Oleksandr Shulhyn. Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Ukrainian People's Republic and the “Diplomat” Target of Recruitment Cultivation by GPU-NKVD


The Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine publishes declassified archive materials about the first Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Ukrainian People's Republic Oleksandr Shulhyn, which are still unknown to scientists, researchers and the general public. He was one of those who, since the declaration of the Ukrainian People's Republic and throughout the interwar years, had done more than anybody else for recognition of Ukraine as an independent state, shaping Ukrainian foreign policy, defending Ukrainian interests in the world and developing international cooperation. His active activities were closely monitored by the GPU-NKVD of the USSR who intended to recruit him.

O. Shulhyn's name is mentioned in many archival files of the Intelligence for 1930-1940, which relate to the activities of Ukrainian emigrees. At the same time, in the funds there is a separate case-form entitled “Diplomat”. This is how the NKVD of the USSR marked one of the leaders of the Ukrainian emigration, who created many problems for Soviet secret services. The case was opened by the NKVD Central Office in Moscow, not in Kyiv, and this fact testifies to the importance of O. Shulhyn's personality in the Ukrainian emigrant community.

According to the cover of the case, the file was opened on March 14, 1938. On that day, the corresponding decision was made by the operative officer of group “A” of the 7th Department of the State Security of the NKVD Directorate for Moscow region Senior Lieutenant Strashko. The consent to filing the case-form was given by the chief of Group “A” Senior Lieutenant Sudoplatov. His name is not mentioned in the document, but the signature known from other materials is recognized at once. The same Pavlo Sudoplatov, who 40 days later killed OUN leader Yevhen Konovalets in Rotterdam and who at the time was conducting operational cases against prominent figures of the Ukrainian national liberation movement, such as Yevhen Lyakhovych and others.

The resolution to open the case states: “Shulhyn is an active member of the Ukrainian nationalist counter-revolutionary organization. He heads the “Ministry of Foreign Affairs” of the so-called “U.P.R. (Ukrainian People's Republic)government” (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F.1. -Case. 6687. - Vol.1. – P. 1). In this and other documents, the Chekists persistently took the name of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in quotation marks, thus trying to downplay its and the emigration government of the Ukrainian People's Republic’s role. In reality the Ministry was playing an important role in the life of the Ukrainian emigration community exactly thanks to its long-term leader O. Shulhyn.

This is how his active political and public activity is reflected in the paper from the case file, dated September 1948. It reads: “Since fleeing to France after the defeat of Petliura, he has been active in anti-Soviet work as one of the leaders of the Ukrainian nationalist organization in Europe. Has contacts in reactionary government circles in many countries…

In 1931, in Prague, he negotiated with the Japanese Ambassador to establish a Ukrainian buffer state in the Far East and offered his cooperation in the form of nationalist military formations to capture the Green Wedge in the Amur region.

As the official representative of the Ukrainian People's Republic at the Secretariat of the League of Nations, Shulhyn in 1933-34 spoke with memoranda and appeals against the USSR’s becoming a member of the League of Nations.

During the Paris Peace Conference, he was one of the initiators of handing the Foreign Ministers of the United States, Britain and France a sharp anti-Soviet memorandum…

Was at a reception by General de Gaulle on the attitude of Ukrainian emigrants to Moscow…

In March 1948, at a secret meeting of Ukrainian nationalists in France, Shulhyn made a report on the Americans’ plans: to create after the successful war with the USSR a “Southeastern Federation” of Ukraine, the Caucasus, Kuban, part of the Balkan states with Ukraine’s leading role in it. (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F.1. - Case. 6687. - V.1. - P. 255–257).

This information makes it possible to understand why O. Shulhyn posed such a danger to the Soviet authorities. But this information would still be incomplete without at least a fragmentary reflection of the life of the Ukrainian diplomat on the basis of domestic and foreign scientific sources, as there is not much biographical information about him.

