The Head of the Provid of Ukrainian Nationalists, the Very Idea to Discredit Whom Was Dismissed by the KGB


Denys Kvitkovskyi was the last but one Head of the Provid (Leadership- transl.) of Ukrainian Nationalists (1977–1979). He entered the national history as a leader who directed all his experience as a lawyer, publicist, publisher, historian, public and political figure to unite Ukrainians of the world around the idea of restoring the statehood of Ukraine. His active work in exile was closely monitored by the KGB, as shown by the documents in the Branch State Archives of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine. Declassified documents make it possible to better understand and get to know this extraordinary personality.

Kvitkovskyi Denys Vasylyovych was born on May 22, 1909 in Bukovyna, in the village of Horishni Sherivtsi (formerly Austria-Hungary, now - a village in Zastavna district of Chernivtsi region) in the large family of an Orthodox deacon. He studied at school in Sadhora (now part of the city of Chernivtsi), and then at the Ukrainian gymnasium (grammar school- transl.) in Chernivtsi. In 1929–1932 he studied at the Faculty of Law of Chernivtsi University, in 1936 he defended his doctoral dissertation and became the owner of a law firm.

At that time, those lands, inhabited mainly by Ukrainians, were part of Romania. And this left an imprint on the peculiarities of the lives and activities of those who were brought up in Ukrainian traditions from an early age. Denys Kvitkovskyi was one of those.

Since his student days he was deeply interested in the history of Ukraine, was the leader of many circles and societies of cultural and national orientation, an active member of the regional executive of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, where he specialized in ideological and propaganda work and was responsible for publishing. Public work, editing and publication of the weekly “Samostiynist”(“Independence”), for which he did not receive a penny, were taking all his time. The magazine survived only thanks to the subscription and the press fund. Romanian police suspected that the funding was coming from abroad. But the magazine was closed for a different reason - for promoting the Ukrainian idea in Bukovyna. The editor himself was soon imprisoned for his pro-Ukrainian political activity.

The reason for the arrest was Kvitkovskyi's participation with like-minded people in the the Kobzar Society's annual celebration of the Shevchenko holiday in March 1937. He served his sentence in a remote Romanian prison with harsh conditions in Doftan. According to the archive case, after his release in 1938, he was drafted into the Romanian army, where he served for more than a year.

Soon, in June 1940, Bessarabia and Northern Bukovyna became part of the USSR. Knowing the Soviet government's attitude to supporters of a free Ukraine, Denys Kvitkovskyi emigrated to Germany with his wife Maria and young son Ostap.

This and other information about him already then began to accumulate in the NKVD's cases. In 1944, after the liberation of Bukovyna by the Soviet Army from Hitler's occupation, those papers were found, and they became the reason for further cultivation of Kvitkovskyi. December 4, 1944, KGB Major Amirkhanov issued a resolution to open a case called “Filin”(”Eagle Owl”). The text of the resolution reads:

”I have found out that Kvyatkovskyi (that's how his surname is spelt in the case- through “ya”) is an active member of the OUN, collaborated in the nationalist newspapers “Samostiynist”, “Samostiyna Dumka” and many foreign ones.

I have decided to open a case-form and registrated it with the mark “Ukrainian nationalists” (BSA of SZR of Ukraine. - F.1. -Case 10221. - Vol. 1. – P. 1).

Since then, the case began to be filled with new information, which mostly confirms the well-known biography of D. Kvitkovskyi. At the same time, there are new details that shed light on the hitherto unknown pages of his biography.

With Northern Bukovyna's reunification with the Ukrainian SSR, he fled to the territory of Romania, where together with Orest Zybachynskyi he created the so-called foreign “provid” (“leadership”) of the OUN of Bukovyna, and later of Romania.

As a member of this “provid”, Kvyatkovskyi did a great job of organizing it, as well as maintaining personal ties (by visiting Berlin) with members of the Central “provid” of the OUN (Melnyk faction), he was considered one of the ideologues of the Ukrainian nationalist movement in Bukovyna.

In 1941, Kvyatkovskyi was in Berlin, where he edited the OUN (Melnyk faction) newspaper “Ukrainskyi Holos”.

During the Patriotic War, he left for the territory of the German-occupied Ukraine and, according to investigators and other materials, in 1943 was conducting active nationalist propaganda in Stanislav.

