Isaaк Mazepa. At the Head of the Executive Committee of the Ukrainian National Rada
Isaak Mazepa was one of the central figures of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1921. At different times, he headed the Ministries of Interior and Land Affairs, was the Prime Minister of the Government of the Directory of the Ukrainian People's Republic. These milestones in Ukrainian history are described in detail by researchers and I. Mazepa himself, who published several books and historical essays on the creation of the Ukrainian state and his role in the Liberation movement. No less interesting is his participation in the creation and organization of the Ukrainian National Rada (Council- transl.) immediately after World War II, about which not much evidence has survived. It is declassified documents from the archives of the Intelligence that make it possible to fill this gap.
The case-form on I. Mazepa was opened by the First (Iintelligence) Directorate of the State Security Committee of the Ukrainian SSR in May 1948, when the creation of the Ukrainian National Rada was in full swing. Prior to that, he was virtually out of sight of Soviet secret services. After all, from 1920 he led a more or less quiet and steady life in exile. He was engaged in scientific and teaching activities, which he dreamed of since his youth, studying at the Chernihiv Theological Seminary and then at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of St. Petersburg University.
I. Mazepa first lived in Lviv, later - in Czechoslovakia, Austria, Germany. He was an Associate Professor at the Ukrainian Academy of Economics in Podebrady, a Professor at the Ukrainian Technical and Economic Institute (Germany). In 1931 he defended his doctoral dissertation at the Ukrainian Free University in Prague. Experts praised high his research in agrobotany and plant morphology.
At the same time, he paid great attention to writing journalistic and documentary works on the Ukrainian issue. His books “Bolshevism and the Occupation of Ukraine”, “Famine in Ukraine”, “Ukraine in the Fire and Storm of the Revolution” became famous abroad. During the Second World War he worked on the book “Foundations of Our Rebirth”.
One of the informant reports about him states: “This man is incredibly modest and hardworking, he has great stores of learning. His attitude to Bolshevism is openly negative and he says that Bolshevik figures in the Soviet Union misunderstand Marx and Engels. Mazepa had ties to the Czech Social Democratic Party and to similar parties in other European countries. While living in Prague, he was a member of the Republican Democratic Club and often lectured there…” (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F. 1. - Case 9780. – P. 31).
At the same time, I. Mazepa participated in the political life of the Ukrainian emigration. So it is not surprising that in 1944 he was mentioned by the leaders of the main Ukrainian political parties. There was a corresponding opportunity for this.
“At the end of November 1944”, reads another document, “Mazepa was summoned by Andriy Livytskyi to Berlin, where he took part in negotiations between Bandera, Melnyk, Livytskyi, Skoropadskyi, Symonenko, and other prominent Ukrainian nationalists on the creation of the so-called “Ukrainian National Rada”. Mazepa received an offer to become the head of the said committee, but he refused” (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F. 1. – Case 9780. – P. 144).
Before the approach of Soviet troops, I. Mazepa went first to Regensburg and then to Augsburg. He was well aware that he could be arrested by Soviet secret services, which would remind him of his participation in Petliura's government, his 1927’s speeches in Paris as a witness in the murder of Simon Petliura, and his accusing the Stalinist regime of falsifications during the court proceedings regarding the Union for Liberation of Ukraine – the case fabricated by the GPU of the Ukrainian SSR in the late 1920s.
After the war, the leaders of Ukrainian political parties returned to creating a single consolidated center that would unite all Ukrainian emigrants. The process, according to archival documents, was not easy. No one wanted to give up leadership, and each party leader tried to gain maximum powers and positions in the legislative and executive structures of the new entity.
In May 1948, Minister of State Security of the Ukrainian SSR, Lieutenant General Savchenko, in the document addressed to the Chief of the Counterintelligence Directorate of the Central Group of Forces of the USSR, stationed in Austria, Lieutenant General Belkin, wrote: “The MGB of the Ukrainian SSR has reliable information that lately foreign “political” groups of Ukrainian emigrants have intensified their activities to consolidate Ukrainian nationalist organizations of various currents in Europe and America and create a single military-political center of anti-Soviet struggle… However, all these projects of the new “government” of the UPR so far do not go beyond the considerations of the leaders of the UPR’s emigration” (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F. 1. - Case 9780. - P. 40–41).
Finally, on June 10, 1948, Ukrainian political parties and organizations in exile signed the Charter of the Ukrainian National Council (UNRada) as the Ukrainian Parliament to coordinate their work. UNRada became the political base of the State Center of the Ukrainian People's Republic in exile, headed by Andriy Livytskyi.
“The aim of the Ukrainian National Council”, reads the report entitled “The Origin and Character of the Ukrainian National Council”, which is preserved in the case, “is to revive an independent Ukrainian state led by a democratic regime with a just social and economic order. Although the Ukrainian National Rada has to work and fight in exile, it believes that its national-state demands will be supported by the vast majority of the Ukrainian people at home”(BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F. 1. - Case 9780. – P. 122).
Mykola Livytskyi, the son of the UPR President in exile Andriy Livytskyi, made this report at one of the meetings as the chief of the press and information department of the new government. Speaking about the UNRada, he pointed out that after the Second World War, the Ukrainian émigré government resumed its activities in West Germany on a new basis by reforming domestic legislation and creating a parliament of six Ukrainian political parties: the Ukrainian Socialist Party, the Ukrainian Revolutionary Democratic Party, the Ukrainian National Democratic Union, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (under the leadership of Colonel A. Melnyk) and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Revolutionaries (led by S. Bandera). Professor Borys Ivanytskyi was elected Chairman of the UNRada, and Isaak Mazepa was elected head of the government, which was renamed the UNRada’s Executive Committee.
