUN called on all those who cared about the Ukrainian cause to stand together under one flag, under certain conditions, and to continue the struggle. And this forced the NKVD to take appropriate countermeasures.
First of all, the task was set for the agents, who actively worked in various currents of the OUN, to collect information about A. Melnyk's plans and his relocation. In addition, a number of agents were sent to Krakow, Warsaw, Prague and Berlin “to cultivate the OUN-Melnyk leadership centers”. It was then reported that in January 1944 he and his wife had secretly left Berlin and settled in Vienna. A week later, he was arrested again by the Gestapo and taken to Berlin with his wife. He was then transported to the Alps, where political prisoners were kept. Germans demanded from him to sign a document stating certain commitments, including to give up attempts to get in touch with the OUN. But A. Melnyk refused to sign any documents and assume any obligations.
Given that A. Melnyk’s activities increasingly irritated the leaders of the NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR, in May 1944, all the materials collected on him were summarized and a resolution was issued to open a separate case, which was to be conducted by the 4th (Intelligence and Sabotage) Directorate. This was the Directorate headed by Pavel Sudoplatov in Moscow, which during the war had accumulated extensive experience of work in the enemy's deep rear and had suitably prepared agents for this purpose. This time, the object of the intelligence case was given the pseudonym “Engineer” - apparently due to his being a “forestry engineer” by profession.
Meanwhile, on July 27, 1944, under the Gestapo’s order, A. Melnyk with his wife was taken to Berlin and immediately sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, which at that time housed Stepan Bandera, Yaroslav Stetsko, Eugene Onatsky, Dmitry Andrievsky, Denis Kvitkovsky, Oleg Shtul and many other Ukrainian political prisoners.
October 17, 1944, he was released from the concentration camp and taken to Berlin. In November of the same year, NKVD agent Vasyl Khomyak, known for the murder of Yevhen Konovalets under the pseudonyms “Lebed” or “82”, reported that “Melnyk, the head of the Ukrainian Nationalists' Provid, is in Berlin kept by Germans under the house arrest”.
Strange as it might seem, these movements and plans of the OUN leader were thoroughly monitored by a person who during the First World War served with A. Melnyk in the units of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen, and during the national liberation struggle in Ukraine fought with him against the Red Army and other enemies of the UPR. At one time, in one of his own written reports, agent Lebed pointed out: “I have known Yevhen Konovalets since 1917 from the SS (Sich Riflemen), which he commanded. While in the SS, I was personally acquainted with him. I got closely acquainted with him through the Chief of Staff of the SS Andriy Melnyk, with whom I had been closely acquainted since 1914, from the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen Regiment of the Austrian Army, and I was his chota’s (company- transl.) commander” (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine). - F. 1. – Case 6964. - P. 28).
Therefore, agent Lebed, who once introduced Pavel Sudoplatov to Yevhen Konovalets and prepared the ground for Operation “Stavka” to liquidate the first leader of the OUN, was already doing his best for the Soviet secret services to kill the second leader of the OUN.
Among the archival materials there are papers that directly testify to the development of the NKVD’s plans to physically liquidate A. Melnyk. Thus, one of the papers reads:
“At the same time, in order to dismantle the Ukrainian nationalist underground of Melnykites and organize special measures to liquidate Andriy Melnyk, the 4th Directorate of the NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR is preparing and will soon send to Berlin a special group “Vulkan” (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F. 1. – Case 11332.– V. 2. - P. 8).
The related plan of special measures developed by the 4th Directorate of the NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR was approved on November 11, 1944 by the Deputy People's Commissar of State Security of the Ukrainian SSR, Commissar of State Security Drozdetskyi. It clearly states that the ultimate goal should be the liquidation of Andriy Melnyk. All necessary measures are planned step by step, participants are determined. The special group included 5-7 reliable agents from the 4th and 20th Directorates of the NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR, who worked in the struggle against Ukrainian nationalists and had experience of underground activities in the enemy's rear.
Besides, the group included two agents-Melnykites with knowledge of the German language, who knew Berlin and had acquaintances there, and the actual performer of the “liquidation” had to be an agent “Borets” (real names are not mentioned in the case file). The group also included some agents - German prisoners of war, who were also well-versed in the city and were to help legalize the whole group. But they were not told anything about the aim of the operation.