In April 1944, Kvyatkovskyi was arrested by German authorities for alleged anti-Hitler activities and held in a Berlin prison until November of that year. After his release from prison, according to unverified information, he lived and engaged in nationalist activities in Romania.

In late 1946, after the arrest in Romania by the Soviet authorities of a group of active members of the OUN-Melnykivtsi, Denys Kvyatkovskyi fled to the West to the Anglo-American control zones ”(BSA of SZR of Ukraine. - F.1. - File 10221. - Vol. 1. - PP. 65–66).

Other sources make it clear that Kvitkovskyi from the very start emigrated to Germany, not Romania, worked as a lecturer at the Munich School of Economics, and was also Secretary General of the Ukrainian National Allience in Berlin. From August 1941 to the summer of 1943 he was co-editor of its platform, “Ukrainskyi Visnyk”. In 1943, he arrived in Lviv in the OUN affairs, where he was arrested by the Gestapo for activities contradicting the policy of the Third Reich, thrown into prison in Lontskyi Street, and later was transported to a prison in Potsdam near Berlin. He stayed there until October 1944, after which he moved first to Vienna, and soon to Munich.

The information in the case is somewhat different from the official biography. This can only indicate that it was documented from the words of strangers, acquaintances and relatives of Kvitkovskyi, who may not have known everything or did not want to tell everything to the KGB.

After the Second World War, Denys Kvitkovskyi lived in the FRG for several years, engaged in creating a trade union of Ukrainian journalists in exile, and led the press and propaganda department of the Provid of Ukrainian Nationalists. In 1949, he and his family moved to the United States, to Detroit, where he lived until the end of his days.

After Kvitkovskyi had left for the USA, the Soviet state security agencies lost interest in him for a while. At least this is evidenced by the decision to submit the case to the archive signed by the Chief of the KGB under the Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR Vitaliy Nikitchenko, dated December 4, 1954. Coincidentally, the case was investigated for exactly ten years sharp. But that was not the end.

In early 1969, the KGB's intelligence unit under the Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR reported: “At the jubilee Congress of the ODVU(Organization for the Rebirth of Ukraine), which took place in the United States in late 1968 and was dedicated to the fortieth anniversary of the organization, new governing bodies were elected. Kvitkovskyi Denys Vasylyovych, a career Ukrainian nationalist (hereinafter referred to as “Filin”), was elected head of the organization's tribunal.

Lately, Filin has significantly intensified his nationalist activity, often publishes various anti-Soviet articles in the Ukrainian nationalist press, and in May 1968, with other Ukrainian nationalists, he traveled to Tehran, where an international human rights conference was held, to use that international forum for anti-Soviet purposes”(BSA of SZR of Ukraine. - F.1. – Case- 10221. - Vol. 1. – P. 88).

ODVU is the Organization of State Liberation of Ukraine, and SKVU is the World Congress of Free Ukrainians. It was the idea of ​​state liberation of Ukraine, in other words, the restoration of its statehood and independence, that from then until the last days of his life was the cornerstone of Denys Kvitkovskyi's activity. He stated this directly and openly in his articles, interviews, in many forums and meetings. Simultaneously, clippings of these articles from the foreign press, printouts of radio broadcasts with numerous notes in the margins, and texts of speeches kept being added to the case and causing great concern among the KGB and Soviet party bodies.

Here are just a few quotes from those materials that are quite eloquent.

From a report on the “Filin” case dated October 21, 1976: “In 1968, as a representative of the ODVU and the Society of American Journalists, was present at the International Congress on Human Rights in Tehran. After the Congress he delivered a report in Toronto and Ottawa (Canada). In his reports, he stressed that for the success of the “struggle” of nationalists it is necessary to make the problem of Ukraine a world problem, in connection with which “actions of consolidated forces of all Ukrainians in the free world” are needed (BSA of SZR of Ukraine. - F.1. – Case 10221. - V. 1. - P. 111).

From an interview with the newspaper "Ukrainske Slovo", Issue 1888, February 5, 1978: “Our policy is a liberation policy. It is based on the principle proclaimed in 1900 by Mykola Mikhnovskyi in his brochure “Independent Ukraine”: “As long as a foreigner dominates at least one piece of Ukrainian territory, all generations of Ukrainians will go to war”.

