war crimes in Ukraine

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More information from SBU archives

The SBU have published details about special units of the Soviet security and enforcement bodies which pretended to be resistance fighters, as well as information about the extra-judicial bodies used to pass sentence during the Terror

At a press conference on Friday 30 November the Ukrainian Security Service [SBU] produced archival documents from the Soviet security service confirming the use by the NKVD and MGB [as it was later called, before becoming the KGB] of so-called special fighting units. These were active at the end of the 1940s and beginning of the 1950s pretending to be Ukrainian resistance fights. The SBU also presented additional material about the activities of extra-judicial bodies [“triyka” or a panel of three who issued sentences – translator] during the period of political repression.

Documents held by the Branch State Archive confirm that during measures to eliminate the OUN [Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists] underground and its armed formations, the Internal Affairs and State Security bodies of the western regions of the Ukrainian SSR used special groups which carried out actions under the guise of a sub-division of the OUN and UPA [Ukrainian Resistance Army] and claimed to be acting in their name.

Each of these special groups had one person who effectively led the unit and answered for discipline within it. Such units contained between 3 and 50 people and were ready where necessary for armed resistance.

The special groups carried out checks on people suspected of involvement in the OUN underground, in seizing them and getting information from arrested leaders of the OUN and UPA via interrogations on behalf of the fighting unit, the Security Service or leaders of OUN centres. The special groups were supposed to persuade wavering members of the underground to make confessions and to gain information about actions carried out or being planned.

By the end of 1945 the Internal Affairs and State Security structures were using 150 of these special groups with 1,800 members.

There are no generalized data about the activities of the MIA and MGB.  The Branch State Archive only has separate documents on this.  For example, as of 01.07.1945, these special groups had eliminated 1,980 members of the underground and taken 1,142 alive. More than 1 thousand pieces of ammunition had been removed.

The archival material shows that the activities of these special groups were sometimes illegal with members taking part in robberies of local residents.

Cases of flagrant violations of the law in the activities of the MGB special groups are confirmed by reports of the military prosecutor of the MIA Kosharsky (№ 4/001345 from 15.02.1949), addressed to Nikita Khrushchev.  Information is given about outrages committed against a woman from the village Pidvysotske who was severely beaten and then raped. There are also other cases.

Representatives of the SBU also spoke of archival evidence regarding the extrajudicial “triyki” or threesomes. In 1937 and 1938 almost 200 thousand people were convicted, of whom over 120 thousand were sentenced to death – almost all on the decision of a “triyka”.

The SBU aims to study and make as much information publicly available as possible about the entire Soviet period from 1917 to 1991.

From information issued by the SBU Press Service

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