The group was prohibited from engaging in hostilities at its location. A two-way radio and a radio operator were to maintain the connection with the management of the operation. The group was given 30,000 German marks, and all the necessary documents. According to the plan, part of the group was to be legalized in Berlin, while others had to be in an illegal position on the outskirts. After the liquidation of A. Melnyk, they had to return or stay where they were and wait for the arrival of Red Army units. The planned date of the task was the first half of December 1944.
But the events at the front and in Berlin were unfolding rapidly. After the release of the leaders of Ukrainian organizations from German concentration camps, they all gave Andriy Melnyk the authority to negotiate with the German side on behalf of Ukrainian political forces on how to proceed in the constantly changing situation.
As shown by archival documents and other sources, on October 18, 1944, Andriy Livytskyi, Pavlo Skoropadskyi, Stepan Bandera and Andriy Melnyk held a meeting. They discussed the Germans’ proposals to establish the Ukrainian National Committee as a representation of Ukrainians in Germany. It was decided to authorize Colonel Andriy Melnyk to head the UNC after its creation and to conduct direct negotiations with the German side. These negotiations lasted through November and December 1944. Among other things, they put forward the following preconditions for the German side: “The German government will sign and declare that Germany renounces all claims to Ukrainian lands and recognizes the Ukrainian people’s right to an independent state… All Ukrainians, arrested for political or national reasons, will be immediately released from concentration camps and arrests”.
As the Germans did not want to take into account the statehood aspirations of the Ukrainian emigrants even on the eve of the capitulation, the negotiations were interrupted at the end of December 1944. At this, A. Melnyk resigned his obligations before those who endowed him with them.
Soon the negotiations were continued by others. Meanwhile, in the first half of January 1945, A. Melnyk convened a meeting at which he instructed all members of the Provid of Ukrainian Nationalists and leading figures of the OUN as soon as possible to leave Berlin for other regions of Germany, where after the arrival of the Allies to inform them on the liberation struggle of the Ukrainian people and the OUN’s role in it.
A. Melnyk himself secretly left Berlin on February 11, 1945 and went southwest to Bad Kissingen. But there is no information about it in archival files, as there is no information at all on his whereabouts in the first months of 1945. There is no information about how the “Vulkan” task group operated in the future and whether it managed to get to Berlin to kill A. Melnyk. There is only one report for that period, stating that “in April 1945, Andriy Melnyk sent congratulatory telegrams to Truman, Churchill, and General Eisenhower, signing them as “Head of the Provid of Ukrainian Nationalists”.
After the Second World War, the Soviet State Security Service continued to cultivate Ukrainian foreign centers and their leaders. Andriy Melnyk was among those to whom special attention was paid. According to archival documents, Soviet secret services did not abandon their plans to liquidate him. Thus, one of the papers dated February 14, 1947, sent from a foreign residency to the address of the Chief of the 1st (Intelligence) Directorate of the MGB of the Ukrainian SSR, reads as follows: “Yuri” is reporting that capturing (in Russian “izyatie”) has been set by “Chaban” as the principal task, but there are no practical opportunities for this yet, as Melnyk is unattainable. So far we cannot predict the date and place of the meeting” (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F. 1. - Case 11332. - Vol. 1. - P. 88).
In October 1947, a secret investigatory case was started on A. Melnyk, and on December 24, 1948, he was on the All-Union wanted list. As part of these large-scale measures, many operational and procedural activities were carried out, which included interrogations and questioning of those who knew him at different times, studying his relatives and close associates, photo identification procedures, instructing the existing and recruiting new agents for further infiltration into the environment of leading OUN figures, etc. All this was going on for many months.
As a result of these measures, materials were accumulated, in particular, about A. Melnyk’s frame of life. For example, the paper, prepared on the basis of “Chaban”’s report of December 26, 1950, reads: “A. Melnyk lives permanently in Munich, strictly concealing his whereabouts. He believes that Soviet agents are persecuting him and preparing the fate of Konovalets for him, so he accepts only a limited number of his relatives in his apartment. Fear of assassination has made him so careful that he does not touch any item that had not been examined by his wife or relatives”. (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F. 1. - Case 11332. - Vol. 5. – P. 24).
A. Melnyk foresaw that he could be spied on, and his correspondence was read. Therefore, sometimes in correspondence he used conditional phrases to hide from outsiders the true meaning. For example, in February 1957, in a letter to his friends in Romania, he wrote: “Lately, I have been able to continuously follow your scientific research, which was reported to me in detail by my devoted assistant Marko…
Working at my department of polytechnics requires a lot of effort from me. I persevere in my pursuit of the goal and strive to maintain a decent level to set an example for others. I try to keep in touch with other universities for the purpose of noble cooperation for the benefit of science, cooperation of professors and students.