”In this struggle for the statehood, the nation as a cultural, historical and political value is and must be the basis of our thinking and interest. Until we secure for the Ukrainian nation the indisputable right to exist, we will not have fulfilled our historical task… Our only political concept now is an independent, sovereign state of the Ukrainian people. All other political concepts are a dangerous, irresponsible game with the fate of a great nation”. (BSA of SZR of Ukraine. - F.1. – Case 10221. - Vol. 1. – PP. 144–146).

Denys Kvitkovskyi gave this interview as the Head of the Provid of Ukrainian Nationalists. Prior to that, he had been Vice-President of the Organization for the Rebirth of Ukraine from 1972 to 1974, and its President from 1974 to 1976. At the same time, in 1974–1977, he was the first Deputy Head of the Provid of Ukrainian Nationalists and led the “Samostiyna Ukraina” (”Independent Ukraine”) organization, and in 1976–1979 he was publishing its printed edition in Chicago. And all this despite the fact that he managed to confirm his degree of Doctor of Law and opened his Lawyer Office.

Since November 1977, when he became the Acting Head of the Provid of Ukrainian Nationalists, his operational cultivation by the KGB had intensified. In early 1978, the First Main Directorate of the KGB of the Ukrainian SSR (Foreign Intelligence) sent its resident's in France telegram in code to the Chief of the KGB of the USSR, Vitaly Fedorchuk. It focuses on the program statement of the new Head of the Provid of Ukrainian Nationalists for the correspondents of Ukrainian emigration press. In particular, Kvitkovskyi advocates “an organic combination of the liberation struggle of nationalists abroad with processes in Ukraine”, he believes that “the struggle for liberalization and democratization of the regime in the Soviet Union does not meet the ultimate goals of the OUN, which are to dismember the USSR and to make Ukraine an independent state”, and also intends to consolidate all foreign Ukrainian organizations into an association (BSA of SZR of Ukraine. - F.1. - Case 10221. - Vol. 1. – Pages 165–166).

On this telegram in code there is V. Fedorchuk' s resolution addressed to the chiefs of intelligence units and the 5th (so-called Ideological) Directorate: “The report should provide for the intensification of our measures against the OUN”. According to the case file, measures to discredit Denys Kvitkovskyi in Ukraine through the media were prepared to comply with these instructions. But no matter how hard the KGB tried, they couldn't find any compromising material. All available materials were unconvincing. Therefore, this idea was dismissed.

This is not surprising, because throughout his life Denys Kvitkovskyi professed universal values, always did as his conscience told him, had no enemies, had spotless reputation, was an ideological and idea-driven fighter in the widest sense of the word. In this regard, in one of his most famous books - a collection of journalism “Struggle for the Ukrainian Idea”, son Ostap wrote about his father: “He had no fear and was not afraid of the most difficult tasks. He believed that no physical force could withstand the force of an idea. He was an adherent and an advocate  of such an idea… He knew, and we must know, that Moscow does not believe tears, and that the world throws the weak fainthearted into the dustbin of history”.

This is what the successor to the post of Head of the Provid of Ukrainian Nationalists Mykola Plavyuk said at Denys Kvitkovskyi's funeral said about him: “He was a great Ukrainian patriot who was proud of his Bukovynian origin, but always had his eyes on Kyiv, a symbol of our statehood and national unity” (”Samostiyna Ukraina”, March-April 1979, parts 3–4 (356–357).

Denys Kvitkovskyi died on March 15, 1979 in Detroit, Michigan, in his office, working on events to mark the half-century anniversary of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. He was buried March 24 in the Ukrainian cemetery of St. Andrew in Bound Brook near New York, New Jersey.

The memory of him lives in the books he wrote, in the name of the street in Chernivtsi, in his ideas and aspirations, which came true in the recent history of Ukraine, in thoughts and appeals that still remain prophetic and relevant today. Thus, back in 1969, he wrote: “We and only we can offer the world our authentic, true, not fabricated certificate of our birth as a nation and prove our existence as the grown, capable of independent life, national community. This is a difficult, long, and apparently bloody struggle. But we can't do without it”.

(Photo of Denys Kvitkovskyi from the Central State Archival Ukrainica Abroad).