Shulhyn Oleksandr Yakovych was born on July 30, 1889 in the village of Sofino, Khorol district, Poltava province, into a family of intellectuals with a national and patriotic stance. His mother, a teacher by education, taught Ukrainian. His father was a historian. For participation in the Ukrainian movement he was exiled to Krasnoyarsk for 4 years. Oleksandr studied at St. Petersburg University - first at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, and then at the Faculty of History and Philology. After graduation he taught.

At the end of March 1917, 28-year-old O. Shulhyn returned to Kyiv and was soon elected to the Ukrainian Central Rada. He later became Secretary General of International Affairs, then Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Ukrainian People's Republic. He was a member of the Ukrainian delegation at the Brest- Litovsk negotiations on signing the peace treaty. During the Hetmanate, he served as Ambassador of the Ukrainian State to Bulgaria. In 1919–1921 he repeatedly represented the UPR in the international arena: he was a member of the delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, head of the delegation to the 1st Assembly of the League of Nations in Geneva, head of the Ukrainian diplomatic mission in Paris.

In exile, he was engaged in teaching and research activities as a Professor at the Ukrainian Free University and the M. Drahomanov Ukrainian Higher Pedagogical Institute in Prague. In 1926 he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Ukrainian People's Republic in exile and directed its foreign policy in 1926–1936, 1939–1940 (at the same time heading the exile government of the Ukrainian People's Republic) and in 1945–1946. From 1927 he lived in Paris. At different times he was Head of the Main Emigration Council, co-editor of the “Tryzub” (Trident-transl.) weekly, founder and longtime Chairman of the Ukrainian Academic Society in Paris (1946-1960), co-founder and Vice President of the International Free Academy of Sciences in Paris (1952-1960).

This information was partly known to the GPU-NKVD, but the Chekists were more interested in O. Shulhyn's plans and his participation in specific anti-Soviet measures, as the documents constantly state. For his part, the Ukrainian diplomat cared not so much about how to annoy the Soviet government, as about the national interests and future of Ukraine. In particular, he paid great attention to the unification of various emigrant organizations, movements, circles, and currents.

O. Shulhyn’s activity at the head of the Main Emigration Council was of great importance for uniting Ukrainian emigrees around the State Center of the Ukrainian People's Republic in exile. Founded in 1929 at the First Emigration Conference in Prague, this organization had constantly held various events in a number of countries. Each time O. Shulhyn personally visited them. For example, one of the documents tells about his arrival in Bulgaria at the ceremony of unveiling in Sofia a monument to Ukrainian historian, philosopher, publicist, literary critic, public and cultural figure Mykhailo Drahomanov and his speech on October 30, 1932 at the Academy of Sciences.

The paper also mentions the political meetings he held: in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, in the Polish, Romanian and Czech Embassies, in the Ukrainian-Bulgarian, Polish-Bulgarian and Czech-Bulgarian societies. During those meetings, the Ukrainian issue was raised and the situation of Ukrainians abroad was discussed. The issue of establishing a branch of the Main Emigration Council in Bulgaria was also discussed.

“After the completion of such an org. work in all states – reads a document of the OGPU of the USSR dated November 10, 1932 and entitled “Ukrainians in Bulgaria”, - “The UPR Center” (Livytskyi, Prokopovych, Shulhyn, Smal-Stotskyi, Salskyi, Tokarzhevskyi) will have to create a General Emigrant Ukrainian Congress in Prague. Thus, it will be done so that “all” the emigrees at the Congress of the Ukrainian People's Republic in the Czech Republic should recognize them (the Ukrainian People's Republic) as the only representatives of Ukraine and Ukrainian people "(BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F.1. - Case 6687. - Vol. 1. – P. 20).

This and other documents show that O. Shulhyn in all periods and in all positions persistently fought for unity in the ranks of Ukrainian emigration. He did a lot as the head of the Ukrainian delegation at the First Assembly of the League of Nations, and later - as an authorized representative of the Ukrainian Society of Supporters of the League of Nations. For almost twenty years, he represented Ukraine in various organizations of this most authoritative international body, using its numerous rostrums to discuss the Ukrainian issue, to protect the national rights of Ukrainians divided and oppressed by different states.