The MGB documents also mention that I. Mazepa was at the same time the Minister of Foreign Affairs in that government or, as he himself signed, “the Commissioner for Foreign Affairs”.
As early as July 1948, the UNRada prepared and spread a Declaration protesting against the communist regime in Ukraine, stating that representatives of such a regime had no right to speak on behalf of the people: “The Ukrainian National Committee declares in this Declaration that the so-called government of the Ukrainian SSR, which leads the Ukrainian people with armed force and terror, is only a puppet of the government of the Russian Communists. That is why the Ukrainian people will not be able to express their desire on their own land until their interests are represented before the world by the national center of the Ukrainian Democratic Republic” (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F. 1. – Case 9780. – P. 48).
Two months later, in September 1948, I. Mazepa initiated and signed a Memorandum addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, which is one of the most valuable documents in the case and deserves special attention. This is a kind of appeal to the world democratic community to pay attention to the real state of affairs in Ukraine, where Ukrainians were oppressed by the Soviet regime and had been forced to fight for their independence for 30 years. This is a kind of protest against the fact that the delegation of the Ukrainian SSR to the UN spoke on behalf of the Ukrainian people.
In support of the protest, I. Mazepa mentioned a number of facts that had to prove to UN members, “what a great danger the Soviet regime poses to Ukraine and the democratic development of other Eastern European countries, as well as to peace in the whole world”. In particular, he mentioned the millions of Ukrainians who died as a result of the artificial famine organized by the Soviet power, the hundreds of thousands of the repressed, accused of anti-Soviet activities, imprisoned in prisons and camps, deported to Siberia.
In the final part of the Memorandum, I. Mazepa requested the UN Secretary General to put the situation in Ukraine and Eastern Europe on the agenda of the 3rd Session of the UN General Assembly. Another document mentions that at the second session of the UNRada in 1949 a Resolution was adopted on the need to include Ukraine in the future “United Europe”, and in this regard I. Mazepa signed a letter to the President of the European Council in Strasbourg.
The documents also tell about the participation of the Ukrainian delegation from the UNRada in the activities within the framework of the session of the European Council. In particular, members of the European Parliament and representatives of the press, a total of more than 400 people, were provided with a Memorandum from the Executive Committee of the UNRada and information materials about Ukraine and its liberation movement. Meetings were held with representatives from Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, as well as with the local Ukrainian community.
One of the informant reports, dated 1950, pointes out: “Mazepa is trying to get Ukraine into the “European Council”. Last summer, Mazepa had a meeting with Churchill. The latter was interested in the extent to which Ukrainians intended to organize their state and advised that the question of the western borders be resolved peacefully through negotiations with the Poles” (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F. 1. – Case 9780. - P. 74).
Negotiations with the then leader of the Conservative Party of Great Britain W. Churchill, who supported the idea of creating a Council of Europe, and other officials resulted in the prior consent of the British government to the UPR government’s moving from West Germany to England.
There is a mention in the case that I. Mazepa suggested to the Bishop of the Ukrainian Uniate Church Ivan Buchko to convene a conference of the Orthodox and Catholic clergy in order to stop the struggle between the Orthodox and Catholic Ukrainian churches. On behalf of the UPR Government, he sent a note to the Vatican stating that after the liberation of Ukraine from the Bolsheviks, the Greek Catholic Church would enjoy equal rights with the Orthodox Church and that the UPR Government was ready to sign a treaty with the Vatican.
Such activities of I. Mazepa were closely monitored by the MGB of the USSR. According to archival documents, one of the members of the UNRada Executive Committee was a Soviet agent under the pseudonym “Holubenko”. He knew about all matters, had a close personal contact with I. Mazepa, reported everything to his curators and received from them the task to promote a split in the ranks of newly created emigrant structures.
But then, the leaders of Ukrainian political parties themselves led to political disagreements and a split because of differences of opinion, vision of their place and role in the liberation movement, and their importance in the eyes of representatives of other states who tried to provide support. Contradictions deepened and escalated into a political crisis in September 1951, as a result of which I. Mazepa voluntarily resigned, as he did in 1920. He did not want to take part in the struggle for power under such conditions as a man who was far from the methods of under-the-rug tussling. He also had health issues.
In the newly formed emigration government, I. Mazepa agreed to remain a member of the UNRada Executive Committee and to contribute to the common cause. But fate gave him little time for this. In April 1952, one of the units of the MGB at the Central Group of Forces of the USSR in Austria, sent the following message addressed to the Chief of the Intelligence of the MGB of the Ukrainian SSR: “The Ukrainian nationalist press abroad has published extensive reports on the death on March 18, 1952, in Augsburg, West Germany, of the former “Prime Minister” and “Minister” of Internal Affairs of the “Ukrainian People's Republic” and Chairman of the “Executive body” of the UNRada —Isaak Mazepa.
Mazepa’s funeral ceremony, which took place on March 21 this year, in Augsburg, was attended by “President” of the UPR Andriy Livytskyi, Acting Chairman of the UNRada known to you Ivan Bagryanyi, member of the “Executive Body” of the UNRada Svyryd Dovhal and other lifetime nationalists” (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F. 1. – Case 9780. - P. 159).
His fellow party member and longtime comrade-in-arms and colleague in the national liberation movement, Panas Fedenko, aptly wrote about Isaak Mazepa's human character features: “He did not seek fame or wealth, he avoided being written about by the press on his birthday, he did not even want to give his photos to the press. His moral purity and modesty, his asceticism in private life will remain in the memory of all those who knew I. Mazepa. He never complained about difficult circumstances, proudly and independently enduring all adversities and blows, which a severe fate did not spare for him”.