In Memoriam: Petro Rozumny 17.03.1926 – 20.03.2013


The death has been announced of Petro Rozumny, teacher, former political prisoner and member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group  (all members of which were subjected to persecution by the Soviet regime).

Petro Rozumny was from a village in the Dnipropetrovsk oblast. His father died on the senseless construction of the Belomorkanal in 1933 after having been sentenced the previous year to 10 years hard labour for failing to fulfil the unrealistic grain quotas which led to Holodomor, the Famine of 1932 – 1933.

Petro Rozumny himself was sent by the Nazis for forced labour to Germany in 1942.  He was freed by US troops in April 1945 and for some time served in the Soviet Army.

After graduating from the Dnipropetrovsk Institute of Foreign Languages, Petro Rozumny worked as a teacher of English.  During those years he developed what was to become a life-long friendship with Yevhen Sverstyuk.

He was arrested early on as the result of a denunciation from one of his colleges, but on that occasion the KGB failed to find anything “anti-Soviet”. During the 1960s he actively distributed samizdat publications and took an open line on, for example, refusing to teach atheism.  This constantly got him into trouble as a teacher, but it was for family reasons that he eventually left teaching.

He was arrested again in 1969 though released shortly, and constantly harassed, interrogated etc by the KGB. He joined the Ukrainian Helsinki Group in 1978.

On 21 December 1979 he was sentenced  to 3 years general regime labour camp.  Rozumny denied having committed a crime, refused the services of a lawyer and expressed his lack of confidence in the judge.

On 11 March 1988, Rozumny was one of 19 members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, still at liberty, who signed “An Address from the UHG to the Ukrainian world community” about the revival of its activity. Rozumny was one of the founders and the chairperson of the Dnipropetrovsk branch of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union (UHU), and a member of its All-Ukrainian Coordination Council.

In independent Ukraine he was active in human rights protection work, and took an active part in implementing land reforms in the village, involving the privatization of land allotments.

Petro Rozumny died on 20 March 2013 in Ivano-Frankivsk  where he will be buried on 22 March. 

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