In the 1930s, Shulhyn's main field of international activity was the Forum of the International Union for the League of Nations. And in 1933 - 1938 he was the permanent Head of the Union. Taking advantage of this, he kept drawing attention to the Ukrainian issue at international forums.

The case contains the text of O. Shulhyn's speech at a meeting of one of the sub-commissions of the League of Nations for Protection of the Rights of Poland’s Ukrainians, who suffered certain oppression of their rights, which led to resistance. Despite the political and financial cooperation of the UPR government in exile with the Poles, he expressed his negative attitude to the Polish state policy. This speech was included in the Communiqué of the Ukrainian Society of Supporters of the League of Nations, typed and dated November 15, 1931. It contains O. Shulhyn's speech, quite well-argued, balanced, correct and at the same time demanding, responsible and offensive. It contains the following words:

“Even when it is established that certain elements among minorities are not loyal, this does not relieve the government of the obligation to take care of all subjects, and therefore those who belong to minorities”.

The situation in Galicia is so complicated, the psychology of the people is so specific, that I did hesitate before speaking on this cause in Danzig and then in Brussels. Now more than ever, I want to hand over this case in the Union to qualified representatives of Galicia, the Ukrainian Ambassadors to the Polish Sejm. I personally and our Society for the League of Nations already have a very difficult duty and a great responsibility to represent Greater Ukraine. But we take on this responsibility. We take it on in the first place because we originate from there, we are well aware of the circumstances there, we held high state positions there and did not renounce them when we were leaving our native lands. But we take on this difficult responsibility, mainly because today in the so-called secular Ukraine there is not a single person freely elected by the people, everything is politically suppressed there. Someone has to speak, to defend the great Ukrainian people. We fulfill this duty, we have an obligation before our people to do it”. (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F.1. - Case. 6687. - V.1. - P. 51).

In contrast to this speech, O. Shulhyn's appeals to the League of Nations about the situation of Ukrainians in the USSR were much sharper and more uncompromising. In 1933−1938, he repeatedly spoke against Bolshevik terror in the USSR, forced labor, the famine artificially created by the Soviet authorities, and so on. One of the documents contains his open letter, published in the press, entitled “The USSR Must Not Sit in the League of Nations”. It points out:

"We, Ukrainians, cannot be indifferent to the USSR’s accede to the League of Nations. Our State Center instructed me to file a protest on its behalf. But our entire society, not only emigrants, but also representatives of Galicia and Volhynia, Bukovina and Subcarpathia, as well as citizens of Canada or the United States, should send appropriate protests to the Secretary General of the League of Nations.

We do not want to silently let Moscow, which keeps Ukraine under heavy occupation, join the League of Nations and thus to sanction the crime committed against us”. (BSA SZR of Ukraine. - F.1. - File 6687. - Vol.1 – P. 52).

According to archival documents, O. Shulhyn used every pretext to draw the attention of the international community to the Ukrainian issue. There is a mention of his speaking in August 1931 in Paris at the Congress of Anthropologists “in defense of the Ukrainian cause”, in July 1932 - at the Sorbonne with a report on “Forced Labor in the USSR”, in August 1931 he submitted a note of protest to the President of the European Commission “On the Economic Non-aggression Pact Between the USSR and France”. Due to such persistence, some success was achieved, in particular, the International Committee for Assistance to Ukraine was established in France.

O. Shulhyn's life and activity during the Second World War are practically not reflected in the case materials. There is only fragmentary information that he and his son Rostyslav were arrested by the Nazis immediately after the occupation of France. Researchers point out that this happened due to the open position of the Professor, who did not hide his sympathy for the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition. As a result, the father and son had to spend almost 7 months (from September 1940 to April 1941) in prison.

After the Second World War, O. Shulhyn was again appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Ukrainian People's Republic in exile. He worked in this position until 1946, after which he continued to work in public, international organizations and scientific institutions. At the same time, he remained just as active and principled in everything that concerned the Ukrainian cause.