My thoughts have repeatedly returned to the past, when we spent our energy in seminars or laboratories, discussing more than one issue with you. Lots of water has flowed into the Danube since then. Times have changed, and you, once students, assistants, and service staff, have become engineers, directors, associate professors, and some - professors. I am proud that you continue to follow the previously chosen path with me.
I ask you, my dear friends, to remember our “alma mater”. I wish you further success. Shaking your hands, Your Professor A. Moraru” (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F. 1. – Case 11332.– Vol. 5. - P. 40–41).
There is an explanation of this letter in the note from the archive case. It states that the signature “A. Moraru” is not accidental, because miller (that’s what the Ukrainian surname Melnyk means- transl.) in Romanian is morar, and the letter was received in Bucharest by the agent of the MGB “Bogdan”. The note further says that agent Bogdan “is used in the game with the “Provid” of Ukrainian nationalists”, and that the address on the envelope was written not by the author but by the agent's brother, who is one of the members of the PUN leadership.
So this is another proof that the conspiracy measures were not superfluous. The years spent underground taught A. Melnyk to be careful. At the same time, by nature he preferred to trust people and wanted to have them as friends rather than enemies. And this did great harm to the cause. Therefore, even in his immediate environment, like in the ones of Yevhen Konovalets, Stepan Bandera and other leading figures of the Ukrainian national liberation movement, there were NKVD-MGB-KGB agents, who received first-hand information about the activities of OUN centers abroad. This information was reported to the top party leadership of the USSR, which decided whom to liquidate, whom to destroy morally, whom to use for internal enmity, whom to compromise in the eyes of like-minded people or general public.
And this often worked, as it did in the case of Yevhen Konovalets, who was handed a box of sweets with explosives by Pavlo Sudoplatov, in the cases of Lev Rebet and Stepan Bandera, who were killed by MGB agent Bohdan Stashynsky. Or in the case of Yaroslav Stetsko, against whom the KGB conducted a special operation, which undermined his health and led to his untimely death.
Andriy Melnyk escaped the tragic fate. But danger was always near. Nevertheless, he did not stop his struggle and did not give up efforts to unite disparate political organizations abroad and restore Ukrainian independence. Eventually, the efforts of A. Melnyk and other figures succeeded in creating the World Congress of Free Ukrainians as a non-partisan institution that for a long time represented the interests of Ukrainians in the world. This long-held idea came true in 1967, a few years after the death of the longtime leader of the OUN.
The KGB under the Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR learned about Andriy Melnyk’s death from the report of the Svoboda radio station on November 1, 1964. The Chief of the republican KGB, Vitaliy Nikitchenko, was handed a printout from the report of the Munich correspondent of Svoboda, which stated: “Ukrainian political emigration has suffered a painful loss. On November 1, at the age of 74 in the German Federal Republic, Colonel Andriy Melnyk, the Head of the Provid of Ukrainian Nationalists, died. Andriy Melnyk took an active part in the 1917-1919 liberation movement of Ukraine as a Colonel of the Sich Riflemen and as the Chief of Staff of the Acting Army of the Ukrainian People's Republic. For his nationalist ideas, he spent time in prisons of Poland and in concentration camps of Hitler's Germany. One of the most prominent Ukrainian figures abroad, Colonel Andriy Melnyk invariably headed the Provid of Ukrainian Nationalists till the last day of his life. The funeral will take place next Saturday in Luxembourg, where Andriy Melnyk lived permanently”(BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F. 1. - Case 11332. - Vol. 3. - P. 225).
On the printout of this message, on top of the text about the day of burial, V. Nikitchenko made the following inscription in green ink, as he always did: “November 7, 1964. Probably this date was chosen purposefully for the anti-Soviet activity”. He meant November 7 - the day of the next anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution.
Even the dead Andriy Melnyk did not leave the KGB alone.
(In the photos: Andriy Melnyk with Stepan Bandera, Mykola Kapustyanskyi and other OUN activists during the laying of flowers at the place of Yevhen Konovalets' murder in Rotterdam and in the cemetery near the grave of the first OUN leader, 1958 - Photo from the BSA of the SZR of Ukraine).