war crimes in Ukraine

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Oles Bernik has died

Oles (Oleksandr) Berdnik was born on 25 December 1922 in the village of Vavilovo, the Snegurskiy district of the Kherson oblast.

Berdnik was a participant of the WW2, demobilized in 1946. Finished externally seven grades of secondary school; in 1946-49 attended the drama studio at the I. Franko theatre (Kyiv).

In 1949 Berdnik delivered a speech at the open party meeting of the I. Franko theatre, where he worked then (it was during the campaign of fighting with cosmopolitism). O. Berdnik was indignant that the actors of the theatre denounced their recent friends and colleagues; he also expressed his shock that classic plays were changed by the order from the top. He was arrested and accused of „high treason“ in 1950 he was condemned by Article 54-10 of the CC of the Ukrainian SSR to 10 years of incarceration. He served his sentence in concentration camps in the north of the USSR and in Kazakhstan. In 1955 Berdnik was pardoned. He returned to Ukraine, started to write books, in 1957 he became a member of the Union of Writers of Ukraine.

O. Berdnik became a popular Ukrainian writer of science fiction: up to 1972 about a score of his science fictions novels and tales came out of press. His articles and lectures on futurology were also very popular.

In April 1972 the KGB searched the flat of R. and M. Rudenko, where Berdnik lived. The KGB officers found and confiscated the work of I. Dziuba „Internatsionalizm ili rusifikatsiya?“ and two typewriters. On 28 April Berdnik went on a hunger-strike demanding to return the confiscated property. The hunger-strike lasted 16 days. He managed to meet P. Shelest, the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, who brought his apologies, but declared that „the party bodies may not interfere in the activities of the KGB“. On 14 May Berdnik got back his typewriters, but his lectures were prohibited and his books stopped to be printed. Since 1974 Berdnik tried to get a permission to leave the USSR.

On 13 August 1976 order No. 31 of the Main Directorate on protecting state secrets of the Council of Ministers of the USSR was issued. The order was classified as „secret“. It read: „To withdraw from the libraries of common and special use and the book-trade network of the USSR the books of Oleksandr Pavlovich Berdnik (Oles Berdnik)“. In the same period Berdnik was driven from the Union of Writers of Ukraine. He found a job of a decorator of stained-glass windows in the union „Khudozhnik“ („Artist“).

In the autumn of 1976 Berdnik began consultations with M. Rudenko, O. Meshko and L. Lukyanenko on creating the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, and on 9 November 1976 he became its founder-member, having signed Memorandum No. 1 „Influence of the European Convention on the development of legal outlook in Ukraine“. The authors of this document justified the appearance of the human rights protection movement and made public a list of Ukrainian prisoners of consciousness.

From the end of 1976 and to his arrest in March 1979 Berdnik took part in the creation and signing of scores of letters and memoranda in protection of the arrested and condemned fighters for human rights. More than once the KGB searched Berdnik’s flat, confiscated books, verses, manuscripts and typewriters. In the end of August members of the UHG and Moscow Helsinki group, including Berdnik, published document No. 2 „To the heads of governments of countries- members of the Council of Europe. New repressions and new stage of human rights protection movement in the USSR“ with a demand to release all arrested members of Helsinki groups.

On 9 May 1978 Berdnik wrote a public letter to the UNO Committee on protecting human rights and freedoms, to Amnesty International, and to L. Brezhnev; besides, he went on a hunger-strike demanding to release the war invalid M. Rudenko.

On 6 March 1979 Berdnik was arrested being accused of „anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda“. From the very moment of the arrest Berdnik went on a hunger strike. His relatives learned about his arrest only in a fortnight.

The trial of the Kyiv oblast court lasted from 17 to 21 December 1979 at the assize in the town of Kagarlyk. According to Article 62 Part 2 of the CC of the UkrSSR and Article 70 Part 2 of the CC of the Russian Federation, Berdnik was condemned to 6 years of incarceration in the special regime colony and 3 years of exile. He was regarded as an especially dangerous recidivist.

From 16 May 1980 he was kept in the special regime colony BC-389/36-1 in the settlement of Kuchino in the Chusovskoy district of the Perm oblast.

On 14 March 1984 Berdnik was pardoned by the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the UkrSSR.

In 1987 O. Berdnik founded the public organization „The noospheric front „Zviozdny kliuch““, the goal of which was announced as „the preservation of spiritual values of peoples and tribes accumulated during centuries of hard cosmic history, which are lost without trace and devaluated in the whirligig of pseudo-civilization“.

On 16 December 1989 Oles Berdnik was elected a head of the humanistic union „Ukrainian Spiritual Republic“ he published the newspapers „Sviata Ukraina“ and „Zgoda“.

After the release O. Berdnik published 15 books.
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