For example, in the archives there is a document dated January 8, 1947 entitled “On Handing the ABP (Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Peoples - note) Memorandum to the Foreign Ministers of the United States, Britain and France”. It states that before the convening of the Paris Peace Conference, O. Shulhyn organized an action “to present a memorandum of sharp anti-Soviet content”. “Speaking about the impression made on these Ministers by the ABP Memorandum”, reads the document, “President of the ABP Stetsko stated: “The three Ministers especially liked the points where the question of the USSR is acute (expulsion of the Soviet delegation, bringing the Soviet delegation to trial, etc.)” (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F.1. – Case 6687. - V.1. - P. 225).

O. Shulhyn tried to meet with the leaders of states and international organizations, because he understood that it was on them that important decision making depended. For example, the documents of the OGPU of the USSR, dating back to the 1930s, mention his plans to meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy and the Pope, with the Japanese Ambassador in Prague, with the leadership of Finland and other figures. A document dated November 14, 1947, mentions his meeting with President of France Charles de Gaulle: “General de Gaulle also learnt about the activities of the UPR “government”, received Alexander Shulhyn, the “government”'s “foreign minister”, and was interested in the history of the Ukrainian issue, the attitude of Ukrainian emigrees to Moscow and the position taken by Ukrainian emigrants in case of a new war with the USSR” (BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F.1. – Case 6687. - V. 1. – P. 234).

Such activities of Oleksandr Shulhyn caused great concern to the GPU-NKVD of the USSR. His travels, contacts, speeches were closely monitored, he was documented for many years, information about him and his family was collected. Here are some quotes from documents that testify to this: “To orient the Paris residency on Shulhyn”; “Professor Oleksandr Shulhyn is undoubtedly one of the brightest figures…, a rather dexterous diplomat and intriguer, intelligent and wise…, not easily influenced”; “He should be isolated or removed…”.

In order to stop O. Shulhyn’s active work, various options were considered. A recruitment for one. At this, they chose a material basis for involvement in cooperation, understanding that his ideological beliefs would not be changed under any circumstances.

“Our approach to the recruitment is as follows”, reads a signed by Pavel Sudoplatov paper of April 4, 1938,. “Shulhyn does not have enough money. The Poles have stopped giving him a monthly subsidy. He lives at the expense of his wife (doctor). Only money can be the basis for recruitment ”(BSA of the SZR of Ukraine. - F.1. – Case 6687. - V. 1. – P. 219).

They were going to recruit him through his close friend, a Ukrainian emigrant who lived in Paris, selling books and being also in need. The NKVD officers learned that he had relatives in the USSR, corresponded with them, valued family relations very much, and that was what they were going to play on. And after that, to make an effort to approach O. Shulhyn through him, learn more about him and also try to involve him in cooperation. But, according to the case file, the plan did not work.

In the following years, the materials continued to accumulate in the case-form. In 1942, it was sent to the archive with the wording "for the impossibility of further recruitment cultivation”. But in October 1945, the case was taken back from the archives and collecting information on O. Shulhyn and his son Rostislav (who lived in Switzerland and cooperated with the International Committee of the Red Cross) continued. The documents of the post-war period mostly reflect O. Shulhyn's participation in the work of the Ukrainian Academic Society, of which he was the founder and permanent chairman, of the International Free Academy of Sciences in Paris, which united more than 300 exiled scientists, of the Promethean movement of the peoples of Russia enslaved by the Bolsheviks, of the French section of the International Refugee Organization, where he was a technical advisor on Ukrainian issues and provided material support to Ukrainian students in France, thus continuing to serve Ukraine and its nation.

Moscow monitored this activity until July 1959. After that, the KGB Board under the USSR Council of Ministers, noting that “the case materials are of operational interest and need further development”, decided to transfer the “Diplomat” case-form for further development to the First KGB Department under the USSR Council of Ministers. This is the last document in the case, which was later finally handed over to the archives, as the defendant in the case died on March 4, 1960.

During the Soviet period, Oleksandr Shulhyn and his work were taboo, and if he was mentioned, it was exclusively in a negative light as a Ukrainian bourgeois nationalist. And only in independent Ukraine, one of the most active creators of the sovereign Ukrainian People's Republic and revival of the modern Ukrainian statehood, a prominent Ukrainian diplomat, historian, public and political figure was given all respect.